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Old 04-24-2012, 11:04 AM   #51
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She worked out how to leverage a fanfic fanbase and a popular erotic trope to almost-overnight success. I think that's pretty impressive.
She actively did that on purpose through calculated thought? Or she just lucked into becoming a random viral phenomena? Honest question as I don't know the answer.
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Old 04-24-2012, 11:39 AM   #52
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She actively did that on purpose through calculated thought? Or she just lucked into becoming a random viral phenomena? Honest question as I don't know the answer.
Some would call it calculated read http://gentleblaze.livejournal.com
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Old 04-24-2012, 01:55 PM   #53
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My girlfriend is still riveted to 50 Shades. It's terrible, but simultaneously really sexy, is what she's saying.
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Old 04-24-2012, 07:17 PM   #54
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My girlfriend is still riveted to 50 Shades. It's terrible, but simultaneously really sexy, is what she's saying.
I'd agree with that. It's the kind of thing I was rolling my eyes at while at the same time just devouring it. It also has a compelling quality.
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Old 04-26-2012, 02:19 AM   #55
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Worth Thinking About What the Book is NOT

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... What I kept hearing from them is how hot the sex scenes are ... A couple have made the comment that they didn't really care for the way he is controling her, but they were skipping over some of those parts just to get to the sex scenes.
Just curious, how are the sex scenes disconnected from the way he is controlling her? More generally, how can sex be dissociated from how lovers behave toward one another day to day?

Thought: as writers, the posts with various perspectives and criticisms are suggestive for the kind of book one might embark upon in contrast to 50 Shades. Perhaps the dominant is a woman and the submissive a man (not unheard of, and thereís much psychology pop and otherwise on how/why that can be). More challenging and more interesting, what if neither are weak and uninteresting nor overbearing or controlling from an obvious place such as rebelling against a parent. Now letís paint the S&M action, character development and plot line so to blow apart the simplistic edict of the game: safe, sane consensual (see my previous posts on that one). Hmm, let me get on that..
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Old 04-26-2012, 02:29 AM   #56
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I thought the source material was poorly written. What would drive me to read the fan fic/hot lust version of the same?
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Old 04-26-2012, 04:50 AM   #57
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Just curious, how are the sex scenes disconnected from the way he is controlling her? More generally, how can sex be dissociated from how lovers behave toward one another day to day?

Thought: as writers, the posts with various perspectives and criticisms are suggestive for the kind of book one might embark upon in contrast to 50 Shades. Perhaps the dominant is a woman and the submissive a man (not unheard of, and thereís much psychology pop and otherwise on how/why that can be). More challenging and more interesting, what if neither are weak and uninteresting nor overbearing or controlling from an obvious place such as rebelling against a parent. Now letís paint the S&M action, character development and plot line so to blow apart the simplistic edict of the game: safe, sane consensual (see my previous posts on that one). Hmm, let me get on that..
Ana could have been dominant and the novel would have been just as broken if she was bowing to Christian's need for a certain kink MORE than she was connecting with him as a person. I don't want to read an erotic romance in which either partner is doing something he or she doesn't really want to do - unless, possibly, that is a necessary step on a larger journey.

Let's say you move past SSC, and characters push each other too far or do things that scare them or that hurt each other. It's all in how it's presented at that point. You could have a steamy but dark novel about the complex ways that sex intersects with psychology, emotions, repression, experience, etc. and it could be really good, if each scene has a purpose in character and story development. You could have characters learn about themselves, or at least have the reader be invited to contemplate his or her own neuroses through the character's experiences.

Or you could write a story about fucked up people pursuing a fucked up relationship and telling themselves they are happy when they clearly aren't, and you could call that "erotic romance," and you'd have 50 Shades of Grey.
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Old 04-26-2012, 07:34 AM   #58
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I am quite fascinated by this topic. Although not quite enough to look at the book, as I'm sure it's awful. I notice that any article about it seems to admit that it is horribly written. I think the writing in Twilight is pretty bad, but they wouldn't say that in the paper, would they? Why do you think this is? Is it because 50 Shades is really that horrible, or is it just that it is self published?

I was a professional submissive, so many people have asked me what I thought about this book. I do get what people are saying about the characters being fucked up, and therefore, not a real BDSM relationship. However, in any BDSM play, there is a certain amount of roleplay involved. This is why safe words exist in the first place. If it were as simple as saying, "that hurts, that's too much," we wouldn't need safe words. But we do, because saying things like that are part of the play. It is indeed a bit messed up for Ana not to mercy just because she is insecure and afraid of losing Christian. However, her supposedly not wanting it is/could be part of the fantasy. And that's what a book like this is, a fantasy.

