Writing... held above all interest, ...why?



  • I know I'm going to get beaten the heck out of since this seems a given, but this is my first question, okay? Why above all else in any literary form, does writing seem to be the pinnacle of something's worth? Even topping language forms and features, much less story and characters.

    I guess it's got something to do with enhancing the story, but what if it's already got an interesting premise? Still putter?


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    I do not understand your question. It sounds interesting, but I cannot contribute anything unless you help here with what you like to know or where this is going...

    Welcome to the forums, by the way. Did not notice right away you are new here, since this is not your first post.



  • @serah I meant it to be a general statement for all written literature eg. Novella, Light Novel, Manga, Short Story, Novel etc. That's the subject matter, but what I'd like to know, specifically about Manga/Light Novels since they have the wackiest premises sometimes, is why there's always specific gripes on the writing of something anywhere thoughts can be laid down. Does writing have that much saying for staying power of a series?

    I know of critical feedback, but sometimes when no feedback is given, I wonder why the discussion of a book's promise is lead on by it's writing? So long as that book has other things going for it, is there any reason to ride on the back of its writing?

    All in all, why is writing people highly like and praise than the characters, setting, story, forms and features, etc.

    Oh oops, yeah I'm new and when I meant first question I posted, this is my first forum published.


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    Mhm, yeah that explanation help me. It is hard to relate to that point from the beginning, since I am definitely not sharing that opinion that "the writing is held above all else".

    I see it more as a general thing with written media, but not aligning with the examples you mentioned due the mention of manga.

    To me, your question is more like the Harry Potter-thingy I observed. Harry Potter, to use it as an example for my point of view, is overrated considering my way of how I see the story and content. Yet I appreciate that series quite a lot for the writing, since it has a very easy to follow flow.

    In contradiction to that, I consider the content of "The Sorrows of Young Werther" highly, but I had rather to endure the writing to enjoy the actual content.

    Therefore I would assess the situation like this: accessibility.

    I have noticed how many people seem to pick up light novels only after they have seen an anime or a manga of it. Due to the simple matter of fact, those media are more easily to consume, and in some countries even more popular than reading a book. That does not mean the content of those adaptions are better than the actual books - it is simple easier to access in that regards.

    A book which is easy to read is therefore often more popular than one which is on the "heavier" side. No matter how good or bad the content is. So much for the standard.

    The non-standard is that writing can carry so much more, when it is left to interpretations and historical and cultural understandings. The Bible is a good example how meanings got lost in translation and ended up interpreted different on so many variants. Carnegie e.g. mentioned something about that in his popular books and made it happen to sell more popular books based on a single interpretation of a translation.

    Using a simpler example to understand is probably the Daodejing, which only leads the reader to come to an own understanding these days, rather than giving hard facts and rules.

    As you can tell with those examples, the writing carries the content. And of course, the carrier of the content has it importance due nature - like a ship on which the content is put on to fare over the sea. If the carrier is bad, the meaning might not reach its destination or even sink. Take my writing here for example - while I do not need to repeat myself, I did by using a metaphor to carry my meanings in my writing, to negate possible missing due my lacking English skills.

    Though, still - I am not fully on the boat that the writing is the most important thing with a novel - especially not with books which has illustrations like a manga. Illustrations can - they do not necessarily, but they can - be more important than any writing - hence the need for the illustrations in the first place.

    Is this the kind of discussion you seek?



  • @serah Ah, that cleared up a lot! Thank you, that is definitely the discussion i needed.

    I formed my idea on the assumption that there are prominent groups of people that advocate the 'importance' of writing above all else, but it was only to fuel how much they wanted to keep interpreting the book for themselves. I'm relieved I don't need to carry the burden of this idea any more, knowing now that there is indeed other things to like a book for, regardless how difficult it may be to get through, and that others can also not agree that writing is the utmost important thing.

    You helped explained why it was easier to pick up Light Novels too, which is indeed interesting, leading on to the availability that some writing gives way to.
    i'd say it's also where your located perhaps, since I remember back in High School some grade eight students would frequently fly to the library to scour for 500-page books, but that was only a few of them, as an example.

    So other than the content of the book itself, writing leads to interpretation.
    For example on the writing aspect again, yet it's not a novel of any sorts, it's like reading through a text book. Getting through the understanding of the way it is written, then being able to work out the questions in it. I see it is somewhat similar like that.


