A Conversation for Writing Right with Dmitri: How to Reference Without Being Self-Referential

What audience?

Post 1

minorvogonpoet

What audience? smiley - erm

I do a certain amount of writing for the fun of it and don't expect anyone to read it.

I write for h2g2 but I don't know who the audience is. Sometimes people comment, sometimes they don't.

I don't write for commercial publication because that is a hugely competitive business.


What audience?

Post 2

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

Aha. Sasha will be publishing statistics shortly. smiley - smiley Since I've just come from the meeting, I can state that the h2g2 Post received 17,000 views this past year (twice as many as the year before). So yeah, people read this stuff.

Getting paid for it isn't important. However, it is important in my view that we write with readers in mind, not just ourselves. After all, if others help us by editing and publishing what we write, there is effort involved. The purpose here is to communicate.


What audience?

Post 3

FWR

I bet 16,999 of them are GoHL groupies!


What audience?

Post 4

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

smiley - snork [Quote from Elektra.]


What audience?

Post 5

Tavaron da Quirm - Arts Editor

Absolutely, we do have an audience here, that's why it's important to keep your Entries accessible. Also short enough to keep their attention on the topic. Wheter you are payed or not doesn't say wether you have readers or not. Also if you don't write accessible things it will be harder to get these readers.

Anyway, I want to give a few examples that contradict what you say:

Tolkien for instance produced heaps and heaps of lore which was mostly published after his death but is referenced to in LotR. The light of Elendil for instance, stuff like that. It's a reference to a story in the Silmarillon, still nobody is bothered. It can give a story depth as long as people can still follow the overall plot without knowing that and those who did read all the other lore will quietly nod to themselves.

Also lists. Walter Moers, the only German writer I really read has loads of them. In Käptn Blaubär he has I think 2 pages where he only lists different colors for bears.
Moars also has one book which mainly describes a rather pointless theatre production. The main plot starts about 2 pages before the end, which is a huge cliffhanger that is never resolved. But I think he actually made fun of the readers in this one.

Also you reminded me of what I just read in my the book I currently read (Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch). The scene is set in the autopsy room, they're looking at the victim of a murder:
'... I'd just recognised the shape of the tattoo. A long upright stroke with two right-hand strokes going diagonally up.
'G for Gandalf,' I said.
...'
In this case he is even nice enough to explain a bit about Dwarven runes afterwards.smiley - laugh I think it's a nice example of a reference.
I'd also like to mention Terry Pratchett. His books are practically overloaded by references. There are loads and loads and I think nobody gets them all. I suspect I sometimes only get 10% depending on the topic and still the books are great to read. Take Soul Music for isntance, I think too much was lost on me. But fortunately there are actually people who fill online pages with all his references and their explainations.


What audience?

Post 6

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

Aha. You're one of *those* readers. smiley - rofl And it's a great point for the 21st Century. Thank you for making it! smiley - ok

It is true that there is a large audience of people who love fantasy stories for the precise reason you mention - that it gives you hours and hours of pleasure memorising these telephone-book-length listicles and such...

If you are going to write fantasy literature, ignore everything I said! The audience has completely different expectations!

- Make endless lists. The more made-up items, the better.
- Draw fantasy maps. Be sure to include a dragon or three.
- Create biographical dictionaries of the most obscure characters.
Cross-reference all their quotes. (It will help you keep track, too.)
- Make sure ALL your stories are in the same 'universe'. If you can call it a 'Something-verse', even better. Like the 'Buffyverse', or the 'Tavaronverse'.
- Remember to keep open the option for action figures, games, and such. The money's in the merch!

Your audience will eat it up. But remember: before you can get anybody to enjoy that 1500-page opus you've written, you'll have to persuade somebody to read it. Finding an audience may be harder than you think. In the 1970s, Tolkien was very much a niche market. But then, fantasy fans flock together, so you're bound to find like-minded individuals. smiley - smiley





What audience?

