Why I Am A Terrible Writer

Okay.  Here’s the deal.  I am actually awful at writing.  I really am.

I’ve started quite a few novels in my day.  Okay, less than the amount of fingers I have.  But it’s a lot for me, who’s extremely secretive about what she writes and is very nervous about what will happen when her family members read this.

Anyway.  Most of those books were absolutely atrocious.  I never finished any of them.  I am now less than ten chapters into my current idea and am now feeling the need to start all over again.

Why?  Because this, apparently, is how I write:

  1. Get idea.
  2. Start writing.  SUPER EXCITEMENT.
  3. Write four chapters.  Still super excited.  Brain says, “MERLIN’S PANTS THIS IS THE BEST BOOK EVER WHY HAS NO ONE THOUGHT OF THIS BEFORE???”
  4. Period of time in which I stop writing and become a functioning part of society again.
  5. Start writing again.  Think more about plot.  Write more chapters.
  6. Think of small problem in plot.
  7. “MERLIN’S PANTS THIS IS THE WORST BOOK EVER HOW DID I EVER THINK THIS WOULD BE PUBLISHED???”
  8. Bang head against wall.  Try to fix plot.
  9. Realize that plot can never be resurrected.
  10. Save draft, file it away deep in the bottomless chasm that is my laptop’s memory, and never think of it again.

Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.

Grrrr...

My books are awful.  I know that.  At least, I think that.  That’s how my brain works when it’s in the same project for too long.  I just haven’t come up with a project that I’m willing to put months, possibly years, of work into.  But maybe, just maybe, my current idea is good.  So instead of continuing with the new draft I started today in a fit of frustration, I am going to actually finish writing my novel.

Gasp.

Maybe if I finish it, then it won’t be so bad.  Maybe if I finish it, then I can actually go over it and improve upon it until it’s something worth publishing.

I just feel like I need to finish something.

Instead of constantly being distracted by blogging and Facebook.

The Internet is addictive, kids.

Sigh.

UPDATE: So I wrote that last night, while still embroiled in that fit of frustration.  Later, however, I realized what my core was, and I just needed to center everything else around that core.  And I also came up with an idea for that “everything else” bit.  Granted, I thought of it at eleven o’clock at night and that’s late for me, but this morning I’m still feeling okay about it.  Maybe a few adjustments.

But I’m ready.  And this time I really am going to finish it.  But it’s pretty much back to square one with the prewriting bit.

Happy reading!

P.S. Before you ask, I’ve resolved not to tell people what my topic is, nor my characters’ personalities, nor anything really.  Sorry.  Thank you.

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On Subjects And Other News

Firstly the news, because the Subjects just make me angry.  I don’t want to be angry while giving news.  Because this particular news is especially newsy.

Any-who, I was just checking out Scott Westerfeld’s blog today for the first time in a while (no offense, Mr. Westerfeld.  Huge fan.  Really.) and I noticed an interesting tidbit:

The Uglies movie is officially underway.  Well, at least it has a producer, and a company to produce it.  The same people who made Captain America and The Social Network.

The press release is a lot of official jargon that little ol’ me can’t possibly hope to get through, but that’s the big stuff I pulled from it.  As always, you can view the blog in question in the sidebar under AUTHOR’S BLOGS.

Mr. Westerfeld is an exceptional writer.  I’m slowly making my way through all of his books.  At least the YA ones.  I’ve read Uglies, of course, and all the sequels, and I’m just now finishing up The Last Days, which is a sequel to Peeps, which is about vampires.

But they’re not really vampires.  Because Mr. Westerfeld has a great way of making everything just different enough to be COMPLETELY AWESOME.

Just look at his latest trilogy, two books of which are already out (and both of which I own):

Well, that’s enough fangirling for one day, don’t you agree, reader?  Yes?  Okay.  On with the angry.

Warning: Rant Ahead!

I’ve been reading a book called Subject Seven for a while now, and if you remember I had to force myself to stay away from it a couple of weeks ago.  That was because I had only read the first few pages.