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    A novel is more than just it's writing, but perhaps it's because writing is easiest to critique? Much of what makes a novel is subjective. Opinion of many of the other elements that go into a novel, such as the characters, world building, and plot are going to be up to personal taste. But I think writing is a more technical aspect of the art, so it's easier to judge. It's like judging figure skaters on both technical and performance - one more objective, one more subjective.

    For example, the oft lamented isekai genre - many people like it (clearly it sells), many people complain about it. But regardless of whether you love or loath truck-kun's shenanigans, more people can agree that specific isekai LN is well written... or poorly so. So quality writing is valuable from a critical perspective more so than the other elements which otherwise engender enjoyable reading.

    I personally will read most things. I might consider some of the more poorly written stuff as a guilty pleasure, if only because I enjoy it even though it's objectively bad. Doesn't mean I don't enjoy it though, and that's ultimately all that matters.


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    @sevennations said in Writing... held above all interest, ...why?:

    i'd say it's also where your located perhaps, since I remember back in High School some grade eight students would frequently fly to the library to scour for 500-page books, but that was only a few of them, as an example.

    Funny you mentioned that, since I expressed my imagination now and then of how different it could be, if schools use easy-to-digest-stuff like light novels to get pupils to reading, rather than something like White Fang. I assume you already guessed correctly I am not familiar what U.S. schools actually use in that regards - Wether is more of what is often used over here.

    Another hint about why people might (mistakenly) perceive/expressing that much value for the writing could also be found in the different usage. Think of emotional love letters and professional investigation reports.

    The one often use uncommen/needless (amounts) of words to express feelings - of which for some not even the actual words exist or come close with. A common sighting in modern English literature to be used as evidence in that regards is the usage of German words or German derived words. Wunderkind, spiel, angst - just a few which crosses my mind when thinking of my surprise to see German words in English texts.

    In reports, whether for investigations or research the writing differs highly - excluding everything which could lead to wrong assumptions and misunderstandings like caused by emotions. People who have to go through doctoral thesis know how hard it is, to go through them - I mean reading and writing them. If it was not for different bases a lot of writings found in such thesis can be considered almost copies, for how alike they sound despite the different content they carry.

    Enjoy your stay with the forums ;-)


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    I normally would rather read an enjoyable story where the writing quality is "good enough," than an unpleasant story where the writing is perfect.

    Bad writing (that isn't "good enough") breaks my immersion in the story, just like bad plotting, weak characters or awful dialog.

    I do appreciate a story more with better quality writing, but the story still needs to be enjoyable to read.


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    I think that "the Story" is paramount
    an author (if he/she is to be effective) must be a good storyteller - and formal rules, conventions, etc are not as important as communicating the story. Huckleberry Finn is chock full of improper grammar, but is a classsic because it tells a story well on an important theme

    that being said - the 'writing" ISN'T "above all else" - some truly great stories are told in comic books, and the art/ effects are important as well


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    I think that the writing quality relates to how fast you can enjoy and understand the story.

    Even a mediocre story with mediocre characters and setting can be more enjoyable if it is well written than an amazing story with amazing characters and setting but poorly written. This is because a well written story is easier to understand and enjoy.



  • @flarecde said in Writing... held above all interest, ...why?:

    Doesn't mean I don't enjoy it though, and that's ultimately all that matters.

    That a relief, so when people mean it's poorly written they mean it in a technical manner, and it is more easier to judge writing then say everything else which can be faced subjectively.
    And it's nice knowing it's not in poor taste liking 'poorly-written' titles, considering some of the titles I very much liked aren't because they're written well but mainly everything else is elaborate, ie. Characters, setting, themes.

    Thank you for your insight, I needed this." A novel is more than just it's writing, but perhaps it's because writing is easiest to critique? "
    That sums up the answer.


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    What makes this a harder question to answer is that no one can really seem to agree what exactly constitutes "good writing". There are several things I consider "well-written" that someone else might say is poorly-written, and vice versa.

    For starters, you could say that "writing" is a broad term that covers very different aspects of story-writing. On the one hand, you have the actual plot of the story, with all its twists and turns, and how well that is constructed. On the other hand, you have the characters themselves, how well they are developed, and how well their relationships with each other are portrayed. And on the third hand there's the worldbuilding and everything that goes to make the setting interesting or immersive. There's also other things like comedy that can fall into "writing" that make up a story, as well as the more nebulous usage of "writing" to refer to word usage and general word-crafting.

