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neverendingmidi

it just goes on and on and on and on...
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On the topic of getting boys to read I've lately been wondering exactly what, exactly, they like to read. I've heard a few different perspectives on this: books about other boys their own age, books about men doing things, books about hot women.

1) Like thinking back to myself as a young teen I read Harry Potter, I liked Stephen King (The Talisman, Dark Tower), the Giver, and To Kill a Mockingbird were a handful of my favorites. Thinking back I think the commonality there is most dealt with a young male who was going through the transition of being a vulnerable child to needing to make decisions, do things, standard coming of age stuff. I don't know if this is just my own interest in men's issues making me project this in hindsight, or if these kinds of stories are primarily what appeals to boys.

2) I also remember a lot of my peers being into Dragon Lance, RA Salvatore, and a lot of books I'd have written off as cringy wish fulfillment trash even back then. I didn't like it but clearly that shit does sell. Is this what resonates?

3) Recently had a discussion with a friend, who is writing a story, and he mentioned how he is trying to write something he might've liked as a teenager. Most of the protagonists were women. I expressed a bit of surprise as this as, well, we are in a society that already worships women and most books are now about the experiences of teenaged girls and young women. Then again when I was a kid buffy, firefly, etc. were pretty big and certainly "female action hero" has some level of male appeal.

So I don't know. What makes a book appeal uniquely to boys? There are still plenty of books like (#1) out there, even if they aren't new; I am sure Blizzard is still shitting out ghost-written fan fiction about Varian Wrynn (#2); and almost all new books are about BIPOC teenaged girls succeeding where grown men failed (#3). So what is missing?
My aunt had a hell of a time getting my cousin to read, until she tried biographies. He had no interest in fiction, but was really interested in the historical books. This was in the early 90’s, before even Harry Potter was around, which did increase the number of kids fantasy books for good or bad.
 

Fortunato Brown

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That...that kind of makes sense about the self-defeating loop. People just don't realize how important Editors actually are. This reminds me of stories in Japan, back when publishers are on arms race to publish popular web novels, particularly Isekai and other Shousetsuka works. They soon found out that some of these writers are unable to revise/edit their works, so some editors have to rewrote them themselves. One even claimed (anonymously) that they have to rewrite  half of a book themselves

Edit:
The correct term is Narou-kei, not Shousetsuka, that's the name of the website
Also agents seem way more accepting of extremely boring autofiction when it's a minority. The biggest sin of the LGBTQA black books are more that they are just boring. The hook is that someone misgendered them at work. There's very little sense of "contract writing" as Franzen described where you are writing with the audience in mind to some extent. And they definitely don't seem to be writing to sell books but just for the prestige of being a published novelist. Very bizarre to me.


Usually these writers are skilled but not talented. They write in your typical MFA program way that has taken over modern lit fic and is just unbelievably bland. Its amazing these publishers aren't falling to bankruptcy left and right because I have never known anyone who read one of these books that cover 70% of Barnes and Nobles's shelf space.
 
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Atatata

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That...that kind of makes sense about the self-defeating loop. People just don't realize how important Editors actually are. This reminds me of stories in Japan, back when publishers are on arms race to publish popular web novels, particularly Isekai and other Shousetsuka works. They soon found out that some of these writers are unable to revise/edit their works, so some editors have to rewrote them themselves. One even claimed (anonymously) that they have to rewrite  half of a book themselves

Edit:
The correct term is Narou-kei, not Shousetsuka, that's the name of the website
I've wondered about this. The thing is, wouldn't anybody be able to tell from the difference between the writings? Its not like the wn is hidden, anyone can read it freely and see for themselves. I'd figured editors would have a harder time, given that.
 
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UnsufficentBoobage

Atleast things I wanna fuck are 3D
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My aunt had a hell of a time getting my cousin to read, until she tried biographies. He had no interest in fiction, but was really interested in the historical books.
Realistic books written from a kid perspective just seem cool at certain part of life, as well. Кондуит и Швамбрания and such.
 

Krokodil Overdose

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So I don't know. What makes a book appeal uniquely to boys? There are still plenty of books like (#1) out there, even if they aren't new; I am sure Blizzard is still shitting out ghost-written fan fiction about Varian Wrynn (#2); and almost all new books are about BIPOC teenaged girls succeeding where grown men failed (#3). So what is missing?
I was thinking about this, and my own reading preferences, and I've come up with a couple ideas. Obviously this isn't supposed to be exhaustive but maybe something to think about.

