0483: "Fiction Rule of Thumb"

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0483: "Fiction Rule of Thumb"

Postby rwald » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:02 am UTC

Image

Hover text: Except for anything by Lewis Carroll or Tolkien, you get five made-up words per story. I'm looking at you, Anathem.

In before Clockwork Orange reference!
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby SwissArmyAnts » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:02 am UTC

Christopher Paolini, beware.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby TheHand » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:03 am UTC

Gulliver's Travels anyone?

Or maybe Shakespeare?
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby awa64 » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:03 am UTC

Tolkien and Lewis Carrol get exceptions, but Frank Herbert doesn't? I'm a little surprised by that--but generally the rule holds.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby jenue » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:04 am UTC

How about Dr. Seuss?
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby suso » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:04 am UTC

Its not a book, but there is this old documentary (1976) by Howard Smith called Gizmo. The intro to the film has some words of insight into the world of inventors and there are about 10 words in it that are made up. It always confused me until I realized that they were made up. Its a really good documentary if you can find it.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby Lord_Jeremy » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:04 am UTC

Darn, a few seconds late on making the thread...

And hey, what about scifi? Does "telescreen" count as a made-up word?
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby cephalopod9 » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:04 am UTC

I think it should be just a little convex towards the top, but yeah, after about five the graph is accurate. Do onomatopoeia count?
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby Lobstrosity » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:04 am UTC

A literature reference. Yay! Albeit nerdy and somewhat demeaning.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby d3c31t » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:05 am UTC

i was so thinking this was a jab at the eragon books.. which imo werent horrible... they just werent good.. but thats just my opinion
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby Masily box » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:05 am UTC

a) Guess that makes Shakespeare something of an anomaly

b) First I thought that "farmlings" was a jab at OSC's "framlings"

c) Whoa... I just caught "awesomer". Now I'm in love with this one.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby SwissArmyAnts » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:05 am UTC

TheHand wrote:Gulliver's Travels anyone?

Or maybe Shakespeare?

Yeah, I think Shakespeare takes the cake for the most words made up in a literary career, but since most of those words entered common usage, he's in the clear.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby squelchtoad » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:05 am UTC

Shakespeare deserves an exception too:
It is widely assumed that Shakespeare himself introduced more words into English than all the other writers of his time combined, over 1,700 by some estimates

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare%27s_influence

That said, the comic is right. Especially w/r/t fantasy and sci-fi.

Edit: Beaten to it at 12:05. Ouch.
Last edited by squelchtoad on Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:06 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby madhollywood » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:06 am UTC

I love making up words. I guess it is a good thing I have never written a book. Any favorite made up words anybody?

By the by, I believe that liliputian is a real adjective these days.
Last edited by madhollywood on Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:07 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby acheron » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:06 am UTC

I registered just to say how terribly, terribly wrong Randall is about Anathem. It is a great book, maybe better than Cryptonomicon.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby thebeaky » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:06 am UTC

its a probability thing.

like its really improbable, I agree, but there are some exceptions as happens with probability.

I think it was dan brown, I get confused by the names who flipped to heads in a row, ( originally didnt mention took him eighteen hours to get it.)
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby bbctol » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:06 am UTC

For me, this rule usually runs conversely. Frank Herbert, absolutely. Plus, I liked Anathem and it's funny words. Exceptions are reserved for people who like to think they're being really creative by making up a whole new language, but don't put any thought into it (*cough*, a certain author whose name starts with "C" and ends with "Hristopherpaolini")
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby GodShapedBullet » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:06 am UTC

Clockwork Orange ruled and that made up an entirely new system of slang.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby aleflamedyud » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:07 am UTC

rwald wrote:Image

Hover text: Except for anything by Lewis Carroll or Tolkien, you get five made-up words per story. I'm looking at you, Anathem.

In before Clockwork Orange reference!

YA! YA! YAWM! Mu zein, wallah!

I call thee out in the amtal test, the tahaddi al-burhan. May thy knife chip and shatter!
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby cshake » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:07 am UTC

I'll have to say the one book that is completely off the chart here is A Clockwork Orange, most of the vocabulary is made up. Though since this is probability, it's just one of the few on the right side that actually is good.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby dontpanic » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:08 am UTC

1984 was doubleplusgood, and I bet a hrair of people will mention Watership Down...
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby Shale » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:08 am UTC

The retroactive corollary: the quality of a book increases with the number of words it made up that are still in use X years after publication. See: Shakespeare, William; Gibson, also William.

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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby Masily box » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:09 am UTC

Perhaps we should just make an exception for serious conlang attempts in general. (I'd love to include Shakespeare in that count)
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby InstinctSage » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:09 am UTC

This could easily be a jab at just about any fantasy or sci-fi. What do you do when you're writing fiction that contains elements which just don't exist?

But I think it's fairly accurate, too. The examples given tend towards excessive unnecessary made up words. It, somewhat ironically, displays a lack of creativity on the part of the author.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby rwald » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:09 am UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:YA! YA! YAWM! Mu zein, wallah!

I call thee out in the amtal test, the tahaddi al-burhan. May thy knife chip and shatter!

