1. Hey, Guest,

    Do you think you're halfway handy at making logo? If so, we want to hear from you. Please take a look at this thread to consider taking part in a design contest for our affiliated businesses.

    -The Directors

    Dismiss Notice

Why 'Rational Fiction' is inherently problematic

Discussion in 'Fiction Discussion' started by Jemnite, Dec 21, 2016.

  1. Tasrill

    Tasrill SB's Tasselhoff

    Not all consistency is created equal. People work on narratives so being narratively consistent is important. On the other hand establishing that a town has cobblestone streets in one book and in the next book it has dirt streets is far less important. Unless what kind of street the town has was important to the narrative to the book it is set dressing. Getting some minor detail wrong is no more a big deal then someone leaving through the wrong door in a tv show or someones hair changing from scene to scene. Many people won't even notice and those that do will just chuckle. Messing up someones characterization or getting a vital part of a characters story wrong on the other hand kills a story fast.
     
    • Like Like x 7
  2. Reveen

    Reveen Dunked On

    Disagree with what? This is not a matter of theory. This is how enduring works of fantasy/sci-fi fiction that stick with people get made. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Wizard of Oz, Hayao Miyazaki, A Song of Ice and Fire. A lively setting and characters is a big part of what draws people into these works regardless of how logical or illogical they are.

    Sure, consistent and logical facts of the setting can help form a firmer bedrock to build up off of, but it can't make up for the lack of atmosphere. You're making a salad without the dressing, olives, or those little candied nuts.

    I mean, if that's what the rational community is okay with that for their little subset of fiction, fine. But don't act like the rational fiction principles gives you a handle on how to write fiction that's, y'know, good. It doesn't. This is the biggest problem with the entire idea, there's a hell of a lot of theory on how to write this stuff, but not a lot of display or understanding of craft.

    Then keep reading physics books.
     
    • Like Like x 12
  3. dwibby

    dwibby Totally Not a Spy for Orochimort

    Location:
    United States
    I would agree, but it seems like when it's brought up as something that Rational-ish works generally want to avoid, it seems like posters are saying axiomatic good and evil is just bad writing, and of course every good writer wants to avoid it. Which I guess I don't get, 'cause I thought some of those stories are pretty darn good, but sometimes I don't want a story with monolithic good and evil? (And sometimes I want a story with characters who are playing on hard mode in a world that the author has spent entirely too much time thinking about, too)

    I thought there was at least his pretence of "deserving" and "loving" Catelyn and wanting more prestige than what the Fingers bring. But, yeah, sometimes their "good reasons" aren't all that solid to the characters themselves. And I think that's okay, because at least their actions can be evaluated in light of their motivations, and we're looking to our own imaginations for what the characters will do next versus knowing what the author holds as good and evil. (Which, again, isn't to say that I think that stories about good and evil are bad, just that sometimes I don't want to read about that)

    Edit:
    Then tell that to the people who are telling us that the things we think that make up what we're looking for in ratfic is just good writing? 'Cause, like, we (or at least I) acknowledge that there is badly written ratfic and well-written not-ratfic, and that ratfic that champions Rationality can feel like the author is using their message like a bludgeon, but that there's something about it that we like and want to nail down so we can find it easier.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
    • Insightful Insightful x 1
  4. Yet establishing that instead or writing atmosphere can take away from the story. Harry Potter worked because it had great pacing, relatable characters, and an incredible whimsical setting. You basically want to sacrifice the pacing or the whimsy for what purpose? To make sure that the reader understands exactly how everything fits together? People generally don't care about how everything fits together so long as it works within the context of the story. Internal inconsistency matters when it gets in front of everything else and starts shouting. This didn't happen in Harry Potter for a vast supermajority of people
     
    • Insightful Insightful x 7
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Harry Potter isn't a work of fiction written to be internally consistent, and this is a good thing. As I said before:
    There are a lot of ways to write interesting and good fiction. The fact of the matter is, the purpose, style, and target audience of the Harry Potter books changed between the start and the end of the series. As a result, a lot of the worldbuilding, well, you can just read in my post above. And none of this makes Harry Potter bad. People when writing make tradeoffs all the time, and one of the things to be traded off is consistency of magic system and worldbuilding. Harry Potter was great for reasons unrelated to worldbuilding consistency and this is fine. Remember, "r/rational fiction" and "good fiction" are not the same, nor are they opposites. Some fiction is described by me as r/rational fiction and that's pretty much independent of its quality.
     
    • Insightful Insightful x 3
  6. Reveen

    Reveen Dunked On

    Nobody said that the aspects of rational fiction that line up with good writing makes for good stories, they said that those aspects are part of basic competence in writing. Creative Writing 101 shit which good writers have a grasp of long, long before they get started.

