Blogs v Forums?

Over at OF Blog of the Fallen, Larry has been stirring things up again. He has noticed a difference in attitudes towards books between people who write on blogs and people who write on fan forums. The former, he says, tend to take a more literary approach and prefer novels, while the latter prefer series. (And yes, these are simplistic generalizations – your personal experience may differ.)

This reminds me strongly of a conversation I was having at ICFA with Guy Gavriel Kay, John Clute and Liz Hand. The tentative conclusion I think we came to (their recollections may differ) is that different types of readers have different expectations from books. So Larry’s blog people generally want a book that is complete in itself, with a beginning, a middle and an end. The forum people, on the other hand, generally want more of a soap opera experience. They want an open-ended literary creation with plenty of what I call “fan space” in which they can imagine their own characters and their own stories.

As ever, neither of these approaches to reading is “right” or “wrong”, they are just different. Having written a lot of role-playing games myself, but preferring to read novels to series, I can see both sides.

8 thoughts on “Blogs v Forums?

  1. This ignores the fact that quite a lot of us who like series fiction talk about indivdual books on our blogs, and series books in the community blogs/ljs connected to the series.

  2. It does indeed. I think trying to divide fans or readers into discrete groups is always going to throw up way too many exceptions. I do think that there can be different approaches to the reading experience. I also think that the same person can happily apply different approaches to different works. Life is more complicated than taxonomy.

  3. In my defense, I was a bit strung out when I wrote that last night as a sort of working out some of my reactions to something I was reading, so I certainly hope that as generalized as it was, that it doesn’t start a round of back-and-forths. It was just one of “those” posts, one that perhaps would have been marked “self-only” if Blogger had some of LJ’s features.

    That being said, it’ll be interesting to see what others come up with in reaction. More to learn, as always.

  4. Mike – No, I haven’t. And I’m unlikely to do so. It was a very long time ago and I’m hopelessly out of date with the current RPG scene, so it would have to be historical stuff that doesn’t really interest me. Sorry.

  5. Hi Cheryl

    I’ve been ignoring this blog for far too long, and now having followed Matt Cheney’s link, see lots of good stuff to think about. Farah adds an interesting point, and I read very few blogs at the moment in a desperate attempt to concentrate on fiction and writing (and really dislike the LJ format), but I do find from my own experience that forum commenters tend to read with certain standarised expectations – more ‘instant gratification’ sort of fiction.

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