Posts Tagged With: teen

Somebody Order A Villain?:Part Two

~ Firstly, I apologize for the absence. I started my senior year, so between course work, college prep, working, trying to find a better job, and non-school-related life…I got a little distracted. ~

As I’ve already made abundantly clear, I’m quite fond of villains. In many cases, they’re more interesting than their hero counterparts(and usually better dressed). They’re unpredictable, appearing in all shapes, sizes, and emotional states. They’re troubled, by anything from guilt to greed to the continued existence of the human race. And everything that makes them fun to hate and a joy to read also makes them terrors to write properly.

 

 

1. Sauron – A good villain is driven.

 

 

Whatever it is that your villain wants, he has to want it with every fiber of his soul. Heroes can occasionally be apathetic about what they’re trying to accomplish since they’re often dragged into quests and adventures against their will, but the bad guys cannot.  If your villain is lackadaisical about getting what he/she wants, then the rest of your story is going to lag, as well.

 

 

The Eye of Sauron as portrayed in Peter Jackso...

The Eye of Sauron as portrayed in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie trilogy as Sauron’s form in the Third Age. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In The Lord of the Rings, Sauron stopped at nothing to retrieve the One Ring. He sent all kinds of nasty beasties and recruited unsavory characters to help see that little piece of power returned. A fact that helped keep the action going through three books and as many movies.

 

 

2. A good villain believes in what he’s doing.

 

 

Considering the things that villains do? They better believe in it!  Without believing that his actions will bring him to his goal, a villain won’t be driven(see above) to do much of anything and you won’t have a story.

 

 

Granted, there may be doubts. Every human on the face of the planet has doubts from time to time, and letting your baddie have some from time to time can go a long way toward making her more human. However, unless your tale is a tale of redemption, make sure she pushes through them.

 

 

3. Professor Moriarty – A good villain is the kind of person your protagonist would have as a BFF.

 

 

If he wasn’t, you know, evil. In a lot of great fiction, the protagonist and the antagonist are two sides of the same coin. Good and evil versions of the same person, if you simplify things.

 

 

Take Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty, for example. They’re both brilliant. They both invented professions to suit their talents. They both possess a penchant for great schemes, and neither has ever found anyone to keep up with them until they crossed swords with each other.

English: Sidney Paget's drawing of Holmes and ...

English: Sidney Paget’s drawing of Holmes and Moriarty in Mortal Combat at the Edge of the Reichenbach Falls. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

4.Queen Levana – A good villain is not good.

 

 

 

 

First, allow me to qualify that statement: a good villain is not doing bad things for good reasons. If that’s the case, your character may be more of an anti-hero than an antagonist.

*spoiler alert*  In Cinder by Marissa Meyer, the antagonist, Queen Levana, embodies this concept pretty well. She tries to murder a three-year-old princess in order to steal the throne for herself, tries again when the princess is in her teens, routinely brainwashes her own subjects, and orders certain disabled infants to be murdered at birth. Not a nice woman.

 

 

A villain does what they do for reasons that they consider good, but that likely sound insane/diabolical/repulsive to the average person. Typically, their motivations revolve solely around themselves. Granted, there are exceptions to this, as with almost all aspects of writing.

 

 

5. The Weeping Angels – A good villain is frightening.

 

 

Human or monster, psychopath or sociopath, explosive or calculating, a good villain should be scary in some way, shape, or form. The worse your protagonist’s opponent is and the more your readers hate him/her, the more emotionally invested they become in seeing him/her vanquished.

The Weeping Angels are living statues from Doctor Who. In the series, they move faster than the human eye can blink and if they reach you will either send you back in time to feed off your potential energy or snap your neck, just because…well…they can. Either way, they can be terrifying. As such, when an episode features them, you’re totally invested in the plot and seeing them lose because you’d really like to be able to sleep that night. Not that you will.

And I’m not posting a picture. If you’re a Whovian, you will know why.