Basically, the entire premise of the book is that there was a group of genetically altered human experiments who undergo a certain Jekyll/Hyde sort of transformation when given a trigger phrase.  On the Jekyll side, they’re just everyday teens, but on the Hyde side they’re destructive supersoldiers with an attitude.

Sound good?  I thought so.  Which is why I bought it in the first place.  But, alas, I was sadly mistaken.

I’m about two-thirds of the way through the book, and I’m about ready to put it down now.  Those who know me will be shocked when they read this, I’m sure.  I’m someone who always HAS to finish books, and you can count on one hand how many books I haven’t liked in my ENTIRE LIFE.  But this little piece is just the worst bit of writing I’ve ever seen.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let me go through and list the things I’ve noticed that went wrong in this book, at least in my opinion.  Spoiler Warning!

  1.  The Premise.  Okay, so we find out that the people who created these experiments tested the babies and found them to be normal.  So, logically, they thought they had failed.  That’s when they put the “normal” babies up for adoption, leading to the whole rediscovery, ohmygosh-I’m-a-genetic-freak bit.  But this has more holes than Swiss cheese that’s been used for target practice!  Wasn’t the whole point of the Jekyll side of the kids to make sure they seemed normal?  Then they could sneak into a government building for a tour or whatever, transform, do their job and then be teens again before they were caught.  SO OF COURSE THE BABIES SEEM NORMAL.  THAT’S WHAT THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO DO.  The scientists couldn’ t have at least waited a little bit for them to mature?
  2. The Pacing.  I’m over two hundred pages in, and the Jekylls have only just found out what they are.  This book is only about 320 pages.  I realize there is a sequel coming out at some point (at least a quick Google search told me so), but really.  We don’t need this much teen angst as five kids try to handle their blackouts and nine different levels of crazy.  I mean, it’s totally fine at first, but after a while it just seems like the author got stuck.
  3. The Style.  I’m sorry, James A. Moore, if he ever happens to read this, but I despise the writing style.  It’s just awful.  First of all, he repeats things way too much.  I mean, I get it.  The one dude is a geek.  The other one has issues.  There’s no need to just say it outright every time it comes up.  If you need to continue with the description, at least have it mentioned in dialogue, or show it in a character’s movements.  There are other ways.  Also, it just reads really plainly.  I don’t think I can pin that down, but just the whole overall style makes me want to put it down.  Also?  WHERE IS THE EMOTION?!
  4. The Characterizations.  Oh my goodness, the characters.  Maybe I’m just not getting it, but the characters were just not at all believable.  I don’t think I can say it all in one bullet.  So I’m putting in multiple for this one:
  • Most of them are cliches.  Plain and simple.  There’s the geek who can’t talk to people, the hot cheerleader, the tough soldier.  Like I said in number three, not enough emotion or really flesh at all.  These characters are flat and one-dimensional.
  • There is one character who actually has more than one emotion or overarching feel in the book, and that’s the antagonist.  Or at least I think she’s the antagonist.  Of course, nothing’s really clear at this point.  Over two hundred pages in.
  • Anyway, the antagonist.  She has a more complex character, but the complexity is confusing.  She has such a mix of completely opposite traits that it starts to look like multiple personality.  On one hand, she is a loving wife and mother.  On the other, she’s the one who KILLS BABIES AFTER SHE’S DONE EXPERIMENTING ON THEM.  It could work, but here it’s just done in the worst way.
  • So, during this entire book the teens are having blackouts and being tested.  They’re being accused of murdering and drug-using, and they’re scared and helpless and angry at the world in general.  They are reduced to visiting abandoned warehouses (which, when inside, is really just an office building) and going into cars with strangers just to find out what the heck is going on.  But, of course, all they ever seem to notice or think about is how cute/hot/sexy the rest of them are.  Why?  Because they’re teenagers, and apparently no matter how bad the situation, that’s just how teenagers work.  UM, NOT TRUE.
  • Descriptions: almost nil.  Most of the kids are described as “dark haired.”  Even the blond ones get darker hair when they become their Hyde selves.  What up with the dark hair?!  Other than that and naming most eye colors, I haven’t noticed any physical traits that would help me visualize.  The single exception to this is when one girl is shown to have “Asian” looking eyes, inevitably leading to the boy noticing to think about how darn CUTE that makes her look.
  • A boy whom I judge to be no older than his early teens actually says this line: “I am my mother’s son.”  I don’t know about you, but I know exactly ZERO boys who would say that, no matter how strictly they were brought up.  Reading that just irked me.

