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Writer's Block Daily:

 19326 Night, Mon, 22nd Apr '13 8:39:18 AM from PSNS Intrepid Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Who you are does not matter.
Perhaps not, but the market does.

Ah to be gullible again, and believe in some kind of free market economic savior.

The market is not a magical corrective force. You can do things badly for ages, as long as everyone else is too or you're the only game in town. There's more than enough of both going on in the publishing industry to make that argument.

But more seriously, you've also assumed with blind faith that things done for the benefit of the producer will have benefits to the consumer. As everything from production corners cut to DRM has taught us, this is not the case. Many of the things done for the producer's benefit will in fact harm the consumer. The negative forces on the consumer will not magically cause buying to cease; perhaps they might reduce it, but if the benefit to the producer can outweigh the lost sales, they will continue to do it.

You are literally surrounded by examples of this practice. It's very likely the electronic device you're using to carry on this argument contains at least couple examples where quality was compromised for the low bid.

The adoption of a marketing demographic as if it were a genre is exactly such a thing. That such a demographic is also in an inherently poor position to judge quality makes the problem considerably worse.

edited 22nd Apr '13 8:39:45 AM by Night

"Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other...and rise."
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[up]That last line made me wanna head-desk.
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 19328 Masterofchaos, Mon, 22nd Apr '13 2:22:53 PM Relationship Status: In Lesbians with you
Best idol
You know what. I'm just gonna stay out of this one.

-hides in a box-
 19329 nrjxll, Mon, 22nd Apr '13 4:37:38 PM Relationship Status: Not war
Why is Iain Banks "lamented" if he's not dead? Is there something I should know?

Otherwise, I think I agree with Night's post on the state of SF, and might go so far as to extend that to speculative fiction as a whole. I've said before that fantasy has a big problem with overly-rigid attitudes towards genre, and still maintain that today, but all the same there's probably much more diversity today then there was fifteen years ago.

So your objection isn't with classifying works into genres in general, but with YA in particular? I suppose you can argue that the publishers aren't using the category very skillfully (mostly because they don't understand the audience, which is a research issue). I presume, therefore, that if they did market such works more intelligently, you would have no objections?

My objection is to classifying works into "genres" that are based on demographics, not story elements - what I refer to as prescriptive genres. No matter how the YA "genre" is marketed, it's still going to fall into that category, and I'm still going to object to it.

You can market to teenagers all you want, but don't try and make it out as some kind of codified genre.

 19330 Killer Clowns, Mon, 22nd Apr '13 4:38:21 PM from the Midwest
Easily entertained
Night, you know I like you. And to be honest, I agree with a large portion of your arguments. You're absolutely correct when you say the market will not necessarily correct practices that are bad for the consumer, and in many cases will outright reward them. But I'm gonna be blunt: you chose a really shitty note to end your argument with. If you take that last paragraph, wipe out the last sentence, and append the other sentence onto the previous paragraph, you've got a great argument. But now? You've poisoned your own well with arguments about ageism. The truth or falsehood of your claim is even irrelevant from a rhetorical standpoint, since the ensuing argument is quite likely to drown out anything else you had to say.

EDIT:

Why is Iain Banks "lamented" if he's not dead? Is there something I should know?

Yeah, afraid so.

edited 22nd Apr '13 4:41:45 PM by KillerClowns

 19331 chihuahua 0, Mon, 22nd Apr '13 5:15:56 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
Yeah. Let me be honest.

I hate that kind of ageism, and I know that most YA authors—and other teens—would agree with me.

Don't treat teens like me as if we don't have good taste in art and entertainment. Please don't be condensing. Adults can also have poor taste. Children can also have poor taste. But all of us can also have good taste, regardless of age.

Also, there's nothing shameful about guilty pleasures or even unironically liking works aimed for the mainstream crowd. I have Divergent, one of the top YA series right now, alongside the self-pub and indie ebooks on my Kindle.

On my iPhone, I have Nicki Minaj and Rihanna along with Kimbra, Kerli, and Marina And The Diamonds—along with Stephanie Reese. I have no idea what Stephanie Reese is doing right now, because last time, she was singing in wealthy venues for charity.

I acknowledge that have both bad and good taste, and most of my music taste is toward artists who have charted on the Billboard Hot 100—and there's nothing wrong with that, so don't make it out like that.


By the way, I agree that big industry never has customer interests as the primary objective, and it screws people over all the time, but don't forget that the publishing industry isn't just big business.

edited 22nd Apr '13 5:18:07 PM by chihuahua0

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[up]This, all of it.

I hated that kinda of agism at 16, I still hate it now that I'm in my 20's. My taste hasn't changed since then it's just grown, I'm still just as into dystopia and action now as I was back then. I still follow many of the same series and shows that are still around and am still just as big of a fan, if not a bigger fan.

