Long Time, No See

It has been nearly a year since my last post, and any even longer since any real activity on the part of my story. But I am going to work on that now.

I have my whole story corrected, but, of course, it is again lost. I don’t know what it is, but my manuscripts really like disappearing if I don’t pay attention to them for a while. I am positive that I will find it eventually, but I don’t know when that “eventually” will be.

Luckily, school is winding to a close (senior year is honestly a joke), so I’m going to take a small break from art (because I can never actually get away from it) and focus more on my writing.

The thing is art can be done while watching T.V, which is one of my favorite hobbies. Seriously. T.V. is my inspiration machine. But I love T.V. so much that all that inspiration piles up inside my head and never goes anywhere. I have to be strong and watch less T.V. as well.

I believe the reason that so many people, especially myself, put off writing is because it is “a hobby”. Just something we do on the side for fun. But with a little extra work, it can be a paying hobby. With more focus and dedication, that novel you have stuffed in some nook or cranny of your room or apartment or house can inspire people and maybe, just maybe change them.

So, if you’re lacking inspiration, follow me, and I will try to update bi-weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays with some inspiring quotes and/or updates, or just random thoughts related to writing, depending on when I find my manuscript… Thanks to all the technology at my fingertips, there should be no problem!

And if I make up some lame excuse as to why I didn’t update, know I’m lying.

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Divergent: The Movie Review

Hello all, I’m soooo sorry I haven’t been up in (more than) a month. Recently, a rather large English paper was due, and that took up a lot of my time, but now I’m done and I’m on Spring Break. I’m planning on finishing editing my story this week. 

But enough of that. What did I think of Divergent?

I should preface this: This review will have massive spoilers for both the book and the movie. (No duh)

 

Overall: 4/5 stars

As an adaption, it was very good, and very close to its source material. I picked out lines from the actual book in the dialogue, and characters were (for the most part) pretty much as I saw them in my head. If you come into this movie knowing nothing about the plot of Divergent, then it might be a bit confusing, but the movie explains the basics right away, so I don’t believe you will be too lost. 

The characters were interesting and convincing, though there were some cliché moments, of course

The plot suffered a bit from the transition from novel medium to movie medium, but it does the best it can, and I don’t think anyone should fault it for that. Did it get some things wrong? Of course. But did it get the gist of the novel and tell it in an interesting way? Yes.

I won’t say too much as to the setting except it was well done, capturing the dystopian Chicago landscape quite nicely. 

 

Characters: 4/5

My main beef with the characterization comes from Shailene Woodley, who played Beatrice/Tris. Now, she is a phenomenal actress and shows very good emotions. I’m surprised she’s not in more movies, but that’s not my problem.

She’s too big.

Not, like, fat, or anything, but the reason Tris is supposed to be underestimated all the time is because she’s very small. She calls herself “childish” in stature, and that’s how I expected her to be portrayed in the movie. Unfortunately, the casting directors decided that Shailene should get the part. If she was smaller, then yes, she would be the perfect. 

As it is, I was very impressed with Shailene’s acting, especially when Tris’s mother died. I don’t think I’ve ever cried as hard as that in a movie theater.

Tobias/Four is your typical teenage action/adventure/romance male protagonist: great fighter, quiet but dangerous, and (relatively) fearless. He’s portrayed pretty well, but again, in the book, he’s portrayed as taller and skinny. I feel awful for saying that, but Theo has the wrong physique. He’s muscular and quite attractive, but he would do a bit better as Eric. Give him piercings up to wazoo, and I would believe that he was Eric. But I had a little trouble identifying him as Four. His acting was pretty good, and I didn’t notice anything particularly wrong with it.

Jeanine looks quite close to what I had envisioned her looking like. The first time I saw her, I nearly squealed. She’s cold, businesslike, and calculating, and she looks the part. Plus, she’s played by Kate Winslet. I mean, come on. Her acting is superb, and I can see her mind working through every bit of data. She’s practically more machine than (wo)man. I was very happy with this character.

Caleb is one of the side characters that deserves a round of applause. He brings up this score, saving it from a 3-3.5 just by being great. Maybe this is my teenage hormonal side talking, but he was very adorable, just like the books portrayed him. He had short-ish curly hair, a tall, slightly lean physique, and the perfect attitude as a transfer from Abnegation to Erudite.

The rest of the side characters were pretty good, ranging from good to great. I enjoyed the interplay of all of the characters, and it all seemed believable.

 

Plot: 3/5

I’m not going to fault this movie for having to conform to an already-set plot line, since it did so pretty well. Still, there were some things that I just have to bring up.

The definition of Divergent changed pretty drastically, and that’s the whole point of the series. In the novel, Divergents realize when they’re in simulations, and can change the simulation(s) to fit their will. In the movie Divergents are people who…don’t…conform?-ish? It’s not very well stated, and doesn’t really explain why Tris finishes her simulations so much quicker than the others. In the novel, she changes the simulations consciously, while in the movie, she finishes them so quickly because…because? It’s not very well explained.

People who read the book before will understand what has happened, but the point of a movie is to introduce people to the fandom who don’t want to/have the time to read a long book. It’s not good enough to say, “Just read the book and it’ll make sense.” You have to fully explain. The people who have already read the book may be like, “Of course I know what a Divergent is. Why are you telling me this?” but this movie is meant to be separate from the novel.

The other main point is the reason that the survivors from Dauntless’ invasion go to Amity. In the novel, the reason the group goes to Amity is to bring Amity’s leaders the program that Erudite developed on a USB drive sort of thing. Then Insurgent is all about the reaction to the program. In the movie, Tris forces Jeanine to delete the whole program, thus nulling any proof that Tris had. If this becomes a plot point in the next movie, I might forgive it, but until then, I’m going to deduct points.