    Of course, certain stories will focus on certain aspects of writing over other. In fact, it's usually better for a story to focus on one or maybe two aspects of writing, rather than trying to spread itself too much over all different types.



  • @serah said in Writing... held above all interest, ...why?:

    Think of emotional love letters and professional investigation reports.

    So true! That's one aspect that frequents light novels which doesn't in most text, the emotional bearings. If one's usage of certain aspects delivers a different take on the matter, that can heavily incline someone to critique if the writing is good or not, and this can be an incentive they look for.
    I noticed that too in light novels there is a lot of words uncommon to many that are used to express emotion or capture energy, rather than the action-oriented or eloquent use of words to 'craft' a story like most other novels and everyday text include.

    I do notice this, that reports people write and go through day to day do try to stay to the case and fact file the situation to leave out emotions as to not cause miscommunication, which is near opposite of light novels which are somewhat subjective. For people that have to go through work like this daily, they might transfer their ideas onto the light novel, so aptly put, it's about the writing for them.
    But since that is some people and not me for writing in general, I can rest knowing that the case of writing vs. likeness is mainly just for critique and not the judge of everything and overall quality of a novel per se.

    Thanks for this, I will enjoy my stay with the forums.



  • @harmlessdave said in Writing... held above all interest, ...why?:

    I normally would rather read an enjoyable story where the writing quality is "good enough," than an unpleasant story where the writing is perfect.

    That's a very good line!
    The thing is i'm not even sure what something written perfectly may read like, but that's because I enjoy stories that are of a lukewarm area which share in negatives and positives, rather then to that extent.

    Here's where I may be told another one, but I never considered... 'immersion' a thing.
    I always know if themes are prevalent that I like I stick to it, but I guess to a general audience that's where "looking away" exists, which is why some things are the way they are to catch people's attention, such as immersion if I'm getting at that right?
    I know sometimes I didn't like something, such as a development in relations or events, but I didn't namely call out 'bad-writing' because I wasn't use to knowing such terms. If I like something I continue buying, if not I didn't bear further interest. If it holds together that's when I can grasp it, but if everything was written with broken dialogue on-purpose, such as in text speak, then that's nearly irrefutable of being considered bad-writing(?).

    Instead, I tend to look over things and find the good that originally drew me in. A story that seems quite like what one wouldn't normally experience or is somewhat similar to your experiences, are the the ones I invest in. The reason why I find light novels and western novels so different is the contrast they have, with western more focused on down-to-earth stories while light novels take you to a different plane of existence. Growing up on western media has me feel tendencies of leaning to the latter simply due to the way light novels harbour quintessentially what 'unusual' is.
    As such, never feeling bored of any story to come from Japan. But maybe that's just me.



  • @jon-mitchell Can story and writing be interchangeable?
    I don't think so because there' a lot to the two but writing is crucial to the story, even I have noticed this at times.

    I digress, fantastic point made! A story is forefront and supreme.
    Storytelling is important, and if you're good at it it tends to override any moot points that may sneak in. That is a pinnacle stronghold of any novel, so this made me realize that writing, along with the discussion earlier, is used to convey or make the idea of something more understandable & accessible, no? Technically speaking, something can be a good story, but written poorly.
    (I'm not a writer. The things I write don't translate well to others, but even the pinnacle of enjoyment rests on this.)

    If the story-telling aspect, thankfully (to me, since I will understand this perspective more) is better than any writing skills lacking in conventions and formal rules, those rules will still take backseat compared to a story, so long as it's good.

    That's the decisive finish I have obtained from this, that writing ISN'T above all else, and that effects and stories told in graphic form aren't subpar either.



  • @bartzbb said in Writing... held above all interest, ...why?:

    I think that the writing quality relates to how fast you can enjoy and understand the story.

    You opened my mind on that. I'm not very concise but sometimes it takes one sentence to make all the difference.
    I read at a very slow pace, so I may take info differently than what someone would in 15 minutes blasting though one whole volume of manga (darn, those eighth graders).
    I tend to notice people praise writing of books they go through very quickly, whether they were reading fast due to eagerness or simply that's their speed, is a factor. Like you mentioned though, it is most likely because they understood the novel easier thanks to the writing.

    So can the correlation between ' poor story = not easily understood ' be made here?

    This may be just me, but no matter how convoluted or complex or even confusing a story gets, I still get it. It may be a stretch of my mind pulling out info that is non-existent and not even in the world the author created, but I tend to piece together my own conclusion regardless how hard the story is to follow, due to the writing haps.
    Most people wont put that effort. Regardless of characterization and setting of a piece, it's just not convenient.