The reason I referenced A Clockwork Orange, rather than composing my reply in Nadsat, is because I can't actually speak Nadsat. I needed to WP (my current textual abbreviation of "Wikipedia;" you try typing the whole thing repeatedly in IMs) the book just to look up what it was called.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby GodShapedBullet » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:10 am UTC

GodShapedBullet wrote:Clockwork Orange ruled and that made up an entirely new system of slang.

cshake wrote:I'll have to say the one book that is completely off the chart here is A Clockwork Orange, most of the vocabulary is made up. Though since this is probability, it's just one of the few on the right side that actually is good.


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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby Günter » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:11 am UTC

I would point you all towards the Prince of Nothing series. Bakker made up tons of words in those books, and they were brilliantly written.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby madhollywood » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:11 am UTC

GodShapedBullet wrote:Clockwork Orange ruled and that made up an entirely new system of slang.


"Oh bliss! Bliss and heaven! Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh. It was like a bird of rarest-spun heaven metal or like silvery wine flowing in a spaceship, gravity all nonsense now. As I slooshied, I knew such lovely pictures!" (This was said while listening to Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in Clockwork Orange)

And of course who can forget the droogs?
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby thebeaky » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:12 am UTC

Shale wrote:The retroactive corollary: the quality of a book increases with the number of words it made up that are still in use X years after publication. See: Shakespeare, William; Gibson, also William.

NOTE TO FORUMS: Stop bugging me about new replies posted while I'm typing this! This is the fifth bloody time I've clicked "Submit."


I had that too, I was aiming for an early place but missed a bit.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby GodShapedBullet » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:13 am UTC

rwald wrote:The reason I referenced A Clockwork Orange, rather than composing my reply in Nadsat, is because I can't actually speak Nadsat. I needed to WP (my current textual abbreviation of "Wikipedia;" you try typing the whole thing repeatedly in IMs) the book just to look up what it was called.


I think right after I read the book I could speak functional Nadsat but at this point I'm out of practice because mostly all you can talk about is beating people up and kicking them in the genitals.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby 6453893 » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:14 am UTC

Finnegans Wake is on the asymptote.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby Editer » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:15 am UTC

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No it isn't.

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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby Repton » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:15 am UTC

How many words did Tolkien make up?

He invented several languages, but I'm not sure that counts -- the reader isn't expected to understand them. And he invented plenty of names, but again, everyone does. The only ones I can think of are names of peoples/races: orcs, hobbits, dwarves (with a v), ents. You could add "mithril" and "palantir" to the list, I suppose, but the list of invented words that the reader is supposed to remember and understand seems quite short.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby nitha » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:20 am UTC

What about Orson Scott Card and the ramen/framlings/varelse? Can he have an exception, too?
:/ I really love those books.
Last edited by nitha on Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:22 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby AppleJordan » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:20 am UTC

dontpanic wrote:1984 was doubleplusgood, and I bet a hrair of people will mention Watership Down...


Yes indeed, and Dr. Seuss has an automatic immunity to any literary criticism.

I have to say randall, this comic disappoints.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby baker's kilobyte » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:20 am UTC

I think right after I read the book I could speak functional Nadsat but at this point I'm out of practice because mostly all you can talk about is beating people up and kicking them in the genitals.


That's the extent of what Alex talks about, not of what you can talk about. :P

Yes indeed, and Dr. Seuss has an automatic immunity to any literary criticism.


There was a quote about how the English language wasn't good enough for Dr. Seuss or something on Jeopardy once. It was the final Jeopardy answer, but I can't remember the quote exactly. I got it wrong, guessed GBS instead.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby Hasufel » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:22 am UTC

Hmm. I'm not sure if I quite agree with this one. I've read a lot of good books that had quite a few made-up words. But yeah, I guess, if there are too many made-up words, it makes it harder to read, and therefore less interesting. But it's better than boring vocabulary.

And I'm surprised no one's mentioned Harry Potter yet. J.K. Rowling and Orson Scott Card should be exceptions to this rule.

What about Orson Scott Card and the ramen/framlings/varelse?

And "utlanning" and "xenocide", too!
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby mrmanme » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:23 am UTC

I like how everyone's immediate reaction is to bring up the small percentage of books with many made-up words that are good, and forget the many that aren't.

That said, my immediate reaction was to start with the word gorram, but then I realised that things like "shiny" are just alternate uses of words, not new words.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby Aubron » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:25 am UTC

Hasufel wrote:Hmm. I'm not sure if I quite agree with this one. I've read a lot of good books that had quite a few made-up words. But yeah, I guess, if there are too many made-up words, it makes it harder to read, and therefore less interesting. But it's better than boring vocabulary.

And I'm surprised no one's mentioned Harry Potter yet. J.K. Rowling and Orson Scott Card should be exceptions to this rule.

What about Orson Scott Card and the ramen/framlings/varelse?

And "utlanning" and "xenocide", too!


Rowling bases a lot of her made up words in Latin, a lot of them being actual latin statements, and most of her fictional creatures are pulled from mythology.

Now Card is a different story...
Last edited by Aubron on Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:28 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby Flewellyn » Wed Oct 01, 2008 4:26 am UTC

Corollary: any book which takes an iconic figure or creature of folklore, and egregiously violates its commonly understood attributes, is likely to suck.

q.v. Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, with the sparkling vampires.
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