 

Setting: 5/5 

At the beginning of the movie, the camera pans over the dystopian city of Chicago, and I really got a view of the age of the city. The Dauntless compound is really well done, with the Pit and the cavern. The Erudite headquarters is practically a library, which is perfect, and the Abnegation houses are all as described in the novel.

Overall, nothing to complain about.

 

Personal Enjoyment: 4.5/5

I tend to enjoy most movies, and this one was no different. Some of the plot development/characters distracted me a bit, but the overall story was very faithful to the original novel, so I did enjoy it.

 

I recommend that you go see it in theaters if you really want to see it. If you’re the type who’s more critical of movies, especially the slightly overused concept of teenage dystopian fiction, then it’s definitely worth at least a rent from Redbox or Netflix when it becomes available.

 

BOOK RECOMMENDATION ALERT!

I recently finished The Runaway King, the second book in the Ascendence trilogy, the first being The False Prince, which I raved on and on about.

This, too, is worth a read. Sage keeps his wit as Jaron, and, although the plot is a bit confusing and seems a bit slow at times, I never really thought it was bad. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next book in Mrs. Neilsen’s series, The Shadow Throne. It was only published last month, but it already is well-rated on goodreads.com.

P.s, while I’m at it, I might as well recommend Veronica Roth’s series, Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant. I can’t say much about Allegiant, since I (unfortunately) have not been able to read it yet due to forces beyond my control *coughcoughSupernatualcoughcough*. I plan to remedy that very soon. But Divergent and Insurgent are both very good books in their own right. I remember Insurgent wasn’t as good as the Divergent, but it was still a very good book, worth checking out at the library, at least.

 

That’s all for today. I hope you all are having a good day!

News of the Good Variety

Hey all!

If you can’t tell by the title, I FOUND MY MANUSCRIPT!

Halle-frigging-lujah.

Thanks to all who liked my previous post and all my others, or followed it, or whatnot. I seriously appreciate it.

On a more technical level, I plan to have a good deal of free time not this weekend, but next weekend. When that time comes, I’m going to edit my story and give it to my friend to read/edit. When she finishes, I’ll edit again, then give it to one of my teachers to edit/critique. I’ll edit a final time before researching publishing houses, which I’m doing now.

It’s a long, slippery slope, and navigating as a teenager through these slopes with your parents’ less-than-enthusiastic cries isn’t always easy, but I seriously rely on you guys. I appreciate every like or follow I get, but I have to admit, comments are blogger gold. It doesn’t have to be long. Just a quick, “I really like your blog!” “I’m glad you found your story!” or even a simple, “NEAT!”  (That one will likely be most appreciated by myself due to my fascination obsession with “Welcome to Night Vale”)

But don’t feel like you need to comment. I’d hate to feel like I’m forcing you to comment. Because that would make me feel evil. And I hope I’m not evil.

Quick recommendation alert!

What with school and life, I’m surprised I can do this with any regularity, but I recommend the book The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielson.

THE FALSE PRINCE is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.

… so, yeah!

I’m not sure how much I can recommend the latter half of the book, seeing as how I’m only about halfway through it at present, but from what I have read, it seems like a very good book.

My favorite part? The main character, Sage. I love his personality, though he does act a little bit younger than he’s supposed to be. Though that could just be his personality. What else is his personality?

Blunt, snarky, and, hilarious. He likes very few people, and very few people like him. It’s just fantastic the way Mrs. Nielson wrote this. I literally cannot get over it.

So instead of getting my fangirl cooties all over you, I invite you to try it out for yourself. It is one of those rare boks that sucks you in from the moment you sit down to read it, so I hope you’ll enjoy it.

P.s., there are two other books in the series: The Runaway King, and The Shadow Throne. If those titles are anything like this book, I highly suggest them!

Life.

Everyone, I am so sorry that this has not been high on my priority list, but my story has been on a relative standstill, and I don’t think you guys follow/read a writer’s blog to find out what they had for breakfast (Raisin Bran, in case anyone cares ;D).

But something has happened.

Now, if you’ve read my “About Me” page, you might remember that time where I lost one of my printed out stories? Yeah, well… bad luck comes in pairs. The worst part? I was going to have all day today to type it up, since I had finished editing it.

Well, that’s not going to work.

I’m still holding onto the belief that it’s still at my school, and I’ll find it tomorrow morning (If there is a snow day…..). But if that doesn’t pan out, I will have to re-print it out, re-correct it, and sew it to my body. And yes, the last step is entirely necessary.

*sigh* well, after I figured out that I didn’t have my story, I panicked, but now I’m pretty calm. I’m going to catch up on Fanfiction, because writing is my passion, and fanfiction is another form of that beast…

I’ll update you tomorrow if I find the manuscript or not.

Until then, please pray/wish/make teddy bear sacrifices for me (Please don’t do the last one. It was a joke. And a shameless steal form Rick Riordan)

 

Quick Recommendation!

To everyone in the Chicagoland area: Do yourself a favor and go see the play “The Rose and the Rime” at the Chicago House Theatre. Heck, go see all of their shows. But Rose and the Rime is really great.

Long story short, a little girl tries to save her town from an evil witch. It’s a strange mash-up of Chronicles of Narnia, Frozen, and something a little different. But it’s not for everyone.

It’s a comedy with some really dark elements. My friend brought her eight year old sister, and she was scared through about a third of the show. Nothing that a little assurance couldn’t cure, but still, be warned.

Also, it doesn’t end happy. Not that it’s not satisfying. On the contrary, I loved the ending. But, not happy.

If neither of those things bother you, you will at least not think of this play as a waste of time, even if you generally don’t like plays because they’re not as realistic as movies. (which is an acceptable point of view. At times, I’m that way.)

But, yeah. See it if you can. If you can’t, I’m sorry. Instead, find a theater that’s performing 39 Steps. It’s seriously hilarious, if you are the kind of person who likes parody. Because this is a parody in the extreme, and if it’s well done, it’s WELL DONE.