Also, seeing as this used to be a Twilight fan fiction...I will add that of the little I've read of that series, the relationship between the two main characters seems a little messed up to me. The way Edward treats Bella is creepy, and yet this is glorified, as if we are supposed to believe it is romantic.
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Old 04-26-2012, 07:40 AM   #59
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Yes, yes it really is that bad:

http://50shadesofsuck.tumblr.com/pos...-sweetest-most

Also, she really has no interest in being a sub. She just wants to be with him. That's the whole thing. She "cures" him of wanting to be a Dom with her love. Cuz isn't that how it works when you fall in love, Celia?

Where's my eyeroll smiley?
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Old 04-26-2012, 09:23 PM   #60
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She "cures" him of wanting to be a Dom with her love
I don't think that's accurate. What she does is really to separate the pathology of his past from his dominance and they come to a compromise over what "kinky fuckery" they want to engage in.
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:41 AM   #61
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I don't think that's accurate. What she does is really to separate the pathology of his past from his dominance and they come to a compromise over what "kinky fuckery" they want to engage in.
Im totally oversimplifying, but the "epilogue" is actually more disturbing to me than if she'd cured him. Gah. I needed a brain bleach.
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Old 04-27-2012, 09:05 PM   #62
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I did recently finish this series because I wanted to understand what the big draw was commercially. And I'm left with a really conflicted opinion about them.

First of all, the damn thing should not be a series. It should be a single novel. This is a clear case of really, really poor self-editing on the author's part as well as professional editing on the publisher's.

The first Fifty book is an angsty, repetitive mess that doesn't go much of anywhere except to establish Grey is a kinky control freak and Ana is an impossibly naive girl who is simultaneously fascinated by aspects of the lifestyle he offers and freaked out about the extremities of it. This makes it a bit of a painful read, unless you're just in it for the hawt-ness. It really bugged me for a couple of days. Little things (seriously? How is it possible for any graduating college student to not have a computer in this day and age?). But mostly I wanted to understand why it has so damn much melodrama. Then I remembered --this was originally not only written as fanfic, it was serial fanfic. So, it's likely a lot of the repetition was used to keep reader tension high at each new installment. It seems reasonable to me it was written this way on purpose, and worked well --in that format. The problem is: it should have been severely cut down when it was reformatted as a full novel. It's a lot to slog through in one straight-through reading.

The second Fifty book was the best of the lot, IMO. Still angsty and repetitive, but thankfully a bit less so. This one actually dealt with the character arcs, and we see that Ana is not a total pushover. She does figure out what she wants and isn't afraid to walk without some sort of compromise. The author explores Grey's background, and they both evolve in interesting ways. Unfortunately, these things are overpowered by the angst (again) and kinda creepy behavior of control-freak Grey (she even calls his behavior stalkerish --and it is). This is also where the entire story should have ended.

The third Fifty book was different from the first two, because it read like the author suddenly decided she needed an external plot and threw that in to keep the story going. And then wrapped it up with that godawful WTF epilogue. If there ever was a clear case of 'kill your darlings' for an author --that epilogue is it with 8x10-color-glossies-with-circles-and-arrows-and-a-paragraph-on-the-back-of-each-one (sorry, couldn't resist, but it's that damn over the top). And it just kept going and going....

As utterly exhausting as it was to read this series, I don't really regret it because for me it was fertile ground to analyze what worked and didn't and why. It was a big fat learning lesson. I think there is a decent story in there, it just gets lost, and I really wish someone would fix it. But then they wouldn't be able to charge $9.99x3, would they...?
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Old 04-28-2012, 02:12 AM   #63
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I saw this book on the news today, the first thing I thought of was this thread. I think the book is providing quite a boost for the erotica genre, though admittedly not a healthly one.
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Old 04-28-2012, 03:51 AM   #64
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Mining for Implications, Inspiration

When thinking about lessons or implications for writing when looking at 50 Shades, I suggest it's important to get beyond the easy bad stuff to the harder bad stuff. After all, the bad writing has an easy implication for us all - write better. A little harder is to go beyond disgust of a character for, as Sarah says, "not doing what he or she wants to do ... unless" It's the "unless" which interests me. "Unless" there is a larger journey or a broader and deeper point resonating on the level of social issues of the day, the psychology of growing up, the "human condition" to use a worn out phrase or, yes, neurosis and its nature. Indeed, 50 Shades gives us nothing at that level, so the implications for writers are: gotta have the depth and development, really got to have it. And, then, hmm, just how to make it happen? I suggest not a bad place to begin is with a bad book as an angry inspiration for what one wants to do and say in a better one.