1) If you don't have anything to prove you might as well stay home. Your protagonist needs to have something to overcome (even if he didn't seek it out) that challenges him. Reading old Spider-Man comics, the formula is pretty much identical: villain appears, defeats Spidey, then Spidey pulls back, licks his wounds, and works out how to beat him. The early Venom stories were a great example of this because of how powerful he was, and how he was able to circumvent so many of the things Peter took for granted- his secret identity was no help because the symbiote knew him inside and out, his spider-sense was blind to it, Brock and the symbiote together were stronger than he was- it made Venom a brutal, relentless threat, so finally working out how to defeat him was extremely satisfying. (As an aside, can you imagine any [current year] comics critter writing or drawing the savage beatdown Venom gives Black Cat in MacFarlane's run?) The events need to be worth the character's (and, by extension, the reader's time.)

2) What you do is who you are. Spider-Man remains the obvious example here because the character is defined not by getting his powers, but by (negligently) causing the death of his beloved uncle by failing to use them properly. But just for the sake of getting off this hobby horse, let's talk about another archetypical guy hero: Conan. The original stories are completely self contained, and his origins are barely alluded to: you know he's from Cimmeria, a cold and inhospitable place, but he left as a teenager to become a mercenary and...that's it. You never go to Cimmeria, Conan's family and backstory never define the plot (except for the novel where he's king of Aquilonia, which is just a Kull story that happens to star Conan), and there isn't a lot of backstory or clutter to complicate whatever it is he's trying to accomplish: breaking into a wizard's tower, stealing priceless jewels, hunting down a cannibal cult in exchange for the chance to lay pipe in the beautiful woman who recruited him, or not getting eaten by vampires. Every story is about him using his wits and charm and steely thews to accomplish whatever it is he's trying to do.

I think these two bullet points are antithetical to the identitarian slop getting churned out because they both reject the idea that you're good enough by virtue of existing. If challenges need to be a struggle to be worth it, you have to struggle. If you are what you do, then having the right place on the intersectional totem pole doesn't mean shit if all you do is sit on your ass drinking Starbucks.
 

Rezza

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I've wondered about this. The thing is, wouldn't anybody be able to tell from the difference between the writings? Its not like the wn is hidden, anyone can read it freely and see for themselves. I'd figured editors would have a harder time, given that.
I imagined the editors know how to mimic the author's style as closely as possible. Besides, sometimes there's a significant change from WN to LN because the formats and mediums are quite different, so most people would probably accept that

You know what? This question about Narou-kei makes me wonder if any western publishers are thinking to find a new author in the WN talent pool? Some local publishers in my country have tried to do it with some varying degrees of success, one even has a hugely successful movie adaptation that just came out
 

Jet Fuel Johnny

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I've said it before, but the biggest problem in literature is the same problem that's hitting Hollywood.

None of these faggots have any life experience. The most hardship they've undergone is being misgendered or not getting the right latte. They can't describe what fear actually feels like because they've never been REALLY afraid. Not just anxious or "Oh, I'm black and that's a cop" but actual fucking "I'm going to die here" or "they're about to die here" fear. They haven't had a job that entailed anything more than typing and bitching. They've never driven any real length. They've never ran a mile.

They have no life experience, and it fucking shows.

Their characters are bland, their struggles are pathetic, their conflicts are tepid, and they can't describe anything.

Their characters exist in a flat gray space with nothing but immobile cardboard cutouts that just spout off one-liners to each other and the reader is lucky if they know what color hair the protagonist has.

They're boring mannequins in boring situations with watered down sitcom problems that have been carefully curated not to offend or trigger anyone with hardly a single basis in reality.
 

Atatata

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I imagined the editors know how to mimic the author's style as closely as possible. Besides, sometimes there's a significant change from WN to LN because the formats and mediums are quite different, so most people would probably accept that
From what I know, most changes tend to be criticized heavily and compared to the web novel, or generally very small. That being said, there's so many web novels out there, its most likely true. Kind of wonder which series are the ones where this is the case.
For a fact, I do know Re:Zero's second season (arc 4) was basically rewritten, the web novel was practically double the length, but in that case the changes were severely criticized.
 

Krokodil Overdose

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I've said it before, but the biggest problem in literature is the same problem that's hitting Hollywood.

None of these faggots have any life experience. The most hardship they've undergone is being misgendered or not getting the right latte. They can't describe what fear actually feels like because they've never been REALLY afraid. Not just anxious or "Oh, I'm black and that's a cop" but actual fucking "I'm going to die here" or "they're about to die here" fear. They haven't had a job that entailed anything more than typing and bitching. They've never driven any real length. They've never ran a mile.

