In Which a Year of Eager Anticipation Comes to an End

Readers, I apologize for being a day late with this, but I needed the time to recover from what was a very long night following my trip to see The Hunger Games.

This post will come in two parts: part description of what I did, part review of the movie itself.

What you have to understand is that it was my birthday this Friday (yes, I know, Happy Birthday to me.  Thank you).  As such, it was basically the GREATEST THING EVER when I found out last year that THG was going to premiere on March 23.

So, yeah.  Anyway, I got to the theater with a bunch of my friends and saw the movie.  My friends are great and I loved being there with them, even though on one side we had the Girl Who Thinks We Won’t Notice Her Texting Every Twenty Minutes, and on the other we had the Guy Who Feels the Need to Tell His Buddy What’s Gonna Happen Five Seconds Before It Happens.  Not to mention the Girls Who Giggle Every Time We See Gale Because He’s SOOOO HAWT.

At least it wasn’t boring in the theater.

I had worked on a shirt all week, which I wore with my hair in a braid and with my Scholastic mockingjay pin attached to it.  Here are some pictures of the shirt after I finished with it:

What I basically did is read through the book again and pick out funny or moving quotes that I liked and then use fabric paint to write them.  The logo and “stay alive” bits were made using iron-on paper on which we printed the picture and words.

After we saw the movie, we came back to my house and had cake.  The cake is the thing I really wanted to show you guys.  It’s GORGEOUS:

The words are a couple of lyrics from Rue's Lullaby: "Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true. Here is the place where I love you."

It was based on a cake I had found on the Internet:

I can't find the original source, but needless to say this isn't mine.

I think the one I had looks better, though.  THE FLAMES!

Okay.  Second part.  The review.  I’ll try to do it as spoiler-free as I can (meaning my general reaction):

It was a decent movie.  Of course, I knew it wouldn’t be just like the book going in, but I didn’t anticipate the changes they did make.  Don’t get me wrong, they still had the core of the story in there, and most things were just like in the book.  But it was the little changes that got me.  There was some stuff cut that I didn’t think should have been cut, and some things were changed that I wasn’t okay with, but other things I liked seeing changed.

Maybe it was just that my expectations were so high.  I let myself think everything would be amazing and perfect and exactly like the book, and it just wasn’t.  In the end, I’m a tad disappointed, but I’m happy with the film all the same.  The acting is super, super amazing and I think Gary Ross did a fine job of capturing the situation these people are in.  I can’t wait to see what they do with Catching Fire.

HERE’S THE SPOILER-Y BIT.  Look under the cut only if you’ve seen the film!

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Insert “Profile Picture” Pun Here

or, Lionsgate Attempts to Appease Trailer-Hungry Fans.

On Thursday, there was much squealing and overexcited geek-outs within the Hunger Games fandom (or District 14, as I like to call it).  Why?  Because Lionsgate decided to come out of nowhere with eight new character posters for the movie, that’s why.

Perhaps inspired by the success of Panem October’s way of releasing the Panem ID cards for different characters through the medium of various websites, each character poster was officially unveiled at a different entertainment site.  But I won’t make you hunt down all those sites.  No, I’ll take care of that part and link you to all of the sources through this post.  Okay?  Good.

So.  Moving on.

My reactions to the posters?  Well, in general, I think they’re fantastic.  They really give a feel for what the movie and characters are going to be like.  To be honest, though, I would have loved to see Caesar Flickerman or Foxface included in the bunch as well.  (Who would have thought it would turn out to be the talk show host we’re all dying to finally see?)  Other than that, though, great job to Lionsgate on the lighting and such.  I love the darkness around the characters.

This is probably going to be a longer post, so look under the cut for my take on each poster!

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Earthquakes and Experience

A short while ago, an earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale rocked the state of Virginia and could be felt 200 miles away.  Being on the East Coast, I’m one of those who felt it- not that I realized it at the time.  This is a traumatic experience for most of us living here, as earthquakes, to us, are things to be heard about, things that happen in far-off places like Japan and California.  Not here, certainly.  They are never here.

