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Old 2010-06-06, 16:33   Link #1
Guernsey
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What qualifies as well written?

How can you tell if something is well written? I know this is ultimately subjective but how do you know when you find the story that just "clicks" in your mind and you end up liking it?
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Old 2010-06-06, 16:42   Link #2
Vexx
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I think the critical analysis and assessment you learn in English Literary classes hold true.
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Old 2010-06-06, 16:45   Link #3
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Do you feel anything from it?
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Old 2010-06-06, 18:43   Link #4
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It is not entirely predictable and it excuses it.
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Old 2010-06-06, 19:16   Link #5
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I'd have to say that as far as a story goes, it's well written when the characters don't fall out of character just to further the plot; the dialog isn't painfully stilted just because the author thinks that "contractions are bad" (in the narrative yes, in the dialog they're ok, imo) and doesn't make you laugh hysterically; it is written with an appeal to emotion without being gushy; it doesn't try to be more than what it is.

Also, I'd say it doesn't have to be good to be well written. Something can be predictable, shallow, and corny as the blazes, but still be very well written (basically like eating a really great twinkie).
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Old 2010-06-06, 20:15   Link #6
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If you ask me, Night Shift Nurses and La Blue Girl are more well-written than Naruto and Bleach...
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Last edited by Metropolisforever; 2010-06-06 at 20:25.
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Old 2010-06-06, 22:00   Link #7
OceanBlue
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Originally Posted by Neat Hedgehog View Post
Also, I'd say it doesn't have to be good to be well written. Something can be predictable, shallow, and corny as the blazes, but still be very well written (basically like eating a really great twinkie).
This is what I think Taishou Yakyuu Musume is.

In my opinion, when something is well written, it executes well what it intends to execute. If there's a dramatic scene, it actually feels dramatic instead of funny or cloying. If there's a funny scene, it's actually funny.

If the characters feel out-of-character, that suggests a failure to create a certain scene with their characters' actions. This is why more ambitious projects need to have really good writing, because they attempt much more.
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Old 2010-06-06, 22:29   Link #8
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What qualifies as well written? If it makes sense. All those annoying little scenes you though were superfluous? Well it turns out they had a point, and a damn good point as well. That surprise ending everyone was talking about the next day? Well, turns out it wasn't so surprising afterall. A well written story is constructed in such a way that all characters are explored and explained; and all relevant) plot points are addressed, referenced, categorized, and explained. Originality or Unpredictability are generally unimportant to a well written story (a well written story generally does not rely on surprises, rather foreshadowing and other relevant devices are used to explore the story), though they can be present and sometimes even helpful (the well written story foreshadows the surprise, then reveals the surprises to the audience in such a way that it still surprises them).

Notice, there is a difference between a well written story, and a well told story. Death Note, for instance, is a well told story, but not necessarily well written (actually most popular anime are well told, but not very well written). A well told story is seen in the directing, while a well written story is found in the writing itself.
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Old 2010-06-06, 23:28   Link #9
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Consistency, and things are planned. As in, elements build on each other instead of just being thrown in just for the sake of it.

Basically, an expression of coherent thoughts.
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Old 2010-06-07, 00:04   Link #10
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Originally Posted by james0246 View Post
What qualifies as well written? If it makes sense. All those annoying little scenes you though were superfluous? Well it turns out they had a point, and a damn good point as well. That surprise ending everyone was talking about the next day? Well, turns out it wasn't so surprising afterall. A well written story is constructed in such a way that all characters are explored and explained; and all relevant) plot points are addressed, referenced, categorized, and explained. Originality or Unpredictability are generally unimportant to a well written story (a well written story generally does not rely on surprises, rather foreshadowing and other relevant devices are used to explore the story), though they can be present and sometimes even helpful (the well written story foreshadows the surprise, then reveals the surprises to the audience in such a way that it still surprises them).

Notice, there is a difference between a well written story, and a well told story. Death Note, for instance, is a well told story, but not necessarily well written (actually most popular anime are well told, but not very well written). A well told story is seen in the directing, while a well written story is found in the writing itself.
quoting your post for future reference.
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Old 2010-06-07, 00:26   Link #11
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I judge it by whether or not the dialog/actions symbolize elements within the theme.
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Old 2010-06-07, 01:36   Link #12
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Originally Posted by james0246 View Post
What qualifies as well written? If it makes sense. All those annoying little scenes you though were superfluous? Well it turns out they had a point, and a damn good point as well. That surprise ending everyone was talking about the next day? Well, turns out it wasn't so surprising afterall. A well written story is constructed in such a way that all characters are explored and explained; and all relevant) plot points are addressed, referenced, categorized, and explained. Originality or Unpredictability are generally unimportant to a well written story (a well written story generally does not rely on surprises, rather foreshadowing and other relevant devices are used to explore the story), though they can be present and sometimes even helpful (the well written story foreshadows the surprise, then reveals the surprises to the audience in such a way that it still surprises them).

Notice, there is a difference between a well written story, and a well told story. Death Note, for instance, is a well told story, but not necessarily well written (actually most popular anime are well told, but not very well written). A well told story is seen in the directing, while a well written story is found in the writing itself.
Best post of the thread.
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Old 2010-06-07, 02:45   Link #13
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Hm, James nailed it nicely and I will just try to overanalyze it just for the heck of it.

First of all, the characters must be consistent to their actions and personas. You can't have them be doing things that don't fit their character or not taking into account events that came before. If a character keeps making the same mistake without an excuse, that feels stupid (Ash Kecham and Team Rocket anyone?). Of course, this does not apply to episodic or storyless series that much. But even then, a running gag can only be successful for the viewer this many times before it grows old because of repetitiveness. Thus, any series needs a sort of progress as it goes on, from maturing the characters, to making them be using entirely different gags or even using the same gags under a different light.