They have no life experience, and it fucking shows.
It's worse than that. It's one thing to have no life experience, but it's compounded by having no interests outside of [the current thing.] Howard and Tolkien both had life experience, but they were also history nerds and it really showed though in their writing. John Kennedy Toole was an academic weirdo (though he did two years in the army, thanks to the draft) and he still managed to produce the best American novel ever written simply though his powers of observation and imagination. Having a rich inner life can make up for a lot of outer deficiencies, especially in an escapist medium.

These people... don't have that. What they have is a social version of the hedonic treadmill, where everything is a race to stay abreast of whatever is most cutting edge, because you'll be unemployable if you fall behind. None of them has any interest in art or literature as such, only the degree to which they can work their narcissistic will on it through "queer deconstruction" or whatever.
Their characters are bland, their struggles are pathetic, their conflicts are tepid, and they can't describe anything.

Their characters exist in a flat gray space with nothing but immobile cardboard cutouts that just spout off one-liners to each other and the reader is lucky if they know what color hair the protagonist has.
I disagree with this part. Like them, their characters have physical characteristics, because that's one of the few real traits they have. If their main character is fat, black and queer (and you bet they will be) then I hope you're braced for endless, artless description of how fat, black, and queer they are.
 

Jet Fuel Johnny

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If their main character is fat, black and queer (and you bet they will be) then I hope you're braced for endless, artless description of how fat, black, and queer they are.
I forgot that part.

It will be a fat, black, queer cardboard cutout with "TRANS LIVES MATTER" painted on it.

Not, you know, actual characterization.

Funny thing is, I think people really want non-nihilistic, non-deconstructionist, non-Post Modernist literature to read.

I hear "Oh, post apocalyptic literature was popular during the Cold War, so shit heap world full of shit heap characters with trashfire lives and no real struggle will be popular now!" all the time.

Except, Cold War post-apocalyptic was full of adventure, struggle, and the fight to make things better. It had HEROES. It had VILLANS. It had a goal and a journey.

The shit I've read now is nothing but masturbatory crap written by people with... well... nothing inside of them.
 

Shaka Brah

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Except, Cold War post-apocalyptic was full of adventure, struggle, and the fight to make things better. It had HEROES. It had VILLANS. It had a goal and a journey.
It also had a message, and the message was usually that modernity was bringing us inexorably towards destruction and only a complete reorientation of Mankind's priorities could show it that tradition was what made us happy.

Postmodern trash usually just enforces the fad of the day.
 

Commissar Fuklaw

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I've wondered about this. The thing is, wouldn't anybody be able to tell from the difference between the writings? Its not like the wn is hidden, anyone can read it freely and see for themselves. I'd figured editors would have a harder time, given that.
Web novels are first draft tier.
Light novels are first draft tier run through spellcheck.

The bar is so low that the readers don't care. The publishers don't care. It's all about getting it to manga so they make money and anime to advertise for the manga.
 

Mega Black

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Had a chat with my fiancé today about the problems YA has in how it alienates boys, which discourages them from reading, but I don't think it's entirely a boy problem. So he was wondering what it would take to get a Zoomer to read these days, and I honestly believe that some of them may never pick up a book again. Kids kind of need to be conditioned or have to have an inclination for reading, otherwise they'll just never feel the need to read what's not already available on their phones. Older books are still timeless enough that anyone can read them, but kids can't get their hands on them if their parents don't already own a copy, or if they aren't taken to the library often.

I had to use myself as an example because as a kid, despite being a young girl, it was "uncool" that I was a bookworm. But I have hyperlexia, so I was already born to read, and my parents had a lot of books and encyclopedias within reach that I'd just grab and read because I felt like it that day (because there was either nothing on the TV, it was raining/dark outside, my brothers were using the computer, or whatever). My brothers did it, too--not to the same extent I did, but at the very least, they will read a book if they're interested in it. But I have a feeling that if it wasn't for the fact I read so much as a kid, I might've become disinterested in books later in life just because a lot of the school-mandated books weren't always good or interesting, and I knew other bookworms from my classes who hated a lot of these titles.

Maybe we're just from a different time because the Internet wasn't yet prevalent, and even though there's oodles of reading material online, you can't find free shit without knowing someone with a folder or Mega link and there's too many normies who can't figure that out. Also it's just not the same reading off a screen than it is reading off a physical book, which may be a small key factor to why it is people just aren't interested in reading.

I also pointed out how back in the day, boys got into reading through comic books, and unfortunately, comic books suck ass now. Manga is a good alternative way to go about it, but that's still a niche genre, and even among weebs that's apparently not exactly the case like it would've been just ten years ago since, well, bookstores aren't exactly in the best spot right now. Haven't been for years. Scanlations also are just all over the place, too.

