So, I've been gone a week or two, mostly because of a really hectic week that never seemed to end. Nothing bad, just extraordinarily busy.
Though on that note, I did enter a few writing contests. Mostly "unofficial" stuff, like groups of a couple hundred people. Most of the time there was a panel of judges, sometimes there was just a few. A lot of different genre's -- and I wrote a new story for each one, of course.
I don't like to say I "won" at writing or anything, because writing is extremely subjective -- most of us as reviewers know that through and through. One book might appeal to us, but that book won't appeal to someone else, and vice versa. But I suppose I took "first place" in the contests I did enter. Right now, I'm 9 or 10 out of a grand total for the past year.
Personally, not that I think the judges have bad taste or anything, but I found SO many flaws in the things I wrote. Cliche moments that I fell into, a lot of excess writing that could've been condensed or cut out entirely. There's a lot you can only really learn after finishing something, through trial and error, or just plain saying "I need to stop editing this and looking for mistakes -- let me just see what other people think."
---- And there was some AMAZING work that got submitted. I mean, absolutely phenomenal work -- an entire class better than some of the self-published stuff I've read recently.
There were SO many exceptional writers that I saw. In particular, there was this person, Carrie ( just using her first name, for obvious reasons ), who is just ... beyond amazing. I would have gladly bought her books in a store, if that one entry of hers was the same quality as everything she did. She designed and drew her own covers that looked like they had come out of one of the Big 5 Publishers ( ...is that term still accurate? I don't know anymore. ) Her stories were engaging, well paced, and didn't have obscene amounts of purple prose that was rampant in some of those contests.
Yeah, it was a real eye opener. Learned a looot of things I had never even thought of. Makes me wonder if I should go to writing conventions or something.
Doing a thirty page short story and editing it is pretty simple. Editing a four hundred page contest entry is a whole new monster of sleepless nights. Even for just contest entries, I was not about to let something go unedited, even if I had to do it myself. Which, in hindsight, it's always better to have a fresh pair of eyes take a look at things, 'cuz a writer seems to miss their own errors sometimes. Their mind kind of inserts what SHOULD be, rather than what is. I know I'm guilty of it. x_x
But, just a general update on writing and how things were the last week or two. Hope everyone had an amazing July. ^.^
PS: One of the entries I did had a deluxe feature of robots, androids, and cyborgs. Yes, all three. And yes, all three are different ( at least, as far as I'm concerned.)
The start can be a little slow and, as usual of Glen Cook novels, there is a TON of terminology thrown around.
Pushing past the murkiness that is the first ten pages of encyclopedic entries, the story actually moves along rather nicely -- and it's interesting.
One big caveat for the time being:
A "Meth" is used to describe a ... specific group of tribal villages / tribal peoples? Community? It's meaning is still a little vague, since it's used in strange contexts, but that's generally what I get from it. Except I keep thinking the drug, meth, rather than ... a village / group of people.
Otherwise, so far so good.
Finally back after a hectic week. Just going to do a few quick things now that I'm settled in:
-- DNF @ 98 / 577.
Why? Because the pace dragged and the writing put me to sleep. It was wordy in the vein of using two paragraphs where two sentences would have sufficed, where at other times I would have LIKED more explanation.
This book suffers from --
Game of Thrones level of psuedo-intricacy
Lots of Exposition
Infrequent, but still annoying, Info Dumping
There's a point where you've edited something SO much that you begin to shave off its "soul." Almost all mediums of art can fall under that definition: actual paintings, literature, music, etc.
What I mean by this, in terms of writing, is that you've gone over and edited something so much that it becomes TOO straight laced. It doesn't take risks. It doesn't take liberties with forms of writing, grammar, or dialogue. It uses the tried-and-true, to-the-letter approach. Not even making deliberate errors or anything, but just going with the "safe" approach to writing.
Not saying that it's bad, in and of itself. It can work really well when you have a setting or characters that can carry it. But I don't think this is one of those times.
TLDR; the writing style itself is boring.
Game of Thrones level of psuedo-intricacy:
53 pages in, we've been introduced to quite a few different lineages, regions, territories, names that blurr together ( in terms of who did what at what point in time ), political maneuvering, and "plots within plots." But all of this leads to ----- >
Lots of Exposition:
Self explanatory. Lots of "he did" and "she did" that seems to build up backstory, except the pacing is getting bogged down from it. Which in turn leads to ---- >
Infrequent, but still annoying, Info Dumping:
Self explanatory. Every couple of pages (4-5) we a page to a page and a half ( sometimes more ) of info dumping on a territory / lineage / person / event / etc that doesn't really need to be there. It doesn't ... do anything besides provide yet more backstory that doesn't seem to be causing anything to change RIGHT THEN.
