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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
... When the plot isn't confusing at all? Just admit that you didn't get it, that no reason to start tearing it apart. Even Roger Ebert admits when he doesn't understand something, for example he stated that he just didn't understand the 2006 film 'Silent Hill' because he was no expert on Temporal Dynamics. But he didn't give the film a thumbs down because of that.

No this didn't happen to me (I'm not that talented lol) I was reading a review of a series I'm avid about, and there are tons of 1-star reviews because the 'plot was too confusing' and apparently that means it deserves one star. It's actually quite simple, and I don't know where people are getting lost... but that's just me.

Has anyone here ever had a story negatively reviewed because a reader just didn't get it?
 

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I've never personally received feedback that my books are confusing, even though there are multiple plots going on at the same time, but I can understand it if someone felt let down by being confused and one starred a book - it might not be very fair in some aspects but on the flip side it also tells other potential readers that the book is complex, something that many, many readers like.
 

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As a reader, if a plot is complex enough that I probably have to make notes to remember who's who and who's met whom. . . .well, the writing/characterization better be exceptional.  I'm supremely lazy and am not likely to make the effort otherwise.  Which means, while I might read the book to the end, I'm not going to rate it particularly high.

I'd also suggest basically calling people wrong because they found it confusing when you didn't is not particularly productive. ::)  Everyone comes from a different background.  Maybe you're used to reading that particular style/genre/subject but this is the person's first try.  They probably are going to be confused when you're not.

An anecdote:  It was near the end of 8th grade:  In the US, High School is very different -- you move around and go to the teachers rather than the teachers comign to you; you have a locker to keep stuff in, you are not automatically escorted everywhere.  And of course the classes are a bit harder.  Anyway, we got to go to the HS and sit in on a few classes to get a feel for what they were like.  One of the classes we got to sit in on was Algebra and they were having a test. I had always loved math -- it came VERY easily to me.  Well, I was completely confused and felt really stupid: I couldn't even begin to decipher any of the problems.  Worried me a little, I can tell you! :eek:  But a year later after I'd actually HAD the class, I aced the very same exam that had looked so scary the previous year.

Moral of the story: You gotta remember that not everyone has had the same experiences as you have.  When a person doesn't 'get' something that seems obvious, the thing to do is try to move backward in one's understanding to find a place you all have common ground and then go forward from there.  It's absolutely necessary if you want to teach someone; and it's a good thing to remember in general conversation too, so you don't speak out of turn and sound like an obnoxious know-it-all.  I confess to having learned that bit the hard way as a teenager. ::)
 

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I get reviews like that sometimes. I have two opposing time lines in Threads, one that moves forward as the narrator tells the story of her life as "Anne Boleyn," and one that moves backward as she refers to her past lives. As she reviews her lifetime as Anne Boleyn, she periodically has to watch scenes from a past life that brought her to this point, or which was supposed to have taught her a lesson she didn't learn.The past life segments begin with her most recent past lifetime, and end with the one in the distant past where all her problems began.

I know that I didn't write it confusingly because of the number of people who have had no problem (NO PROBLEM) following along. But there are always those who get totally lost. All I can do is shrug and hope they scare away other people who get confused.
 

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On one hand, the reader is always right. On the other hand, the reader could just be a moron.

That's how any review comment should be viewed and opinions weighted accordingly.
 

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Chad Winters (#102) said:
i would differentiate between complex and confusing. I don't mind a complex, but internally coherent plot. But if the plot is disjointed, incoherent and just doesn't hold together....leaving me confused...then I would be annoyed.
If the plot is disjointed and incoherent, most people will find it confusing. However, if most people DON'T find it confusing and some people do, is the book still "confusing?" Or are those people merely out of their depth? I think they're out of their depth, personally. Not every book is intended to be a beach read, and not every reader is equipped to read Ulysses. Not every reader is even equipped to read a book that doesn't follow a very strict "romance novel" template - it's true.

Sometimes books fall into the wrong hands (you don't ever want me to review a number of genres), and sometimes those readers like to leave one-star reviews. If you're savvy and can identify the reading level of readers by their verbiage and their other book selections, you can figure out if they're a "match" with you, and whether or not you want to take the review seriously.
 

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Nell Gavin said:
If the plot is disjointed and incoherent, most people will find it confusing. However, if most people DON'T find it confusing and some people do, is the book still "confusing?" Or are those people merely out of their depth? I think they're out of their depth, personally. Not every book is intended to be a beach read, and not every reader is equipped to read Ulysses. Not every reader is even equipped to read a book that doesn't follow a very strict "romance novel" template - it's true.

Sometimes books fall into the wrong hands (you don't ever want me to review a number of genres), and sometimes those readers like to leave one-star reviews. If you're savvy and can identify the reading level of readers by their verbiage and their other book selections, you can figure out if they're a "match" with you, and whether or not you want to take the review seriously.
pretty sure we agreed there, but I might be confused :)
 

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Can there be like one thread like this where romance readers aren't once again insulted? Please?  ::)

How about some books work for some and not for others. Not the some people are mentally not capable of "getting" a book.

And if a book has mostly 5 stars and praises and a few low stars and critiques does that really mean to discount the very few dissenters? Or does that mean most that didn't like it just didn't bother to leave a review for various reasons. One maybe they they dont want to be called out on not "getting" it.