So, this time, Until next time!

I Need Help!

Hey, guys, Tess here.

I finished editing my story and am starting to fix it on the computer.

But I have a problem. (Of course)

In the very beginning of the story, I have my main character, Yaviel, traveling to our world to get Rhiannon and bring her back. I have the prologue down (see my first-ever post.), and then there was a weird jump when I forgot my novel notebook somewhere and had to start from what I thought was next.

So what I need help with: How can I write Yaviel’s “kidnapping” of Rhiannon? Should I start from where Yaviel appears in our world and has to find Rhiannon? So I start from where she’s about to find Rhiannon? Or when she finds Rhiannon?

If I start with her in our world, how long should it take for Yaviel to find her? It’s gonna be the easy part (unless you think it should be the hard part, but I want to keep Yaviel’s experiences in our world to a minimum.), so what should happen?

All replies are appreciated, and if you have another idea, please comment! I’d REALLY appreciate it!

All Caught Up!

…At least blog-wise.

I went through my emails and caught up with everyones who liked or followed my blog. If you follow my blog and I didn’t comment on anything and/or follow you, just give me a gentle reminder on my “About” page.

I’m a little behind where homework’s concerned. I had a whole breakdown where I thought I lost a really important piece of paper that had some of my notes for that giant paper I mentioned in my Good news/Bad news post. Then I realized that the day I planned to do it, I was swamped with school and other homework.

But I lost a good hour swearing like a sailor (which is highly unusual for me. I’m a freaking goody-two shoes!), and crying my eyes out. (I am a youngest child, so I still haven’t grown out of crying, though I’m proud to say that I don’t use it to my advantage. I just can’t stop it…)

Thus tomorrow’s plans of only editing have been shattered. But it will only be a few hours after church, and then I can edit away.

And I still have Monday.

Well, thanks to everyone who follows me, and I look forward to posting parts of my (edited) story up in the not-so-distant future!

Thank You! and Future Plans

Everyone!

You guys rock. In the first half an hour after I posted my good news/bad news post, I got 8 people either following my blog or liking the post.

..Now that I put it in writing it seems infinitesimal, but let me tell you, every single like or follow I get, I thank you soooo much. I have to get around to thanking all of you personally, and maybe following a few of you as well. But that will probably come later, sorry.

I have figured out a plan so I can edit about a page a day or my story without losing sleep.

Lunch time.

Now, I go to a private school, and our lunch period lasts all of twenty minutes, so there’s not a lot of time, but I usually finish pretty early anyway. My friends have realized that I’m not in their world when the folder and red pen come out. They tend to leave me alone after that.

As for future plans. This weekend is Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, go America! So I have a three day weekend. On Friday (today) I plan to take it easy: watch Star Trek, draw, go to bed early.

On Saturday, I am going to get up a bit early and spend the whole day doing homework. I have about 9 hours’ worth of homework to do over the weekend, but I should be able to get at least most of it done.

On Sunday I plan to finish editing my story, type it out, and reprint it so my friend can read it over, as she has been begging to do so for the last few months. She has even taken to trying to steal my folder during study hall.

So with that said, I’ll get going. But first!!!!

 

Book alert!

After reading Linked, I read a book called Merlin’s Blade. It’s by Robert Treskillard, and it’s a really interesting take on the Arthurian Legend.

The inside flap:

A strange meteorite.
A deadly enchantment.
And only Merlin can destroy it.

A meteorite brings a mysterious black stone whose sinister power ensnares everyone except Merlin, the blind son of a swordsmith. Soon, all of Britain will be under its power, and he must destroy the stone—or die trying.

Dun dun duuuuuunnn!

 

I thought it was… okay. The beginning was pretty good, and the ending was fantastic, but for about 250 pages in the middle, it was kinda…meh…

The main problem I have with this writer is that there are a lot of characters that are called by different names. (Merlin’s dad is called: “Merlin’s Father”, “Merlin’s tas” “Tas” (By Merlin) and “Oswain”). I’m not necessarily against this, but I just couldn’t place characters in the right setting.

For instance, there’s this one monk who’s kinda important to the plot. All I remember about him is that his name began with a “D” and a character named Garth hid his (Garth’s) bagpipe in the bottom of D’s chest.

He also helped destroy this meteorite, but I don’t remember him name.

And that bugs me as a reader. If you can deal with not knowing a lot about characters, great. You’ll love this book. If you love Tolkein, you might like this book.

If you hate Tolkein, you might still like this book. The plot is still very good, and the origins of popular Merlin myths (sword in the stone, Lady of the Lake) are explained really well and very cleverly.

I like how the main character has such a big impediment that turns out to save him. Though I couldn’t think of Merlin as anyone other than Colin Morgan. I just couldn’t. Nothing anyone could have done would have stopped that. But still, it wasn’t really that distracting.

Another problem? The ending is a little “Deus ex machina” (The ending of The Avengers.). There is one problem (slightly major, depending on your viewpoint) that gets solved by an angel for crissakes. And it’s not even Castiel!

Sorry. Supernatural reference was 100% necessary.

Which leads me to another point.

This book is very Christian. Talk of God giving people strength, people having religious conversions, and giving their lives to God. If you don’t like this, don’t read it.

 

Well, that’s it. I need to return to my regular scheduling of Star Trek. I’m in the middle of the episode with the telekinetic aliens! (“Plato’s Stepchildren”)

See ya, chaps!

On Editing, Tardiness and the Pressures of School

Hey everyone (emphasis on one)!

I have good news, and I have bad news. The good news? I’m pretty far along with editing my story. I gave up on the unrealistic schedule I had set for myself and have been pacing myself quite nicely. (I’m even a little bit ahead!)

The bad news?

School exists. Unfortunately.

And I have one teacher in particular that seems to take it upon himself to make sure every child he teaches has no free time. We have a rather large paper due in March, and I am ever so slightly behind, since I have been in denial that I am in school.