Today, though, that belief was squished between tectonic plates.  Although it was not at all prominent enough to cause damage in my area, this event got me thinking about how much our personal experiences shape our writing.  In an earlier post I mentioned that what happens in our own lives, what we know, does not necessarily have to dictate what we can write about.  I still hold to that theory.  However, when describing something that occurs in real life, I believe that firsthand knowledge can go a long way towards making scenes and settings believable.

For example, I live in an area that usually is safe from natural disasters, except perhaps the occasional storm.  Therefore, putting disasters into my writing would not be very plausible, as I have no idea how it feels to be in one.  Now, of course, I could MAYBE write about earthquakes, but as I was not in the middle of it that’s still unlikely.

It’s not completely required to have this firsthand knowledge, but I think it just helps everything a lot more than if you were never in a certain setting or event.  This is why even fantasy writers put so much of their own lives into creating their worlds.  Christopher Paolini based his Alagaesian mountain landscapes off of his home state of Montana.  Suzanne Collins could write so fluently about war because of her family’s dealings in the military, and she was brought up discussing the effects of it.  It’s no surprise that the authors who do pull from their own lives tend to write more vivid and “real” worlds, at least in my opinion.

Very Alagaesia-ish. Which I guess is the point.

That’s it, I suppose.  My advice to you is try writing your settings based on places you’ve been personally, or things you’ve witnessed.  Maybe you’ll like how it turns out.

My heart and prayers go out to everyone in the middle of that earthquake.  I hope they’re all okay.



Lionsgate has announced that the first teaser trailer for The Hunger Games will be shown during the VMA’s this SUNDAY!  It’s our first look at actual footage, guys!  And it’s arriving a whole lot sooner than I expected.  I can feel my fangirl anticipation growing.  More on this will DEFINITELY be coming later!

And I thought the STILLS were exciting.

Happy reading!

FinnickWatch 2013

Or, Yet Another Hunger Games Post.

I know that Gary Ross and co. have yet to finish filming The Hunger Games.  But, come on.  Do you really not expect the fandom to be clamoring for Finnick?  Especially since the release date for Catching Fire is already out.  Thus, many fan sites, from The Hob to Victor’s Village, have initiated what I will call FinnickWatch 2013.

Loving this artwork.

In the books, Finnick Odair is a sexy twenty-something victor from District 4.  He is described as having “famous sea green eyes,” as well as being “[t]all, athletic, with golden skin and bronze-colored hair” (Catching Fire, page 208).  He’s basically a dream boat, and all the women in the Capitol want him.  Beyond this, though, he is in love with a crazy girl, Annie Cresta, from his district, and he’s more complex than he seems.  It’s really no wonder Tributes are already taking down names and trying to see who would be best in the role.

I can’t talk about the nominees as eloquently as other sources can, so I’ll just link.  The main candidates were put up by this article, and most of the fandom seems to agree, with the single addition of Colton Haynes.

The interesting thing about these picks is a couple of them were fan favorites to be Peeta, back before Josh Hutcherson was cast.  I’m dubious about that, of course, because Peeta and Finnick are not at all alike.  But, hey, I don’t control the fandom.

Of course, I had to get in on the FinnickWatch action.  The above drawing of Finnick is just about spot-on for me.  If that was a real dude, I would be all, “cast him!”  But he’s not.  Keep in mind, too, that I haven’t seen any of the actual guys in a role.  So, going by looks, I have to see who best embodies the essence of Finnick.

Being from District 4, Finnick has spent his entire life swimming and fishing.  Growing up with that kind of daily regimen would have given him a lean, muscular body.  Furthermore, he won the Games when he was only 14, which is extremely young and proves that he must be very strong, as Katniss describes his victory and shows us that he won by brawn.  We have to keep that in mind when casting him.  In addition, I don’t picture his face as being soft at all.  Rather, it’s hard around the edges (while still being attractive, of course), and the actor who plays him must be able to portray someone who has been through the Games, been hardened and scarred by it, but can still be an emotional character when he needs to.