 

 

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The Hunger Games

So. It has come to this. Me, reviewing one of my least favorite books of all time, by popular request. To be honest, I never intended to read the series, but my best friend and a significant number of the girls I knew were raving about it. Now, for the most part, they all have good taste in books(they haven’t grasped the glory that is Sherlock Holmes, but they’re pretty good with YA), so I decided to give it a try.

Cover of "The Hunger Games"

Cover of The Hunger Games

I hated it.

I ended up reading the first two and skimming the third purely for the purpose of this review(hence why said review will be general at best). I’m not going to include a summary, since most people have either read one of the books, seen the movie, or been bombarded by enough Pinterest, Facebook, and Tumblr posts to know the basic plot. Instead, I’ll be starting with the good points of the series and moving on to the things I wasn’t as fond of. Be forewarned, this review is not spoiler-free!

It is also a rant. However, that being said, I have nothing against the author. The series was well-written and there were more than a few good things about it. In my case, however, it just wasn’t my kind of story. Because of that and various other reasons, my opinion of the series is somewhat negative and somewhat controversial. So, feel free to comment, but flaming will be deleted immediately.

Good Points:

The main thing that really stood out to me was the writing style. Collins has a way with description and craft that pulls you deep into the story and refuses to spit you out until the last page is turned. That’s why I read as far as I did. It made everything very clear and easy to follow, which is a real asset in dystopian sci-fi.

For the most part, the characters were very well-crafted. The majority of them had solid, unobtrusive backstory, logical motivations, and were fairly easy to connect to in some way. Katniss, in particular, was wonderful. As far as YA fiction goes, she’s one of the best heroines I’ve ever seen, especially in the role of the protagonist. Also, the minor characters–which are often problematic–really shone as well. They were there when the story needed them and then faded out before they became a nuisance.

Also, the themes of the novels were fantastic. I may not have liked the storyline, but the underlying themes were very thought-provoking, intelligently written, and quite relevant. Sacrifice, the danger of complacency, perseverance, and far too many others to list were all woven into the background. And in a very cohesive way, I might add.

Bad Points:

Well, the main thing that annoyed me was the simple fact that it’s depressing.  I realize that it’s dystopian, and therefore meant to be a pretty horrible picture of our future, but this pushed it a little far for my tastes.

In the first book, all of the tributes except for Peeta and Katniss die. In the second book, more people die, including most of District 12. In the third book(which I have not read entirely), you have Finnick and Prim. It began to feel like a little much. Again, that may just be me, since this isn’t really my genre. When it comes to story-telling, I think C.S. Lewis says it best.

Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brace knights and heroic courage. Otherwise, you are making their destiny not brighter, but darker.

But that’s just my personal opinion on dystopian fiction. Rant over. Back to the review.

The second thing was the romance element of the series. I honestly didn’t care for Peeta.  For one thing, I think I would have liked him better if he hadn’t turned out to have been in love with her from the beginning. While a good move for fleshing out both characters’ backstories, it felt a bit convenient that Katniss was paired with a boy who’d been in love with her forever.  Also, despite the fact that they end up married by the end of the series, I didn’t really see any chemistry between them. The romance felt slightly forced and might have worked better if it had been left as the for-the-cameras version it began as.

Thirdly, my suspension of disbelief had some trouble kicking in when it came to the base logic of the story. You can do a lot of things to people who have been beaten down as the people of Panem were. Limit their food supply, pigeon-hole them into set occupations, take their basic human rights–but taking their children? Pretty much every mother I know would claw the eyes out of anyone who tried to harm her children. The fathers wouldn’t stop there. Most parents would sooner die than let anyone take their children, so I have  trouble swallowing the fact that generations of people have allowed the Capitol to send their youngsters off to be killed.

So, that’s it. As always, this is merely my personal opinion and nothing more.

I’m going to go find something with a happy ending.

Categories: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

The Comment

While I was away, something…monumental happened. My blog was flamed for the first time. In a way, I guess it’s a good thing that this was the first negative comment to come through in the almost-year I’ve been writing here, but it stung all the same. However, in frantically reviewing the post in question(Things to Do in a Library) to see what the problem was, I realized that there were some things that could be misconstrued. The commenter had a point.