So I will have to put editing my story on hold for a bit while I sort out my priorities.

That being said, I am not giving up on editing my story. Every spare second I have between school, homework, Star Trek, band, bass, soccer, and whatever the hell else I have going on will be dedicated to editing my story. I might even cut back on Star Trek (le gasp!)

That also being said, the in-depth reviews I was planning on doing (Alanna: The First Adventure, Frozen, Merlin’s Blade, and Linked) will be on hiatus until further notice.

But never fear, I will try to post short weekly recommendations for good (And bad) books and movies, as well as a (very) short review. The first few will more likely than not revolve around China, since that’s what the big paper is on.

So to everyone who’s following this, I thank you kindly and hope that you will support me in this stressful time. No doubt in a few weeks I will hit my scholastic stride and be able to take more on. But until then, please hang tight!

 

Good Book Alert!

I recently read the book Linked by Imogen Howson. It’s a fairly new book set in a (in my opinion) Star Trek- inspired futuristic world.

Here’s the inside flap:

Elissa used to have it all: looks, popularity, and a bright future. But for the last three years, she’s been struggling with terrifying visions, phantom pains, and mysterious bruises that appear out of nowhere. 

Finally, she’s promised a cure: minor surgery to burn out the overactive area of her brain. But on the eve of the procedure, she discovers the shocking truth behind her hallucinations: she’s been seeing the world through another girl’s eyes. 

Elissa follows her visions, and finds a battered, broken girl on the run. A girl—Lin—who looks exactly like Elissa, down to the matching bruises. The twin sister she never knew existed. 

Now, Elissa and Lin are on the run from a government who will stop at nothing to reclaim Lin and protect the dangerous secrets she could expose—secrets that would shake the very foundation of their world.

I personally loved it. The characters are well written and organic, and I love the fantasy elements, and how it ties into the plot twist towards the end of the book. Maybe this is just my inner nerd talking, but the futuristic world Elissa inhabits is very well-explained without ever seeming too expositional. It also seems a realistic jump in technology.

I found it hard to put the book down once it started, so beware!

So, that’s it for this post. Please keep this blog in mind, and don’t give up on me!

Book Review: The Writer’s Book of Wisdom (Part 5)

The final review! In this review we go from Rule 79 all the way to 101 and the overall commentary

Rule 79: Avoid commentary: Let readers make their own deductions.

In less frivolous terms, Show, don’t tell.

Ah, showing versus telling. The bane of all writers everywhere. People want so much to shove their ideas into other people’s faces that they get too eager and go overboard.

This can go hand in hand with over describing something, but it can be hard to tell, especially by yourself.

There are whole lessons on showing versus telling, but the one I used (not sure if it’s the best or anything, but who knows?) is in The First Five Pages. You can choose your own, if you want.

Rule 80: Tell stories to keep them reading.

At this point, the author seems to be repeating ideas. When you strip this idea to its bare bones, it’s simply telling your story quickly (Rule 54) and entertaining the reader (Rule 53). SO I’m going to skip this section.

Rule 81: Reveal past events through exposition or flashback.

I went through this early in Rule 68. Not much else to say about it.

Rule 82: Shift focus often.

Don’t focus one thing too long, Steven Goldbury says.

That’s easy for action shots. Clashing noises, swords, words, it can get easy to shift focus in the middle of a battle, whether physical or verbal, but what about in everyday life?

That can be a bit harder, but life is always changing. Did you learn nothing from “Just Around the Riverbend”?

If your character is walking through a forest, have him notice a bug that lands on a flower, or have her kick a rock and follow it as it bounces off a tree root and follow its progress from there.

You might wonder, “What’s the point, if it doesn’t further the plot?” But as I have said before, sometimes, a quick break from the plot is good.

Rule 83: Know your theme.

I literally made up my theme in rule 61. No joke. It’s usually pretty obvious from your writing, and is based on your plot. If you want to do a Horatio Alger thing, then have a poor orphan gain riches. It’s that easy.

Again, the book goes on for two pages. But this is what it’s really saying: Know your theme. It’s that simple

Rule 84: Go with God, but write with the devil.

Or, just go with the devil. You know, whatever works.

Because seriously, Hell and evil is just so COOL. You know how Tess – I mean I – said that conflict makes a story more interesting? Well, a lot of conflict makes for a lot of interest. And guess where a lot of conflict comes from?

If you guessed evil, you’re correct!

Now as the father of evil, – I mean as a writer who writes about a lot of evil – I know that violence is so much fun to read. Because it’s so outside our normal circle.

Seriously. Find the depravities of humanity and use it to your advantage.

And no, this is not Lucifer again. Please stop asking, or I will send you to Hell. I do have that power.

Rule 85: Resolve all conflicts by the end of the story.

…By the end of the story arc. I’m ending my novel at a cliffhanger. If Rick Riordan can end Mark of Athena with Percy and Anabeth falling into the Pit of Tartarus, I think I’m at least slightly entitled to end my novel at a slight cliffhanger.

But do resolve all conflicts. It might not be happily ever after, (The manga Devilman is a good example of one that does not) but there must be some resolution.

Rule 86: Writing is the vehicle for writing the truth.

…Wut?

If you’re writing fantasy, it’s hard to be honest. If the book is talking about being true to yourself, I could understand, but it’s not. It goes from talking about the power of the story to honesty to making stories out of “hate and love”.

…Okay.

Rule 87: Maintain the trance of verisimilitude.

Verisimilitude is simply truthfulness. Basically, you want to keep your story in the right time period, with the right phrases.

Then Steven goes on to say that your vocab should be sixth to eighth grade level.

…excuse me? I have a rather advanced vocabulary for my age, and it gets boring to read books with the same words over and over and over and over and over again.

In general, I believe people should read books that are a level beyond them.