Exhibit A

That’s all I can think of at the moment.  Even though this book annoys me SO MUCH and seems to exist only for the action, I think I’m going to have to finish it.  That’s just the kind of person I am.

And, yes, I know I’m completely bashing this book, but I honestly cannot think of anything good to say about it.  I’m sorry if you’ve read it and liked it, really, but I just don’t.

Just one thing, though:  What’s “dark haired” supposed to mean?!  Is it brown or black?!  They’re not the same, you know!

Happy reading.

The BOOK Nerd Commandments

During one of my trawls through cyberspace, I came across a list of Nerd Commandments on a site dedicated to all things nerd.  Thinking it over, I have now come to the conclusion that while these are very right and true commandments to live by, there are many specific types of nerds, and this list does not always carry over.  With that in mind, I have taken it upon myself to create the Book Nerd Commandments: a list of special rules for our breed of bibliophiles, readers, etc.*  Some quick brainstorming on my part produced almost 20 guidelines, but I’ve narrowed it down to the 10 most universal, written out in classic Commandment style and listed in no particular order:

  1. Thou shalt consider all film versions to be inferior to the books from which they sprung.  This one goes without saying, guys.  Movies are never better.
  2. Thou shalt choose thy Team in whichever love triangle thou hast read of.  Yes, even if it’s a Team Switzerland.  At least you’re taking the side of not taking a side…I think.
  3. Thou shalt seek out and purchase for thyself collectibles, t-shirts, or other such memorabilia related to at least three books which thou hast enjoyed greatly.  I’m still on the fence about whether this includes companion books…
  4. Thou shalt read Harry Potter.  No exceptions.
  5. Thou shalt not limit thyself to one genre of books.  Branch out a little.
  6. If thou shalt enter a bookstore, library, or other such place, and depart from there without having purchased for thyself at least one item of literary value, thou shalt be lowered amongst the ranks of thy nerdy peers.  Because what true book nerd can resist a bookstore?
  7. Thou shalt attend at least one book signing during thy lifetime.  Book signings are awesome.
  8. Thou shalt have concocted at least one theory by the end of each series thou readest.  It’s so fun predicting who’s going to die.
  9. Thou shalt never bend to the teasing of thy non-book nerd friends.  Wear your nerd colors proudly!
  10. Thou shalt keep thy series in accordance with the Law of the Golden Mean.  This spectacular rule was on the original list of Nerd Commandments, so all credit goes to that site.  Basically, it says if you own more than about 60% of a series, you are required to either buy the rest of it or sell books until you are below that percentage.  Some examples, along with very hastily taken iPod Touch pictures:

Must...complete...

This is most of the Gone series, by Michael Grant.  Except I don’t own the first book.  I need the first book.  Also, sorry it’s sideways.

Can you spot what's missing?

Most of the Spiderwick Chronicles, by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.  Except the fourth one.  I now feel an urge to buy the fourth one.

See what I mean?  Good rule.

My posts may be irregular in the next week due to Family Vacation.  Tonight I’m going to the Harry Potter Exhibition in NYC.  Should be fun.

Happy reading!

 

*If you don’t feel like you need to follow these rules, that’s okay.  This is just for fun.  Feel free to read books as you please.  I won’t be mad.

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!

Top 10 Must-See Moments In Deathly Hallows: Part 2

GIGANTIC SPOILER WARNING!

As Thursday* draws nearer and movie theaters sell out for the midnight premier, I’m very much thinking about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.  I’m very busy at the moment, so I haven’t really had the time to read over the final book in preparation (don’t worry, I’ll get through at least some of it), but I thought I would just go over a few things that I feel need to be in this movie in order for it to be complete.

Please note that this list is not only the best parts of the second half of the book, but also less action-packed moments that I felt really wrapped up the series and helped to carry the story to its bittersweet end.

