Sanguo Yanyi Biography Thread (Preparation)

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Unread postby Asellas » Tue Aug 10, 2004 9:00 am

*Points above*

I did include that it is for me as well :wink:
Me wrote:So, while it isn't finished, and while I do it for myself, I would just like to know if it is good enough for KMA.
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Unread postby James » Tue Aug 10, 2004 9:01 am

To give you an honest answer to your question, Ryan, it could probably be posted on KMA after an editor who is experienced with written grammar and the English language, went through it and updated the biography. This is nothing against you at all, but the sentence composition, paragraph composition (and presentation), and grammar would need to be adjusted—and this is a talent you simply get after writing and reading a lot through life. There are a number here who could do it, but given the length of the biography it could take some time.

I don’t imagine anyone will look at it if you take a negative attitude toward the work though. Here’s some advice about writing, and something that made the novel I was writing back when I was around sixteen a much more marvelous work than it would have ever been otherwise: write for yourself, and for your pleasure—not for anyone else. Take pleasure in your work, and once it has been finished, take pleasure in how other people enjoy it. Simply make sure that isn’t your real reason for starting in the first place.

Edit: Disregard the mentality observations if that’s not a concern—just make sure you are doing it first and foremost for yourself. You said a whole ago that it would be a wonderful form of practice and you were certainly right. This is how you improve your writing and English, and with a comparatively small amount of work you can start to make some very nice things to share with everyone else.
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Unread postby Asellas » Thu Aug 12, 2004 6:22 am

So what your saying, James and I'm going to put this in a blunt way that I don't have the experience to do a biography, no? Perhaps doing a Ma Chao one was outta my league but maybe if I done a biography that was off a similar length to the Ji Ling one then would it work out better?
What if the main reason or sole reason was doing it for KMA, yet it was all grammatically correct, sentences were correct and they flowed with one another, would it still go up then?
When it comes to writing, I have a bit of a low self-esteem to it, so forgive my attitude towards it.

I can't help taking a bit of a negative attitude for it, I mean, seeing other people's biographies that are right in all aspects and their general build up of the bio seems to be in proportion, yet mine has more flaws than piccadilly. And, from what you're saying, you would have to have wrote out lots of comprehension work to have good work, but since I have lots of problems with them, this whole idea of practicing will be futile for me since it would take me years to have very few mistakes in my work. Yeah, I know that having a bit of a negative attitude to that would demoralise me and make me not as urged to learn and orrect my mistakes as I should if I was happy about doing my work.
So, where am I going? Well, perhaps I should just not do biographies? I mean, they seem to be for naught, I bet this post wouldn't be better structured after fixing the errors in my Ma Chao one.

I seem to be singled out. I know I am not but my mind is trying to tell me that people can take advantage of me not being good at english and they get so irratated by seeing the mistakes they want to have a go at someone.
I'll just go back to doing my travellers tales and see if I improve, but, if someone would think that doing a shorter but relevant bio would be better then I would gladly do it, and even for myself. Maybe Liu Zhang? Cai Mao?
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Unread postby James » Thu Aug 12, 2004 7:04 am

Well, there are two major elements, as I see it, that go into writing a SGYY biography. The first is the ability to assemble all the relevant information, knowing what to include and what to exclude, and how to avoid missing anything, while having the patience to put it all together into a major work in the end. The second is the ability to write that biography, while making sure that people who read it, especially those who have not read the novel, will know what is going on and won't struggle with the language as they move along.

As far as I can tell, most people can manage the first. They usually fail in terms of patience, but the way you have approached Ma Chao is evidence that you will not face this problem. Though I have not truly looked at your work to see if you've got all the aspects of this part of biography writing down, I believe that even if you don't it wouldn't be hard for you to fix it. This is probably the part that flat out disqualifies an author from having anything put online at KMA in terms of SGYY biographies.

As for the second, the thing standing in your way is the composition of sentences, paragraphs, the flow of your writing—the general accessibility of your document. This is something learned by working with the English language, or studying it, and learning to be a better writer. I set a pretty high standard for KMA, comparatively speaking, so this is something I usually have to tell to people who submit content quite a bit (though I usually do it in a single sentence). This does not disqualify work from KMA, as long as a good editor or editors are willing to go over the biography and bring it up to the site's standards. This is more realistic with smaller biographies like Huangfu Song than it is with larger biographies like Ma Chao though. In fact, I've been thinking of sitting down and going over your Huangfu Song biography myself just to get it online, so you've got something there to smile about.

To answer your later question, in this situation it is probably best to work on smaller biographies, but still only if there are people who you can have edit the work up to the KMA standard. That standard is unspoken, and found by myself in reading the biographies to see how clearly the words, sentences, and paragraphs flow together.