I dunno, feels bad, man. I've been thinking that at this point, I just have to hope and pray God blesses us with a hyperlexic child just to make things slightly easier on us in getting them interested in reading, and that we get enough books across demographics to ensure that.
I don't think it's anywhere near as bad as you think. As someone who is in the public library very often, the majority of books checked out go to kids. Zoomers, at least where I live, read way more than my generation seemed to. Maybe my state just has a good infrastructure for it, but I've seen bagfulls of books getting checked out at a time for tikes.

Teens not as much, but they still get a sizable amount of YA Manga readers. Teenagers just don't read that much, when you get older it has to be a serious passion or you just sort of stop because you don't have time. I'd say the perceptions just feel worse because we're getting older and feel like kids are on technology too much, but even then, they're usually engaging with comics and fanart and fanfiction to a sizable degree.
 

Shaka Brah

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Web novels are first draft tier.
Light novels are first draft tier run through spellcheck.

The bar is so low that the readers don't care. The publishers don't care. It's all about getting it to manga so they make money and anime to advertise for the manga.
Most of them are such blatant Mary Sue wish fulfillment that it's hard to even stay entertained past the first chapter. I've had people recommend them to me but I just can't enjoy what I've seen. Same goes for a lot of Asian webcomics (those long ones you read on your phone).
 

JJLiautaud

The Sandwich Guy
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Fat is currently under going a canceling by some German Shepard writer because of the rascals; they also targeted Scalzi but he cucked out immediately.
c4.png3404197-1fb759e7d068b6462589a00de1c7663b.png
 

thyme's up

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Had a chat with my fiancé today about the problems YA has in how it alienates boys, which discourages them from reading,

I dunno, feels bad, man. I've been thinking that at this point, I just have to hope and pray God blesses us with a hyperlexic child just to make things slightly easier on us in getting them interested in reading, and that we get enough books across demographics to ensure that.
Most children are interested in reading. They love being read to when they're toddlers and preschoolers, even kindergarten and early elementary. That's special time with their parents/teachers/caregivers. When they get older, they have more things vying for their time--school, extracurriculars, electronics/tv, etc. Just make sure you have a wide variety of reading material around the house (like your parents did) and take time to read aloud and to their interests. Many kids end up picking reading back up later on as adults, so there's no reason to fret.
Usually these writers are skilled but not talented. They write in your typical MFA program way that has taken over modern lit fic and is just unbelievably bland.
I don't have an MFA but I do have the equivalent (and more) of professional experience, so I'll assume that MFA programs, like many books on writing craft nowadays, take a lot of the fun and creativity out of writing. I've seen so many books and programs distilling writing to a numbers game--at the 13% mark of the story comes the inciting incident, at 45% the second obstacle, at 91% the dénouement, etc. Or you have to fill out copious amounts of worksheets to understand your character, his wound, if he likes potato wedges or french fries, and does he sleep with socks on or off. It's ridiculous and takes the magic out of storytelling.

There needs to be a balance of structure and freedom when writing a good, satisfying story. There's endless debating of plotter v. pantser, but you really need to do both to fully embrace the creative process.
 

Windows 10 Upgrade

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There needs to be a balance of structure and freedom when writing a good, satisfying story. There's endless debating of plotter v. pantser, but you really need to do both to fully embrace the creative process.
It's interesting how MFAs try to make story telling strictly empirical and mathematical. It's hard to teach a "feeling" and "when you know, you know", let alone grade it.

I'm all for knowing characters, but you look at something devastatingly simple like Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD and the characters aren't even named, but we feel them because we know these people, the struggling parent, the child who must be protected.

I've been watching a few of the big "Angry Fan" YouTubes lately and found in a lot of ways the umbrage they take in terms of properties being Ruined Forever is grounded in very firm storytelling and character building theory. (And not because they're being racist and sexist, for example - obviously those people exist, but to sit down for 20-40 minutes and explain to an audience why X-Person Bad requires a lot of internal and external examination.)

I absolutely agree there are are several literary/narrative devices that in some way or another are absolutely necessary in the construction of a SATISFYING story, whether a piece of media or a book,. Certain story-telling conventions must be adhered to (even if the literary device is thwarted or deconstructed, it's still acknowledged) for the reader/viewer to walk away thinking that their time has not been altogether wasted... the author has to give them their "Prestige Moment".