We all like different things period. Doesn't make one smarter or better then the other, just different.
 

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Not really.  Opinion is opinion after all, and if someone forks out money for the book, they deserve the right to call it confusing when they feel that it is.  I'm sure your books are reaching the audience intended for them, too.  A few negative reviews or comments probably won't stop the people who LIKE your book from shouting it from the rooftops.  Word of mouth is a powerful tool!
 

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tim290280 said:
On one hand, the reader is always right. On the other hand, the reader could just be a moron.

That's how any review comment should be viewed and opinions weighted accordingly.
Good point.

Also, please remember that if you wrote it, you understand the whole thing. But if I'm reading it, things that are obvious to you may not be obvious to me. So if I say it's confusing, it is. To me. And that's all I can base my review on, how I perceive it.

As I keep saying, no matter what you do, some people will agree with you, some people will disagree with you and some people will never get the joke.
 

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Atunah said:
Can there be like one thread like this where romance readers aren't once again insulted? Please? ::)

How about some books work for some and not for others. Not the some people are mentally not capable of "getting" a book.

And if a book has mostly 5 stars and praises and a few low stars and critiques does that really mean to discount the very few dissenters? Or does that mean most that didn't like it just didn't bother to leave a review for various reasons. One maybe they they dont want to be called out on not "getting" it.

We all like different things period. Doesn't make one smarter or better then the other, just different.
Was I insulting? I didn't mean to be. I'm just commenting on what I see. I once attended a meeting of DARA (Dallas Area Romance Authors), and ate lunch with a group of romance authors who included one who was writing her 47th book. She was about 31 years old, and said she cranked out five or more books a year because she just followed the template and changed the story line with each book. She even shrugged.

You know before you pick up a romance that you are going to have a "boy meets girl, outside forces drive them apart, happy forces bring them together again for a happy ending." I can't recall what page she told me the sex has to happen. It may have been page 72. There are readers who only read books that follow this format, and anything else throws them for a loop. I've also seen them on the Amazon Romance forum, and they get very angry - affronted, even - when an author veers even slightly from whatever pattern they expect from her. If I'm wrong, I apologize, but that's what I keep seeing. It's just an observation.

Personally, I don't read genre fiction of any kind because I don't care much for it - it's too easy to fall into cliched patterns. I very rarely review genre books because I'm predisposed to lower the star rating based on my own preferences.

I also don't like a Ulysses-level challenge. I don't even like a Tolstoy-level challenge. I would not review those either because my boredom is not the fault of those books. So I look for things in the moderate zone that lean toward complex and complicated but don't lose me by going too far. Other people have other thresholds, and that's fine. But it's nice when readers recognize their thresholds and don't blame the author for writing to a higher or lower threshold, and trash a book because it isn't a match to theirs.
 

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Speaking of thresholds and taste, someone on a writers forum posted an excerpt I thought was absolutely vile. This poster was offering it as an example of "great writing."

It was overwritten, pompous, and convoluted. The author was writing with one eye in the mirror and one hand on the Jack Daniels, I guessed. I honestly thought it was a joke, and posted a reply that it was "literary flatulence."

Turned out it was Cormac McCarthy. Oops. But he isn't for me. I was rolling on the floor, after reading that excerpt. And then I never bothered to read any of his books.
 

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I agree with Ann. There are, actually, plots that are confusing. If it makes me feel stupid, or if I have to sit with pen and paper afterward and try to figure it out, then it's a bad plot. 
 

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If one person says the plot is confusing, it's something to do with them.
If five people say the plot is confusing, it may be them or the writer.
If a dozen people say the plot is confusing, it behooves the writer to think about what is being said.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
scarlet said:
If one person says the plot is confusing, it's something to do with them.
If five people say the plot is confusing, it may be them or the writer.
If a dozen people say the plot is confusing, it behooves the writer to think about what is being said.
Great tier, I like it ;D

I'd also suggest basically calling people wrong because they found it confusing when you didn't is not particularly productive.
Clearly - I'm here, that in itself shows I'm not particularly productive... :p lol
 

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I'm not a relativist....so I don't thinks its all opinion and maybe just not my cup of tea. It is possible for an author to write a bad book that is confusing because it just doesn't make sense. On the other hand, it is possible for a genius writer to write a book that is good and yet so complex that I can't follow it (this would be ok because there will be other smart people who can follow, he doesn't have to dumb it down for me.)

I like hard science fiction... my wife who is smarter than I am in many ways, likes mysteries. If she tried to read a book that talked a lot about gravity wells, inertia and the limitations of light speed communications, she would find it confusing because it is complex in an area she does not have enough knowledge in.

On the other hand, I find the recent Star Trek movie plot confusing. The plot holes are bigger than the plot and things could not have happened as portrayed even within the plot itself, not just in real life.  It was not coherent to itself. It was not complex....just incoherent. If I try not to follow the plot and just enjoy the explosions its ok, but I imagine if I read the novelization it would drive me batty.

I find cookbooks very confusing and knitting books..forget it!  But that is because they are complex in areas I don't know enough about.

The grey area for me is a lot of the "literary" genre. Many of these seem to be written in a purposefully obtuse and confusing manner in order to appear like "serious literature" I think they are confusing in an artificial "highfalooting" way but I admit it may just be too complex for me. Many times I end up thinking
"why was this considered a classic? Because the author couldn't just write clearly?"
 
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