Author Topic: Correcting Brandon (and Howard and Dan) (or, why they are SO wrong ;p)  (Read 3738 times)

fardawg

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I even hesitate to use the word "writer" in the above sentence, because when I am world-building for dungeon mastering, I don't consider myself a writer. I consider myself a world-builder, similar (but far less skilled) to Tolkien.

But Tolkien was writing stories (very traditional ones at that - hence the limited market - I think it would have given Beowulf a run for its money though  ;) ), not just building a world to set stories in. While Tolkien was worldbuilding, he did it through telling the story. I think that WB "outside" of the story would be something of a foreign concept to him (though the appendices did expand on the bits he couldn't work into the main story, they weren't unnecessary to his conception of the tale). To me, that is very different than worldbuilding as it is thought of today. As a DM you are creating a mythological "space" for you and the players to create a story from; that is WB. 

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Tolkien may not have had the "disease" in that it was a problem for Tolkien -- I believe that is Fardawg's primary point here -- but Tolkien did have worldbuilders' disease as understood by the modern novelist -- which is Brandon's and Peter's point.

But that understanding is based on the false assumption that Tolkien was simply building a world to eventually write in. If someone spends all of their time writing the setting and history without writing the stories that they are building up to, that is WBD. That is not what Tolkien did, so it is a strawman (I can't emphasis that fallacy enough) to say he had WBD. That there is a false assumption about Tolkien is my primary point. Not just that it wasn't a problem for him. I completely agree that people shouldn't write their WB like the Silmarillion since it is false to think the Silmarillion was WB.  It's as if someone reads Way of Kings and thinks it was Brandon's worldbuilding, so they use it as a template for their WB. They are acting on a false premise.

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It's also worth noting, with all due respect to the man, that Tolkien's own opinion of his "true" work was not a realistic assessment of the marketplace. How true of most new authors this is. Yet it's equally true today that a novel within a customized fantasy setting is far more marketable than a rulebook for a customized fantasy setting.

I don't think he even had the "marketplace" in mind. It was sort of an afterthought. It was only after he sold the Hobbit and during LOTR that he thought people might have liked the work enough to publish it.  Tolkien's writing was always very much rooted in medieval storytelling and not modern at all.  He didn't like playing by the rules of modern man.

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I know, I know, how dare the editors and Fan Dumb define true art. Right?

It isn't about who defines "true art", or even wanting to buy it. It's about not misrepresenting what the clearly stated intent of the author-artist was. Saying that Picasso's Guernica isn't true art, or that you don't like it, is one thing; saying that he shouldn't have wasted so much time painting and hanging up that "preliminary doodle" is quite another!

The bottom line is, Don't do what you think Tolkien did if you don't know what Tolkien was doing!

PS. I hate to be Mr. Contradictory. I don't want to come off as some kind of trolling jerk who argues for argument sake. I'm just a stickler for getting people to understand what I am saying and fixing misconceptions. I would do the same for Brandon's work. 
« Last Edit: June 24, 2011, 01:24:48 PM by fardawg »

fardawg

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By the way, I just saw something that said Tolkien had submitted a draft of the Silmarillion to his publisher when they asked for a "sequel" to the Hobbit. They apparently rejected it without reading the whole thing and asked for a direct sequel to the Hobbit.  More evidence that Tolkien saw the Silmarillion as a possible publishable follow up and not just world building. 

happyman

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I think Peter summed this up succinctly when he said that if a writer emulates Tolkien for the sake of world-building, he doesn't have "world-builders' disease" as it is currently understood (and described by Brandon) as a problem for novelists.

I even hesitate to use the word "writer" in the above sentence, because when I am world-building for dungeon mastering, I don't consider myself a writer. I consider myself a world-builder, similar (but far less skilled) to Tolkien.

If a would-be novelist emulates Tolkien out of a misguided belief that he must have complete mythology, background, history, or even character history in place before putting pen to paper, he has world-builder's disease.