As such, I deleted the post, did some thinking, and am now sitting here, writing this. The post itself was only meant as humor, and I apologize to anyone I’ve offended. I value your readership, and intend to be significantly more careful in future. I would also like to reiterate that I am in fact still in high school. I have no expertise, no training, and no real business giving advice. But I’m doing it anyway–mostly to myself, as a way of organizing my thoughts and motivating myself to stay focused on my own writing–so don’t take anything I say too seriously.

In writing, there’s nothing more important than tone. Its importance  is exactly the same on the page (or the screen) as it is in conversation. Perhaps more so. And unfortunately, it’s significantly easier to mess up when writing rather than talking.   A phrase intended as sarcasm or humor can be taken seriously twice as easily through written words as when spoken, and it’s three times as hard to smooth things over.  It doesn’t do either the writer or the reader any favors and generally results in an unpleasant experience for everyone. So, without further ado, here are the things I plan on doing to avoid further problems.

1. READ!

All those writing technique manuals have an excellent point. Every author has a unique tone, and the more varied range of tones you’ve experienced, the better equipped you are to skillfully form your own. By studying successful authors, you can see how to capture an emotion or a idea effectively. Without coming off as condescending when you meant to be welcoming, ingratiating when you try to commiserate, or purely stupid when you try to be funny. Better yet, don’t try to be anything. Except yourself, of course.

2. REREAD!

…your own work. Simple proof-reading. As important as we all know it is, it’s easy to forget about tone when you’re hunting for typos, working on deadline(AHHH! IT’S 1:00 AM AND I’VE GOT TO WORK IN THE MORNING! Now, where’s the publish button…?), or simply in a hurry.

Secondly, reading phrases that you have doubts about out loud is good. Try them out, put emphasis on different sections and see if any of the versions are…not so good.

3. Don’t Take It Too Seriously

It’s impossible to be perfect, especially in an area as subjective as writing. There will always be people who love your style and people who loathe it with every atom. Misunderstandings will still occur. Problems will still arise. Take the criticism and learn from it, but don’t sweat it. It’s not worth the time and tears(those are far better spent on those problem chapters of your novel), and there are far more productive things to do with your time.

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I’m Baaaack!

Well, folks, the Madrigal dinners are both over, and while they were fun, I’m glad to be done with them. Dad has had several tests to determine the cause of his recent illness, and while we’re still waiting on the results, he does feel significantly better. However, school is still a pressing matter, especially as the school year comes to a close. The most I can promise is one post a week.

Also, a big thank you to all you who’ve kept reading even with my erratic posting schedule.  I can’t thank you enough for sticking with me. In light of your patience, I’m letting you choose the next post. Not exactly the best reward, I know, but still…

I have a vague outline of things I plan to do in the future, so just post your preference in the comments and I will get right on that.

-A review of the Hunger Games series (Fair warning, it ain’t gonna be favorable.)

-A post on villains, their role in fiction, and how to write them effectively (because I really need to work on that)

-A day-in-the-life–or otherwise personal–post(apparently, readers like that sort of thing, and I haven’t done much of it unless necessary)

-Review of The Runaway King

-A post concerning romance (…I have no words…which is a pretty good indicator that I need to work on that)

-A fun post (which I have an idea for, but which will remain a surprise)

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Writing Prompt…Wednesday?

I do, in fact, realize that this is rather late. Lo siento, mi amigos/amigas. Getting back into a blogging schedule is rather nuts, particularly when coupled with the rest of madness that is life outside the computer screen. However, if I’m lucky(and dedicated…as if that will ever happen), things will get back to normal soon.

This Week’s Prompt:

Boil your story/novel/whatever’s theme down to one word. See if there is any other way to sneak that into the project in question without clubbing your readers with it.

