Re: Why do you like light novels?

#1
I've noticed multiple threads where people are complaining about tropes that seem very common in light novels; my question then is, why do people write and read so much in this limited genre? I have asked a similar question over on scribblehub, and people seemed confounded that I did not like these kinds of stories, and were in fact offended.

To be clear - I am not saying my main stomping ground, traditionally published fantasy and sci fi, is in some way better than what you like. For all I know there are many gems that I have not found online. 

What I am pointing out is that it seems like the online writing community places really weird limitations on itself, mostly writing in very exclusive areas, and not venturing very far from that.

Re: Why do you like light novels?

#2
Light novels are limited? Haha, no

Maybe if you only read isekai, but light novels have such a range of genres. Don't forget, Light novels isn't a genre, it's more of a demographic. It has everything from a slice of life romance to a high fantasy, and everything in-between. 

Excuse me while I shill some great LN's.

DrakanGlasses 
  • Twelve Kingdoms
  • Durarara
  • Baccano
  • LoTGH
  • Zargeoto
  • Bakemonogatari
  • Steins;Gate
  • Katanagatari
DrakanSigh

Re: Why do you like light novels?

#3
Quote:Why do you like light novels?

I don't. I'll give you some reasons. 

Reason Number 1
I used to translate them, and at first I liked doing it, then I loved doing it, then it was tiring, and then it was a chore, and then I hated it. 
Fuchsia Wrote: Steins;Gate

Stein's;Gate was a Visual Novel, not a Light Novel. 

Reason Number 2
I hate the INDUSTRY. 
(All of this is based on the supposition that you get the writing deal, so bear with me.)
In the US, if you want to be published (traditionally), you get an agent and submit a written manuscript. The agent shops your manuscript around to various publishers, you eventually get get a contract, you get an editor (or one is provided to you) and you fix what needs fixing, and your shit gets published. If it's popular, you get a book deal - usually a book or two per year.

In japan, you write whatever, and you submit it. 
The company takes what you've written as a *proposal* and you write. 
You're given an "editor", but the "editor" is really a company dog that wants to make the company money.
The "editor" accepts or rejects each part that's to be published. 
This is why new characters are suddenly introduced. Why there are flashback arcs. Why stories never go forward. Why MC never fucks the Best Girl. The company is milking you for your popularity.

If you get the sales numbers you're given more freedom in what you want to write in your story, but japanese printing is all about milking everything to the last possible drop before going ahead with an ending.
Strong beginning -> chewy middle -> piss ending.
When you see this formula, you know the writer isn't writing what he wants, but what the company wants him to write so that they can make money, chapter by chapter (or book by book).

Reason Number 3
I hate the absurd simplicity of the Light Novel genre. Listen: 
For good writing, every scene needs to do four things:
  1. Grow the characters 
  2. Advance the Plot 
  3. Reveal the Setting 
  4. Show the Atmosphere.
Light Novels do nothing of the sort.
If you read a novel that was written in the western world (i.e. not asia), things are pretty fuckin' spelled out for you. You might live in the searing deserts of Albuquerque New Mexico, but if you read Sherlock Holmes, you know what a cold, windswept rainy street in london feels like, because when you read the fucking story, it's fucking described for you in a way you can relate to. You can picture it in your mind. 

In a Light Novel, the best you'll get is "Lol we went to go there, and we got there, and stuff happens." 
There's no fucking atmosphere. There's no setting. The plot crawls forward because of Reason Number 2, and the characters only grow when Reason Number 2 allows them to. 

I don't shoot to aim to write a Light Novel. I wanna write a series of novels. You know, (in the US) there's a whole slew of novel series that are like 200-300 pages long. Usually they're themed around a particular franchise, like Warhammer or Halo, or Aliens vs Predator or... you get the fuckin' point. There's this dude- he wrote one hundred and forty-one novels in a series before he died from cancer. They weren't very popular. I fuckin' loved the shit out of them. 

The lesson is this: The only real crime for those of superlative intellect and great prowess is to allow one's self to become shackled by mediocrity. The crime is to let your grasp be less than your reach. To aim low. 
That's what a Light Novel is to me. Greatness shackled by mediocrity. 

Re: Why do you like light novels?

#4
Why would LNs be a limited genre? On the contrary, current YA is often pigeonholed into trends while LNs are more varied because eastern webnovels can succeed in more ways.

For example, syosetsu, a huge webnovel site that is often used by publishers to adapt webnovels into light novels. And if that Light Novel gets traction, the author might get offers to adapt into other mediums with varying cost, from cheaper manga to anime to theatrical releases.