Tolkien may not have had the "disease" in that it was a problem for Tolkien -- I believe that is Fardawg's primary point here -- but Tolkien did have worldbuilders' disease as understood by the modern novelist -- which is Brandon's and Peter's point.

It's also worth noting, with all due respect to the man, that Tolkien's own opinion of his "true" work was not a realistic assessment of the marketplace. How true of most new authors this is. Yet it's equally true today that a novel within a customized fantasy setting is far more marketable than a rulebook for a customized fantasy setting.

I know, I know, how dare the editors and Fan Dumb define true art. Right?

I agree with these points,  Jason.

I've also read fardawg's answer to these points, and I can't help but saying that, having read the Silmarion, it doesn't read like a story.  Oh, the early bits (the creation, the music, etc.) and some of the rare interludes, personal tragedies and occasional victories, are interesting, but beyond those, it reads like a history textbook.  A dull, boring, and painfully detailed history textbook.  If Tolkien was writing it as a story (or, if you prefer, mythology), then apparently his idea of "Writing a Modern Mythology" is identical in form to "Doing a Lot of Worldbuilding with a Couple of Interesting Stories placed here and there inside of it," even if that wasn't the intended purpose.

Don't you see?  The distinction between worldbuilding and storytelling is paper thin from an explicitly functional point of view.  It's all about intent.  Essentially, Worldbuilding is a form of storytelling---it's in-world documentation, in-world mythologies, background material, language information, all the rest.  If you sit down and write a history of some fantasy world, you have both written a story (the Mythology, which is often an actual story or history in-world) and done Worldbuilding.

In modern fiction, the term Worldbuilding in practice is the part of the story that doesn't end up verbatim in the published novel, but informs it heavily and maintains it's consistency in the background, usually because it doesn't make an engaging story in its own right.  In this sense, Tolkein wasn't Worldbuilding because he intended his history to be a worthy story in its own right.  On the other hand, in practice, his history ended up being Worldbuilding to The Lord of the Rings, which was much the better for having the enormous history behind it.

Thus we can have a self-consistent answer.  Did Tolkein think he was Worldbuilding?  No, he thought he was writing a comprehensive history of a fictional world which he really liked, for it's own sake.  In practice, was he Worldbuilding?  Yes; Worldbuilding and Storytelling are closely related disciplines and look similar from the outside; their main difference in modern practice really is whether the resulting work is publishable or not.  Did it improve the works that actually sold?  Emphatically yes; the sense of history behind The Lord of the Rings is one of the things that really impressed me about it.  Do authors sometimes think they need to imitate Tolkein and his (inadvertent) Worldbuilding, and thus catch Worldbuilder's disease?  Yes.  Did Tolkein have Worldbuilders disease?  I'd have to say so.  The fact that he was doing it for his own amusement or thought it might be publishable have no bearing on the fact that he kept on trying to refine the Story that represented his worldbuilding.
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Peter Ahlstrom

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I agree with happyman. And I reject this statement: "But that understanding is based on the false assumption that Tolkien was simply building a world to eventually write in." Not at all. He was building a world, but not a world to eventually write in. You can understand that and still reach an opinion from a novelist's point of view. It's not a straw man.

History has proven that Tolkien was, frankly, misguided. He wanted to build a mythology for England. Instead, he only built a mythology for himself and for Tolkien enthusiasts (and by Tolkien enthusiasts I mean "people who were introduced to Middle Earth through the novels and wanted to learn more"; basically there is no other kind). His goal was unattained. However, his novels changed an industry forever.

If you want to build a mythology for a modern-day country, don't, because it's a waste of time, or at least don't follow Tolkien's example, because he was a failure at his goal. But if you want to use Tolkien as an example to follow for a worldbuilding process to amuse yourself, then he is quite a successful model to follow.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2011, 04:19:09 PM by Peter Ahlstrom »
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fardawg

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I reject this statement: "But that understanding is based on the false assumption that Tolkien was simply building a world to eventually write in." Not at all. He was building a world, but not a world to eventually write in. You can understand that and still reach an opinion from a novelist's point of view. It's not a straw man.