My answer:

This particular part of writing is seriously the hardest part for me. But, thanks to a creative writing teacher who refused to let us even start anything without a theme, I’ve learned that it actually does help the writing process. It can help you determine what stays and what goes during the editing process, help nail down your characters, and even inspire better plot points. And as for my story’s word? I think the only one that really fits is discovery. In the midst of thugs, bombs, a few swordfights, jumps off moving trains, and a kiss or two, she’s finding out quite a lot. Learning that she isn’t alone. Discovering new parts of herself.  Rediscovering things she thought she’d sworn off.

Your Answer?

Categories: Writing Prompt Monday! | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Shine On Award Cometh

Image
Award? Me? …Seriously?
Well…if you insist. Thank you, apprentice,never master! As evidenced by my jaw hitting the floor, the abrupt texting of friends actually aware of my blog, and the little squeaks emitting from my room, this is obviously my first blog award of any kind. I am most honored. And now, on to the particulars of the Award itself.
 The Shine On Award Rules:
1. Link back to the blogger who nominated you. Which I did, see above.
2. Post the badge on your blog. It’s pretty. Do it.
3. Answer the questions posed to you. Regardless of how out-of-left-field they may be.
4. Nominate five bloggers who shine a little light in your day and be sure to notify them.
5. Issue some questions you’d like them to answer.
 The Questions:
1. If you had to introduce yourself using only the title of a song, which song title would you choose?
Probably I’m a Nut, by that guy who sounds like Roger Miller, but isn’t him and whose name escapes me. Trust me, it fits.
2. What was the last movie you watched?
I believe The Phantom was the last one I actually watched, but the most current one was The Hobbit,which, by the way, is epic
3. Where would you most like to have dinner tonight?
A pub in London.
4. What’s your favorite book? (or your most recent favorite book, if that’s a difficult question)
You’re kidding, right? There is no possible way for a writer to pick a favorite book. I have approximately fifty. The Lost World, the Bible, Partners in Crime, The Man in the Brown Suit, The Gallagher Girls Series, Sherlock Holmes–it’s impossible, I tell you.
5.What’s your favorite tongue twister?
I can’t tell you. It’s copyrighted by my choir director.
6. How many cows are in Canada?
Presumably as many cows as are Canadian.
7. Where do you plan to go on your next trip?
Considering that I don’t yet have the authority to plan my own trips? I haven’t the foggiest. Talk to my parents. However, if it were up to me and I had unlimited funds, I’d make a beeline for London, then hop over to Paris and from there move on to Venice and Roma.
8. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say “quick fox”?
Mozilla Firefox when it’s actually loading at reasonable speed. Or a spy’s codename. Either way.
9. What’s the strangest place you’ve ever found your keys?
…I don’t lose my keys. My mother, however, has found hers at the bottom of a toilet in a craft store.
10. A penguins just walked into the room, wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?
“Thou hath been pwned.” He was sent as a practical joke by my book club. They’re good at stuff like that: conjuring talking penguins, creating fictional love pentagons, causing general choas and mayhem. That’s what it’s all about for The Off-Topic Readers.
My Nominees:
Through Two Blue Eyes – It’s a blog concerning writing, life, and other lovely geeky things, and is written by a Christian, which makes me enormously happy. Also, my eyes are blue, too.
Canadian Hiking Photography – I always feel an urge to go visit Canada after looking at one of his posts. Of course, my fear of bears always kicks in before I actually do, but still. Awesome blog.
SJ O’Hart – She leaves the most awesome encouraging comments on the face of the blogosphere.
Heroic Endeavors – She has a really fun-to-read perspective on life.
…And those are the only ones I came up with. I honestly don’t follow that many blogs. If y’all happen to know of any good writing or geek blogs, preferably written by teens, please, by all means, recommend them to me. Anywhoozle, moving on.
   The Questions:
1. Why did you start blogging?
2. Tea or coffee?
3. Most inspiring writer?
4. Your favorite fandoms?
5. If you were to take over the world, how would you do it?
6. Which do you prefer, a computer or paper and pen?
7. The best moment of your life was–?
8. The first song to come up on your portable musical device of choice:
9. Love is–?
10. Why did the chicken cross the road?
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Lessons Learned

1. Choir concerts are simultaneously absolutely wonderful and absolute  murder.

2. Handholding for prayer is awkward in a mixed choir of 99.

3. Playing Just Dance in a peasant costume makes it twice as difficult as it usually is–and probably doubly amusing to watch.

