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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

How WoT and RJ stacks up against the competition


Wheel of Time vs Song of Ice and Fire  

116 members have voted

  1. 1. If you were creating an all-time top fantasy series list, which would you rank higher?

    • Wheel of Time
    • Song of Ice and Fire


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RJ doesn't kill off major characters? Then what do you call the Forsaken?

 

Or did you mean RJ doesn't kill of "good" major characters? Just so he can appear, you know, different?

 

I too, dislike the callous way aSoIaF treats supposed protagonists. Why did I spend an entire book reading about a character and getting into his head, if he's going to just lose it (his head, that is) at the end of the book?

 

It didn't feel like tragedy. It didn't make me sad. It just made me a little mad, because I just wasted a lot of hours identifying with that character. Maybe some people like that kind of story, but it's not for me.

 

On the other hand, I would heartily recommend "Heroes Die" and "Blade of Tyshalle", by Matt Stover. If you want nitty-gritty action-packed violence-saturated kick-ass fantasy with a surprising amount of philosophical depth, then this is it!

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@SolarZ

I did mean good characters. Of course he did kill off Verin, so that was pretty awesome.

 

Everyone has different tastes I guess. I found Ned Stark's death and the actions leading up to it quite tragic.

 

I will check out those Stover books. Thanks for the recommendation. Have you read Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen? he kills characters off like crazy, but IMO that is part of what he is going for, a tribute to the fallen so that they do not go unwitnessed.

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RJ doesn't kill off major characters? Then what do you call the Forsaken?

 

 

Yeah!!! Like Lanfear! No, wait...

 

Like Aginor! No, wait...

 

Like Balthamel! No, wait...

 

Like Graendal! No wait...

 

In fairness, Aginor and Balthamel are toast forever now.

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While it's easy for one to want to compare Martin and Jordan, seeing as their works are probably the most successful and well known fantasy series since Lord of the Rings (other than Harry Potter), to me, at least, the series are so different it's very hard to compare the two. While they both fall under the general "fantasy" umbrella, other than the fact both series have a large cast of characters, take place in fantasy worlds, and have magic, there is very little similar between the two.

 

To me, it's kind of like comparing Star Wars and Star Trek. While they both take place in Space and both involve access to advanced technology, to me there is very little else that is similar between the two franchises. I don't think I could debate whether or not The Empire Strikes Back is better than First Contact.

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I have read both series in question.

 

The WoT is vastly superior in almost every way.

 

On what do I base my opinion? I've re-read the entire WoT series at least five times. And some individual books in the series even more times. I've read through each of the ASOIAF books twice. Once for the latter three.

 

For me it really is that simple. To be honest, I was even getting bored during A Feast For Crows because nothing much seemed to be happening.

Edited by Demon_AS
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To be honest, the thing I hate the most about WoT is the huge numbers of secondary character POVs that we get. While some of the secondary characters can be pretty interesting (and this is obviously a matter of personal taste), the VAST majority of the secondary character POVs are pretty boring.

 

I mean, why are we spending time with Jaichim Carridin, or Pedron Niall, or Morgase, or Gawyn? Who cares what they think? Seriously, why can't we just stick with Rand, Mat, and Perrin?

 

Of course, this is even worse with aSoIaF...

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ok, here's my list:

 

1. Dune series by Frank Herbert

2. WOT by Robert Jordan

3. Song of Fire & Ice by George R. R. Martin

4. Lord of the Rings by Tolkien

 

 

10. Dark Elf Stuff by R.A. Salvatore

 

50. WOT TOM by Sanderson

 

97. WOT TGS by Sanderson

98. Everthing Robert Heinlein wrote.

99. Adept crap by Piers Anthony

100. Mistborn junk by Sanderson

 

Sanderson is turning into a Piers Anthony. It seems with all he's working on its all about quantity. I think he did a "decent" job with TGS and TOM, much the same way Heinlein did a "decent" job with "To Sail Beyond the Sunset" or "Friday"

 

Bottom line is the epicness of the WOT should have required an author to focus and devote a over year plus to nothing but writing TGS and TOM. But Sanderson was able to churn out a couple of "pulp" fantasy fiction novels while doing TGS and TOM.

 

I know this is going to rub a lot of people the wrong way, but Sanderson being a professor at BYU while also churning out some junk way of the kings while also writing TGS, TOM, and now AMOL is just wrong. If you're hired to finish the WOT series, my opinion is you drop everything and spend a minimum of one year doing nothing but one book. My impression was he read the WOT as fast as he could, maybe even just the cliff notes before TGS, then had quite a bit of feedback from the WOT fandom after he had the rough draft of TOM before it hit the publishers, now he's finally decided to do a re-read of the series before completing AMOL. Sorry WOT fandom, but I feel if you're going to finish the WOT series there should be nothing else on your plate but that.

