?

Log in

No account? Create an account
bear by san

March 2017

S M T W T F S
   1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031 

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com
bear by san

We don't want a bucket of blood; just a cup is all we can use.

So about this Genre Piracy thing.

AFAIK, the term was coined by The Fortean Bureau's Jeremy Tolbert, with not insignificant contributions by FB staff members tanaise and buymeaclue. (And I'm probably forgetting somebody.)

There's a philosophy behind it that I find both charming and useful in its practicality; basically, the idea is to exploit genre conventions (from genres as necessary) rather than allowing one's self to be limited by them.

I think this idea reflects a sensibility that's common among younger writers, and to my mind, a bit reminiscent of the New Wave in Science Fiction--cheerful rapine and exploitation of everything artistic that comes within reach. And it's not just literature that is subject to piracy on the high seas. cpolk talks a lot about appropriation of techniques from painting and cinema, for example. I like white space; she likes line of direction.

I think the genre pirate sensibility is a useful antidote to the mythologizing of writing. We accept that a painter needs to practice, to copy the masters, to develop his own style. There seems to be an idea, though, that writing is all about 'talent,' that it's something one is either good at, or isn't.

I actually think there's some merit in copying the masters, as it were. Not only does it lead to an awareness of which aspects of style are technique, and which voice, but (dirty sekrit) for a new writer, it seems to be easier to sell pastiche--in my theory, because the editors know how to read a good pastiche, whereas they need to learn to read a writer's particular style. (/dirty sekrit)

The writer can use the pastiche to earn Author Points, in other words--where Author Points = the trust the reader has in the writer (which trust has to be earned). (Author points then get spent when the writer wants to do something weird or unusual and needs the reader to hang on through it.)

I'm also reasonably convinced that the Genre Pirate thing relates to Steve Brust's Cool Shit Theory of Literature. Somehow. And also the quote New Pulp unquote.

But I think I'd need visual aids to describe what I mean.

And in other news, happy MLK day.

Comments

There was a China Mieville manifesto or something in Locus a few months back. Jamie-at-Uncle-Hugo's read bits of it out at us while we were shopping for books. And he was saying something about how his new movement would learn from whichever authors they liked, and I thought, oh, as opposed to the rest of us, who ignore authors we like and learn from authors we hate?
Hasn't China backed away from the whole New Weird thing? I admit, I haven't been following along.
I think I heard something about that. Don't know if he realized it was redundant or just got annoyed with being part of a movement (and both of those are pretty clearly projecting my own reactions and might be quite inaccurate guesses at his own internal state -- don't know the man).

One of the things I like about Genre Piracy is that I've never heard anybody who self-identified that way making statements that other people don't/haven't gone around grabbing things up from whatever works/genres they enjoy. It doesn't seem to be set up in contrast to Those People Over There.
One of the things I like about Genre Piracy is that I've never heard anybody who self-identified that way making statements that other people don't/haven't gone around grabbing things up from whatever works/genres they enjoy. It doesn't seem to be set up in contrast to Those People Over There.

It seems a very inclusive sort of a movement. If you can even call it a movement. I think it's more of a philosophy... a philosophy of pillagement and appropriation, sure, but a philosophy nonetheless. *g*
But I do learn from authors I hate! It's the whole negative inspiration, "I can do better than that" thing.

On a level with why I kept "The Visual Guide to Castle Amber" around when I was doing a lot of Amber gaming. I HATED it. Whenever I was stuck for a description, really stuck, I'd pull out the Visual Guide, look up what I wanted, and go, "No! It's not like THAT! It's like..." and then the description would come to me.

Never failed.
There seems to be an idea, though, that writing is all about 'talent,' that it's something one is either good at, or isn't.

We had this discussion about poetry, earlier I believe.

Simply put, I'll never be a good writer. I don't think the way a writer thinks. Could I be trained? Maybe. But I still don't believe that I could be as good as someone who can naturally 'think like a writer'. It shows when I read. I don't 'see' any of the literary devices. Foreshadowing, themes, plot arcs (and other literary devices). Slides right by me.

So I'd argue you need at least the potential to be good. Actually reaching that potential is a matter of craft.

It's like blues guitar. I (1) can't stand it and (2) can't hear a damn bit of difference. Throw on Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Steve Vai, whoever, I listen for 15 seconds and my reaction is "yep, that's blues guitar all right." Throw on trash and I have the same reaction. Rave about a brilliant solo and my response is, "yes, that's blues guitar and nothing in the background, you betcha." After about a minute, I then shift into "this is now *annoying* blues guitar, please shut it off. Now."

I'll be happy to carry on about Glenn Tipton and KK Downing versus Lars Ulirch as guitar players. That's just what I hear, I can't change it. I think at a certain level, writing (and all the other 'creative' pursuits) are the same way.

And I know you disagree.
*g* And the literary devices, telling detail, etc, are all stuff I learned to see.

I agree it takes a certain amount of 'ear,' but the seventeen years I've spent practicing and learning my craft make a hell of a lot more difference in my ability as a storyteller than a bit of a native knack for words.

