“It added nothing to the story.”
ALWAYS cracks me up. :)
I would say that is valid criticism with context. There’s really no context here. “Does this add anything to the story?” seems like it should be a question any writer should be asking themselves? It could be overwriting….
I’ve read Moby Dick a couple times, and I disagree strenuously with the last paragraph of your thoughtful post. I understand that people find the endless whaling detail excrutiating, but to say it ‘adds nothing to the story’ is simply ridiculous. Melville clearly disagreed. If you say, it adds nothing to the MAIN story, I would still argue tooth and nail that that is shooting way wide of the mark.
I think it shows a lack of understanding of tone, context, theme, character, and most importantly for this discussion, subtext. There are a million good reasons to include material that does not directly seem to affect getting protagonist A into conflict B. Instead of saying, ”that does nothing for the main story,” why not ask why that material is included, what the meaning of it is in story terms?
All that’s being shown is a lack of imagination, really.
Melville disagreeing with the poster is not the same as the poster being wrong.
“It adds nothing to the story” is a much more specific statement than “does not directly seem to affect getting protagonist A into conflict B.”
As you say, “[t]here are a million good reasons to include material that does not directly seem to affect getting protagonist A into conflict B.” But I don’t think it’s unfair to point at a particular element of a work and say that it doesn’t carry any of these million reasons.
I say this without knowing any of the context that surrounded the original “It adds nothing to the story” comment - as the other commenters say, we we’re not given that context by your original post.
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