Likewise, on SCC, my thinking is there might be productive terrain in challenging the concept not in the way Sarah suggests, i.e. discarding it and hurting one another as a consequence, though there too there is possible story development of interest. My thought is the concept itself is problematic held up as it is by the S&M practitioners as a dictum and gateway to enter the exciting, daring but then safe and rewarding world of S&M. I make the point in a previous post about "consent" - the pivotal part of the dictum - meaning nothing without the whole person behind it.

We know what's wrong with the series, it seems, to read the flood of posts. But teasing out exactly the issues and beginning to think of implications for our own writing might be a useful point of departure for the thread too.

Still another path beyond simply ranking on the book: compare and contrast with Story of O, Exit to Eden and the Beauty series on character development, writing style, themes (I realize the thread isnít a class essay, but still). I found O more gripping, deadly, downward spiraling into true evil, but beautifully rich and compelling on the horror of turning a self over to another, and not in a superficial way, but with the full soul and will frighteningly transformed in the process. Me shivers. Eden and Beauty? Puff cakes by comparison. Agreed?
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Old 04-28-2012, 04:43 AM   #65
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When thinking about lessons or implications for writing when looking at 50 Shades, I suggest it's important to get beyond the easy bad stuff to the harder bad stuff.
This is a fascinating discussion, but I have to admit to a little part of me that's even more curious about what was GOOD about 50 Shades. I don't see any redeeming quality to the first novel that should have made it publishable, let alone a mega-hit. But mega-hit it was. There's some kind of magic there, and I think I can't see it through the problems.

Is there something about 50 Shades that I should be studying as a positive model? I really want to understand this book's popularity, why it seems to work. I don't buy "it's hot" as the reason. Maybe I'm being stubborn, but to me that's like saying Twilight struck it big because the language was so beautiful. Just does not compute. It's something else. What?
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Old 04-28-2012, 05:20 AM   #66
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Is there something about 50 Shades that I should be studying as a positive model? I really want to understand this book's popularity, why it seems to work. I don't buy "it's hot" as the reason. Maybe I'm being stubborn, but to me that's like saying Twilight struck it big because the language was so beautiful. Just does not compute. It's something else. What?
The dynamic, however badly written, remains compelling--an angsty, beautiful, cash-laden, dangerous and eldritch* man finds our wee mouse of a heroine utterly fascinating, and will sweep her up and take care of everything for her.

* = sorry, couldn't resist making it perfectly alphabetical. I'm also perhaps bending the definition of 'eldritch' a bit to include things like Mr. Grey's unnatural success in business at such a young age and his taste for things kinky. The point being, the guy isn't normal in some way--whether a vampire or a rock star--and that's part of the appeal.
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Old 04-28-2012, 05:32 AM   #67
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The dynamic, however badly written, remains compelling--an angsty, beautiful, cash-laden, dangerous and eldritch* man finds our wee mouse of a heroine utterly fascinating, and will sweep her up and take care of everything for her.
Yeah, I guess it probably is that simple. I guess I just found his pathology so off-putting that it was hard to read it that way. (Oddly enough, I have a weakness for vampires. Blood-drinking and dead-ness are actually less of a turn-off than straight-up control freakitude. This must be my parents' fault somehow...)

The book reads like fan-fiction to me, pure wish fulfillment. Often writers frown on that, but are we off? Are we judging books by different criteria than readers? Do we get so caught up in our ideals of the craft and trying to write for each other that we lose track of what really appeals to large numbers of readers?

Just curious
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Old 04-28-2012, 06:30 AM   #68
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Last weekend I saw the dude who wrote Pride and Prejudice and Z0mbies at an author talk, and he said his new zombie mashup bestseller was gonna be called Fifty Shades of Grey Matter! I just needed to share that fact with someone.
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Old 04-28-2012, 06:41 AM   #69
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)The book reads like fan-fiction to me, pure wish fulfillment.
That would be because that's exactly what it is.
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Often writers frown on that, but are we off? Are we judging books by different criteria than readers? Do we get so caught up in our ideals of the craft and trying to write for each other that we lose track of what really appeals to large numbers of readers?

Just curious
My brother-in-law (a professional Writer of Stuff) once borrowed my niece's copy of Twilight and threw his hands up declaring that he was physically incapable of writing that badly. I do think that when you've been beating your head against the keyboard for long stretches trying to put together a sentence that doesn't make you cringe (one of the hazards of crossing the Dunning-Kruger Threshold) it can be a bit off-putting to have somebody waltz to the head of the line with something that you'd hate yourself for writing.
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Old 04-28-2012, 07:00 AM   #70
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That would be because that's exactly what it is.
But I thought the conventional wisdom was that straight wish fulfillment was BAD, that we were supposed to have depth and make sure our characters weren't Mary Sues and yada yada... I knew it was fan fiction, but I'm questioning whether readers are looking for something in fan fiction that "serious writers" aren't giving them.