But if you say "Tolkien did have worldbuilders' disease as understood by the modern novelist" then those novelists have to be giving a straw man because TOLKIEN WASN'T WRITING A WORLDBUILDING DOCUMENT! I really don't know how else to put it. The "modern novelist" uses worldbuilding as a historical framework to hang his stories on. The worldbuilding document is not meant to be a story/stories that stand on their own. By definition they are created to support the novel. Tolkien didn't write the tales collected in the Silmarillion to hang the "real" novel on. You cannot accuse Tolkien of spending too much time on WB when he didn't! You have to change the accusation into some nebulous nonsense that in unconnected to the original statement in order to keep it going; hence they build a straw man (not you personally; just those still saying he was simply WB). 

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History has proven that Tolkien was, frankly, misguided. He wanted to build a mythology for England. Instead, he only built a mythology for himself and for Tolkien enthusiasts (and by Tolkien enthusiasts I mean "people who were introduced to Middle Earth through the novels and wanted to learn more"; basically there is no other kind). His goal was unattained.

His goal grew beyond the original intent (though he still accomplished it since Middle-Earth is very English). That is not failure. The Silmarillion was a number one best seller and continues to sell in multiple editions to this day. How many of yours have?  ;)

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If you want to build a mythology for a modern-day country, don't, because it's a waste of time, or at least don't follow Tolkien's example, because he was a failure at his goal. But if you want to use Tolkien as an example to follow for a worldbuilding process to amuse yourself, then he is quite a successful model to follow.

Umm... I think you are taking the "mythology for England" a little too literally. He didn't intend it to become a literal mythology that would end up in text books. He was disappointed that what little there was was borrowed from other nations so he decided to write fairy tales and epic poems set in a fantasy England that sounded like the mythology and fairy stories he liked to read. He succeeded in that goal though it became deeper than that.

Seriously, that whole "failure" and "waste of time" thing was a bit harsh, man. You're reaching a bit. It seems like your just trying to be mean now.

« Last Edit: June 24, 2011, 09:16:49 PM by fardawg »

Jason R. Peters

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TOLKIEN WASN'T WRITING A WORLDBUILDING DOCUMENT!

Yet to the modern novelist or storyteller, the Simarillon exists as nothing but a world-building document. It hardly matters whether that was Tolkien's intent.

The inventor of the Post-It note intended to invent a strong superglue. What they invented was a weak glue which was quite poor at its original intent, but a genius way of holding up tiny temporary notes.

You're saying Tolkien wasn't world-building, but as a readable story, the Simarillon...well...fails. Even die-hard fans acknowledge this. Tolkien did not succeed in building a readable story. He succeeded in laying the groundwork for other stories. No, that wasn't his intent. If he was trying to build a standalone "story" with the Simarillon, he has failed to hold my attention after over a dozen attempts...because it doesn't read like a story.

It reads like a world-building document.
 
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The Silmarillion was a number one best seller and continues to sell in multiple editions to this day. How many of yours have?  ;)

Nobody here is discrediting Tolkien's success, imagination, genre-defining, intelligence, or trying to diminish Tolkien as a contributor to the genre. But this response is akin to if I told my wife I didn't like a movie (or disagreed with its premise, or disagreed with what its fans state is its premise) and she said, "Oh yeah? How many movies did you make? How many of them won awards?"

Well, none. Does that invalidate my opinion?

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History has proven that Tolkien was, frankly, misguided. He wanted to build a mythology for England. Instead, he only built a mythology for himself and for Tolkien enthusiasts (and by Tolkien enthusiasts I mean "people who were introduced to Middle Earth through the novels and wanted to learn more"; basically there is no other kind). His goal was unattained.
Umm... I think you are taking the "mythology for England" a little too literally.