My interests haven't gotten "better" with age, they've just grown and shifted slightly.
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 19333 Khantalas, Mon, 22nd Apr '13 5:37:05 PM from ((Not actually a creepy adorable little girl.))
Creepy adorable little girl
Hell, my interests have gotten worse with age. I was far better about choosing what to read at age 16 than I am now.
"Be mine, dear big brother."
 19334 Masterofchaos, Mon, 22nd Apr '13 5:40:10 PM Relationship Status: In Lesbians with you
Best idol
[up][up]

Heh. I'm kind of the same here, but I'm more into Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy.

edited 22nd Apr '13 5:40:23 PM by Masterofchaos

 19335 nrjxll, Mon, 22nd Apr '13 7:23:59 PM Relationship Status: Not war
Also, there's nothing shameful about guilty pleasures or even unironically liking works aimed for the mainstream crowd.

Well, actually, that's why they call them guilty pleasures. But I don't know who implied that the "mainstream" is automatically bad - that's a very irritating attitude, frankly.

 19336 De Marquis, Mon, 22nd Apr '13 7:25:35 PM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Well, ok then. Since everyone else is already all over the ageism aspect, I'll just go ahead and address the substance of the rest of Night and nrjxll arguments.

@Night: You're over-reading my argument. I'm not some kind of Ayn Rand free-market acolyte, but the fact is that the publishing business is a business. They do not offer products that are best for the customer, they offer those that customers are willing to buy at the highest price they are willing to buy them at. As a business, they don't exist to improve the reading tastes of the American public, whatever that would mean, they exist to meet the needs of their customers.

"You can do things badly for ages, as long as everyone else is too or you're the only game in town. There's more than enough of both going on in the publishing industry to make that argument."

I disagree with your summary of the facts. The book business is so far from being a cartel and there are so many alternative sources of good works that readers can take advantage of, there is no need to submit to anyone's "bad practices."

"But more seriously, you've also assumed with blind faith that things done for the benefit of the producer will have benefits to the consumer."

I have not made that argument. I was merely responding to your statement ""Nothing the publisher does is required to serve a purpose to the reader." You have said that several times now. I don't know what you could possibly mean. If a publisher never does anything to serve their customers, just how do you think they stay in business? Cutting corners in the production process lowers the price of books, and DRM doesn't hurt more than a tiny proportion of readers (the vast majority of whom don't download anything, let alone feel a need to share their files). It may nevertheless be a bad practice. If so, it will eventually go away.

More to the point, from a publishers POV genres are marketing demographics, as in "people who are interested in contemporary lit", etc. To an author, a genre is a type of work, but to a publisher, a genre is a set of features that a population of customers are interested in. That's just the way the business works.

@nrxjll: "My objection is to classifying works into "genres" that are based on demographics, not story elements..."

Ah, I think I'm beginning to get it. See the last paragraph in my response to Night, above. In any case, YA does classify by story elements, primarily an approach toward story-telling that takes the POV of a 12-18 year old reader. This will inform the way in which the protagonists and antagonists are characterized, how settings are described, how the plot will proceed, what writing style is adopted- all are informed by the understanding of teen readers.

By the way, I never meant that Sci-Fi is somehow less successful now than in the past, I meant that the genre is no longer a single coherent body of works that resemble each other- it's diversified into a large body of sub-genres, and that's a good thing, overall.

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
 19337 Tera Chimera, Mon, 22nd Apr '13 7:27:58 PM from somewhere out there
Cool Celtic Composition
[up][up] "It's worth remembering that sometimes popular things are popular for a reason: because they're good. Or because Will Smith is in it." —Ben Croshaw

edited 22nd Apr '13 7:28:30 PM by TeraChimera

"The Uncertainty Principle isn't about uncertainty and it isn't a principle; other than that, it's perfectly named." — David Van Baak
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[up][up][up][up]Oh, I'm into those as well.

edited 22nd Apr '13 7:28:42 PM by Vyctorian

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 19339 Night, Mon, 22nd Apr '13 8:06:23 PM from PSNS Intrepid Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Who you are does not matter.
Don't treat teens like me as if we don't have good taste in art and entertainment.

I didn't deny the possibility, but you're stating that I should give equal weight to the opinions of a group who are, as a group, by definition just starting to formulate complex opinions on pretty much everything in life. A lot of the YA demographic isn't permitted to vote either and gets tried under a different set of rules if they commit a crime. You don't get to pick and choose this stuff. It's the freaking law.

It's not your age I'd judge your opinions on, Zero, but you are far and away an exception when it comes to being well-educated on the subject at hand. And if you're going to pretend to me with straight face that you're not; that your opinions are not the result of a far more educated mindset on writing than most of your peers (or indeed, most of my peers at nearly thirty), then you're just lying to me and to yourself.

You don't represent your peers, neither does Vyc. Just by being here in Writer's Block you've already shown more desire to learn about this subject than most people ever will. You actually have very little in common with them on this subject. And it's time you both recognized it.

Why is Iain Banks "lamented" if he's not dead?