So who would I pick?  First of all, I have to accept the fact that no actor is going to be exactly like the perfect Finnick I have in my mind.  Going on looks alone, and with the choices already put forward, I’m going to have to go with Mr. Alex Pettyfer.  There’s just something about him that makes me think Finnick.  The article I linked to above said that they thought this actor wasn’t soft enough to play Peeta.  By the same reasoning, though, he’s golden to be Finnick Odair, heartbreaker.  He has that edgy look to him that, if played right, could really bring Finnick to life.

Don't you see it?

To completely please the fans, he might have to subject himself to a little hair dye, but that’s OK!  The people over on the Hunger Games set just LOVE hair dye!  It’s the answer to ALL THEIR CASTING PROBLEMS!

The only problem I have with him, though, is his age.  As I said above, Finnick is supposed to be in his mid-twenties, 24 exactly if this Wiki page is accurate.  Though I’m not completely sure about that.  I’ll have to read Catching Fire and Mockingjay again to be sure about his age and the year he won the Games.*

Alex Pettyfer, however, is 21, which puts him at the same age as Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth, who of course play Katniss and Gale.  Katniss and Gale, in turn, are supposed to be sixteen and eighteen, respectively, which puts a pretty good gap between them and Finnick.  But if the actor playing Finnick is just as old as the kids, viewers are going to notice that.  He’ll look extremely young on-screen when compared to the people who actually are supposed to be young.

It’s for this reason, then, that I think Lionsgate should cast someone who is a bit older than 21.  Maybe 26 or 27 would do, though I don’t know of any actors who would fit the role at that age.  Perhaps as we get closer to the release of the first movie and the casting for the second, someone who truly fits the role will come forward and surprise us all.

I’m not saying that Pettyfer doesn’t fit the role.  I’m just talking about that age difference, and that will be a problem if a 21-year-old is cast.  Finnick will just look weird, too young to be a seasoned mentor.

So what do you guys think, fellow Tributes (if there are any of you out there)?  Do you agree with my choice?  Or would you rather choose someone like Hunter Parrish or Benjamin Stone?

This concludes today’s FinnickWatch 2012 update.  I’ll keep you posted when they finally do cast him.

Now a bit of other news…

Apparently the Mortal Instruments series is being made into a movie.  I tried to read the first book, but after a few pages it got really weird for me.  Recently, though, I’ve been questioning that line of thought.  I mean, if I’m as obsessed as I am with a series in which KIDS KILL EACH OTHER FOR ENTERTAINMENT, I shouldn’t be put off by anything, right?  Therefore, I’m willing to give the series another try.  Are any readers here Cassandra Clare fans?  What do you think about the movie?

Happy reading!

*Unless Suzanne Collins said this in an interview?  Could someone help me out here?

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Sometimes People ARE What They Seem

It is very clear to me that appearance says a lot about a person, and by extension, a character.

Before I begin I should warn you that this is not by any means professional advice.  I’ve never had a work of fiction published anywhere other than on this blog.  So be warned.  The following tips may be horribly wrong.

Moving right along…

When I’m writing a character, I want their outward appearance to be something of a reflection of their inner personalities.  For example, if a character is sweet and likeable, I would illustrate that by putting her in a nice blouse or even a sundress.  That way, if I’m experiencing that person from another person’s POV, the reader can infer something about the sweet character before she even speaks.

The simple, girly clothing highlights the character's innocence.

A person who is outdoorsy and adventurous would reflect that in their wardrobe: sporty-type or khaki shorts and a t-shirt with a fleece jacket.  For a guy, perhaps some boots would be added.

This couple's attire clearly spells out the fact that they're ready for a day under the sun.

On the other hand, if my character is a hard person to get to know, or if they appear to be mysterious and distant, I would put them in very plain, nondescript clothing that gives away none of their true personality.  That way, no one can begin to guess what their true feelings are.

With no markings of any kind, one can't even know where this man shops.