I don't claim to know what Tolkien was trying to do, but I know what he actually accomplished:

He built a world. He wrote in-universe articles, songs, poems, histories, genealogies.

And how many people are interested in reading the aforementioned?

Only die-hard Tolkien fans. Nobody hands the Simarillon to someone and says:
"It's a page-turner."
"Had me guessing all the way."
"Changed the way I think about x."

Unless -- and this is the most telling thing about this discussion -- unless "x" = world-building.

happyman

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Fardawg,

I would appreciate it if you would respond to my last post.  I feel like I addressed your concerns more directly than Peter did (which is why Peter cited me in his post rather than rewriting my answer).  It is thus disconcerting to to see you respond to Peter's post without considering the context, which is in terms of the points I made.
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fardawg

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Sorry happyman, I meant to respond to you before I saw Peter's post and thought I had included responses to you.

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I can't help but saying that, having read the Silmarion, it doesn't read like a story.  Oh, the early bits (the creation, the music, etc.) and some of the rare interludes, personal tragedies and occasional victories, are interesting, but beyond those, it reads like a history textbook.  A dull, boring, and painfully detailed history textbook.  If Tolkien was writing it as a story (or, if you prefer, mythology), then apparently his idea of "Writing a Modern Mythology" is identical in form to "Doing a Lot of Worldbuilding with a Couple of Interesting Stories placed here and there inside of it," even if that wasn't the intended purpose.

It is not one story, but a series of stories connected by the history of the Silmarills. Those do read like stories if you read medieval fiction. That is what Tolkien was imitating.  He wasn't writing a "modern" mythology; he was writing a feigned ancient mythology.  It doesn't mater if you liked it or not. My entire point is that peoples perceptions are wrong and that arguments like Brandon's are based in that wrong assumption. I care about Truth, not some post-modern relativism where the intention of the author is completely ignored.  If there is no Truth, there can be no real, logical discussions any more, and we are all just grasping at the wind.

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Don't you see?  The distinction between worldbuilding and storytelling is paper thin from an explicitly functional point of view.  It's all about intent.  Essentially, Worldbuilding is a form of storytelling---it's in-world documentation, in-world mythologies, background material, language information, all the rest.  If you sit down and write a history of some fantasy world, you have both written a story (the Mythology, which is often an actual story or history in-world) and done Worldbuilding.

You say it is "all about intent" yet before that you also seem to say his "intended purpose" in writing the Sil. doesn't matter because it is "identical in form" to worldbuilding. It is subjective as to what you think WB looks like. WB is the behind the scenes work that isn't meant to be the story itself; the Sil. was intended to be the stories themselves.

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In modern fiction, the term Worldbuilding in practice is the part of the story that doesn't end up verbatim in the published novel, but informs it heavily and maintains it's consistency in the background, usually because it doesn't make an engaging story in its own right.  In this sense, Tolkein wasn't Worldbuilding because he intended his history to be a worthy story in its own right.  On the other hand, in practice, his history ended up being Worldbuilding to The Lord of the Rings, which was much the better for having the enormous history behind it.

I have said all along that it became worldbuilding. My point throughout this discussion has been that Brandon Sanderson (and others) have the false impression that "Grandpa" Tolkien wasted his time WB instead of writing real stories (and they are apparently also unaware that he wrote many more stories that aren't as well know such as Farmer Giles of Ham and Smith of Wootton Major). If we wish to be objective (I seem to be arguing with subjectivists), it does not matter what it became (since we all agree that it did morph into WB after the fact) when the point that was being made by Brandon was that the Silmarillion started as WB. I am dumbfounded as to how people can continue to say Brandon and others are correct in accusing Tolkien of spending too much time on WB when the FACT that it was not intended as WB completely invalidates that particular criticism! 
If the criticism is changed to  "people shouldn't imitate the style of the Sil. if they want to publish" or "don't imitate Tolkien's Sil. in your WB BECAUSE it wasn't intended as WB to begin with", then we can all agree. But as long as people try to defend Brandon's specific criticism, I will continue to state the facts when people try to defend it.