But given the state the western comics and animated tv series are in, branching out into traditional publishing is about as successful as western webnovel can get. Martian and 50 shades managed to get theatrical releases, but those are about the only examples of that in decades, are they not?

And yes, it's common for eastern publishers to aim at longer running series. For example, Overlord was supposed to end with 13 books, but the author was asked to write 15 instead. But given the fierce competition, this is asked only from those who managed to keep their top ranking spots.

As for reasons I like them, the variety is exactly why.

Re: Why do you like light novels?

#8
I read all kinds of literature, be it light or not, as long as it keeps me hooked. 

I like light novels, because they have 'feel-good' about them. I enjoy fantasy/adventure/sci-fi as well, as long as it's not too tedious. Many writers go overboard describing their imaginary world, and it really gets overwhelming for a person like me to get to the actual substance of the story. 
So yeah...anything goes as long as it's done right.

I have a book currently going that I have tagged as 'contemporary romance'. I did it because I had to tag it with something. It is a romance, it is modern, some reviews say it's deliciously cliché, one says it reminds them of Jon Steinbeck, one says it's like a Harlequin Manga.


Coming from my background, I had to look up each of those terms to understand what they meant 😁. It's just a story I am writing, not really thinking about what I'm doing. The readers have their own interpretation, they are welcome to it.

Re: Why do you like light novels?

#9

OntoSomethingGood Wrote: I read all kinds of literature, be it light or not, as long as it keeps me hooked. 

I like light novels, because they have 'feel-good' about them. I enjoy fantasy/adventure/sci-fi as well, as long as it's not too tedious. Many writers go overboard describing their imaginary world, and it really gets overwhelming for a person like me to get to the actual substance of the story. 
So yeah...anything goes as long as it's done right.

I have a book currently going that I have tagged as 'contemporary romance'. I did it because I had to tag it with something. It is a romance, it is modern, some reviews say it's deliciously cliché, one says it reminds them of Jon Steinbeck, one says it's like a Harlequin Manga.


Coming from my background, I had to look up each of those terms to understand what they meant 😁. It's just a story I am writing, not really thinking about what I'm doing. The readers have their own interpretation, they are welcome to it.




Edit - So after writing all this, I looked up the term 'light novel' suspecting I might have missed the point. And lo and behold! It seems it's a Japanese YA novel type targeting high school/middle school students.😂😂

So yeah...pls ignore my comment as it may not be relevant for your question.


Re: Why do you like light novels?

#11

Seerica Wrote: Light Novel is a novel that is written without difficult language, like kanji. It's not necessarily teen oriented but often is.

Yes, that was my understanding. Having read some Sophie Kinsella, Maeve Binchy, and Jilly Cooper novels, I thought I had my bases covered. Yet I was taken by surprise when I looked up the term and found it relates to Japanese YA. Anyway, now I'll be careful posting anything here on RR 😁

Re: Why do you like light novels?

#12
There are some genres that traditional western novels tend to avoid which are very common in light novels. What I enjoy reading most is romantic comedy, followed closely by relaxing slice of life. I'm not all that interested in reading a tightly plotted story that is in a rush to get places. Fluffy, cute and meandering is fine by me.

For example my current favorite light novel is Cooking with Wild Game (the original Japanese webnovel would be translated differently). That webnovel has 60 volumes and isn't close to being done. The plot is meandering, the cast is huge, and I love almost every character. The guy doesn't consummate the relationship with the girl even after 60 volumes (granted, less than 2 years have passed in the story thus far). There is a much larger world at play, which the author dug into with a spun off series, but this story is for the most part about cooking stuff with new fantasy world ingredients and making friends through eating tasty food.

I doubt there would be any room in the western publishing world for a story like that to become popular. THAT's why I like Japanese light novels (and web novels).

Re: Why do you like light novels?

#13

Seerica Wrote: Why would LNs be a limited genre? On the contrary, current YA is often pigeonholed into trends while LNs are more varied because eastern webnovels can succeed in more ways.

For example, syosetsu, a huge webnovel site that is often used by publishers to adapt webnovels into light novels. And if that Light Novel gets traction, the author might get offers to adapt into other mediums with varying cost, from cheaper manga to anime to theatrical releases.

But given the state the western comics and animated tv series are in, branching out into traditional publishing is about as successful as western webnovel can get. Martian and 50 shades managed to get theatrical releases, but those are about the only examples of that in decades, are they not?