 

How many years ago did Tolkien write LOTR? Its still epic today.

How many years ago did Herbert write Dune? Its stil epic today.

How many years ago did GRRM write The Game of Thrones? Its still epic today.

How many years ago did Jordan write The Eye of the World? Its still epic today.

TGS and TOM are not even close to comparison as far as quality of writing goes to any of the books in the 4 series named above, with the possible exemption of Dune Messiah. Though Sanderson would have to improve his quality of writing to equal the 2nd book in the Dune Series.

 

50 years from now, LOTR, Dune, Game of Thrones, and Jordan's WOT will still be considered epic. Sanderson's claim to fame will be he was hired to finish an epic series and chose quantity over quality. 50 years from now it will be "Mistborn what?" oh, you mean that guy who mucked up the WOT.

 

Now don't get me wrong, RJ's were huge shoes to fill, I put part of the blame on Harriet. The contract she offered Sanderson should have had a clause that said he was not allowed by contract to work on any other books, due to the significance of the WOT, finishing that series is a full time job. GRRM will be remembered for writing some great books, then going off on his quanity over quality wild card junk and the HBO series. Who knows, maybe GRRM will die before he finishes the Song of Fire and Ice and Sanderson will finish the last book in a year while he's also writing three other books at the same time about metallurgy.

 

Yea, I'm sure this will tick off a lot of people, but its my opinions, my observations, and my feelings.

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no contest. i got more shocks and suprises in ASOIAF. and more importantly a sense of dread that has been lacking in WOT for a long long time

^^ This.

 

Wheel of Time for me. I like ASOIAF too, but I don't care about the characters as much. Sure, they are really well developed, but in general we get practically no time with them before they are killed off. This was a really cool thing in the first book or two, but it honestly got old for me and prevents me from getting seriously invested in the characters. I also don't really like how major plotlines, which have been foreshadowed to have a huge impact, just fizzle out and die. There's lots of great things about the books too of course, and I do really like the series, but WOT is better in my opinion.

 

He always takes third or second tier characters and brings them in to fill the gaps as new higher-tier characters, and you learn more about these once peripheral characters (like the hound!). I think that's what keeps the series fresh. Even though it's character driven, the series as a whole is even more about the "world" than WOT is. Because all characters are expendable, and things keep moving on.

 

It's like watching ER, the entire cast could be different within 5 years of any episode, but the show is still the same (you can obviously quibble about quality).

 

Gore for gore's sake is not appropiate. Dumais Wells made Perrin reluctant to use the Asha'Man.

 

Don't read a C.S. Friedman book then, or some Jennifer Fallon (Tide Lords anyone?!), IMO women writers are so much more gorey than men. But the world is an ugly place, and the starkness of "war" is just not at all evident in WOT. We could have used a lot more throw-away scenes of the desperation of every day people. Most of the characters we follow are quite privileged.

 

More to the point, when people start trying to get the two series into a stand-off it's annoying to the huge numbers of people enjoy both. George R.R. Martin and Robert Jordan were friends, and GRRM thanked RJ and his fans many times for helping make A GAME OF THRONES a success after Jordan blurbed it. In addition, the success of THRONES on TV will likely renew interest in a screen adaptation of WHEEL OF TIME (which would actually be a great way of returning the favour). The two works are also somewhat complimentary, with each having strengths and weaknesses that the other lacks. Robert Jordan himself said GRRM doesn't write like him, but that's good as if everyone wrote the same it would be boring.

This.

 

^^ This too, 100% agree. However, those of us who are on DRAGONMOUNT arguing that ASoIaF is better, probably are extremely fond of WOT as well, that's why we're here. And I doubt there's many on the other side who completely loath ASoIaF, so really this discussion is a matter of one being slightly higher or lower than another, which doesn't take away from the greatness of either.

 

 

There is a well-documented phenomenon here that I should probably note. Most people who read WoT straight through don't have any real issues with COT. The book's reception was inspired both by the long wait for it and the cliffhanger ending. As a piece in the continuous series, even the notorious 7-10 slump doesn't really seem to faze people much at all. Some don't even notice it.

 

Of the handful of people I've talked into reading WOT, all of them have confirmed this. If you're not reading them one at a time as they come out, all the books tend to blend together as one long story. I would bet it would be hard for any of them to choose a favourite book, just scenes, and sometimes story-arcs that span multiple books.

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RJ doesn't kill off major characters? Then what do you call the Forsaken?

 

Or did you mean RJ doesn't kill of "good" major characters? Just so he can appear, you know, different?

 

I too, dislike the callous way aSoIaF treats supposed protagonists. Why did I spend an entire book reading about a character and getting into his head, if he's going to just lose it (his head, that is) at the end of the book?