4. It is in fact possible to make a working catapult in ten minutes.

 

5. Sword fights are perfectly acceptable as Christmas party entertainment.

 

6. School goes infinitely better when you actually have a plan–as I now do and feel substantially better about life in general because of it.

7. Never ever, ever watch Grimm if you have the smallest aversion to horror.

8. Christmas is undeniably the most fantastic, brilliant season of the year.

9. Family,friends(and book clubs), and faith make it what it is.

10. Compuer issues make blogging very difficult.

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Writing Prompt Monday – Entry #12

WordPress is snowing. But it is currently 70 degrees outside. In December. *sobs* My life is ruined.

And now back to our regularly scheduled writing drivel, this week’s post relates to editing and polishing up your work. One thing I’ve noticed as I frantically try to finish the revisions on my novel before Christmas (just an abstract goal, I’m not going to curse anyone with it as a gift) is that you can lose a lot in editing. If you are–as I am–trying to work mainly on the plot, the prose itself can get lost in the scuffle and as such, sink your work just as quickly as a bad plot. Ergo, this week’s…assignment(it’s not technically a prompt, I suppose).

Q. Take 1-2 paragraphs of your current work. Give it a good spit-polish keeping these points in mind.

-Passive is bad.

Appropriate, gripping adjectives are good in small doses.

Awkward phrases are bad.

 Unnecessary words are also bad.

Run-on sentences are an evil spawned in the darkest pits of the dark side of the moon and should be killed on sight.

A.

I’m starting with the first paragraphs of my novel. They really, really need help at the moment. Here is the unedited version…

“Before you’re sucked into the chaos that makes up my life, allow me to point out one thing. This was in no way my fault. Well…the stairwell incident sort of was, but that’s beside the point. All in all, I was just a perfect innocent (not a word I get to use often) who happened to get sucked into the blasted mess.

Then again, it isn’t unusual for me to be in trouble. But usually, it’s of my own making rather than something someone else planned for me to stumble into. A gadget gone wrong, a trip gone weird, or simply my own blasted curiosity typically catapults me into trouble—and I don’t mind. It can be one of the most amusing past-times for a peculiar person to get oneself in and out of trouble. This time, I wasn’t given the choice.”

And here is the edited version.

“Before you’re sucked into my three-ring circus of a life, allow to point out one very important little fact. The events of this tale were not my fault. Well…outside of the stairwell incident. That was probably me. But, either way, it’s beside the point. 

For once in my life, I can honestly say that I was an innocent bystander, sucked into trouble by a certain n’erdowell and forced to cause a bit of chaos of my own in the process of getting out.  Granted, it isn’t unusual for me to be embroiled in one mess or another, but I generally make it myself rather than letting someone else do it for me. One of my gizmos gone wrong, a trip gone wrong, or simply my own blasted curiosity–and I don’t mind. It can be vastly amusing for someone with a good sense of adventure and significant amounts of explosives. But someone else setting a trap for me to fall into? This was a first.”

Your answers?

 

Categories: Writing Prompt Monday! | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Book Review #8 – Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25

“To everyone at Meridian High School, fourteen-year-old Michael Vey is nothing special, just the kid who has Tourette’s syndrome. But in truth, Michael is extremely special—he has electric powers. Michael thinks he is unique until he discovers that a cheerleader named Taylor has the same mysterious powers. With the help of Michael’s friend, Ostin, the three of them set out to discover how Michael and Taylor ended up with their abilities, and their investigation soon brings them to the attention of a powerful group who wants to control the electric teens—and through them, the world.