And yes, it's common for eastern publishers to aim at longer running series. For example, Overlord was supposed to end with 13 books, but the author was asked to write 15 instead. But given the fierce competition, this is asked only from those who managed to keep their top ranking spots.

As for reasons I like them, the variety is exactly why.



I think you misunderstand what I mean by limitations - I am not referring to the ability of the story to be adapted or the author to expand to other areas, I am referring specifically to the limitations of what the story can do in terms of plot, characters, etc.

From what I have seen, many light novels have very restrictive plots, expanded out over a really, really unneeded length, and focus on some sort of video game like progression rather than a progression of the character's internal strengths and weaknesses. 

Re: Why do you like light novels?

#14

Nestor1079 Wrote: Quote:
Why do you like light novels?

I don't. I'll give you some reasons. 

Reason Number 1
I used to translate them, and at first I liked doing it, then I loved doing it, then it was tiring, and then it was a chore, and then I hated it. 
Fuchsia Wrote:
Steins;Gate

Stein's;Gate was a Visual Novel, not a Light Novel. 

Reason Number 2
I hate the INDUSTRY. 
(All of this is based on the supposition that you get the writing deal, so bear with me.)
In the US, if you want to be published (traditionally), you get an agent and submit a written manuscript. The agent shops your manuscript around to various publishers, you eventually get get a contract, you get an editor (or one is provided to you) and you fix what needs fixing, and your shit gets published. If it's popular, you get a book deal - usually a book or two per year.

In japan, you write whatever, and you submit it. 
The company takes what you've written as a *proposal* and you write. 
You're given an "editor", but the "editor" is really a company dog that wants to make the company money.
The "editor" accepts or rejects each part that's to be published. 
This is why new characters are suddenly introduced. Why there are flashback arcs. Why stories never go forward. Why MC never fucks the Best Girl. The company is milking you for your popularity.

If you get the sales numbers you're given more freedom in what you want to write in your story, but japanese printing is all about milking everything to the last possible drop before going ahead with an ending.
Strong beginning -> chewy middle -> piss ending.
When you see this formula, you know the writer isn't writing what he wants, but what the company wants him to write so that they can make money, chapter by chapter (or book by book).

Reason Number 3
I hate the absurd simplicity of the Light Novel genre. Listen: 
For good writing, every scene needs to do four things:
Grow the characters 
Advance the Plot 
Reveal the Setting 
Show the Atmosphere.
Light Novels do nothing of the sort.
If you read a novel that was written in the western world (i.e. not asia), things are pretty fuckin' spelled out for you. You might live in the searing deserts of Albuquerque New Mexico, but if you read Sherlock Holmes, you know what a cold, windswept rainy street in london feels like, because when you read the fucking story, it's fucking described for you in a way you can relate to. You can picture it in your mind. 

In a Light Novel, the best you'll get is "Lol we went to go there, and we got there, and stuff happens." 
There's no fucking atmosphere. There's no setting. The plot crawls forward because of Reason Number 2, and the characters only grow when Reason Number 2 allows them to. 

I don't shoot to aim to write a Light Novel. I wanna write a series of novels. You know, (in the US) there's a whole slew of novel series that are like 200-300 pages long. Usually they're themed around a particular franchise, like Warhammer or Halo, or Aliens vs Predator or... you get the fuckin' point. There's this dude- he wrote one hundred and forty-one novels in a series before he died from cancer. They weren't very popular. I fuckin' loved the shit out of them. 

The lesson is this: The only real crime for those of superlative intellect and great prowess is to allow one's self to become shackled by mediocrity. The crime is to let your grasp be less than your reach. To aim low. 
That's what a Light Novel is to me. Greatness shackled by mediocrity.



I think this explains quite acutely why I'm perplexed at these tropes in Light Novels. I go on scribblehub and find novels that have more than A HUNDRED CHAPTERS - where the average I'd say for a print novel is around 60+ chapters of like 2000-3000 words a chapter, so what you've said makes sense.

In the case of these writing sites, it seems like people are just milking the tending page... 


I have questioned at times if it offensive for me to criticize light novels so much. I obviously do not know everything about them, and may be misinterpreting them, but from my point of reference, the way they usually manifest is with very limited plot structures.

So much of scribblehub, and some of royal road, is permeated with game lit reincarnation isekai, that has little permutation on existing elements.

I see people talking about how they are tired of these tropes. I recommend to them traditionally published novels. They react in befuddlement, like I suggested they eat a rock for dinner.