 

It didn't feel like tragedy. It didn't make me sad. It just made me a little mad, because I just wasted a lot of hours identifying with that character. Maybe some people like that kind of story, but it's not for me.

 

On the other hand, I would heartily recommend "Heroes Die" and "Blade of Tyshalle", by Matt Stover. If you want nitty-gritty action-packed violence-saturated kick-ass fantasy with a surprising amount of philosophical depth, then this is it!

Woah, woah, woah! Were we reading the same series? His death was an extremely important plot point. If he hadn't died, most of the crap that happened in the following books wouldn't have happened. You read from his point of view to see from his perspective, to understand why it is he did the things he did, and therefore understand some of the other characters reasoning as well. Come on, would you have liked it more if he hadn't been a PoV character? Either way, he had to die. Don't forget we also discovered the big secret from his POV.

 

Of the handful of people I've talked into reading WOT, all of them have confirmed this. If you're not reading them one at a time as they come out, all the books tend to blend together as one long story. I would bet it would be hard for any of them to choose a favourite book, just scenes, and sometimes story-arcs that span multiple books.

*raises hand* Me! I hated COT. It wasn't quite as bad as I expected, but I still didn't enjoy it at all.

Edited by Child Bahkbar
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I find it tremendously amusing that so many of you think that artistic works can only be judged subjectively. I'm a composer. Formally trained. I've been both writing and teaching how to write for quite some time. If you give me your newly inked piece to examine I can point out, with precise objectivity, flaws in any number of areas. And I mean things I can quantify. It's objectivity about your handling of technical aspects, and whether or not they function in the context you have created. That italicized bit is a tremendously important point.

 

This is not objectivity about your core idea. That is relegated to subjectivity. BUT your technique is the shaping force for your ideas - for better or worse. As a result, these very objective things have a very direct bearing on whether you've created a meisterwerk, a turd, or something in between. Surely similar technical measures exist in literature? How else would creative writing be taught? Anybody here teach writing that can confirm or deny?

 

The point here is that one who is intimate with the process can MOST DEFINITELY say, objectively, when something is weak and be correct about it. That doesn't mean it's bad to like it. You might like it for reasons other than artistic merit. I like plenty of "bad" music for a variety of reasons. However, that has absolutely no relation to whether or not something is well or poorly crafted. And that is something that can be deconstructed and examined subjectively, by objective measure, and in quantifiable terms.

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I find it tremendously amusing that so many of you think that artistic works can only be judged subjectively. I'm a composer. Formally trained. I've been both writing and teaching how to write for quite some time. If you give me your newly inked piece to examine I can point out, with precise objectivity, flaws in any number of areas. And I mean things I can quantify. It's objectivity about your handling of technical aspects, and whether or not they function in the context you have created. That italicized bit is a tremendously important point.

 

This is not objectivity about your core idea. That is relegated to subjectivity. BUT your technique is the shaping force for your ideas - for better or worse. As a result, these very objective things have a very direct bearing on whether you've created a meisterwerk, a turd, or something in between. Surely similar technical measures exist in literature? How else would creative writing be taught? Anybody here teach writing that can confirm or deny?

 

The point here is that one who is intimate with the process can MOST DEFINITELY say, objectively, when something is weak and be correct about it. That doesn't mean it's bad to like it. You might like it for reasons other than artistic merit. I like plenty of "bad" music for a variety of reasons. However, that has absolutely no relation to whether or not something is well or poorly crafted. And that is something that can be deconstructed and examined subjectively, by objective measure, and in quantifiable terms.

 

If you take it to the far end of the spectrum there is NO objectivity. Sure there are some measures that we as humans think are universaly beautiful, say for example that the faces that are most symmetrical are deemed to be the most beautiful, but then there are also studies that show that beauty is not that important because a person you like and fall in love with will become more beautiful in your eyes.

 

If you as a composer look at a newly composed piece I´m sure you can point out any number of flaws.. now I dont know squat about notes or composing but I´m sure that some notes are impossible to play if they are written in the wrong way. That being said... the people decide what is a masterpiece or a turd. You can be as formally trained as you like and compose music in the most amazing fashion, if the people don´t like it then it isn´t a masterpiece, and that definiton changes by time. What is masterful today is crap tomorrow. Oh, and in my experience there is usually a elite group that claims that there is an universal reciepe for a creative and good composer, good painter, good dancer i.e other dancers, painters or composer. But they only for a small group of people, and in no way are their opinion any more valid or right then any other.

Creative writing is taught based on the idea how a great book should be nowadays. So you have plotturns, character consistenecy, descriptions and so on. But those are just ideas, made by humans. And tomorrow humans can have another idea of what constitutes a great book.

 

When I read that passage about bad music I jusr cringed. What is... objectivly.. bad music?