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Worldbuilding and Storytelling are closely related disciplines and look similar from the outside; their main difference in modern practice really is whether the resulting work is publishable or not.

Their main difference is what the author meant to do when he put pen to paper. Please answer this question as no one seems to want to respond to any variation I have given: If the Way of Kings didn't sell, but Brandon then used it as backstory to write a more "acceptable" novel, could I accuse him of wasting time in writing WOK when it was finally published and I mistook it for a WB document? Would you be right in correcting me and saying that he meant to publish WOK as a novel so the accusation is invalid? Would I be right to then say that Brandon's intent doesn't matter since it became a WB document?


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Did it improve the works that actually sold?  Emphatically yes; the sense of history behind The Lord of the Rings is one of the things that really impressed me about it. 

Tolkien knew this was true and was even hesitant at one point to try and publish the Sil. because it might take away the "magic". That doesn't negate the fact that it was not a WB document in its construction and that the accusation of Brandon's (as it was stated) remains invalid.

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Did Tolkein have Worldbuilders disease?  I'd have to say so.  The fact that he was doing it for his own amusement or thought it might be publishable have no bearing on the fact that he kept on trying to refine the Story that represented his worldbuilding.

He only worked on it as long as he did because they wouldn't publish it. That is perfectionism and Eternal Rewriting Syndrome, not WBD. WBD is when people continually tinker with their WB document (knowing that it is a WB document and not the real book) because they feel they don't have enough background for the story or they get so wrapped up in how cool it is that they never get around to writing the book it was intended to support (I think that is the main part of WBD that people aren't understanding: it has to detract from the intended novel to be WBD). Those with WBD don't write the stories they intend to write because they spend all their time on the WB document; Tolkien wrote the stories he wanted to tell, including those in the Silmarillion.
Again, Tolkien was an Eternal Rewriter because he worked on multiple drafts of his stories until he felt it was perfect. That is a completely different disorder from WBD as defined by Brandon himself!


 
« Last Edit: June 25, 2011, 03:30:00 PM by fardawg »

fardawg

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Jason

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this response is akin to if I told my wife I didn't like a movie (or disagreed with its premise, or disagreed with what its fans state is its premise) and she said, "Oh yeah? How many movies did you make? How many of them won awards?"
Well, none. Does that invalidate my opinion?

That response was in relation to the accusation (made by Peter, I believe, not you) that Tolkien was a failure with the Silmarillion because it wasn't publishable etc. The analogy should be more like someone accusing a movie maker of being a failure because no one liked or wanted to see his previously unreleased movie but his rabid fans; and the other person then points out that the movie was a box office hit when it was finally released, then, jokingly, asks them how many award winning movies they made.  It wasn't meant to be all that serious.

Again, I really hope I am not coming off as a trolling jerk. It is really hard to write a reply without it looking like I am trying to pick a fight.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2011, 03:38:35 PM by fardawg »

Peter Ahlstrom

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fardawg, you seem to be getting far too angry for this conversation to continue. Take some deep breaths.

You are using a different definition of worldbuilding than me. You're assuming that when I say worldbuilding I mean writing a background document for a novel. But I have said multiple times that that is not what I mean. Token certainly did intend the Silmarillion to be worldbuilding. Not the kind that serves as a backstory, but the kind that builds a world (his "mythology for England"). Therefore the argument is not "completely invalidate[d]."

The Silmarillion is not successful in its own right. There may be a dozen people in the world who picked it up and liked it without having read the Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings first. It is successful only when viewed as a companion piece to the novels. It is only due to the overwhelming popularity of the novels that the Silmarillion reached bestseller status.