 

#1 New York Times bestselling author Richard Paul Evans introduces a character whose risk-filled exploration marks the beginning of a riveting new series. With only his powers, his wits, and his friends to protect him, Michael will need all his strength to survive….”

 

-Amazon Summary

 

 

 

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! The author is incapable of reviewing without them.

 

This was another book club book. It didn’t count towards my lit credits, since it was simply one of our fun books, but I’m still going to review it. To be frank, I have quite a lot of issues with this book. The story itself (concept wise) was quite good, hence why I kept reading(besides the fact that I have to discuss it in detail on Thursday), but outside of that…it was terrible. At least to me.

 

For starters, the author (Richard Paul Evans) had a rather irritating style. Granted, if you aren’t a writer wanna-be or some other form of literary personage, then it may not bother you, but it had me almost gritting my teeth by the last page. There were quite a lot of awkward phrases, and that proved to be quite distracting from the story itself. Particularly when you seem unable to turn off your internal editor. *headdesk* Also, in regards to style, there were billions upon billions of unnecessary words. My inner editor about had a coronary over that several times throughout the book. Evans rather liked to state the obvious, as well. That’s one thing if you’re writing a picture book, but quite another in YA. There are some things which really should be left to the imagination. It really makes for a better story if you don’t try to explain every little movement in exquisite detail. And finally, there were the adjectives and adverbs. Now, I know the current trend in the writing community is to cut out all descriptors to create a sharp, clean tone, but I’m personally quite fond of them. Unless they’re dull. If you’re going to use them, go for dynamic, heart-rending, vivid words that scream their meanings and don’t allow the reader to skim for even a second. Evans didn’t. It didn’t work too well.

 

English: Richard Paul Evans

English: Richard Paul Evans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Secondly, the characters had…issues. The majority of them were flatter than notebook paper and about half as interesting. I tended to forget who was who and who had what powers and why they were there in the first place. Hatch’s electric children in particular had very few distinguishing qualities, and the few they had were shared by every other character in the book. Michael and Jack were better than most, but the rest were fairly 2-dimensional. And on a sidenote, they thought and spoke like junior high students rather than high-schoolers. If you’re going to write about teens, do your research.

 

Also, there was Taylor. Outside of being there as a love interest for Michael and an author’s tool for revealing information, she had no discernible purpose other than being kidnapped and rescued. Token girl characters tend to be rather annoying to me, and she was no exception. Also, she was described as being essentially perfect. That again is somewhat annoying.

 

All in all, it was sad. The story had a lot of potential, in the fact that it was actually an interesting concept with a well-executed plot. But the other factors dragged it down so much that it was hard to pay attention to the good points and easy to focus on the bad ones. I may find the sequel at some point and see if it’s any better. Hopefully so.

 

Categories: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Writing Prompt Monday – Entry Something-or-other

How do your characters respond to authority and authority figures? Absolute obedience? Grudging acceptance? Outright mockery?

A. Hmmm…That depends from character to character with me. Though almost all of them have issues of some sort with doing what they’re told (and you can think what you will of that). Here are their responses, character by character.

  Zissa Churchill: “Well…that hinges entirely upon who exactly is trying to give orders. If I respect or even like the person, I’m likely to do what they ask. Otherwise, they’ll have better luck building a snowman in Death Valley.

Flynn Churchill: “In general, I’m an agreeable fellow. But I don’t appreciate someone attempting to make my decisions for me. If said figure is my employer or someone otherwise qualified to issue orders, fine–unless they’re idiotic orders, in which case they will be duly ignored–but anyone else is going to have to find a different lackey.

Enola Graves: “No. I do not care who it is; I do what I wish.”

Benedict Churchill: “Of course. Following the accepted system is absolutely mandatory for an efficient, cohesive business, family, or other organization.*glares at Flynn and Zissa* Hence why my own is less than ideal.”

And your answers? (Gifs aren’t mandatory. But they’re fun.)

Categories: Writing Prompt Monday! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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