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Guest PiotrekS

I find it tremendously amusing that so many of you think that artistic works can only be judged subjectively. I'm a composer. Formally trained. I've been both writing and teaching how to write for quite some time. If you give me your newly inked piece to examine I can point out, with precise objectivity, flaws in any number of areas. And I mean things I can quantify. It's objectivity about your handling of technical aspects, and whether or not they function in the context you have created. That italicized bit is a tremendously important point.

 

This is not objectivity about your core idea. That is relegated to subjectivity. BUT your technique is the shaping force for your ideas - for better or worse. As a result, these very objective things have a very direct bearing on whether you've created a meisterwerk, a turd, or something in between. Surely similar technical measures exist in literature? How else would creative writing be taught? Anybody here teach writing that can confirm or deny?

 

The point here is that one who is intimate with the process can MOST DEFINITELY say, objectively, when something is weak and be correct about it. That doesn't mean it's bad to like it. You might like it for reasons other than artistic merit. I like plenty of "bad" music for a variety of reasons. However, that has absolutely no relation to whether or not something is well or poorly crafted. And that is something that can be deconstructed and examined subjectively, by objective measure, and in quantifiable terms.

 

Not necessarily.

 

First of all, of course you can tell whether something, be it music, literature or anything else, fits some preconceived criteria for "good music" or "good literature". You've been formally trained in music, so you know how to write and read music etc. Similarly, an educated writer would be able to use language correctly, employ different styles and forms. Of course, you would be objectively able to spot gramatical errors in writing, the same as you are able to spot technical errors in the partiture. But that's not the point, we're talking about works that have all passed this threshold of technical skill.

 

I think you thought about some rules of "higher" level. There are undoubtedly some guidelines how to write good music or good books beyond most elementary ones, and they are certainly supposed to help writers, composers etc. reach a certain level. But the question remains:

1. How to decide which is better when both works fulfil all these rules?

2. A great, creative composer or writer, maybe even a genius, would sometimes break a few or maybe even a lot of these "rules of good technique" and create a masterpiece. After all, these guidelines are a result of human experience and certain knowledge accumulated in schools, libraries etc., but none of them come from the heavens and none of them is absolute or objective in themselves (maybe apart from the most elementary ones)

 

I can't discuss compososing music with you in any detail,but I can provide some examples from my experience in such areas as classical guitar, playing tennis or writing, and there are always some criteria of "flawless technique" and there are also masters who break them (I remember when my guitar teacher would say:"You're not good enough yet to break any of these rules" :smile: )

 

To conclude, I think your formal skills allow you to decide whether your student can pass the exam (which is supposed to check some narrowly defined skills), but they can't help you to objectively and in quantifiable terms decide who among Mozart, Chopin and Bach is the best. Any if you try to do it (e.g. by looking at the variety of techniques and forms employed etc.), any criteria you use would be open to discussion and subjective assesment.

 

And regarding creative writing classes - maybe they can help to develop writing skills (I haven't participated in any classes of this sort), but they certainly can't produce great writers by themselves. And I very much doubt that people teaching these courses would feel entitled to decide objectively who is better, Martin or Jordan.

 

PS. I'm currently finishing the second book of SoIaF and OMG, it's SO different from WOT :ohmy: But equally great, no question.

Edited by PiotrekS
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I find it tremendously amusing that so many of you think that artistic works can only be judged subjectively. I'm a composer. Formally trained. I've been both writing and teaching how to write for quite some time. If you give me your newly inked piece to examine I can point out, with precise objectivity, flaws in any number of areas. And I mean things I can quantify. It's objectivity about your handling of technical aspects, and whether or not they function in the context you have created. That italicized bit is a tremendously important point.

 

This is not objectivity about your core idea. That is relegated to subjectivity. BUT your technique is the shaping force for your ideas - for better or worse. As a result, these very objective things have a very direct bearing on whether you've created a meisterwerk, a turd, or something in between. Surely similar technical measures exist in literature? How else would creative writing be taught? Anybody here teach writing that can confirm or deny?

 

The point here is that one who is intimate with the process can MOST DEFINITELY say, objectively, when something is weak and be correct about it. That doesn't mean it's bad to like it. You might like it for reasons other than artistic merit. I like plenty of "bad" music for a variety of reasons. However, that has absolutely no relation to whether or not something is well or poorly crafted. And that is something that can be deconstructed and examined subjectively, by objective measure, and in quantifiable terms.

 

Consider Robin Hobb, she has a beautiful prose to her novels. Though I find her stories somewhat uneventful and her characterization a little too overwhelming. I'd bet she's more technically competent than Martin or Jordan though... Some of her paragraphs taken in isolation read like poems *Swoon*! But all that "objectivity" is irrelevant to spinning a good tale.

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If you take it to the far end of the spectrum there is NO objectivity. Sure there are some measures that we as humans think are universaly beautiful, say for example that the faces that are most symmetrical are deemed to be the most beautiful, but then there are also studies that show that beauty is not that important because a person you like and fall in love with will become more beautiful in your eyes.