    But doesn't that relate to a chemical battle in the brain? Happiness that's easier to obtain is more sought after than happiness that is in the long-run hard to obtain and more effort? That is, it relates to the ease of enjoyment of understanding something simple, but is that the only indicator if writing is 'good' or 'poor', by ease of understanding?

    You're case on a mediocre story, characters and setting being more enjoyable due to the writing should ascertain this case. Especially of western written pieces since you can visualize the set without needing to be emotionally attached to the author's characters, meaning that the writing can be the sole focus. The story can be enhanced by the writing, or made bad by the lack of focus the writing has, such as not focusing enough on x, unexpected and twisted events, etc.
    In light novels, there is so much that goes on in one volume that it is hard to pinpoint the due cause of dissatisfaction for others. For In Another World With My Smartphone , It has lovely people (questionable), but due to the fact the protagonist is going everywhere and seems to lack a main incentive, may be the reason why people have claimed it 'average'? Maybe they are just gamers who find the route the protagonist going tedious, because they've played enough games with similar premises.



  • @stardf29 said in Writing... held above all interest, ...why?:

    What makes this a harder question to answer is that no one can really seem to agree what exactly constitutes "good writing"

    Thank you!!! My head's been thinking this whole time 'what constitutes to good writing?'

    Some say it's wrong to use western ideologies of 'good-writing' to be the same criteria for light novels and manga, simply due to how the different cultures work.
    Those true stories of some Japanese salary men who would walk across a battlefield to get to work, and possibly die for work, still permeate my thoughts on the dichotomy of cultures. Some Americans and those under similar attitudes can attest to wanting to do jobs that are easy and possibly laid-back for them. It's all fine but when it comes to a global scale of criteria, it's hard to match every cultures attitudes with the work they produce as the same to overseas perceptions of how things should be done.

    For me, writing is about "metaphors, similes, assonance, allusion " all the language forms and features. If there's a good chunk of it, then that's what I considered good writing. Rhymes are considered basic, for example, so mediocre work, but, I have read some really great novels that have rhymes. As my teacher exclaimed, there are exceptions. Not to mention syntax, some of the best written works have a broad range of words, offering different narratives, viewpoints and perspectives. All coming down to how it's written.

    As strongly as it felt during school years that teachers must hammer into students that works must be littered with these, hence you be considered plain or lacking meaning in your writing, I felt that every time I read light novels, it was a different cause all together.

    Coming to light novels... it was always a given these should be applied here too, but it was not always the focus the writing department of these novels were, since the stories tend to be more exquisite than the writing forms and features offered by western society. Definitely it's not exclusive to America and co. but light novels tend to target teen demographics, so power housing plots is a big thing. It's exciting but leaves 'writing' to be desired, since those that claim if the writing is good or poor tend to explain that it is easier to understand. Does that mean works that are in Latin or Old English are poorly written? Not necessarily.

    This is writing in general though, there are the broadening aspects of written characters and their relationships and story points as you mentioned. I think most stories do focus on what they have rather then try to reach every aspect in one go. As to what constitutes to good writing, I think if it's above C grade and there are no grammatical or obvious errors, it's a pick and choose field popularised by vote.



  • I mean...the writing is literally all there is?

    In a novel there is no plot, no premise, no character, no setting, nothing that isn't presented to the reader through the writing.


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    @hosikuzu said in Writing... held above all interest, ...why?:

    I mean...the writing is literally all there is?

    In a novel there is no plot, no premise, no character, no setting, nothing that isn't presented to the reader through the writing.

    Indeed. Most art forms rely on some level of analogue communication where the artist/author has to imprecisely express themselves through a physical medium. However, the written word can be compressed into digital without losing anything. It has its limitations, but they are the limitations of the human imagination rather than the human body. This in a sense makes it one of the purest art forms, which can allow an author to directly communicate with a reader without the inherent filters of an analogue physical medium. That doesn't necessarily make it the best medium to communicate any given story, but it does help highlight one reason why it is held in such high regard as an artistic medium.



  • @hosikuzu I guess that’s why people gripe when something’s adapted from novel, because they’ll either have to embrace the new medium for what it is and accept the visual design of a series they’ve probably characterized already, or just not bother. Reasonably speaking.

    Wait. What do you mean no plot? Plots aren’t all visual, I’m sure.


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