Finished this a few days ago, but haven't had the chance to sit down and really go through the review. So, I'll keep this fairly short.
After escaping those who killed his siblings, Young Auron, a rare, defenseless gray dragon, might be the last of his breed. Armed with nothing but his claws and a determination to survive, he sets off in search of his kind. But to find other dragons-or, at least, find out who's killing them off-Auron will have to search a world of mercenary elves, vicious humans, and dangers of all kinds. Finding allies in the strangest places-and himself along the way-Auron is about to make the trek of a lifetime...
The beginning of this book is the sole reason for three stars -- which, for me, I think that's an "acceptable" book. There wasn't anything flat-out wrong with this. If anything, the premise was interesting and the writing was rather clean and to the point.
In a twist from the norm, we're shown the life of a dragon instead of the warrior coming to slay the dragon. The world building is fairly good ( there were a couple things I questioned, but nothing that was jarring ) and the story moved along at a good pace in the beginning. Up until about 3/4ths in, at least.
It was around this point, over halfway through the book, that it started to ... drag. The pace slowed down to a crawl, and I'll admit I started to skim. Avoiding any spoilers, but once other dragons started to come into play, it all felt a little rushed and ...superficial, I suppose? As if there wasn't a clean way to wrap up this particular book.
Summary: 3 / 5
Recmomended: It's...not bad. Maybe if it's available at the library, if you just enjoy fantasy and want a new series to read. But there's definitely better fantasy works out there.
Some new K-pop I ran across today that is REALLY catchy. Figured I'd share for all the other K-pop fans out there.
I tried. I forced. I pleaded. I coerced. I tricked myself. Nothing worked.
So I'm giving up here.
Checklist of Awesomeness:
- Fantasy Creatures ( ala: Vampires, Dragons, etc )
- Dragons get their own spot. Dragons are cool. ( Dragonlance fanboyism showing. )
- Alien Spaceships
- Advanced Technology
- Epic fantasy wars
- Dragons vs Space Battleships ( hell yes )
So what's wrong with it?
The writing. It bothers me to -no- end.
Ominous clouds rolled overhead, their bellies threatening to brush the tops of trees. The claustrophobic look was deceptive, as smoke from nearby explosions and fires billowed up like ethereal pillars to support it. Everything was cast in harsh shadows and hues of orange, red, and gold from the fire, a surreal discoloration of the normally lush, green forest. The foothills and the mountains were silhouettes against the sky, edges jagged and craggy and threatening to claw through the clouds.
-- To Save The World, Prologue, First Page ( page 5 ), First Paragraph
I swear, it has the makings of a good story. But the writing repels me in ways I cannot even begin to describe.
It follows that same style throughout everything I've read thus far. Flipped to the middle of the book: same thing. Points for consistency. Points for being able to keep up that level of detail ( I've tried in personal writing. I start getting bored with my own work. ) and kudos for the descriptive war/battle scenes.
But seriously. It was pretty hard to get through JUST these past pages ( 5 to 21 ). I started, stopped, started, stopped, at least a dozen times. And started over completely each time, for the sake of at least trying to get through the prologue without stopping ( and I did, thankfully. )
Maybe it's just me. Maybe other people don't mind ( or maybe they even like ) that writing style, but I don't know if I can get through this. I hate, hate, hate DNFing books. To the core, I hate it -- for me, personally. Because I feel I should be flexible. Open minded. And it's just a book, right? Obviously my tastes =/= anyone else's. It's just a personal standard of mine, I guess, and it bothers me that I "fail" my own standard.
On hand: DNF it and be annoyed with myself.
Other: Force through, not enjoying it ( probably ), and be annoyed with myself.
Everything else? It falls into some of the usual fantasy traps.
Ala: Names like Xucar and Maichym.
The main protagonist is "special."
The mother is hiding a secret that involves her daughter ( the main protagonist ) and decides its better to not tell her.
Which, I could get through. Dragons. Aliens. Technology. Magic. Dragons vs Space battleships. That is just recipe for all sorts of win. But the writing, man.
Friend of mine let me borrow this book. And I read the first paragraph of the prologue and winced. Read the second and already started to feel like this was going downhill for me.
There's been a few books I DNF'd. Beautiful Disaster, as an example. Except Beautiful Disaster was because of issues that weren't the writing. But this is the first time I've read something that I just flat out didn't like from the very first paragraph.
This...isn't looking good. X_X
I remember talking about Teen Wolf with a few people, so I figured I'd just do a short, quick little post:
Season 4 starts tomorrow after an all-day marathon.