Of course, if you really want to illustrate the complexity in your character, you could make them have a wacky wardrobe that holds all manner of items.  Or, if they are liars or betrayers, make them seem more innocent than they really are.  All that really counts is that you make sure these people are true to life.  If it were a real person, where would they shop?  What would feel comfortable on them?  These are the kinds of questions I like to ask myself when fleshing out my characters.

It doesn’t have to stop with clothing, either.  A character’s physical appearance can be affected just as much.  Is your character crisp and business minded?  Then don’t let his hair go shaggy.  If your girl is the outdoors type mentioned above, she might always have her hair up in a ponytail.

Searching my brain for an example of good descriptions, the one that sticks out most in my mind is J.K. Rowling’s Remus Lupin.  One of the first descriptions we have of Lupin in the book is that his clothes are “shabby” and patched up.  Later, this is shown to make complete sense given the fact that Lupin is a werewolf.  Being what he is, it’s difficult for him to get a job, so naturally his clothing would reflect the lack of income.

Why, Lupin? WHY??? *sob*

I’m not saying it’s necessary to tell all the details in your manuscript.  That would just be boring after a while, and even if it weren’t it’s impossible to fit everything into one book or short story.  But you as the author should definitely have an idea about what the character wears and looks like.  Not only is it handy for the descriptions you do use, but it’s also a safeguard against writing anything that’s out of character.  You don’t want to accidentally put a character in an outfit that doesn’t fit their personality, unless of course you meant to for plot reasons.

Well, that’s all I have to say on the subject.  My next post might be another Hunger Games one.  We’ll see.

Happy reading!

Blood and Gore: Books Vs. Films

Let’s face it, guys: books can be violent.

It’s not like I’m opposed to a little blood in my books.  Anyone who reads this blog knows that it’s impossible for me to be as obsessed with The Hunger Games as I am and not be okay with violence.  But there is some seriously freaky stuff that goes on in the literary world, people.

For example, I was recently chatting with a friend about a mutually enjoyed series: the Gone series by Michael Grant.  I don’t know if I’ve mentioned Gone on here before, but the basics are this: A small California town is suddenly closed off from the outside world, and everyone at the age of fifteen and up disappears.  At this time it is discovered that some of the kids have superhuman powers, and at the same time there’s some freaky monsters and stuff springing up.  These books are basically a guts-fest from that point on, with power struggles and natural disasters and sadistic psychopaths and what-have-you.

The first four books. The next one isn't out yet.

These books made me appreciate adult authority a lot more.  The series still isn’t over, but I’ve seen enough to know that Grant does not hold back.  Kids kill kids left and right, and no descriptions are spared.

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy the series.  I’m probably making it out to be a bit worse than it actually is, in fact.  But my point is it’s probably the most violent series I’m likely to ever read.  More disturbing is the fact that this series is written for teens.

I don’t think there is any real interest in making this series a movie just now, but I have come to the conclusion that it would be extremely difficult to do so.  It’s just really too over-the-top to be done while keeping it true to the story.

Which brings me to my main point: gore in books is not at all the same thing as gore in movies.  In books, we as the readers can edit our mental images any way we want.  We can choose to “see” as much or as little blood as we want when getting to a violent scene.  On the page, books like Gone can exist because the visual element is left to the imagination of the readers.

But when you adapt a book to film version, the blood is no longer in the viewer’s head.  It’s on the screen, in glorious hi-def and surround sound, for the world to see.  And this is scary to a lot of people.  It’s why people are wondering how The Hunger Games and Breaking Dawn can be kept PG-13.

The gore is no longer censored by your brain, tweaked for your peace of mind.  It’s dictated by a director who has no thoughts about your personal innocence or preferences.  No longer can readers pretend there isn’t as much violent content as the author intended.  What the director says, goes.  There’s no avoiding that.

That’s why movies are always so tricky to adapt faithfully.  An author can pretty much write whatever he or she wants, but a movie must be tailored to be appropriate for audiences.

For this reason, movies are, at least to me, much scarier or sadder or more intense than books are.  When it’s just words on a page and a little imagination, there is a certain amount of distancing that happens whenever something the reader doesn’t like happens.  The reader doesn’t have to actually see it.

