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Thread: Why do Gu Long novels have such terrible endings

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    Default Why do Gu Long novels have such terrible endings

    It's like a giant pile of plotholes the author never bothers to fix. I thought it was specific to a few works, but upon reading more, I think they're all sorta like this.

    He has great early characterization, really draws you in. Then he messes with the reader for 90% of the book, leaving dangling points/characters/etc everywhere. Then virtually everyone dies at the end and the situation is resolved by some Deus Ex Machina. Just about every time.

    It's horrifying. I could give examples of this, but I feel it's much harder to find cases where this DOESN'T happen. Off the top of my head, Twins, Sword/Exquisiteness, Flower Guarding Bell, most books in the Dagger series, the Full Moon series, etc. The first 3 in particular have some of the stupidest endings I've ever read (in fact, the second 2/3rds of each book seems to veer further and further from any sense of rationality).

    There's SO many extraneous characters that get LENGTHY 1page+ backstories and introduced throughout each novel. Then they either vanish only to be killed ignominiously in a single move later, never show up again EVER (just forgot about them), or die in a big melee somewhere along the way. It's as if Gu Long just started writing, gave up midway, and BSed the ending to his books.

    I can see now why Jin Yong is regarded as a far superior WRITER. His stories are 'complete' and things don't just happen for the sake of happening.

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    Senior Member Dirt's Avatar
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    Sometimes he would lose interest (probably too busy chasing tail and getting drunk) and someone else would finish it for him. Or he got too drunk to come up with something better.

    The guy use to get a big soup bowl (the kind they use to bring soup to your table at a restaurant), fill it 2 bottles of XO and drink. It's no wonder he died relatively young.

    Incidentally, one of President Ma's personal bodyguards is an illegitimate son of Gu Long.

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    Senior Member Ian Liew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuntingX View Post
    It's horrifying. I could give examples of this, but I feel it's much harder to find cases where this DOESN'T happen. Off the top of my head, Twins, Sword/Exquisiteness, Flower Guarding Bell, most books in the Dagger series, the Full Moon series, etc. The first 3 in particular have some of the stupidest endings I've ever read (in fact, the second 2/3rds of each book seems to veer further and further from any sense of rationality).
    Are those examples of cases where it doesn't happen? I found the ending of Flower Guarding Bell rather satisfying - most of the good guys, including a few who I was sure wouldn't make it, actually survived and almost everyone lived happily ever after. In fact, I was a bit disappointed that the bad guys died so easily.

    The Lu Xiaofeng series also had this to a small extent - non-recurring characters always found a way to die along the way although the main cast somehow usually survive. That was one of his more popular series, though. I agree with the great early characterisation part - you can't tell who is the protagonist and who is mere fodder. The Silver Spear, for example, when the four young heroes gather together and exchange banter, who would know that one is the hero, one is the villain and two won't make it past the first chapter? I'm currently reading September Eagles Flying, and am starting Chapter 3 (and so far no sign of any remote reference to a flying dagger of any sort). I've been reading about a group of people who are probably just kelefes and who won't make it past the prologue, but they're all fascinating, and I genuinely like so many of these characters.

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    Senior Member junny's Avatar
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    Gu Long's stories are more character-driven. Plot comes as and when necessary, and sometimes not at all.
    玉木宏

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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    They aren't ALL bad endings, though the ones that were were probably attributable to Gu Long's Bacchanalian habits.

    When he bothered to do proper endings, Gu Long did them with the best of them. LUK SIU FUNG: BEFORE AND AFTER THE DUEL had one of the most memorable endings in wuxia.

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    Sure, I'd agree some of them were very good. As Ken stated, the Duel had a fantastic ending.

    Many of them were like Flower Guarding Bell; nonsensical nonsense. He spends like 400 pages building up this super baddie... who gets 1 shot by some stray attack at the end. It's like WTF? And I didn't say that the endings are universally unhappy, but that they're BAD. They're poorly written, lazy, make no rational sense, do not flow from the plot, leave dozens and dozens of plot holes unresolved, etc.

    It's like he had a plan, was building to it, then forgot about it at the end and rushed through the last 100 pages for lulz.

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    Senior Member kidd's Avatar
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    Gu Long's stories always have powerful baddies dying in freak accidents or some other non=big fight means. His philosophy is 'Bad guys don't win. Heaven will help the good-hearted'. Lol.

    I read 'CLX-Legend of the Bat' recently. It's a great book, but, the ending can be better. He left some characters unaccounted for and some questions unanswered.

    As for JY being regarded as far superior writer, is that really true? I thought each author has his fans and camps?
    Last edited by kidd; 06-05-12 at 11:09 PM.
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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Bear this in mind too: especially in the later years, Gu Long was much more dependent upon his wuxia novels for his livelihood than Jin Yong was. After his MING PAO newspaper was firmly established, Jin Yong didn't *need* to write wuxia for his livelihood. He wrote when it struck his fancy, and when it didn't, he could live off his earnings from MING PAO.

    For Gu Long, though, not pumping out wuxia novels constantly meant he didn't eat (or drink). That's the reason that he wrote *dozens* of wuxia novels during his career as opposed to the ten or so that Jin Yong wrote. When someone is forced to write under commercial pressure rather than out of pure inspiration, quality *will* usually suffer.

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    Senior Member Dirt's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure Gu Long made decent coin from all the movie adaptations of his novels.

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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirt View Post
    I'm pretty sure Gu Long made decent coin from all the movie adaptations of his novels.
    He probably did, but the man was a big spender (as men who are *really* into fine wine and finer women usually must be). Unlike Jin Yong, Gu Long *had* to write wuxia (whether he felt inspired or not) to pay his hefty bills.

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    Senior Member jiang bao's Avatar
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    Indeed. Some of GL's works remind me of the TV show Lost. Too much effort is spent in setting a complex web of intrigue and not enough in planning how to unravel the web in a reasonable manner.

    My first exposure to GL was the LXF series. The end to the first story leaves things unresolved, which I thought would get resolved in later books. So I read the whole series, and plot holes and unresolved questions increased with each book.

    I've read some of his works which are better. I am ok with endings that don't wrap everything up like a Christmas present, because reality itself is random and imperfect. However, I still want character actions to make sense.

    GL's later works read more like a script than a book. The emphasis is also on setting up the character as a cool guy, like how those characters on TV all like to pose. Or if you look at wuxia comic books, all the characters seem to be posing and looking cool after movies. I guess that's one way to approach and absorb his works.
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    Senior Member devilz91's Avatar
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    Endings are always hardest to write. I'm guessing GL didn't have a clear ending in mind for many of his novels. Many good writers tend to know the ending of their story since the beginning.

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