You say: "it has to detract from the intended novel to be WBD." I disagree. Maybe I should call it worldbuilder's syndrome or "different ability" instead of disease (but I won't). The upshot is that you build a world for years instead of writing a novel, whether or not you intended to write a novel in the first place. However, you win the point about Tolkien being an eternal rewriter rather than an outliner.

You say that you have said all along that Tolkien's mythology project only later became worldbuilding (when thought of as backstory for the novels). We do not claim (and Brandon does not claim) that Tolkien intended it as backstory from the beginning. This seems to be the gross misrepresentation you seek to redress in this thread: that Tolkien spent too much time writing something he knew was only backstory. But none of us ever said that. Brandon did not say that. Worldbuilding is not the same thing as backstory, though to a novelist it is usually used as backstory--at its heart it is just building a world. Tolkien did spend too much time worldbuilding, but it was worldbuilding for its own sake. Which we have already said is fine. It is "too much time" only in the respect that if he had written novels instead, those could have been more lastingly popular and touched people's lives, doing things that the mythology itself could never do. But those novels would have just as much failed Tolkien's goal, which was to build a mythology. He succeeded in his goal where he himself was concerned, but failed in his goal where it concerns the population at large. His myths are not told around the fireside late at night by grandfathers to their grandchildren. They have no life outside the Tolkien-novel fan community. It is within a subset of the Tolkien-novel fan community where he succeeded in this goal. Indeed, I say that his novels made his worldbuilding a success. Without his novels, his worldbuilding would have been a failure everywhere beyond his circle of family and friends. Yet because of his novels, his worldbuilding reached an audience it would never have reached. And a portion of that audience does appreciate it in its own right (though not without the context of already having read the novels). Tolkien should appreciate having been given the opportunity for his magnum opus to reach those people. If he wants to ignore the (larger?) amount of people who say he should have written more novels instead, he is free to do so.

If the Way of Kings were perceived as a worldbuilding document the way people perceive the Silmarillion as such, then it would probably be justified. In fact, there are people who hate the Way of Kings who loved everything else that Brandon wrote. Brandon knew going in that this was going to be the case for some readers. No book that an author writes is going to appeal to everyone. There are some readers to whom the Way of Kings is simply too epic in scope and pacing. They want something like the first Mistborn book instead. Some of those people ask where the plot is in the Way of Kings, because there is no clearly defined goal from the beginning the way there was in Mistborn. They don't like how the plot comes together only in the end of the book, and accuse it of being backstory. From the point of view of those people, their criticism is valid. They want a different kind of book than Brandon wanted to write. And that is perfectly OK, and Brandon has said that is perfectly OK. But so far the market has not shown Brandon's strategy to be wrong: Way of Kings sold twice as much in hardcover as Warbreaker did. (Mistborn became popular in paperback.) The market did not show Tolkien's strategy to have wide appeal: the Silmarillion did not similarly outsell the Lord of the Rings. But because Brandon knows different books appeal to different readers, he continues writing different sorts of books. The new Mistborn novel is an example of this.

Brandon is also creating his own mythology, the mythology of the Cosmere, with Hoid and Adonalsium. Yet from the start he does not expect this to have a life outside the novels or to become popular beyond a small subset of Sanderson readers. He is taking a much more realistic and pragmatic view of the whole matter than Tolkien took.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2011, 05:03:20 PM by Peter Ahlstrom »
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fardawg

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fardawg, you seem to be getting far too angry for this conversation to continue. Take some deep breaths.

 HAHAH!  ;D Wow. Maybe you missed the times I repeated that I am taking this lightly and trying to make it clear I am not angry in the least. Nice try at projection though.

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You are using a different definition of worldbuilding than me.

I am using the one that Brandon used.

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You're assuming that when I say worldbuilding I mean writing a background document for a novel. But I have said multiple times that that is not what I mean.

Then you are not following Brandon's definition which is the one that I have been addressing. In which case there is no point to the conversation since I talking about something he has said multiple times and you are redefining it.  Aren't you his assistant?