Unfortunately, all the books in the genre I like (YA fantasy) I like are rather simple, so I don’t learn much vocab. But he television shows I like are much different. Just listening to Data from Star Trek Next Generation gave me three different words (aphorism, oraface, jocular) in a span of about ten minutes.

Reading all of Tamora Pierce’s “Song of the Lioness” series taught me about the same amount (petulant, rampant… and that’s all I can remember.) in four books.

Readers sometimes like to be challenged. If they don’t, they can read another book. But most people will read a book, even (And sometimes especially) if they don’t know a few words.

Caveat Emptor: Don’t use too many fancy words just for the sake of using them. If they fit, use them. If they don’t, don’t.

Rule 88: Writing offers hope.

Okay. We have officially reached “artsy fart” status. In plain, concrete English (oh, lordie, my English teacher finally got to me…. crap….) They say that while there should be a lot of conflict, there should be a small hope for the main characters.

You might actually have to read this rule. It’s really pretentious and actually kinda funny. But maybe I’m just being mean. Ah well.

Rule 89: Think about your readers.

This draws back connections to Rule 53, the need to entertain. But this goes further: The readers are the people who support you. Treat them really well. Want a great example of a person who’s really good with his fans?

Vic Mignogna.

Besides being a total sweetie, he takes time out of his own day to write back to every bit of fan mail he gets. He says that he’s up until 1 or 2 in the morning, writing back fan mail so everyone knows how grateful he is to them.

Now, especially if you’re a teenager/young adult, I wouldn’t suggest doing this, since that would mean you only get about four or five hours a sleep a night (assuming you get up at around 6:30 for school), which is not advisable. But take the time to make your story easy for your writers.

Rule 90: Revise with a critical eye and outside help.

Remember aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall the way in Rule 56 when I said that I would go more into outside editors?

Well, guess what?

Critical readers, outside editor, crap detector, call them what you want, they all have one purpose: To make you look as intelligent and novel-esque as possible.

As to where to find a good critical reader, the book says not to go to a friend or teacher. But sometimes those are the best people to go to.

People who aren’t overly critical (like my one friend who won’t stop asking me to let her read my stories(though she tends not to be a blind praiser)) are great, because they give you an idea for what the general populace will think of your book.

But picky readers are even better.

My English teacher is outstanding with prose and novels, as well as great at grammar. Once I finish editing my novel and have my friend read it through, I’m gonna and him the first ten or fifteen pages, and ask him if he would be willing to look them over and tell me what he thinks.

He doesn’t read a lot of YA fantasy (that I know of), so he won’t be too pulled in by the gimmicks, but he is good at picking apart a story, which is really good.

But if your editor’s desires conflict with your own, take a sabbatical and come back later. If you’re still unwilling to change, then don’t. It’s your story, after all.

Rule 91: Art shows up in the rewriting.

So, rule 19? Yeah. Rule 19.

Rule 92: Get distance from your work.

Which is very important. If possible, take about a month’s break from your story. At least two weeks. This will help you get over your illusion that your story is the best piece of literature ever.

Rule 93: Revise for speed.

Or, Rule 54. Tell your story quickly. (Advice which this author should be taking…)

Rule 94:Trust the Muse of Revision

She will lead you to possible serendipity. But the rules are starting to repeat themselves and get really boring.

Rule 95: If you can be misread, you will be.

And in this case, Steve is talking about innuendos.

…really? I mean, really? EVERYTHING can be misread. I don’t even want to know what goes on in some people’s dirty little heads. I don’t have time to be worried if they see every little thing I write as an innuendo. Sorry.

Rule 96: Ultimately, content matters more than crafts.

…which contradicts Rule 61, which claims that writing quality is more important than plot or characters. My head hurts. :/

Rule 97: Know how to sell it.

Be current in the publishing industry. Know how to craft a good pitch (No, not Rise of the Guardians Pitch. Writing-pitch.), who to write a good query letter, ect.

Here are some good suggestions for books to figure out what’s what.

The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. This one is mainly for revision purposes. It’s really good for learning the mistakes in your novel.

The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published – By Arielle Eekstut and David Henry Sterry. (This is really good for before and after publication. Not so much actual publication.)

How to Publish Your Novel – By Ken Atchity – This is pretty much your guide to the ins and outs of publication. Read it. Live it. Just don’t bathe in it.

Please.

Rule 98: Study the board.

Make sure you know the market. If you’re publishing in adult comedy, know the publishers that mainly deal with adult comedy. If you’re writing a children’s mystery book, make sure you know the publishers involved in the production of such books.

Then the book stops, leaving many people screaming at the sky, “But HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwww?”

Well, my dear Watson, the answer is elementary: Go to your bookstore and/or library. Find books that fit your genre. Look at all the publishers. Notice if there are books from the same publication house and see if you can figure out what kind of books they publish.

Even if they don’t publish your kind of novel, if/when another publication house interviews you for a chance to get your book published and they ask why you chose their house, it would be impressive if you could say, “House A publishes more of a modern fantasy, while House B publishes more of a paranormal romance genre. I found your house’s typical genre of Medieval/other worldly fantasy to fit my novel well.”

This tells publishers that you’re not just an average Joe off the street, and that you’re willing to work hard.

Plus, it’s just nice to know someone took the time.

Rule 99: Submit a professional manuscript.

Don’t do anything fancy. Don’t make the writing too big or (definitely) too small. Make it a conventional font. (No, Wingdings is not okay.) Make it look professional, even if you’re not.

But aside from that, the book has no other concrete advice to offer.

I personally have only one thing to add: When you’re re-submitting a manuscript to another publisher, whether you’re shopping around or have been rejected, (heck, even if this is your first time submitting it) make sure it looks like it hasn’t seen the light of day.

I copped this straight from The First Five Pages, but apparently, editors deliberately look for signs of use: ruffled or creased pages, smudges of coffee stains, a small ink stain someone had on their hand that smudged onto the paper, anything.