 

If you as a composer look at a newly composed piece I´m sure you can point out any number of flaws.. now I dont know squat about notes or composing but I´m sure that some notes are impossible to play if they are written in the wrong way. That being said... the people decide what is a masterpiece or a turd. You can be as formally trained as you like and compose music in the most amazing fashion, if the people don´t like it then it isn´t a masterpiece, and that definiton changes by time. What is masterful today is crap tomorrow. Oh, and in my experience there is usually a elite group that claims that there is an universal reciepe for a creative and good composer, good painter, good dancer i.e other dancers, painters or composer. But they only for a small group of people, and in no way are their opinion any more valid or right then any other.

Creative writing is taught based on the idea how a great book should be nowadays. So you have plotturns, character consistenecy, descriptions and so on. But those are just ideas, made by humans. And tomorrow humans can have another idea of what constitutes a great book.

 

When I read that passage about bad music I jusr cringed. What is... objectivly.. bad music?

 

Yes, there IS objectivity. You are talking about aesthetics. I'm not. I talking about the two things that constitute a work: the idea and it's execution. But don't take my word for it. Go and read what Aaron Copland had to say about it. He is one of America's greatest composers and he wrote an entire book on the subject.

 

 

I would have to type a novel to properly address all of the response. I'm not going to do that. What I will tell you is that if you believe there is not a direct link between somebody's technique and the ability to turn an artistic thought into a piece or art, then you are sadly mistaken. The two are very, very rarely able to be separated from one another. PiotrekS, I will specifically address your point because it requires a direct answer. Bear with me to the end.

 

 

There is an "it" factor in composers. Some have really great ideas and no clue how to execute them (lack of technique). Some have technique out the rear end but have ideas that just aren't very exciting - Kael, this is what you were talking about. The latter is almost always a lost cause. The former composer can learn - through technique - to harness their ability and turn those ideas into something masterful. Without technique the chances of either one producing anything of high value are extraordinarily slim. It basically comes down to luck. For other arts I can't say, but given my knowledge of my craft, and about what other composers do and have done, there is no question BOTH elements are required if somebody is going to rise to the highest level of execution.

 

And the point...in the above process there ARE OBJECTIVE, QUANTITATIVE THINGS INVOLVED THAT ALLOW FOR CRITIQUE AND CRITICISM. I'm only pointing this out because the OP was so maligned when he originally posted. Excessively so, in my opinion.

 

 

 

Logain's Pet, the idea that something isn't a masterpiece unless people like it is a false statement. The statement is similar to another line of logic that is just as false: Artist X sold 50 million CDs, therefore they must be talented. It's just...false. So is the idea that what is good today is crap tomorrow. That's a rather narrow view tied, inexplicably, to the idea of style. Mahler's 5th Symphony would still be a masterpiece even if nobody ever heard it, and despite being rather old, it's value has not diminished one iota. I cannot answer your final question in a way that will satisfy you. I don't mean that in an elitist way. I just mean that for my answer to make any sense at all, it would require you to have theory knowledge.

 

 

 

PiotrekS, to your first point. I personally don't believe that comparisons between two artists are particularly useful. They serve little purpose outside of teaching. What and why a person likes a thing is, without question, subjective. My point was more to rebuff the many that are screaming that there can be no objectivity, specifically, quantifiable objectivity, in a work of art. Well, in composition at least, that is pure bunk.

 

To your second. Yes, all composers break the rules. It is generally encouraged - once you learn what you're doing! Maybe this will help Logain's Pet's question a little, too. As a composer it is IMPERATIVE that one understand what effect breaking those "rules" has. If one breaks rules just to break them the thing most likely to break apart is their career as a composer. If one breaks them to achieve something...well...that is what your teacher was talking about. And he was right. THAT is how music moves forward and evolves. But, and this is the BIG but, how does one know when to break them and when not to? Well, that requires a deep understanding of them. Sometimes it's fundamental and easy. Sometimes it's sophisticated and subtle. Nevertheless, if one doesn't know them, breaking them becomes an exercise in displaying one's incompetence to the world. And, right to the heart of my point, the understanding of the "rules" and what they do IS PART OF TECHNIQUE!

Edited by Grape_Ape
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I find it tremendously amusing that so many of you think that artistic works can only be judged subjectively. I'm a composer. Formally trained. I've been both writing and teaching how to write for quite some time. If you give me your newly inked piece to examine I can point out, with precise objectivity, flaws in any number of areas. And I mean things I can quantify. It's objectivity about your handling of technical aspects, and whether or not they function in the context you have created. That italicized bit is a tremendously important point.

