World, Writing, Wealth discussion

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message 1: by Mehreen (last edited Jan 21, 2017 02:04AM) (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Fitzgerald, in Tender is the Night and The Last Tycoon, the most allusive of all his novels, uses footnotes as point of reference. Can footnotes resolve the problem of "telling" and "showing" in allusive novels?


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments I think it's lazy and unimaginative.


message 3: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Tara wrote: "I think it's lazy and unimaginative."

Depends on what an author is trying to focus on, I think.


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments In fiction you focus on the narrative. Where do footnotes belong in that scenario?


message 5: by Mehreen (last edited Jan 19, 2017 07:13PM) (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Tara wrote: "In fiction you focus on the narrative. Where do footnotes belong in that scenario?"

Footnotes tell us what the writer is alluding to. They contain information or description about what s/he is not "showing" in the narrative. It is more applicable to nonfiction I know. But even in fiction writing there can be footnotes when the writer feels that something needs to be explained more in details that wasn't possible in the flow of the narrative.


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Mehreen wrote: "Tara wrote: "In fiction you focus on the narrative. Where do footnotes belong in that scenario?"

Footnotes tell us what the writer is alluding to. They contain information or description about wha..."


Then don't include it. Fiction is all about the narrative.


message 7: by Mehreen (last edited Jan 19, 2017 07:36PM) (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Yeah, I know what you mean. But traditionally, writers have done it such James Joyce in Ulysses and others with success


message 8: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin I use footnotes most often to give the translation in English of terms or words in other languages used in the text (like German military ranks of WW2 or swear words).


message 9: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Michel wrote: "I use footnotes most often to give the translation in English of terms or words in other languages used in the text (like German military ranks of WW2 or swear words)."

That's a great idea. Not everything is always explicable in the narrative.


message 10: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14956 comments When using it in my title, I thought 'oligarch' is a pretty known word until few fellow authors wrote to me they needed to look it up in the dictionary -:)
But with search engines, it's kinda easy to find anything on the web. I don't mind if a book may necessitate a search or two, while I hear some readers hate it..
Realize now that my post is not exactly about allusive novels -:)


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Nik wrote: "When using it in my title, I thought 'oligarch' is a pretty known word until few fellow authors wrote to me they needed to look it up in the dictionary -:)
But with search engines, it's kinda easy ..."


It does speak to my belief that people want things spoonfed to them.


message 12: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Tara wrote: "Nik wrote: "When using it in my title, I thought 'oligarch' is a pretty known word until few fellow authors wrote to me they needed to look it up in the dictionary -:)
But with search engines, it's..."


There are readers and there are readers dear Tara.


message 13: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Nik wrote: "When using it in my title, I thought 'oligarch' is a pretty known word until few fellow authors wrote to me they needed to look it up in the dictionary -:)
But with search engines, it's kinda easy ..."


Precisely.


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Mehreen wrote: "Tara wrote: "Nik wrote: "When using it in my title, I thought 'oligarch' is a pretty known word until few fellow authors wrote to me they needed to look it up in the dictionary -:)
But with search ..."


True. I guess it boils down to how willing you are to hold the readers hand?


message 15: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10751 comments So far, I have avoided footnotes like the plague. Taking Michel's point, in one of my novels, set in the first century, the main protagonist would be made Tribunus Laticlavius, and I doubt very many would know what that was. To get around that, I thought the answer was to show. First, a conversation involving a retired Centurion asking him whether that was fair, and later, because that is the second ranked individual in a legion, and because the Legatus was a drunkard, I had the Governor give him a "going over", and ended up with a set for instructions as to what was expected of him. I think that is far better than a rather large footnote.


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Ian wrote: "So far, I have avoided footnotes like the plague. Taking Michel's point, in one of my novels, set in the first century, the main protagonist would be made Tribunus Laticlavius, and I doubt very man..."

In my humble opinion this is the best way for a writer to go about explication.


message 17: by Krazykiwi (new)

Krazykiwi | 193 comments I've been thinking about this, and what I was thinking was "But some of my favourite books have copious footnotes!" Then I figured out the difference.

Like any other technique, footnotes can be really fun, when done well. I think the difference is when footnotes are factual and required to understand the story, they tend to be in the way. When they're actually fictional footnotes to a fictional story, they can be really fun. So I don't write off footnotes entirely as a technique in the writerly toolbox.

(I was trying to come up with a way to describe this, and found this page: https://miskatonic.org/footnotes.html )

For a brilliant example that I don't think is on that list, in the Ciaphas Cain novels, the MC is a galactic-wide military hero, known for his exploits and widely considered a military genius.

Several of the novels are essentially his own retelling of his exploits, where it's abundantly clear he not only lucked out on most of his escapades, but he wouldn't have been in trouble in the first place if he hadn't been doing his utmost to avoid doing any work or being in any danger at all.

The footnotes then, are written as if commentary from a later date, by a historian reviewing Cain's own writings, and making ultra-serious comments on how fabulously self-deprecating Cain is, and how he always tries to credit everyone else etc, totally buying into the legend of Cain rather than what is actually in the text.

You don't actually need to read the footnotes to understand the story which is pretty straightforward military space opera, but they do add a very funny layer over the already pretty funny story. Particularly if you've read any historical academic texts which are full of that kind of thing, because they nail the style perfectly while being completely and uselessly wrong (even in-universe).

Terry Pratchett is another writer who makes very effective use of footnotes, usually to add yet another joke to his already punchline laden works. But you can skip them and you don't miss any story.


message 18: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin Ian wrote: "So far, I have avoided footnotes like the plague. Taking Michel's point, in one of my novels, set in the first century, the main protagonist would be made Tribunus Laticlavius, and I doubt very man..."

So, you would waste a whole paragraph or more and deviate from the actual storyline just to explain what a 'Tribunus Laticlavius' is, instead of using a one-sentence footnote? That doesn' sound like an efficient or attractive way (to the reader), especially if you have to explain many such terms in your story.


message 19: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10751 comments Michel, wrong! The first conversation is really about privilege, and how a young man of senatorial class can face an aged soldier who is asking him why he deserves what the soldier could never have had. It also, through the soldier's responses, shows what privilege in Roman society was really about. It sets the scene for arrogance, or the proper use of power. The second conversation is to set the scene for the first exercise where he may have to execute that power, and to let him know what happens if he fails to act properly, what happens if he does, and what "properly" means. It sets the scene for what follows in the next chapter. To me, it is efficient because it does quite a bit for the story in not very many pages. What the term means is really not all that relevant because even without those conversations, you should be able to work it out during the story. For example, he is a Claudian, and Tiberius wants him to do something worth doing. A personal meeting with Tiberius does not happen to all and sundry. His family owns big estates, he challenges a local governor before the appointment, so his status is shown. I prefer to avoid footnotes, but if someone else wants to use them, that's OK as long as readers actually bother to read them.


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Michel wrote: "Ian wrote: "So far, I have avoided footnotes like the plague. Taking Michel's point, in one of my novels, set in the first century, the main protagonist would be made Tribunus Laticlavius, and I do..."

As a reader I prefer two paragraphs that pull me deeper into a story than one brief footnote that takes me out of it.


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Krazykiwi wrote: "I've been thinking about this, and what I was thinking was "But some of my favourite books have copious footnotes!" Then I figured out the difference.

Like any other technique, footnotes can be r..."


These are technically footnotes but I view this more as a clever, novel technique to add layers to the fiction. I like this approach.


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