  1. The Gringotts Break-In.  From the trailers, it looks like the movie has pretty much got this part down.  This scene actually encompasses a lot of elements that are pretty monumental.  Harry uses an Unforgivable Curse on several people, which is a very good basis for some development character-wise.  There’s a really good sequence of action-y stuff that happens while they’re in the vault (namely, the dragon and the spells on the treasure).  And, of course, they get a Horcrux out of it (and the Hufflepuff Horcrux, no less).
  2. Aberforth.  Meeting Dumbledore’s brother was a definite high point for me.  This is also the scene where we get the rest of Dumbledore’s backstory, and I love a good backstory.**
  3. The Return of Dumbledore’s Army.  This is the part directly after meeting Aberforth, when the Trio goes through the magic painting/passage thing into the Room of Requirement.  I’ve always been a fan of Neville, Luna and the rest of the secondary cast, so finding out that they were fighting back all along really helps to flesh out their characters a bit more.  Plus, who doesn’t love the idea of the Room of Requirement?  It’s like a secret closet.  For all your secrets.  Or for your army of students.  Whichever.
  4. The Search for the Diadem.  Another quest for a Horcrux, and one that brings about the death of one character.  Plus, Ron tries to speak Parseltongue.  Plus, we get Harry and Luna traveling the school together.  And I will always welcome a Luna scene.***  Basically, they need to find all the Horcruxes, and I think that the way they find them in the book is just brilliant, and so the producers absolutely shouldn’t change a thing.
  5. The Prince’s Tale.  I think it’s pretty safe to say that the producers will stick to the book and kill Snape off, but that’s not the point here.  The point is what happens afterward, when Harry visits his childhood through his memories and finds out that (again, major spoiler alert) he loved Lily.  This simple fact is basically the whole reason Snape did what he did, to both Harry and his parents.  You just can’t leave something like that out.
  6. Dumbledore/Harry Discussion.  There are a lot of crucial points made in this scene.  Yes, it’s probably a bit long for the movie, so I’m okay with cutting it short, but some of those points need to be made.  In some way.  Somehow.
  7. Neville Kills Nagini.  I love this part.  It’s Neville’s shining moment.  The Sorting Hat’s on fire, it gives Neville the sword (proving he is, in fact, a true Gryffindor), BAM!  Neville carries out his promise to Harry and kills the snake (who’s also a Horcrux- those darn things are just everywhere).
  8. Molly Weasley vs. Bellatrix Lestrange.  EPIC BATTLE.  Really, this is the best part of the whole Battle of Hogwarts.  Some serious Mom power goes down, as well as a pretty epic line for her to say- around her kids, no less.  (Yes, I’m aware I say the word epic too much.)
  9. Harry vs. Voldemort.  This is it.  The final battle.  It really isn’t a battle, and I know a lot of people were disappointed by that, but I thought it was perfect.  Words always hold more impact, especially in a book.  Harry tells Voldemort about the love shield and all the things he missed, and then one spell cast, and done.
  10. Ron/Hermione.  This has been coming for years.  We need to see them finally together.

It. All. Ends. Here.

Anyway, that’s it.  I guess some of these things are total duh moments, but I’m still including them because they’re what I want to see.  By the way, this will be my last post until Wednesday at least.  So happy reading, or watching, whatever you’re doing this week.

*Yes, it’s technically Friday that the movie comes out, but seriously.  Do you not expect me to consider it Thursday?

**Plus, who would want to miss Dumbledore’s story, of all characters?  He’s so mysterious!

***Luna is my favorite character.  Watch out for Wrackspurts.  Also, Ravenclaw is my favorite house, and so this means a peek into the Ravenclaw dorms.  Sweet.

Bonus thoughts:

“We did it!  We bashed him!  Wee Potter’s the one!  And Voldy’s gone moldy, so now let’s have fun!” -Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I’ve always loved Peeves in the books.  I’m really bummed he isn’t in the movies and thus won’t be singing this song at the end.  Does anyone else feel the same way?

EDIT: Feel free to comment on what parts you want to see (or don’t want to see)!