 

This is not objectivity about your core idea. That is relegated to subjectivity. BUT your technique is the shaping force for your ideas - for better or worse. As a result, these very objective things have a very direct bearing on whether you've created a meisterwerk, a turd, or something in between. Surely similar technical measures exist in literature? How else would creative writing be taught? Anybody here teach writing that can confirm or deny?

 

The point here is that one who is intimate with the process can MOST DEFINITELY say, objectively, when something is weak and be correct about it. That doesn't mean it's bad to like it. You might like it for reasons other than artistic merit. I like plenty of "bad" music for a variety of reasons. However, that has absolutely no relation to whether or not something is well or poorly crafted. And that is something that can be deconstructed and examined subjectively, by objective measure, and in quantifiable terms.

 

Consider Robin Hobb, she has a beautiful prose to her novels. Though I find her stories somewhat uneventful and her characterization a little too overwhelming. I'd bet she's more technically competent than Martin or Jordan though... Some of her paragraphs taken in isolation read like poems *Swoon*! But all that "objectivity" is irrelevant to spinning a good tale.

Another example along the same lines, from a completely different perspective, is Jim Butcher. He's a technically competent writer, but that's as far as I'll go with praise for his writing style. However, in terms of entertainment value, he's probably my favorite author currently active. He's a fantastic storyteller, and more ornate prose would detract from the story as he's telling it.

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If you take it to the far end of the spectrum there is NO objectivity. Sure there are some measures that we as humans think are universaly beautiful, say for example that the faces that are most symmetrical are deemed to be the most beautiful, but then there are also studies that show that beauty is not that important because a person you like and fall in love with will become more beautiful in your eyes.

 

If you as a composer look at a newly composed piece I´m sure you can point out any number of flaws.. now I dont know squat about notes or composing but I´m sure that some notes are impossible to play if they are written in the wrong way. That being said... the people decide what is a masterpiece or a turd. You can be as formally trained as you like and compose music in the most amazing fashion, if the people don´t like it then it isn´t a masterpiece, and that definiton changes by time. What is masterful today is crap tomorrow. Oh, and in my experience there is usually a elite group that claims that there is an universal reciepe for a creative and good composer, good painter, good dancer i.e other dancers, painters or composer. But they only for a small group of people, and in no way are their opinion any more valid or right then any other.

Creative writing is taught based on the idea how a great book should be nowadays. So you have plotturns, character consistenecy, descriptions and so on. But those are just ideas, made by humans. And tomorrow humans can have another idea of what constitutes a great book.

 

When I read that passage about bad music I jusr cringed. What is... objectivly.. bad music?

 

Yes, there IS objectivity. You are talking about aesthetics. I'm not. I talking about the two things that constitute a work: the idea and it's execution. But don't take my word for it. Go and read what Aaron Copland had to say about it. He is one of America's greatest composers and he wrote an entire book on the subject.

 

 

I would have to type a novel to properly address all of the response. I'm not going to do that. What I will tell you is that if you believe there is not a direct link between somebody's technique and the ability to turn an artistic thought into a piece or art, then you are sadly mistaken. The two are very, very rarely able to be separated from one another. PiotrekS, I will specifically address your point because it requires a direct answer. Bear with me to the end.

 

 

There is an "it" factor in composers. Some have really great ideas and no clue how to execute them (lack of technique). Some have technique out the rear end but have ideas that just aren't very exciting - Kael, this is what you were talking about. The latter is almost always a lost cause. The former composer can learn - through technique - to harness their ability and turn those ideas into something masterful. Without technique the chances of either one producing anything of high value are extraordinarily slim. It basically comes down to luck. For other arts I can't say, but given my knowledge of my craft, and about what other composers do and have done, there is no question BOTH elements are required if somebody is going to rise to the highest level of execution.

 

And the point...in the above process there ARE OBJECTIVE, QUANTITATIVE THINGS INVOLVED THAT ALLOW FOR CRITIQUE AND CRITICISM. I'm only pointing this out because the OP was so maligned when he originally posted. Excessively so, in my opinion.

 

 

 

Logain's Pet, the idea that something isn't a masterpiece unless people like it is a false statement. The statement is similar to another line of logic that is just as false: Artist X sold 50 million CDs, therefore they must be talented. It's just...false. So is the idea that what is good today is crap tomorrow. That's a rather narrow view tied, inexplicably, to the idea of style. Mahler's 5th Symphony would still be a masterpiece even if nobody ever heard it, and despite being rather old, it's value has not diminished one iota. I cannot answer your final question in a way that will satisfy you. I don't mean that in an elitist way. I just mean that for my answer to make any sense at all, it would require you to have theory knowledge.

 

 

 

PiotrekS, to your first point. I personally don't believe that comparisons between two artists are particularly useful. They serve little purpose outside of teaching. What and why a person likes a thing is, without question, subjective. My point was more to rebuff the many that are screaming that there can be no objectivity, specifically, quantifiable objectivity, in a work of art. Well, in composition at least, that is pure bunk.