    A story being technically competent isn't the same as it being interesting or compelling, which is the part that a lot of people seem to have trouble grasping.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  7. dwibby

    dwibby Totally Not a Spy for Orochimort

    Location:
    United States
    Fine, so you're not saying that it's just good writing, but that it's just not bad writing. So, what's your deal, then? If it's something that every good and mediocre piece of fiction should have, why are you're complaining that we want it in our fiction? If there's something else we're describing, then maybe it's not just not bad writing, and maybe, just maybe, we have cause to look for it specifically?
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Reveen

    Reveen Dunked On

    Because you're dressing it up as specific signifiers of your self defined genre, which implies intentionally or not that fiction that is not part of your genre is lacking in those categories.

    It's like a bunch of film students declaring that they're part of a new artistic movement in cinema, which is founded on the radical ideals of good cinematography and competent shot composition. Every other director on the face of the planet is going to laugh their ass of at this.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
    • Funny Funny x 6
    • Like Like x 1
  9. dwibby

    dwibby Totally Not a Spy for Orochimort

    Location:
    United States
    Okay, cool. So this is just "laugh at someone less smart than us" time. Glad we got that sorted. I mean, I still think there's something of value there (at least for me), and I'm still gonna use it, and if you want to laugh at me for being uncultured, or whatever, that's cool. I'm fine with you thinking I'm dumber than you, 'cause I still get fiction that scratches the itch that I think ratfic scratches. And, I guess, you get to sneer at me for being so dumb, so, yay, we both win?
     
    • Hugs Hugs x 2
  10. Reveen

    Reveen Dunked On

    What are you on about?

    Professional writers and filmmakers would laugh at the notion because the idea of basic storytelling principles being the founding principles of a new genre would sound ridiculous to them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
    • Like Like x 9
  11. dwibby

    dwibby Totally Not a Spy for Orochimort

    Location:
    United States
    I guess I'm misunderstanding you? I understood it as ratfic invites ridicule because the things used to define it are only things that professionals would view as basic techniques. Alternatively, what is claimed as special features that ratfic should have are instead something that every non-bad piece of fiction should have, and therefore people who know how to write non-bad fiction would view it, and therefore the people interested in it, as deserving mockery. Or more specifically, you are saying that you think it deserves mockery for not knowing what non-bad fiction is and trying to call it by a different name.

    If I'm understanding you correctly, and if you're right, and it's just another way to say non-bad fiction, then fine, laugh at me for using the ratfic label, I still find that it brings me the right type of non-bad fiction that I'm looking for. I'm guess I'm not sure how "inviting ridicule" is inherently problematic.

    (And, again, I'll restate my claim that I think that ratfic is essentially a term for hard speculative fiction. That's why stories that heavily feature the rules of magic/powers systems are likely to be called ratfic, because the rigor of fictional systems is what ratfic is after.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
    • Hugs Hugs x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  12. That's awesome for those people. I suspect that they aren't out looking for ratfic.

    I don't know how to explain you quoting me saying 'you don't need to spend extra words' and then immediately claiming I want people to sacrifice pacing, aside from either consummate trolling or a nat-1 on your reading comprehension check.

    And, in fact, in the context of rational fiction, I do want to sacrifice whimsy for the sake of actually understanding the setting. Obviously that won't be the case for children's books like the canon Harry Potter series.

    It matters when it detracts from the enjoyment of the story, the same way that other kinds of authorial failures matter in fiction. Different people will have different levels of tolerance for those failing. My tolerance for internal inconsistency just happens to be lower than yours.

    E:
    A whole lot of it is, though, and (as has been stated repeatedly) that doesn't make it bad fiction.

    Bleach doesn't look like a consistent world inhabited by sensible folks actually trying to achieve their goals. Neither does Harry Potter. Neither does Naruto. Neither does Star Wars.

    There are good reasons for this! The specific ones above, for example, are fantastical stories that are largely aimed at kids and young adults, and so it makes sense for them to trade off cognitive engagement to get better visceral engagement.

    But asking for more fiction that doesn't make that trade-off isn't a fucked-up request, nor is writing fiction that explores the ways in which that sacrifice was made a fucked-up literary exercise.

    E2: Less rude language.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Quantumsheep

    Quantumsheep Rank Amateur

    Location:
    _
    Some interesting word choices, here. This is the sort of sentiment that people are referring to, I think, when they say that "Rational" (as opposed to irrational) fiction and its proponents can come across as snobbish towards works that aren't geared towards their tastes.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  14. Yeah, on reflection, that's definitely fair for 'turn my brain off'. I'm not sure what specifically the issue is that you're pointing to with the first quote?
     
  15. dwibby

    dwibby Totally Not a Spy for Orochimort

    Location:
    United States
    I would suspect the implict classification of non-ratfic as children's and young adult fiction, with the insinuation that they are immature/for kids/etc is what is being referenced. I think it's evident that non-ratfic that appeals to adults in general, and likely to you in the specific case, exists. It's the (unintended?) implication of immaturity that reads as snobbish.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Insightful Insightful x 1
  16. Okay, in case it wasn't clear: I meant that the specific stories I cited were generally marketed at kids, adolescents, and young adults. Admittedly less so for Star Wars, given its nostalgia value, but I'd hope that it wasn't a controversial claim for Harry Potter :p
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Hugs Hugs x 1
Sufficient Velocity Internal Ad System Art