They will take it as a sign that another editor read it and thus, rejected it.

Then they will reject it, no questions asked, nothing further read. All because you couldn’t bother to print out another manuscript.

Rule 100: Aspire to reach a universal audience.

I respectfully disagree. While I’m not saying that writing for a universal audience is bad, it makes the book less personable to your intended audience.

I don’t think Avatar aspired to be as great a cartoon as it is. DiMartino and Konietzko simply wanted to tell a great story for their kids. They wanted to keep it free of the stupidity that unfortunately plagues most children’s cartoons.

And they created a gem.

The lesson? By aspiring to be the best in your category (say, children’s, or young adults), you reach other audiences.

Rule 101: Embrace the wisdom of opposing views.

Pick and choose how these rules affect you. Too what extent will you “trust your own voice” and to what extent will you “imitate others”?

Writing is a very… loosy-goosy art. There’s no rules for how to hold your hands, how to read music, how to paint. You type up a story you want to type up and go on from there!

So that was the review. Yeah, it was a little long, it’s REALLY late, and I’m positively exhausted. You can probably tell that from the fact that the length of the reviews started shortening little by little…

But: My thoughts.

It’s full of interesting information, and the book itself is very pretty. Its sentences are concise and well written.

But….

I personally feel the writer is a bit pretentious. He means well, but he can come off arrogant and self-important at times. Maybe you might appreciate the way he builds up the writing profession, since so many people bring it down, but I just find it a bit… unpleasant.

The rules can be taken a few ways. The descriptions , especially near the end of the book, often didn’t correspond with the rules, which was confusing. And the writer repeated the same rules once or twice, instead of just shortening the number of rules and lengthening the number of pages devoted to each rule.

And I didn’t like how they were called “rules”. Nothing in writing needs to be followed. But that’s just a personal complaint.

Overall:

It’s twenty bucks. Unless you can get it for about 5 or under, I’d suggest getting it from the library or reading it at your local bookstore. It’s definitely not a bad book, and does deserve at least one look through.

It just doesn’t deserve twenty bucks.

Has anyone else read this book? What were your thoughts?

Book Review: The Writer’s Book of Wisdom (Part 4)

Happy day after New Year’s! I just got back from a sleepover at the house of a great great great friend I haven’t seen since the end of summer/beginning of school, and soon I’m going to go to the wake of the mother of the friend I told you about.

So before I go, I figured I’d use the break to finish the review. Without any further ado…

Rule 55: Write like you talk.

…Unless the way you talk sucks. Then find a new way to talk.

I’m joking.

…ish.

But sometimes your voice doesn’t suit your content. Say an old, stereotypical history professor wanted to write a thriller scifi novel. If he uses the frivolous voice he probably talks in, no one would want to read him.

If you use stringent grammar at the cost of the prose sounding awkward, you have failed.

Here’s a good test: Read through the material. Out loud. If you stumble at any points (other than the obvious, “that was a comma, not a period. DOH!), circle that part. Because the part of your brain that comprehends reading (angular gyrus) is closely connected to the part of your brain that comprehends speaking (Broca’s area).

(Which is basically the reason it’s so easy to go from reading to speaking. Understanding language (Weirnick’s area) isn’t well connected, so that’s why it’s hard to understand a different language. Fun fact of the day.)

If you take anything away from this book, take away this rule. In my opinion, this should be number one. Way too many people take on a false voice for their writing, and it sounds awful.

Rule 56: Trust the power of your own voice.

This is an extension of Rule 55. The way you talk is usually fine. Unless someone tells you that your voice is a bad fit for your story.

Remember that friend whose story was grammar and spelling- challenged? He has a very frivolous manner of speaking. I told him that, but he doesn’t seem too interested in changing it. And that’s his choice.

Don’t feel forced to change your novel because an editor tells you. If any editor demands changes made to your story that you don’t want to do, don’t. It’s your story. Not his or hers. (More on this all the way in Rule 90!)

Rule 57: Command attention immediately.

John Doe is walking down the aisles of his local library. He looks at a section of the shelf, and your book catches his eye with a clever or interesting title. He reads the blurb on the inside cover and decides that he might like it.

But John Doe is pretty critical. So he opens to the first page, breathing in the new-book smell.

His eyes fall on to the first sentence, and he is bored out of his skull. He snaps the book shut, rolls his eyes, and puts it back on the shelf, never to touch it again.

If this happens, you have failed. With the first sentence, you want the reader to be entranced, hypnotized. And you want to be the hypnotist.

Here’s a good test. Ask a likeminded friend or relative (For me, it’s my older sister): “I’ve got a story called “____________” (For me: The Heir). It opens with ____________________ (For me: “No.” The girl tugged on her low hanging pigtail with a scowl.) What do you think?”

What do you think of mine?

Rule 58: Design your opening page for maximum impact.

There seem to be 5 important elements of a good first page of a manuscript:
• Title (On the first page? Really? Okay….)
• White space
• Hook
• Sense of conflict
• Cliffhanger

The title is supposed to remind the reader/editor what they’re reading, even if there’s a title page. But this book doesn’t. The book closest to me (Ranger’s Apprentice Book 6) doesn’t. So I don’t think this is important for a final draft. But for a manuscript, I don’t think this could be a bad idea.

White space is great. If you have a tasteful amount, it will make people think they’re reading less, since most if not all, people are lazy readers. I know I am. Read the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy in one book? No thank you.

The hook was covered in the last rule, commanding attention.

Conflict is what makes books interesting. You don’t want to hear about the exploits of Jane Doe as she slogs through her daily routine with no troubles except for that one time, last Thursday that she lost her glove on the subway. No. Harry Potter wasn’t exciting because they talked about magic. It was exciting because there was a lot of conflict. Try to have it on your first page. In my novel, you get the impression (I hope) that there’s a war going on, and it’s pretty desperate.