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Token certainly did intend the Silmarillion to be worldbuilding. Not the kind that serves as a backstory, but the kind that builds a world (his "mythology for England"). Therefore the argument is not "completely invalidated."

It is when you are not arguing using the definition in question. Is WOK WB in your definition then? Isn't it building a world while telling stories within it?

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You say: "it has to detract from the intended novel to be WBD." I disagree.

Again, I am using the definition as defined by Brandon. Disagree with him.

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The upshot is that you build a world for years instead of writing a novel, whether or not you intended to write a novel in the first place.

He didn't "build a world for years instead of writing a novel". He was telling the stories that he hoped might sell some day, including the Silmarillion stories, the Hobbit, LOTR and the other stories I mentioned. He was also a professor and lecturer. It isn't as if the man sat on his butt all day tweaking the Sil.
It's like saying a poet wasted time trying to write poetry he hoped would sell some day instead of spending more of that time writing a pulp novel based in the world of his poems that eventually did. It doesn't matter what the public liked more. The poems weren't WB. And Tolkien didn't waste all of his time writing the Sil. He wrote the Hobbit and LOTR when he had those in his head.

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We do not claim (and Brandon does not claim) that Tolkien intended it as backstory from the beginning.

Then he shouldn't have said that he wasted time WB instead of writing the "real" books. If he knows Tolkien intended to sell those stories numerous times, including when they asked for a sequel to the Hobbit, he should have made it clear that he was using a different definition for WB than what he used during the same discussions.

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If the Way of Kings were perceived as a worldbuilding document the way people perceive the Silmarillion as such, then it would probably be justified.

So the perception of the ignorant and "the market"  dictate reality no mater what the truth is? That's good to know  :o

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Brandon is also creating his own mythology, the mythology of the Cosmere, with Hoid and Adonalsium. Yet from the start he does not expect this to have a life outside the novels or to become popular beyond a small subset of Sanderson readers. He is taking a much more realistic and pragmatic view of the whole matter than Tolkien took.

Good for him. I am glad the books are doing well as I am a fan. That doesn't change the fact that Tolkien didn't waste his time WB (using the definition that Sanderson has given).
Just because the stories he told in the Sil. weren't modern enough for the market, doesn't mean that they should be delegated to WB after the fact. Tolkien's intent (however unrealistic his goals may seem to any of us) is very much important in determining whether he was WB or trying to tell the stories that were in his head when he was in the trenches of WWI.
Saying that he wasted his time with stories no one would want to read at the time is very different than saying he wasted his time building the world of his "real" stories. One is an fairly accurate (though sad) assessment of the different type of world that Tolkien was clinging to and the facts of the publishing industry; the other is redefining what Tolkien was actually trying to do after the fact based on the "value" that you and others place on those tales.  Do you consider poets to be wasting their time writing poetry rather than writing a novel based in the world of their poems? Just because the poems don't sell doesn't mean they are a waste of time.











« Last Edit: June 25, 2011, 06:35:27 PM by fardawg »

zas678

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Please give Peter a little more respect. Not only is he a valuable member on this forum, he is a moderator, and Brandon Sanderson's assistant.

I believe that what Peter (and Brandon originally) is saying is that from a writer's point of view if you are wanting to publish a book, don't write the Similarion.

They aren't saying that Tolkein was trying to publish it, or even that he was ever planning on publish it. They're saying that worldbuilding, pure worldbuilding (as in building a world with histories, dates and times) doesn't sell very well unless it has a compelling story behind it. Which Tolkein did with LoTR and the Hobbit.

EDIT- little grammar stuff.
“It’s a fun tradition.”
“So was witch-burning,” Melody said.  “Unless you were the witch.”

Peter Ahlstrom

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fardawg, you are often bolding your text and using a lot of exclamation points. This indicates extreme emotional investment if not anger. If you don't want to come off that way, stop doing it.