 

To your second. Yes, all composers break the rules. It is generally encouraged - once you learn what you're doing! Maybe this will help Logain's Pet's question a little, too. As a composer it is IMPERATIVE that one understand what effect breaking those "rules" has. If one breaks rules just to break them the thing most likely to break apart is their career as a composer. If one breaks them to achieve something...well...that is what your teacher was talking about. And he was right. THAT is how music moves forward and evolves. But, and this is the BIG but, how does one know when to break them and when not to? Well, that requires a deep understanding of them. Sometimes it's fundamental and easy. Sometimes it's sophisticated and subtle. Nevertheless, if one doesn't know them, breaking them becomes an exercise in displaying one's incompetence to the world. And, right to the heart of my point, the understanding of the "rules" and what they do IS PART OF TECHNIQUE!

 

First off, I must express my happiness over this not turning into a bashing thread =) I don´t think I´m talking about aesthetics, I guess I just suck at getting my point across. I´m not talking about the correlation between technique and ability to turn something into a “masterpiece”, I´m rather talking about what constitutes a masterpiece and who deems a work a masterpiece. If you are a good technical writer, you have a idea and you execute it properly, i.e you write nice prose, with proper grammar and so on, that doesn´t mean that the book will be good or that other people deem it good.

 

We were originally talking about which is the better author, GRRM or Jordan, so I guess in that sense you can say who is better. Who has the better prose, more descriptions and so on. But that only works if in fact “better” prose, more descriptions and so on indeed makes a better book, and that is something that readers decide.

 

I do think there is a link between technique and ability to process idea from mind into reality so to speak, but that doesn´t mean it will be good or great. I stand by what I said, it is subjective. I would name the “it”factor the third element, because even if your work is technically good and you know how to execute your work, it can still fall flat or be “dead”, but if you have the it-factor your work can go from that´s good to that’s wonderful.

I understand that the process can be objective and quantitive but it´s not through objectivity that we deem if things are good, or nice or bad or if an author is good or bad.

 

I disagree. I believe both my statements are true, lol… otherwise I wouldn´t have made them =P. If your book doesn´t have readers, if your music doesn´t have listeners, if your statue doesn´t have eyes that look upon it, no matter how good a masterpiece it is thought and considered to be, it isn´t. If the creation can´t be brought into the realm of experience by other people then the creation is void. If no one can listen to the masterpiece then there is no one. Creation needs humans, or any other creature that can interact with it. Therefor Mahler´s symphony wouldn´t be a masterpiece. Without audience it´s just scribbles on a paper and it has the value we as people give it. I disagree with Platon; There is not a objective “idea” that defines a great symphony and those ideas don´t exist out of their own.

 

And if a record is sold in 50 million copies, that means that 50 million people deem that music to be good and deem the artist to be talented. And those people are right. Maybe 2 million people hate said artist´s song and think the lyrics are bad, there is no proper rhythm and they have no idea how he/she can sell so many copies… those people are right too. What is good today can indeed be crap tomorrow. Or vice versa. Ideas change and evolve cause they are made by humans, thus will the idea of what´s a masterpiece, what´s good music and so on change and evolve.

 

I don´t have theory knowledge about composing, so I understand what you mean. No offence taken. Now I´m just waiting for you to send me a link to something you composed!

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Adherence to accepted (even widely, even near-universally) convention <> objective measure of artistic merit.

 

All you're seeing here is an aristocracy of the robe, that establishes conventions and then attempts to equate artistic merit with adherence to those conventions, adherence most often achieved (not at all coincidentally) by those annointed ones who have worked their way through the apprenticeship program.

 

The only objective measure is not of artistic merit, but of group judgment of artistic merit (a distinction recognized by Copeland, btw).

Edited by randsc
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I protest that Steven Erikson's The Malazan Fallen series is not part of this poll!!!! As well as many other series that deserve to be in the best series all time, Melenie Rawn, Robin Hobb just to name 2 more who deserve some consideration. Steven Erikson is the only one i would consider the equal of RJ.

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Adherence to accepted (even widely, even near-universally) convention <> objective measure of artistic merit.

 

All you're seeing here is an aristocracy of the robe, that establishes conventions and then attempts to equate atristic merit with adherence to those conventions, adherence most often achieved (not at all coincidentally) by those annointed ones who have worked their way through the apprenticeship program.

 

The only objective measure is not of artistic merit, but of group judgment of artistic merit (a distinction recognized by Copeland, btw).