And if I were to let go of what little discipline I have and just write my own personal fantasy in a novel, would I be simultaneously decreasing my chances of publication while increasing my chances that, if published, I would find a devoted fan base?

And if that's the case, are publishers and writers doing something wrong here?

It's kind of like we've all been slaving away trying to make a perfect eclair, and then someone comes along with a Snickers bar and that's what sells out. And the rest of us are thinking: Well, of course, Snickers satisfies. But I thought we were supposed to be making pastry.

Am I making sense? My brain hurts.
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Old 04-28-2012, 07:15 AM   #71
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But I thought the conventional wisdom was that straight wish fulfillment was BAD, that we were supposed to have depth and make sure our characters weren't Mary Sues and yada yada...
...
And if I were to let go of what little discipline I have and just write my own personal fantasy in a novel, would I be simultaneously decreasing my chances of publication while increasing my chances that, if published, I would find a devoted fan base?
This may be just me, but you're sounding vaguely resentful about this, as if you've been stifling yourself from doing this very thing because you were told you'd be rewarded with success if you were a good little girl and didn't let your desires run rampant. Particularly when you describe refusing to write your own personal fantasy as 'discipline', as if you're turning down a slice of chocolate cake because you have a regimen to stick to.
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Old 04-28-2012, 08:41 AM   #72
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This may be just me, but you're sounding vaguely resentful about this, as if you've been stifling yourself from doing this very thing because you were told you'd be rewarded with success if you were a good little girl and didn't let your desires run rampant. Particularly when you describe refusing to write your own personal fantasy as 'discipline', as if you're turning down a slice of chocolate cake because you have a regimen to stick to.
Ouch. Kinda personal response, there, but I guess I must have asked for it. To clarify: I'm not resentful at all, I don't view attempts to hone my craft as acts of self-denial, and I really haven't been at this long enough to be jaded.

I think tearing down 50 Shades is almost too easy. More challenging and more interesting is examining how or why it succeeded. As someone who began writing relatively late in life, I'm always fascinated by the differences between how writers judge writing and how readers judge writing.

Time for a piece of cake.
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Old 04-28-2012, 08:53 PM   #73
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Ouch. Kinda personal response, there, but I guess I must have asked for it. To clarify: I'm not resentful at all, I don't view attempts to hone my craft as acts of self-denial, and I really haven't been at this long enough to be jaded.
Sorry if it seemed like I was poking at you there. Suffice to say that the "Mary Sues are BAAAAAD and must be avoided at all costs!" mindset is one that I find a bit pernicious for a number of reasons and I'm swift to question how useful it really is for writers, especially beginning ones.

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As someone who began writing relatively late in life, I'm always fascinated by the differences between how writers judge writing and how readers judge writing.
It's a very good thing to keep in mind. I think sometimes writers get a bit too caught up in the writer-mind point of view and neglect to remember that books don't have to be crafted to perfection in order to be entertaining to the average reader. (Not that it's an excuse to slack, in my book, but a reminder not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.)

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Time for a piece of cake.
A capital idea!
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Old 04-28-2012, 09:29 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by fourlittlebees View Post
Yes, yes it really is that bad:
Well, sure it is. But my point is, so is Twilight. It's awful. But the articles about it in the mainstream press don't seem to find it acceptable to talk about how awful it is.

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That's the whole thing. She "cures" him of wanting to be a Dom with her love. Cuz isn't that how it works when you fall in love, Celia?
The Story of O is not exactly "how it works when you fall in love," either.
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Old 05-01-2012, 12:49 AM   #75
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Learning from 50 Shades

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... I have to admit to a little part of me that's even more curious about what was GOOD about 50 Shades... Is there something about 50 Shades that I should be studying as a positive model? I really want to understand this book's popularity, why it seems to work...
A few points for consideration:

- Worth distinguishing between popularity and the quality you wish to attain in your writing. Danielle Steel certainly is a popular success but you may not wish to study her formula and emulate her. Ideally, of course, you write to the best of your own standards AND you are a commercial success.

- Reading audiences vary. Your penchant for writing style, "quality of writing," depth of character and the like will match with some audiences but not others. Ideally, you write from your own heart but keep a viable audience in mind as you go. But striving for the biggest commercial audience irrespective of your standards and inner fire is unlikely to be fulfilling, and probably not even possible.

- How and why "50 ShadesĒ has taken off is something of an empirical question. We can speculate as to whether it is the particular erotic element, a tried and true relationship between the characters or clever marketing or some combination, but without some work, all we can do is speculate. For glimmers of how and why people are buying, check this article for instance, where the author herself seems mystified by its success:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505245_1...f-grey-author/
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