Cilffhanger. If you end in a happy spot, why should the reader read on? It’s pointless. If Veronica Roth hadn’t ended Divergent with Tris unsure of her role, Dauntless in shreds, and Erudite looming closer, would we have wanted Insurgent as much? I don’t think so.

Even minor cliffhangers are better than none. In my story, I ended the first chapter with the possibility of a way to turn the tide of the war, but we don’t hear about it until a while afterward.

Build up the tension.

Rule 59: Start where the story gets interesting.

Also called “In Medias Res” (In the middle of things)

If you’ve ever written anything, whether it be an essay, a poem, or a full blown novel, we all know the beginning is next to impossible. But after a page or two, we settle into the rhythm of writing, and the story or essay or poem flows more easily. Not necessarily very easy. But easier.

Don’t worry about your beginning when you start. Otherwise you’ll get
overwhelmed and won’t. Instead, just write what you think sounds good, and in the editing stage, condense the story as much as possible.

For example, in my story, I had one of the main girls, Yaviel, going to the modern world to get Rhiannon, and Yaviel watches her (Rhiannon) for a while.

But I couldn’t get that to sound right, so I skipped most of it and went right to the good stuff.

It might be hard getting rid of part of your story. It might feel like killing your firstborn child then flaying yourself. But it WILL make your story better. Just be sure that you are careful to give enough information, or the readers might get confused and just leave.

Rule 60: Never save your best for last.

The book says that you should use that best part first. But the best part of my story is that a main character dies, another gets amnesia, and the castle is being attacked. If I put that first, then I would have no story. I would just have a climax out of place with no backstory, character development, or plot.

Plus, the climax should NEVER be outshone by the exposition. Otherwise the climax isn’t the climax. It’s just a mildly exciting part of the story.

Rule 61: Master the basics of literature.

The book claims there are seven things you should pay attention to while writing, in this order.
• Quality of writing. This should speak for itself. If you write poorly, people won’t want to read you. Not even your mother or grandma. …Okay, MAYBE your grandma. Mine probably would.
• Conflict. We’ve talked about this, haven’t we? Conflict is exciting. Would Supernatural be as exciting if people didn’t die? If hunting things and killing things (you know, the family business!) were really easy. NO. It’s because these things are so hard that it’s exciting.
• Point of View. Most English students know about point of view. The book goes into a whole doozy of different kinds of point of views. Just so you know: Second person is pretty much off limits. They make everything sound like those Choose Your Own Adventure books. If you want a whole discourse on point of view, google it. Because there’s too much to cover here.
• Character. Personally, I think this should be number two, but what do I know? All I do know is that the reason I stop watching most T.V. shows or reading most books is because I don’t like the main character. But that’s just me.
• Setting. Especially if you created a fantasy world, be sure to describe it. That’s one of the main things that I have trouble doing. I’m just not good at describing setting.
• Plot. Plot is not very complicated. It’s just the actions of the characters in the story. As long as there’s exposition, a twist or two, a climax, and a good resolution, you’ve got a good plot. But even if you just had someone walk from one corner of the street to the other and back, that would be a plot. Not a good one, but a plot nevertheless.
• Theme. This is basically like the morals at the end of Aesop’s fables. If you have the idea of showing a certain idea (in my story, things are not always what they appear), just think of that while writing. You don’t need to put too much conscious effort into this, since it’ll just happen.

Rule 62: Mix description, narration, exposition, and dialogue.

Description gives images, narration creates action, and exposition gives reasons.

But other than that, the book just throws examples of authors using all of one kind. There is no example of a good mixture of the four. This could confuse readers of this book.

Here’s my own example. It’s kinda crappy, but it’s off the top of my head.

“The tall green grass bent in the wind and into the glassy, ice-blue lake. I walked towards the shore, humming a familiar tune sadly. Where had I heard it? I cast my memories back and remembered the face of a childhood friend, her giant grin missing a single canine tooth on the left side. She had danced around me, singing her favorite song.

Then I saw her face again: older, broken, bloodied, dead. And I sobbed.

When the tears wouldn’t come anymore, I opened my mouth and sang.

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me……””

See how I mixed description (about the tall grasses, the glassy lake) narration (walking to the shore, crying) exposition (thinking about her dead friend, remembering the song) and dialogue (wondering where she heard the song, the song itself).

If it was all description:

There was tall green grass that bent into the lake. I walked towards the shore and hummed sadly. I didn’t remember where I heard it. So I cast my mind back. I remembered my friend’s face as she sang the song, and I remembered her dead face.

I sobbed.

When I stopped crying, I started to sing. “la di da”

See how boring it is? Some parts sound right, but a lot of parts do not. Just realize this, and you should be good. If you’re a natural English speaker, then this should come naturally. If not, then you have a good deal to learn. I wish you luck.

Rule 63: For structure, remember the golden triangle.

Okaaaaaay. Never heard of this one. And the book doesn’t explain it very well. And it only gives examples pertinent to essay writers. Remember that basic structure of an essay your teachers taught you? Introductory paragraph, body paragraphs, concluding paragraph? This is the what they talk about.

In my mind, the golden triangle for novelists is “Beginning, Climax, Ending”

As long as you have all of those, you should be good.

Rule 64: Use the classical plot outline.

Remember how I talked about the witch hat? Well, in this book it’s more like two fish hooks that meet at the climax. So for all intents and purposes, it’s a witch hat. Beginning, climax, end.

In the book, the author talks about how if you apply this into your novel, you’ll “tap into emotional wells as deep and ancient as the human race”. Technically, we’re not ancient at all. In fact, if the timeline of the world were a football field, the beginning of the human race would only start about one inch from the goal line.

But I’m being nitpicky and overly critical. It’s just that he says that you shouldn’t be superfluous, and here he is being superfluous. Oh well…

Rule 65: A more detailed plot outline provides your template.