And I love how some Angry Fan Tubers - some who have never taken any kind of storytelling or literature theory at all, continually hit the same beats about how the narrative Pledge/Promise to viewers/readers is betrayed in a certain piece of Ruined Forever IP.

A lot of the shitty SJW (and to be fair, right-leaning creators also trying to push a *message*) actually buck conventions MORE. The original Star Wars was very much an examination of the Vietnam War, but the theme is so deftly woven in the average normie cannot see it and have their own immersion ruined. Later they might think on it and realise that there was more than explosions and pew-pew. There's no need to bring the story to a gaping plot-hole or a screeching halt to make a point. LOtR had strong anti-war, anti-progress messages in it - a LOT of messages - but there's no point where the story needs to break itself to make these points.
 

Shaka Brah

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A lot of the shitty SJW (and to be fair, right-leaning creators also trying to push a *message*) actually buck conventions MORE. The original Star Wars was very much an examination of the Vietnam War, but the theme is so deftly woven in the average normie cannot see it and have their own immersion ruined. Later they might think on it and realise that there was more than explosions and pew-pew. There's no need to bring the story to a gaping plot-hole or a screeching halt to make a point. LOtR had strong anti-war, anti-progress messages in it - a LOT of messages - but there's no point where the story needs to break itself to make these points.
I wouldn't even read that deeply into it re: political commentary affecting the story, because the idea of the story is all that matters for how it feels. George Lucas himself has said that Star Wars is a specific kind of heroic journey. A man who has the world's responsibilities on his shoulders falters and fails but is redeemed by his son. He knew with absolute certainty what a truly meaningful story looked like because he had read classic European literature, and even though his movies were basically 70s scifi schlock he adamantly maintained the through-line of Monomyth through it.

Modern Hollywood doesn't believe in truth or history so they can't write a Monomyth. They don't understand why dragging a franchise out past its expiration will feel wrong because they're not creative and productive, they're parasites.
 

Flexo

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It's interesting how MFAs try to make story telling strictly empirical and mathematical. It's hard to teach a "feeling" and "when you know, you know", let alone grade it.

I'm all for knowing characters, but you look at something devastatingly simple like Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD and the characters aren't even named, but we feel them because we know these people, the struggling parent, the child who must be protected.

I've been watching a few of the big "Angry Fan" YouTubes lately and found in a lot of ways the umbrage they take in terms of properties being Ruined Forever is grounded in very firm storytelling and character building theory. (And not because they're being racist and sexist, for example - obviously those people exist, but to sit down for 20-40 minutes and explain to an audience why X-Person Bad requires a lot of internal and external examination.)

I absolutely agree there are are several literary/narrative devices that in some way or another are absolutely necessary in the construction of a SATISFYING story, whether a piece of media or a book,. Certain story-telling conventions must be adhered to (even if the literary device is thwarted or deconstructed, it's still acknowledged) for the reader/viewer to walk away thinking that their time has not been altogether wasted... the author has to give them their "Prestige Moment".

And I love how some Angry Fan Tubers - some who have never taken any kind of storytelling or literature theory at all, continually hit the same beats about how the narrative Pledge/Promise to viewers/readers is betrayed in a certain piece of Ruined Forever IP.

A lot of the shitty SJW (and to be fair, right-leaning creators also trying to push a *message*) actually buck conventions MORE. The original Star Wars was very much an examination of the Vietnam War, but the theme is so deftly woven in the average normie cannot see it and have their own immersion ruined. Later they might think on it and realise that there was more than explosions and pew-pew. There's no need to bring the story to a gaping plot-hole or a screeching halt to make a point. LOtR had strong anti-war, anti-progress messages in it - a LOT of messages - but there's no point where the story needs to break itself to make these points.
As a friend of mine says: storytelling is like stage magic. You are trying to get the audience to believe something unreal. People may not be able to explain why something is a bad trick or how a trick fails, but they all recognize it instantly because they never believed.

Likewise as a writer, you don't want the reader to see the strings.
 

Rezza

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As a friend of mine says: storytelling is like stage magic. You are trying to get the audience to believe something unreal. People may not be able to explain why something is a bad trick or how a trick fails, but they all recognize it instantly because they never believed.

Likewise as a writer, you don't want the reader to see the strings.
That's what this book about worldbuilding I read talked about, believability. For your Fictional World to work, the audience must believe that it exist, somewhat. The same also applies to the story, the audience must also "believe" that the story actually happens

That's why genre conventions and/or trope are often necessary, because it helps the audience believe the story more easily since they're serve like a common knowledge/fact (example: gravity, time, etc). So when you play with those convention expectation, you need to do it in certain way that not completely destroy it, like most writers these days do