Would it go online if there were no English concers? If that was the case, I'd take one of your biographies and look at my own copies of the novel, maybe write a paragraph or two near the start to compare our styles. If I felt you were including the details you should be, and you weren't rushing through any of it, then it would go right online. If I saw some minor issues that could be corrected, I'd write to you about them. If there were major problems, I'd just reject the work (though I don't think this has ever happened with someone who has a good grasp of writing).

I can't help taking a bit of a negative attitude for it, I mean, seeing other people's biographies that are right in all aspects and their general build up of the bio seems to be in proportion, yet mine has more flaws than piccadilly. And, from what you're saying, you would have to have wrote out lots of comprehension work to have good work, but since I have lots of problems with them, this whole idea of practicing will be futile for me since it would take me years to have very few mistakes in my work. [...]

Well, first off, I don't expect perfection at all. I just want something that 'feels right' to me when I read through it, then later when I verify it against the novel, is also comprehensive (we don't post summaries at this time, though might for officers like Sun Quan if someone made them). I just want the viewer to be able to read it and enjoy themselves, not study it and work slowly through the paragraphs.

I can imagine that might be tough for you to see, and I do certainly realize that good writing is a difficult thing to learn. It has been a part of my life almost every step of the way, while others are only exposed to it in school for essays their parents invariably write for them. That's why I focus on the first aspect, which I think you can pull off given the talents you have, knowing the second half could perhaps be covered by other members here.

So, where am I going? Well, perhaps I should just not do biographies? I mean, they seem to be for naught, I bet this post wouldn't be better structured after fixing the errors in my Ma Chao one.

It is a choice.

I seem to be singled out. I know I am not but my mind is trying to tell me that people can take advantage of me not being good at english and they get so irratated by seeing the mistakes they want to have a go at someone.

I'm definitely not the sort to be blind to other aspects of a person simply because of their English, even if I might look like it given the way I approach some issues in the forum. It just happens to be the first barrier involved in posting something to KMA, as I have decided to set and maintain standards for something like a biography (reason being that once a bio is posted for someone, it significantly reduces the chances that anyone else will write one). I'm definitely not singling you out either, just making sure I'm honest with my reasons becuase I feel I owe you that in the least.

I'll just go back to doing my travellers tales and see if I improve, but, if someone would think that doing a shorter but relevant bio would be better then I would gladly do it, and even for myself. Maybe Liu Zhang? Cai Mao?

You can improve if you want to. When I wanted to improve my writing I went out and got myself a large dictionary, thesaurus, and read some grammar books. I also went to everyone I knew and respected in terms of writing and showed them my work, demanding brutal feedback from them. I learned very quickly. Even half this effort could make a world of difference for someone.

The same standards that apply to a large biography like Ma Chao apply to a smaller biography like Cai Mao. The only difference is that editing the biography becomes a lot more realistic and likely than it ever would be with someone like Ma Chao.

This is usually the first site I give to someone who wishes to learn how to write paragraphs and sentences better, or anyone who wishes to improve themselves as a writer. I've studied the pages of this, and other grammar books, and have learned only that there is always something else to learn: http://webster.commnet.edu/grammar/
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Unread postby Rhiannon » Thu Aug 12, 2004 5:13 pm

I'll also note, Ryan, that as James briefly mentioned, one of the best ways to improve your writing is to take it to someone and have them go over it with a red pen. I'd be more than happy to take the time (though you would have to be patient) to comb over the bio if you email it to me, and be an editor for it, while at the same time pointing out your mistakes so that you can learn from them. I haven't done it often, but when I had more time, I used to comb over the bios posted here as well, looking for typoes and grammar issues, even if I wasn't verifying the accuracy of the information.

All it really takes is a willingness on your part to learn and accept your mistakes without making it a self-esteem issue. When it comes to writing, I realize that is a hard thing to do. I once quit a writing list because I got such brutally honest feedback that I quit writing for three years, thinking it wasn't cut out for me. Years later, I found myself giving up on an editing job because the person could not accept the extensive corrections I did to her work - none of which were meant personally, only to help her make a novel that was readable and understandable.

If you want an editor, I'll be glad to go over it sentence by sentence with you, but only if you're willing to do so without taking the edits as a blow to your own self-esteem. They're meant to help you better yourself, not to belittle you.
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Unread postby Sam » Sat Sep 11, 2004 5:34 pm

Something that has been picking away at me for a while is the lack of bios for the Kingdom of Shu, with the lonely Wei Yan being the only one completed and put on KMA. I've began reading SGYY once more, and will be writing several Shu officer bios whilst reading the novel (particularly, I'd like to get Zhao Yun, Jiang Wei, and a few lesser known generals done). I’m going to pick out a few of my favourite officers from each Kingdom, but the bulk of my concentration will be aimed on getting some Shu bios done. The progress may be slow, with my final (and most busy) year of College starting next week, but I’m confident that I’ll get what I want done. To avoid confusion, has anyone else got any plans to write the Shu bios I specified?
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Unread postby Sima Hui » Mon Sep 27, 2004 4:22 pm

Forever Changes wrote:Something that has been picking away at me for a while is the lack of bios for the Kingdom of Shu, with the lonely Wei Yan being the only one completed and put on KMA. I've began reading SGYY once more, and will be writing several Shu officer bios whilst reading the novel (particularly, I'd like to get Zhao Yun, Jiang Wei, and a few lesser known generals done). I’m going to pick out a few of my favourite officers from each Kingdom, but the bulk of my concentration will be aimed on getting some Shu bios done. The progress may be slow, with my final (and most busy) year of College starting next week, but I’m confident that I’ll get what I want done. To avoid confusion, has anyone else got any plans to write the Shu bios I specified?