The witch hat can only do so much. Sometimes, you want minor conflicts and resolutions .

In Alanna: The First Adventure (review coming soon!), you think that the Sweating Sickness is the big climax, and everything else is just resolution, but then we introduce Roger of Conté, and Alanna and Jon battle the Ysandir. Then everything after that is resolution.

If used properly, it can make the great big climax that much more OH SNAP!

But be careful of having too many, or the big climax won’t be that big of a payoff.

Rule 666: Allow the process of discover to happen naturally.

Where there’s conflict, there’s drama. So if you have a good conflict and a good style of story and good characters, the story should be good as well. Trust yourself.

And no, this is not Lucifer temporarily possessing Tess to make her do my bidding. Definitely not. She’s writing- I mean I’m writing this of my own free will.

Rule 67: Dialogue heightens drama.

…Sometimes. As with most things, if you use dialogue too much, it becomes annoying and pointless, and you’re probably using it wrong.

And don’t be afraid to use short sentences. Or none at all. Having one character stare at another instead of answering is arguably more powerful than having the character roll his or her eyes and huff, “that’s stupid.”

Remember, actions are more powerful than words. But words are okay, too!

Rule 68: Dialogue speeds the process of discovery.

…just don’t take it too far. If you use dialogue to explain everything (“Hey I just drank a glass of water. It was refreshing and it filled the glass halfway. Little bits of water speckled the edges.” “That’s neat! I just ate a spicy enchilada! A bit of hot sauce got into a cut on the corner of my mouth and it stung!”)

That’s boring and people see right through it.

So use dialogue sparingly, and it will really help your story.

Granted, some short stories can be made from dialogue only. Here’s an example I wrote for a fanfiction. If you don’t know Yu-Gi-Oh, it probably won’t make much sense, but you’ll get an idea for how dialogue can tell a story.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9525445/33/A-Story-for-a-Word

Rule 69: Dialogue creates tension.

Make your characters hate each other. It’s so much more fun to watch people verbally sparring than telling each other how neat and awesome the other is.

But again, use dialogue sparingly. Even tense dialogue. Because everything except excruciating boredom gets old.

Rule 70: Use dialogue tags correctly.

Don’t worry. When we read, the words “said” “asked” “yelled” and a few others just disappear as we unconsciously process them. But when you use “odd” tags, such as “queried” “orated”, ect, our brains stop at the unknown word and try to puzzle it out. By the time we figure it out (if we do), we have forgotten the dialogue and must reread it.

One could argue that using words such as “announced” “mentioned” “disclosed” are necessary. They give a feeling for how the words are said. Just don’t over use them. (Are you seeing a pattern?)

Rule 71: Establish PoV early.

This section basically says that if your PoV is going to be able to shift, make that apparent as early as possible. And they go on about this for two pages. That’s me, Writer’s Guide, ‘Bridged.

You’re welcome.

Rule 72: Keep your characters real.

Unless your character needs to be unreal in some aspect. Then make them unreal. But while you’re making characters, give them quirks and characteristics, and you can make them very realistic.

To work on characterization, I suggest the book “The Plot Thickens” by Noah Lukeman.

Rule 73: Give the opposition quality attention.

Everyone loves a good villain. I personally love the character Thief King Bakura from Yu-Gi-Oh. He has a tragic back story (his whole village was killed by the pharaoh’s men) and is probably insane, so he commits atrocious crimes as vengeance. At times, you almost want to cheer him on. (I was actually sad when he died.

That’s the best kind of villain.

Another good example that most people know is Judge Frollo (Frodo?) from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He wants to get rid of his lustful feelings for Esmerelda, and tries to do that by killing her. In his twisted, rectitudinous (LOVE that word) brain, he’s the good guy, saving everyone else.

Another great villain.

Though just plain cold and cruel villains are fun to read about. The ones that don’t give a rat’s skinny little butt about “morals” (Loki, from Thor). But try to make them slightly realistic

Rule 74: Tell a dream, and you risk boring a reader.

Now, let’s get this in context. In my story, the dreams of one character in particular (Nari) is very important. Vital, even.

But if you have all of these bad things about to happen to your character and he wakes up to find out it’s all a dream, that’s a (pardon my language) dick move.

It’s way too Deus ex Machina, and it’s just an insult. Like you played with out heartstrings and made us care for characters (a great thing) and then just said, “eeeeh, I can’t think of a good way to resolve this. I’ll just make it a dream. That’s an easy out.”

Inception can get away with it. You can’t.

Rule 75: Setting matters.

Because it does. I have particular troubles with this. I don’t know why, I just do. I can’t translate what I see in my head to the paper well enough.

But setting is important. As the book points out, it establishes mood.

The book also says to spare no detail, but if I spared no detail, I could go on for pages about the leaves on a tree branch. So to revise: don’t spare any necessary details. While the leaves may not be important, the shape might be.

Rule 76: Allow for descriptive passages.

Realize that description can further the plot. By describing the area around the action, we can better understand the action itself. Use unusual adjectives. (In one part of my story, I wrote the phrase (about a sunrise) “coloring the sky with timid rays of pink and orange.”

I could have used “faint”, but I thought, how about timid? Because, why not? Because why not moments are the best kinds of moments, since they lend to so much serendipity.

Rule 77: Practice the elements of description.

There are two kinds of description, according to this book: Catalogues and Sketches.

Catalogues are generally considered lists. Not in a bad way. Just in a … listy … way.

Sketches are basically sketching something with words. There’s no other way to describe it.

Personally, I don’t see much use in knowing the difference. Just use good descriptions ,and your story will prosper.

Rule 78: Use images to deliver ideas.

…I…don’t understand where the book’s going with this. It says to use some abstractions, then uses an excerpt of Ursula K. Le Guin’s book, The Farthest Shore. But there seems to be no connection…

Okaaaaay…. This one’s a dud.

At this point, we go to the next (and final) part!