I will now read the rest of your post.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2011, 11:47:00 PM by Peter Ahlstrom »
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Peter Ahlstrom

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--He didn't "build a world for years instead of writing a novel"

Different usage of "instead." I can rephrase to: build a world for years and not write a novel. Which is what happened. Of course his day job was as a university professor. No one has a day job worldbuilding.

Maybe Brandon gave that definition of worldbuilding. Do you have exact quotes? Or can you refer me to the episode number so I can look at the transcript?

Maybe I've been using a different definition. But I can assure you that in a face-to-face conversation, or if Brandon were posting in this thread, he would agree with me on the important points. The podcast is off-the-cuff and the language can fail to be precise at times.

Ultimately it still seems to me, from what you are saying, that we are agreed on pretty much every point about Tolkien's intentions and results. The only disputes left are what Brandon said and meant.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2011, 11:49:13 PM by Peter Ahlstrom »
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fardawg

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Quote
Please give Peter a little more respect. Not only is he a valuable member on this forum, he is a moderator, and Brandon Sanderson's assistant.

I believe that what Peter (and Brandon originally) is saying is that from a writer's point of view if you are wanting to publish a book, don't write the Similarion.

They aren't saying that Tolkein was trying to publish it, or even that he was ever planning on publish it. They're saying that worldbuilding, pure worldbuilding (as in building a world with histories, dates and times) doesn't sell very well unless it has a compelling story behind it. Which Tolkein did with LoTR and the Hobbit.

EDIT- little grammar stuff.

I was not trying to be disrespectful. Can you point out where I did this?
I know who he is. I said that before.
I know what he is saying and I have said multiple times that I agree that a writer wanting to publish shouldn't write like the Silmarillion. Please read what I have said before. I don't think you have read enough of this conversation.

----------------

Peter

fardawg, you are often bolding your text and using a lot of exclamation points. This indicates extreme emotional investment if not anger. If you don't want to come off that way, stop doing it.

I will now read the rest of your post.

Sorry that you think that.  I bold to emphasize points that I think are key (you should be able to get that from the context of what is bolded) because people seem to drift over them (and keep ignoring them). It is easy to drift over key points in long posts so I try to make them clearly stick out. I think I get the bold thing from comics. In comic books bolding generally is used to emphasis words, not make an angry voice. It wouldn't even make sense to use "angry voice" with most of the words I bolded.

Quote
The bottom line is, Don't do what you think Tolkien did if you don't know what Tolkien was doing!

See, in that I was emphasizing the dictum (I think that's the right word) that I was coining. I saw that as something we could agree on. I don't even know how that could be seen as angry.

Look at zas678's post. Was he yelling with the bolding he did? I didn't see it that way. He was emphasizing. I use exclamation points (something I hate using in fiction) to also emphasis that this is a highly important statement where in an actual conversation I would emphasis this with my voice. EM's can be used for more then anger (like surprise or joy). That last one where I had all caps, bold, and an exclamation mark was done in a way that was supposed to convey that I had no other way of emphasizing the point so people could get it. To me, it was clear that it was a different tone than the rest of the post. 
If you notice, I also use smiles and have pointed out many times that I am not angry (I'm actually getting a little annoyed that these are being ignored). To tell me I am too angry just after I pointed out I wasn't is a bit odd. It is an unfortunate aspect of internet writing that people can take your statements out of context  ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D See, Happy!    ;) I'll cut out the bold and exclamations if they make it weird for you-- though you might want to disable them if you don't like them. Use your admin powers, Peter. Let go your conscious self an...Oops, wrong forum.

In your remarks about Tolkien being a failure etc., it was pretty clear you were getting a little heated. I have no intention of going there, or being led there.  All I want is a friendly, logical conversation that uses clearly stated definitions. This whole my definition vs your definition gets us nowhere.

Peace (I seriously almost used an exclamation mark at the end of this - old habits...). 

And I do respect you, BTW. As a human being at least  ;)
« Last Edit: June 26, 2011, 05:00:17 PM by fardawg »