Terminal, inoperable metastatized cancer. He announced it April 3rd and has "months" left. His next novel will be his last.

edited 22nd Apr '13 8:10:18 PM by Night

"Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other...and rise."
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[up]Me and Chi may not fully represent our peers but nobody can do that due the sheer complexity of human beings, but it is not simply good taste vs. bad taste thing. It's a spectrum and that spectrum dose not just have one side full of "bad taste" , and a small side with "good taste"; and generally people aren't on just one side or just the other side.

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 19341 chihuahua 0, Mon, 22nd Apr '13 8:45:16 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
@Night: Just because teens can't vote and have brains less developed than adults like you doesn't mean that we don't matter.

Really, if there's one thing I have seen both in real life and the Internet is that adults are capable of the same immature decisions than teenagers make. Irrationality doesn't disappear with age. It can linger, and it lingers in us all.

Although more adults can make it in the real world than us teens, that doesn't cancel out our taste in media.

Still, there's still one issue that's bothering me: that YA is shallow. You made that implication at the start of this entire discussion. Sure, some YA literature is shallow, but many adult and children books are also shallow to the same proportions. And there is YA literature that has artistic merit.

Just so we're on the same page, what kind of media do you think teenagers should be experiencing? What's the kind of media should we go into after a long day of school and homework, or on a Saturday night, or whatever is convenient? If you think that we shouldn't be reading books like Divergent, Shatter Me, Across the Universe, and such *, what should we be reading instead?

And another request: What do you consider "good" taste?


To make things clear, I think that low-brow entertainment is important. Deepness isn't required for entertainment, and sometimes, dumb entertainment is smartly made.

And while some low-brow entertainment promote negative values, there's plenty of other low-brow entertainment that promote positive values.

There's one point I'll like to concede. I have no idea how many people make an effort to stay aware of their media and the messages media send. Can someone pitch in on that?

edited 22nd Apr '13 8:49:31 PM by chihuahua0

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[up]In addition to Chi's book suggestions, anything by John Green.
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 19343 chihuahua 0, Mon, 22nd Apr '13 8:50:24 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
[up] Oh, yeah, John Green. I'm reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson right now. So far, it gives a authentic gleam on how teenagers can be flawed—but also hold virtues.

edited 22nd Apr '13 8:52:22 PM by chihuahua0

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Also agreed on low brow entertainment having has it's place, and a good writer of it can hide subtle but powerful messages and symbolism in it.

edited 22nd Apr '13 9:01:09 PM by Vyctorian

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(ʘ‿ʘ✿)
Teenager here. I haven't really followed this discussion too closely.

It seems to me that the publishing industry sees teenagers the same way Night does, which is why YA can end up as mediocre trend-chasing light reading. I watch lots of of my classmates gobble it up anyway without asking any questions, which probably supports Night's point. I am glad that some of the rest can acknowledge the flaws and still enjoy it. It's good to relax once in a while.

Personally I have a pretty low tolerance for it, though.

My honors English teacher this year said "For your independent reading project this year, pick something that challenges you. I know you like The Hunger Games and that's okay but if you think it challenges you I'm sorry." That sounds harsh but I think he has a point. Enjoy it if you want but don't pretend that it's as worthwhile as your curriculum unless you actually have serious analysis to back it up. I doubt you could squeeze as much meaning out of The Hunger Games the way 100+ honors English students are trying to squeeze meaning out of The Things They Carried and distill that meaning into an essay as I type this.

And speaking of that essay.... -jumps off a cliff-

edited 22nd Apr '13 10:30:51 PM by LeungBaiFang

Let's not go there. *flails noodle arms*
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[up]What kind of challenge? Like reading skill challenge or critical reading challenge?

edited 22nd Apr '13 10:04:57 PM by Vyctorian

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(ʘ‿ʘ✿)
I would say both. Aren't they related to each other?

If you think that's really harsh, maybe you'd like to know that this is an Honors 11th grade English class in a high school generally regarded as kind of "up there" and a lot is expected of us. That might put things in perspective, but I have no idea if that actually makes you feel better though.

edited 22nd Apr '13 10:34:27 PM by LeungBaiFang

Let's not go there. *flails noodle arms*
 19348 nrjxll, Mon, 22nd Apr '13 11:00:19 PM Relationship Status: Not war
Out of all of the ways to determine objective quality (and let me be clear that I think there are some, and they do concur with your overall point) the amount of "meaning" you can find in something is a very poor one, honestly. It's far too self-determined.

edited 22nd Apr '13 11:00:36 PM by nrjxll

 19349 Oh So Into Cats, Mon, 22nd Apr '13 11:47:54 PM from The Sand Wastes Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
I mean then again when we're talking about the YA demographic, we need to keep in mind that 1) not all young adults read YA and 2) not all who read YA are young adults. I didn't read much YA when I was in the age group. I didn't really like it much and was offended when everything with a young protagonist got clumped in there.

@Leung: you could probably squeeze a lot out of The Hunger Games by looking at what's wrong with it, but that's probably more at home in an economics class.

edited 22nd Apr '13 11:49:15 PM by ohsointocats

"Beware of the wolves. They were raised by wolves."

Eidolonomics: ~60.4k/100,000 words
I suddenly want to write something in the future tense. How the hell would that work.

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