Said progress must be something solid. It can't be something superficial to the point of stupidity. I will mostly mention shounen, an easy to understand genre. Shounen power ups for example are presented as progress when down to it they almost never really mature a character beyond making him cause bigger holes and explosions... which themselves magically disappear some episodes later, making him apparently as strong as he was before the power up. That's not progress; it's a waste of interest.

But progress is proven destructive for any long running series. If you want to make a 100+ episode series, you can't have the characters or the story progress or mature too much. You are in danger of making the series and characters turn to fields that alienate the target audience. At the same time, it is a risk to try slowing things down too much. Many famous long-running series generally slow down progress as they have captured the audience and then simply relax their effort as the fans will stick to it no matter how worse it gets... But not for too long or if a similar series is airing and is doing a better job. For example, Dragonball Z wouldn't feel so great if it was airing along with other well done shounen. Bleach wouldn't feel so retarded if it wasn't airing along with Naruto and Naruto wouldn't feel so slow if it wasn't airing along with One Piece. Circumstances play an important role too.

Plus, a good series is also a series that has no immediate equal next to it. If a 100 well written/told series are made in the same year, they will feel less exiting than a mediocrity that was made in a year with only bad titles. It's just an illusion of course but many feel saturated if they watch too many goodies at once and don't appreciate a good series if they watch a lot too fast and too close apart.

Last edited by roriconfan; 2010-06-07 at 03:01.
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Old 2010-06-13, 04:24   Link #14
felix
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Originally Posted by james0246 View Post
What qualifies as well written? If it makes sense. All those annoying little scenes you though were superfluous? Well it turns out they had a point, and a damn good point as well. That surprise ending everyone was talking about the next day? Well, turns out it wasn't so surprising afterall. A well written story is constructed in such a way that all characters are explored and explained; and all relevant) plot points are addressed, referenced, categorized, and explained. Originality or Unpredictability are generally unimportant to a well written story (a well written story generally does not rely on surprises, rather foreshadowing and other relevant devices are used to explore the story), though they can be present and sometimes even helpful (the well written story foreshadows the surprise, then reveals the surprises to the audience in such a way that it still surprises them).
Sounds like the drama genre recipe. Foreshadowing is just another way of creating suspense. Its not the one and only way. Mysteries don't need to be revealed either, sometimes the hole point is that they are never revealed and we can only guess or fill the gap with what we would like it to be, and the story only merely narrows that gap but never closes it. You could have a story of dog coming to the station to wait for his dead master, no secrets, and it could still be good. Its not about some strategy in writing but rather grabbing the attention of your target audience. Shonen like Naruto are considered by most here badly written, and by your definition (on some points) they would be badly written. But as far as I can tell from observing reality, they are very well written when it comes to material for 12-year olds.

Anyway my own opinion is that there's no yard stick to measure a well written story. If along the way the story "moves you" and itself, then its probably on the right track.
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Old 2010-06-13, 05:05   Link #15
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Surprised by the lack of mentioning of plot holes. Most anime (as any other form of storytelling) is full of them.

Healthy plot: A charachter is weak. Then he uses methods that make perfect sense within the rules of the constructed worlds to become strong.

Plot hole: A charachter is weak. Then he is strong. Just like that.
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Old 2010-06-13, 07:03   Link #16
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I also don't think that foreshadowing is necessary. Actually, too much foreshadowing can take a lot of the drama and fun out of a surprising plot twist (i.e. by making it less surprising).

The key is that, if the story has a plot twist, it should make sense retrospectively (with or without foreshadowing). A good plot twist should fit seamlessly with how the plot has unfolded thus far; it often simply adds a new level of understanding to what has been driving the plot so far, as well as perhaps what has been going on "behind the scenes" all along.

Two good anime examples of this are:

Spoiler for Revealing two animes with major plot twists:



That aside, I'd say that Vantek more or less sums up the different between a well-written story and a poorly-written one. The well-written story makes internal sense. The plot has coherence and has no gaping plot holes, and the characters develop in a believable way. If a character changes considerably over the course of the story, the story provides good believable reasons for why this is so.

If Raito Yagami, in the late stages of the Death Note narrative, suddenly became a pacifist who became squeamish at the thought of killing people via the Death Note, then that would constitute poor writing unless the story provides good reasoning for why Raito has changed so profoundly.
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Old 2010-06-13, 10:48   Link #17
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Very little in this thread has been about writing proper, to be honest; the qualification of "good writing" was improperly imported by movies and its derivatives from literature and is barely even about "writing" at this point.
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Old 2010-06-13, 13:24   Link #18
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Have you guys seen any shows you consider to be well written? Almost everything I watch these days has some plot holes, loose ends, weak character development etc.
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Old 2010-06-13, 13:48   Link #19
Chrisjon
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Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
I think the critical analysis and assessment you learn in English Literary classes hold true.
You hit the nail on head there.

To me what qualifies as good writing is a rather simple story with complex characters simple as that. Symbolism and allusions are also something I enjoy to see in story as it can help make the story something I can relate to.
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Old 2010-06-13, 13:58   Link #20
Vantek
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Have you guys seen any shows you consider to be well written? Almost everything I watch these days has some plot holes, loose ends, weak character development etc.
I think all anime that I've seen has some of these problems. So do almost all books I've read and movies I've seen. The question is how much. I have to say though, that the most popular titles are usually pretty weak in this sense. Also, fantasy and sci fi action, which are my favourites, usually sacrifice consistency for... well, fantasy and sci fi action. So I actually don't have much spectacularly well written anime to recommend. Out of the ones I've seen maybe Samurai Champloo and Seirei no Moribito are the ones that look most solid, but it's not like they blew my mind.

Last edited by Vantek; 2010-06-13 at 14:17.
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