On the other hand, that native knack for words may be the thing that led me to spend 17 years studying the craft.
On the other hand, that native knack for words may be the thing that led me to spend 17 years studying the craft.

That, good lady, is my premise. I'd never spend 17 years learning to write better (*cough* GMing doesn't count). My mind doesn't work that way.
That doesn't change the fact that talent has less to do with getting good at anything than practice does. *g*

Nobody picks up a paintbrush and expects to create the Mona Lisa first time out. You would be amazed how many people assume they can write Ulysses, though.

And you would, say, spend 17 years learning to GM better. Exact parallel--you start with the interest, but you have to learn the craft.
25 to be precise, but who's counting.

I'd go stronger than interest though... Inclination maybe?

Shrug.
I'm sorry, I haven't been following along. ::sheepish ducking of head:: Can you clarify?

I'm confused by the constraints you mention. Are some writers just rehashing the same old, same old? Are they not just going forth and writing stories? Or are you saying that writers should take things from other places and use them in ways that might fit into a space not necessarily known for that particular pattern? Isn't that what it's all about?

Of course, you're talking about those who want to move away from a particular type of story--because if someone wants the traditional mythological/mythos based fantasy romance, why not leave them to base their story on Celtic or Welsh myth? The pattern is fair and works, doesn't it?

And what's Brust's Cool Shit Theory of Literature? (I need coffee.)
And what's Brust's Cool Shit Theory of Literature? (I need coffee.)


Exactly what it sounds like. *g* The thing that gets readers to read is the Cool Shit, and that's also what makes books fun to write.

And I'm afraid I completely do not understand the rest of your questions. I'm not saying "should" anything.
See, I need more coffee.

Can you define what you mean by "piracy"? Or explain what this whole discussion is about? I'm not groking what the sff boundaries are and what you mean by doing something different with them.

Er, maybe I'm asking because I never think of the genre as fenced in.
Oh, that's Jeremy's patch, I think--you'd need to ask him for a definitive definition of what he means by "genre piracy." Although Jaime, Celia, or Hannah might be able to give you a good working definition.

I mean, I know what it means to me, but it's his term, and I'd hate to misdefine it.
There seems to be an idea, though, that writing is all about 'talent,' that it's something one is either good at, or isn't.

Huh. Must be the circles I've orbited, because I've never met that idea, not in any serious way. It's always been "practice, revise, learn, million words of crap, add tools to your kit," and so on.

---L.
I envy you.
I have (and continually do) met people who think they can write, that anyone can write. Because, after all, they talk and use words all the time, which is the same thing. But that's a different delusion.

---L.
Yes, that is indeed another one entirely. And possibly even more difficult to deal with level-headedly.
Don't get me started on that! My day job is Technical Writer, and it took a year or two to persuade management that getting warm bodies to "write" pieces to be included in the manuals was not saving me any time.
'Tis my day job as well. We spend a lot of time translating from developerspeak, and sometimes even dedeveloperizing application help. Fortunately, most of the better programmers know whether or not they are able to write.

---L.
One of the things I found interesting about China Mieville's recent essay on Crooked Timber was his honest appraisal for his taste for Cool Shit in his writing, which apparently some of his more cerebral readers have taken him to task for. He said he works hard to mix the political screed with Cool Shit (my summarizing of his words, obviously)because the latter makes the book fun to write as well as read. He admits that it might not work for some readers, but hey.

I agree quite strongly. There is a reason that certain tropes have been showing up in stories since the days of Homer--people find them interesting. Of course the risk is that using just those, without examination, conveys the xerox effect...but at the other end of the spctrum, I don't think a story lacking any dramatic interest whatsoever, no matter how earnest and useful the message, is going to attract readers.
He admits that it might not work for some readers, but hey.

I don't think there's a book written that doesn't work for some readers.

Actually, I think vitriol is a much preferable reaction to indifference. It's my experience that books that are hated and reviled by some readers are often loved beyond reason by others, whereas mediocre books tend to be dismissed lightly, or generally liked, but "don't stand out." ("This is not a book to be tossed lightly aside. It is a book to be hurled with great force.")

Yes, I agree completely. The tropes, examined--or bent a little--make for very interesting reading. Stories ARE stories, after all; they're artificial constructs, architectures of words. And while earnestness is good, sparkle is helpful.
When I started Writer's Weekend, I called it 'summer camp for the genre dysphoric'. I'd been trying to learn the romance tropes - and have discovered I'm incapable of identifying the very things that make romance (in the pulp sense) loved by romance readers. What I loved were the books that broke the conventions somehow - or included elements not commonly found. I discovered lots of other readers and writers longed to see things get shaken up a little - what if the story has a romance but isn't *all* about the romance, for example. We are writing what we want to read.

I do think writers can be trained - I've seen it. It's like any other passion. If you want it bad enough you can learn to do it, or get closer than if you hadn't tried. I'd like to see a better flagging system for the crap, though.

*g* Well, one man's crap is another man's gold. *g* As response to my work has proven to me....