 

Logain's Pet, PM me and I'll send you something. I don't maintain a site with my concert works. We'll have to agree to disagree on the remainder. I will say, though, all the people in the universe can believe a thing but that still does not make it true. If everyone believed 2+2=Pi would they all be correct? :smile:

 

 

randsc, you are incorrect and I'll prove it. As I stated earlier, context is terribly important. My argument is that to accomplish a work at the highest possible level of execution requires both intangibles and technique. While technique is not the ONLY necessary element, it is still a very necessary element because it can dramatically affect everything else. And it is indeed possible to judge aspects of a work based on this. Here are two examples that you should be able to grasp.

 

 

1) You have just come up with a great melody. You've decided to create something out of it with the orchestra as your medium. During the orchestration phase you consistently assign instruments to carry the line outside of their useful registers, while providing accompaniment material that is overkill from a dynamic standpoint. As a result, the melodic line cannot be heard and your great thematic idea fails to fulfill its purpose.

 

Result: Poorly written. Your goal was to make this great melodic line the central feature, but your INCORRECT orchestration caused the melody to be obscured. You have just done something very wrong...very ham-fisted. The principles of orchestration (which go hand-in-hand with composition) are as much science as they are art. Sum of 1/n, n=infinity and all that fun stuff? It applies here in a very real and concrete way. This isn't opinion - group or otherwise. It's physics and biology. You can buck convention but you can't buck physics and win. Physics will bitch-slap you into next week every time.

 

 

2) I ask you to write a hymn in 4-part harmony. You can choose any harmonic language you wish, but...and this is VERY important...you must adhere to the contrapuntal design and concept behind 4-part writing. In other words, I want four unique and musically independent voices that still work together as a whole. You come back to me with something in non-functional tonality and you manage to move each line independently for 97% of the piece. However, in random places, you have allowed parallelism to exist.

 

Result: Poorly written. Your goal was to write independent voices working together as a whole. By allowing parallelism OUT OF CONTEXT (told you that was important) you have effectively removed the independence of one of the lines. Parallelism creates an effect that the human ear translates as a loss of independence - a group didn't decide this, nature did - and it's the reason that, IN THAT CONTEXT, it is poor writing. Do you need me to do the math for you, too, or are you calculus-capable up to infinite series?

 

 

These examples are blatantly obvious truths and realities to anybody who knows this business in the least. Doing something that runs counter to your goal is an objective FAIL. Both are very clear errors that, if present in a work, are flaws that weaken it. As you can see, they are easily quantified by math, physics, biology, and logic. The composer ignores these things at his own peril.

 

Think what you like, but flaws that have nothing to do with opinion (or group opinion) can and do exist. They can also have enormous impact on the whole of a piece to the point where they can drain it of any merit it may have had. And a piece CAN BE JUDGED, at least in part, by these things.

 

So the OP, while perhaps expecting too much from the endeavor, was not deserving of the heat he was given. Especially when I can sit here and make potent, defensible arguments backed up by factual data and that parallel aspects of his. Facts that solidly refute some of your arguments. Note that I do NOT entirely disagree with you. You've made some very excellent, valid points. But, really, give the guy a break. He is at least partially correct and deserves credit, instead of your bashing, for wanting to open an intelligent discussion on a topic whose depth is often grossly underestimated.

Edited by Grape_Ape
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Again, your own cited source disagrees with your interpretation.

 

assign instruments to carry the line outside of their useful registers

 

Possibly objectively provable.

 

while providing accompaniment material that is overkill from a dynamic standpoint

 

Subjective.

 

As for your defense of the OP, I suggest you review his posting history, including his posts in the threads that inspired this one, before determining who exactly is doing the "bashing" and which posters want "to open an intelligent discussion."

 

Finally, if you review my posts, you will see that I mention the existence of certain objective measures, for example measures of sentence complexity and vocabulary. Using those measures, do you seriously suggest that Jordan would grade-out higher than Martin? Really? In any case, those measures most emphatically DO NOT add up to the measure of the overall artistic merit of a work of litertaure. They CANNOT do so, as the context you are so enamoured with includes the way in which a work is experienced BY THE READER.

 

Anyway, Dickens wrote some God-awful sentences. What should we take from that?

Edited by randsc
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I will say, though, all the people in the universe can believe a thing but that still does not make it true. If everyone believed 2+2=Pi would they all be correct? :smile:

 

Yes they would! Cause in their context of reality it would be true. :tongue: Lolz, I can agree that we disagree. No more hijacking of thread =)

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"2" is a construct. So is "Pi" So yes, if everyone agreed that 2+2=Pi, then 2+2=Pi.

:wub: Someone understands what I mean. Make me feel I´m not crazy =P

 

No you're just both wrong. Pi is a name for a number, so unless we're all deciding that Pi = 4 in your example, you cannot decide that 2+2 is anything but 4. That's the whole point of math being the universal language. If we met aliens, they would also agree that 2+2=4. They would just have different ways of writing it, or I guess "expressing" it. That doesn't, however, change the fact that 2+2 _always_ equals 4.

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