This is kinda late, but I've done Wu Lan, Lei Tong and I have plans to do... *drumroll* ZHUGE LIANG!!! Of course, this will take up a lot of time and I won't be posting for a while, but I wanna be the one who does Kongming's SGYY bio.
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Unread postby Sam » Fri Dec 09, 2005 11:26 pm

Let's get the SGYY-bio faction going again! Here's a few topics I wanted to discuss:

- I plan on doing an SGYY biography on Lu Meng some time in the near future, but something has always plagued my mind every time my thoughts wander towards compiling it. As I'm sure ya'll know, Lu Meng dies in the novel by getting possessed by the ghost of Guan Yu, rather than the illness that historically took him. Now, while I have always kept my biographies loyal to the book, I'm having severe hesitations about ending Meng's bio in this fashion. I know we've already established that we'll include all the magical, supernatural stuff from SGYY in biographies, but I think writing that Lu Meng died by getting possessed greatly undermines his character, and would result in the undermining of his biography as a whole. When I read his death for the first time, I immediately got the impression that Lu Meng was a weak figure, while Guan Yu was strong; that Meng's actions were wrong, while Yu's were just, and that's an impression I really don't want to convey in his biography (because I think it's a load of poppycock). What are everyone else’s thoughts on this?

- Next up, I had an idea that we could write a community-contributed biography (well, it was actually Mike's idea, but I just wanted to bring it to attention :P ) . Just as Lu Bu's SGZ biography was compiled by several different translators, I thought it'd be a fun and interesting idea for several SGYY authors to write a large biography together. I haven't got anyone particular in mind - Liu Bei, Sun Quan and Sima Yi have crossed it - but I was wondering: would anyone be interested?

- Lastly, I was just wondering how work on your Ma Chao SGYY biography is going, Ryan?
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Unread postby Kong Wen » Fri Dec 09, 2005 11:46 pm

Sam wrote:I plan on doing an SGYY biography on Lu Meng some time in the near future, but something has always plagued my mind every time my thoughts wander towards compiling it. As I'm sure ya'll know, Lu Meng dies in the novel by getting possessed by the ghost of Guan Yu, rather than the illness that historically took him. Now, while I have always kept my biographies loyal to the book, I'm having severe hesitations about ending Meng's bio in this fashion. I know we've already established that we'll include all the magical, supernatural stuff from SGYY in biographies, but I think writing that Lu Meng died by getting possessed greatly undermines his character, and would result in the undermining of his biography as a whole. When I read his death for the first time, I immediately got the impression that Lu Meng was a weak figure, while Guan Yu was strong; that Meng's actions were wrong, while Yu's were just, and that's an impression I really don't want to convey in his biography (because I think it's a load of poppycock). What are everyone else’s thoughts on this?

I think you know what my answer's going to be here, Sam.

The purpose of SGYY bios is to present a focused document on the character as he appears in the novel. If the character was weak in the novel, he must be weak in the novel-centred biography. If the character died in a certain way in the novel, he must die in that way in the novel-centred biography. To allow our "impressions" as readers to filter into our biography writing is to undermine the very concept of the SGYY bio in the first place, and drift into nebulous "Comprehensive Officer Biography" territory. And of course, this is saying nothing of the disrespect it does Luo Guanzhong—the novel is his work of art, after all.

I think the most you can do in this case is to include a footnote of some kind explaining the account of Lu Meng's death as it appears in other sources (SGZ, for example). And try to maintain source-neutral language as well. Avoid constructions like "this is how Lu Meng really/actually died...", which shift emphasis from your chosen source (the novel). After all, you're not writing about the novel because you want it to appear inauthentic in some way. You're writing about it because it's a good work of art that you enjoy. :)
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Unread postby James » Sat Dec 10, 2005 6:45 am

To reiterate, the SGYY biographies have to stick to the novel, which means poor folks like Lü Meng get their odd ending included. Of course, as also mentioned above, you are more than welcome to include all the historical footnotes you like, so people reading the biography can understand what actually took place.

A community biography is a wonderful idea. I might enjoy helping in something like that myself here and there! Especially if it is one of the really big nasty ones like—*gulp*—Zhuge Liang.
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