Post 7

h2g2 Guide Editors

Hi minorvogonpoet Here is the thread that discusses the h2g2 audience as seen by Google Analytics http://h2g2.com/entry/A85834173/conversation/view/F21546918/T8318733 - hope that helps! Your contributions are always welcome


What audience?

Post 8

h2g2 Guide Editors

Sorry, something seems to have gone wrong with the link, there - try F21546918?thread=8318733


What audience?

Post 9

Tavaron da Quirm - Arts Editor

smiley - rofl I am not only a reader like that I even play computer games like that.smiley - winkeye I really love lots of background story that gives a fantasy world more depth.


What audience?

Post 10

paulh. Bunnies are cute (There, I've said it)

" the h2g2 Post received 17,000 views this past year (twice as many as the year before). So yeah, people read this stuff" [Dmitri]

That's good to know.

"it is important in my view that we write with readers in mind, not just ourselves."

But how far should we be willing to bend in order to please readers we don't know anything about? This isn't about teenagers from Philly or Seattle, it's any of the several billion people anywhere in the world that might find their way here?

Anyway, I work and rework my material with an eye to having it be clear and accessible without special knowledge. Well, maybe not a *lot* of special knowledge. And, sometimes I want to help introduce people to something they didn't already know. In a kindly and non-patronizing way. Several close family members were teachers, and this apple has not fallen far from the tree. smiley - blush


What audience?

Post 11

minorvogonpoet

Well, I've done a certain amount of research into the French resistance, in the course of writing a novel which is currently shelved.
But I wonder whether, if I was prepared to write an EG enty or two, it would be better to do a broad brush approach, or concentrate on a person?


What audience?

Post 12

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

It's usually best if you can narrow the topic. That way, your Guide Entry can be interesting and informative without turning into an encyclopedia article.

Management is very insistent that we aren't an encyclopedia. smiley - winkeye Broad brushes tend to get you into hot water, because the topic will get too broad unless you take a very thin slice of your subject.

Say you wanted to talk about a certain cathedral. Instead of 'this cathedral is located here, was built then, by so-and-so, blah, blah,' which is a W*k*p*d** article, try telling about ONE of these:

- How the cathedral came to be built where it is, who built it, why
- One aspect of the cathedral: its stained glass windows, for example, or its altarpiece
- The treasures collected in its Schatzkammer, and how they got there
- Legends associated with the cathedral
- Any unusual incident associated with this cathedral, say an assassination, or its use in a war, etc.

See what I mean? A precise topic will give you a winner, every time. The research will also be much easier. smiley - smiley

The same is true of a person. Don't write a complete bio. Write about something important they did, and the part of their life related to that.


What audience?

Post 13

paulh. Bunnies are cute (There, I've said it)

Being precise and terse, getting to the point, that is what I always have to work on. The 42-word stories I wrote were all exercises designed to develop that ability.

Still some work left to do, though. The inside of my head is a 24/7 snowstorm of ideas. smiley - blush


What audience?

Post 14

FWR

Let it snow Paul, that's why we love you!smiley - biggrin


What audience?

Post 15

paulh. Bunnies are cute (There, I've said it)

Thanks. smiley - smiley

I have a few bouncers at the exit form my mind. They prevent the colossally awful ideas from getting out, but occasionally they make mistakes. smiley - yikes


What audience?

Post 16

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

'Occasionally....' smiley - snork


What audience?

Post 17

Tavaron da Quirm - Arts Editor

I agree about choosing a quite specific topic. I did the opposite with my current arts history series and I can basically only scratch the surface. (it's still worth it)


What audience?

Post 18

paulh. Bunnies are cute (There, I've said it)

Well, my bouncers are only human. To err is human, to forgive divine.

You have no idea how awful my worst ideas are, though. I intend for you to never find out, either. smiley - tongueout


What audience?

Post 19

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

Sure, the survey is worth it. smiley - smiley But grand, sweeping vistas should really be the exception and not the rule in the Guide. (And that's what university projects are for, anyhow. smiley - winkeye)


What audience?

Post 20

minorvogonpoet

smiley - ok


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