Was browsing through artwork and found this AMAZING piece of artwork.
This artwork belongs to:
Yeah. I got some feels over this. I was pleasantly surprised.
It's a bit long, so I apologize for that!
Starts off pretty solid, minus some questionable sentences. They're borderline run-on sentences, but it's just me being picky, honestly.
One error that I found that was jarring enough for me to stop and re-read the paragraph ( misplaced word ). Otherwise, it was going good. Pace picked up nicely. Was getting interesting.
And then I noticed a trend. Moses, the male point of view character, is a supposed badass of a hardcore biker club -- except we're just TOLD that he's a badass and how he's done some horrible things in the past. As of the start of the book, to 80% in, that's all we have: how he used to be a badass. He hasn't done anything particularly terrible thus far.
I'm all for redemptive bad guys, but you have to BE a bad guy to be redeemed. Thus far, he just says, over and over, how he wants out and how he doesn't want to be involved in illegal stuff anymore. It was okay the first couple times, since it was hammering home the point of WHY he was betraying the motorcycle club -- but after the 5th or 6th time, it's starting to grate.
And things really went downhill in the 77% - 80% area. The romance is, at the moment, overshadowing everything else. To a brutal degree. =/
Edit: To clarify, I wasn't expecting zero romance. Their chemistry isn't bad, if a bit contrived at times, and the tension leading up to the PoV characters hooking up was good, too. But after they did hook up, it's like...that's ALL there was in the 75% - 80% range. And pushed aside everything else.
Hoping the story and romance balance out again.
The author likes to use a ton of dashes and sprinkles ellipses here and there. It looked awkward to me, so I looked up "Proper use of en and em dashes and ellipses." As usual, there's tons of different standards, so I suppose it's theoretically correct. Just weird.
Overall, though, the story itself is moving at a decent pace.
As far as zombie apocalypse books goes, this isn't bad -- but I don't know if I'd say it's "good" either.
There's a lot of unnecessary scenes that don't really add anything to the story. A couple of the characters are interesting, but some are flat-out annoying.
The good thus far:
-- Action is described well, without becoming bogged down by military jargon or technicality.
-- Two or Three interesting characters thus far
-- E-Mail presentation ( in the beginning ) to describe the outbreak was interesting, even if only because I don't see it very often.
-- Typical zombie apocalypse. There's only SO much that can be done in one genre, especially THIS genre, but still.
-- Pacing. At times there's good action, or good characterization, everything is flowing well, then BLAM! Massive detour to pointless scenes.
-- Villains, aside from zombies, aren't believable. At all. They're just "Generic Bad Guy #1389711."
Current UNFINISHED rating: 2.5 / 5. So we'll see if the book picks up any.
Not book related, but felt some people might be interested ----
So, I was going through movies to watch, found a few that looked REALLY good - except I can't speak / understand some of the languages that the movies were in. However, I did find a few that had subtitles!
I watched Confession of Murder:
A Company Man:
A Werewolf Boy:
My PS Partner:
And those movies. Are. Freaking. Amazing. I would completely recommend them to anyone and everyone -- if you can stand reading subtitles ( or can speak/understand South Korean! ). Their stories were pretty solid, the acting was GREAT, and there were twists that were goooood.
That last one, My PS Partner, is more of a romcom ( romantic comedy ) but I still found it fresh, interesting, and funny.
I watched the movie prior to reading this and absolutely -loved- both medium. I would compare this with the likes of Hayao Miyazaki and his work. It has a lot of the same themes that you'd find in Miyazaki's works: an underlying element and deeper message, a "fantasy" world or mythical world that "children" ( and adults ) dream or think about, and strong emphasis on family or friendship.
In fact, I'd say this is about even with some of Miyazaki's best ( in my opinion, of course ) works, like Spirited Away.
Kenji Koiso is a high school student with a crush on a kendo club beauty, Natsuki Shinohara, and a knack for mathematics. His aptitude with numbers earns him a part-time working maintenance on the global virtual reality world, OZ.
One day, right before summer vacation, Natsuki asks Kenji to do her a favor -accompany her to her great-grandmother's 90th birthday celebration deep in the Japanese countryside. As Kenji tries to find his footing amongst the boisterous and tightly-knit Jinnouchi clan, receives a mysterious email with a long code and the message: "Solve me." Little does Kenji know what solving that code could lead to...
Without spoiling too much, Summer Wars is a very endearing, family-oriented movie that has a little something for everyone: a person who doesn't have a family, big families, and being accepted into a family despite being an outsider.
I'm not much for things that get TOO sappy, but there's some real heartache towards the end.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5.
Recommended for: Absolutely everyone.