There is no escaping images on the screen, or sounds from the speakers.  With movies, it feels a little more real to a viewer.  It’s a little more disconcerting, as if the person is actually there, in the scene.  Not that a reader doesn’t feel something real when reading the book, it’s just that I feel that everything is a lot more in-your-face when in the theater.

So I guess my point for today is that parents have a right to be careful when taking their child to a movie.  Even if they were okay with the book, there’s a major difference there.

Not to mention the fact that this is why directors change things in movies sometimes: it’s just not always appropriate for the audience.  And they are not going to make a YA novel into an R-rated movie.  It’s just not good for the target demographic.  So instead, they’re just extra-careful.

Happy reading!

The Problem With Book-Inspired Movies

Lately the world has been immersed in movies that in fact were books first (or, more frequently, comic books).  And so, inevitably, this brings along the most intense scrutiny from fans of the books.  I’ve noted before on this site that I am a stickler for accuracy.  This leads to countless disappointments in movie versions.  I remember driving home from New Moon and listing everything the producers changed or left out with a friend.  It gave us something to talk about, sure, but it also ruined part of the movie experience.

The problem in this case is not always the film itself.  I realize that there are certain constraints to movies that are not present in books.  You can’t exactly have a huge backstory and still fit everything into two or three hours.  Sometimes the problem is me.  I’m just too picky.

I’ve gone through and listed some rules that constitute what I think makes an acceptable movie version:

  1. Don’t leave out any major characters.  In the film version of Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, at least one character was left out who is CRUCIAL TO THE PROGRESSION OF THE ENTIRE SERIES.  I mean, really?  How could they expect to make a sequel without Kronos?  Or Clarisse, for that matter?
  2. Make sure you have all the background information you need.  In some movies, the plot hangs on a character’s backstory.  If this is the case, you had better get that backstory in someplace.  Even a brief comment mentioned in passing is better than nothing.  Without it, there is no motivation.  I saw Captain America yesterday, and afterwards a person I went with complained that the villain had no clear motivations for taking over the world.  I’ve also heard that the Harry Potter movies are hard to understand if you’ve never read the books, probably for the same reason.
  3. Never sacrifice plot for action.  The author put in plot points for a reason, and just adding more explosions or whatever is just dumb.  Think Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: the Burrow burns (which never actually happened), and we don’t get as much Dumbledore/Horcruxes time as I would have liked.
  4. Make it believable.  If the story calls for a werewolf-spaceman who fights galactic aliens the size of mountains that breathe fire and acid, the producers had better have the technology to make it work, and make it look real enough for audiences to buy it.  I’m not sure this really applies anymore, with this wonderful newfangled CGI technology and who knows what else, but I’m still putting this in as a rule.
  5. Think very, very, very carefully before changing anything that’s remotely important to the story.  Again, with Percy Jackson, they changed a whole lot.  They changed so much the movie was almost unrecognizable.  Because of this, I’m not sure they could ever pull off a sequel (see rule #1).  It could have happened with Harry Potter, too, but luckily they had J.K. Rowling on board to make sure they didn’t leave anything out that would be important in the books yet to come.
  6. Consult the author.  This sort of goes in hand with number five, but it branches out into so much more.  Again, Percy Jackson had this problem, and so did Eragon.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think the authors had anything to do with the movie.  As a result, the films were terribly off-course in the eyes of purists like myself.
  7. If you decide to ignore all the other rules and just rearrange the story as you please, you had darn well make it a spectacular film.  I know I’ve been hitting Percy Jackson hard today, but I actually enjoyed the movie.  It was good if you don’t associate it with the book at all (*cough* Annabeth is BLOND *cough*).  The same with Harry Potter.  Those, I can forgive a bit more, because if J.K. Rowling says changes are okay, who am I to disagree?  And anyway, they are amazing movies.

Well, those are all the rules I can think of at the moment.  Does anyone else have any rules to watch by?  I would love to hear your opinions!

Happy reading!