Wednesday, August 22, 2012

On History and Research

It's been awhile since I've posted anything, I know. School starts up for me on September 4th, and I've 3 summer assignments I've only just started.

Inspired by the American History summer assignment I've begun working on (inspiration in the unlikeliest of places, you know?) I decided to post about history.

I don't mean the history of your epic fantasy novel, or the history of our future in your sci-fi book. I mean real world history, chock-full of war, disease, innovation, great and terrible moments. After all, our history is the greatest of all stories -- it's the basis of all literature. A violent peasant revolt in your novel? The French Revolution. A genius innovation that changes the world? Gunpowder, the wheel, paper, the atomic bomb, etc.

 Photo in the Public Domain, found via Creative Commons
 
History can be turn a boring novel into a rich world. It can be the metaphorical light in the darkness, a spark of inspiration in a dark, meaningless story. Your writing can benefit from the vast resevoir of memory and intelligence afforded by the world around you.
 
A lot of people hate history -- why, I don't know -- but it can change your life. This isn't some weird event that happened to a bunch of dead people. Perhaps you're related to some of them. Perhaps those people were scared of the future, of death, of the unkknown, just like we are. When you think of history as full of people you can connect to, it's exactly like a book. Maybe you're destined to have others connect to these people too.

Now, I've always loved history, almost as much as I love reading. I most especially love ancient, ancient history in far-off places like Egypt or Rome. But I can appreciate American History a little more knowing I'm a descendent of Robert E. Lee, the general who surrendered to the North and ended the Civil War. I'm also related to Patrick Henry, that famous speaker from the Revolutionary War with his "Give me liberty, or give me death!" speech. This makes AP American History next year seem not so boring.

Historical Fiction isn't my style, you say. I'm a fantasy person, a modern romance kind of person, a supernatural fiction fan. What can I learn from the past?

I'm not saying you need to write historical fiction. I'm not saying to limit yourself to this genre, just because I am a history geek. But you can model any character after an ancient, real-life person.

I remember a story about an Egyptian pharaoh who built his capital city out in the desert and tried to do away with all of the old gods and goddesses, instead choosing to force his people to worship just the sun disk, Aten. This caused all sorts of tension with the priests of the old gods and goddesses, who had been at the top of the social pyramid and were now unemployed. This sort of unpopular absolute rule sounds familiar... like perhaps that cliched king in all those fantasy novels?

Think of the creation of the atomic bomb. Such a destructive weapon. We Americans unleashed it on Japan anyways, to end a war. And it caused a whole bunch of other, ethical/medical dilemmas. Was it right? Maybe your novel can benefit from a controversial weapon. Maybe your world can benefit from unlooked for problems due to a political decision.

My point, in this rambling rant about reality, is that researching the past can help any novel. It's not strictly limited to historical fiction. Even modern day romances can include a little old-school history. After all, history is full of relatable characters, interesting settings, and tension/conflict.


 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Review: Nevermore by James Patterson

Nevermore by James Patterson


One last chance...
for Max, Fang, and Dylan...
before it all ends.


Are you ready for the final chapter? Are you ready for the ultimate flight? Because THIS IS IT. One last incredible, explosive adventure with an astonishing ending that no one could have seen coming. 


(Taken from Amazon.com)



I'm writing this part at 11 o'clock at night because I can't get it out of my head.

First off, let me say that this had potential. Great characters, great motives, great setting, great ideas. But  it needed something more.

For starters, by goodness, LET THEM DIE. It got to a point where I didn't take you seriously because EVERY STINKING CHARACTER CAME BACK TO LIFE EVERY STINKING TIME. So much for suspense because I knew NO ONE EVER DIED. Oh yes, you say that he died? Oh wait, never mind because YOU BROUGHT HIM BACK TO LIFE.

I love that James Patterson tried to teach us something. I love love love one of the last chapters and I was just like yes! That was amazing! I love your morals! I love you! I love your family! I love everyone you have ever passed by on the street!

Then I saw your writing. And "yes, yes, yes" quickly turned to "no, no, NO".

It's not some much the actual writing, Patterson has some skill there, it was more the plot. It needed a lot more build-up and more suspense, which could've been fixed by LETTING SOMEONE DIE.

*ahem*

Anyways, I'm off my ranting soapbox. A lot of things in the series seemed just too convenient for my tastes. Like in one of the first books where they all just suddenly developed these random powers such as breathing underwater and power over technology. You're flipping bird-kids! All this power is too much for you!

Let's talk about something good for a moment, because, despite my long-winded rants, I actually liked this series, dare I say it, at some times I loved it. Characters, Mr. James, you choose wonderful characters. I loved them. I loved Max's stubbornness and Angel's maturity. Fang was lovely. Dylan was charming. I loved Nudge's wish to be normal, against all odds, and I love her statement towards the end of Nevermore about the wings. Because even if it wasn't something necessarily good or even happy, it gave her character. And that's why I love them, their character and their flaws and their human-ness.

Ugh. The love triangle. It had me in the previous book, Angel, but in this one it was just ugh. Random changing of views, random interactions, and random kissing had my mind whirling. With all of the other things I was trying to figure out, it just seemed a little too much. I admit, this could've been used in favor of the book but it didn't happen, at least not for me.

Another thing that was good was the dystopian-aspect. No, it was not a true dystopian, but it achieved the purpose that a dystopian novel does. It gives you a scenario that is all too possible to happen to us and that is what scares you and me. Back to the chapter I loved. That is the kind of thing I want to see more of, because what it tells you is very, very true. If you've read this book, take a guess at which chapter it is that I love so much. :]

Probably at three stars for me, because I love the characters too much to give it a two. Please, a lovely cover, so points from me. Overall, I would've liked to see a little more tension, a little more bang from the tension not gradually diffusing as the book goes on. I was waiting for the big ending but I was a little let down. Still, a great book and may I say it one more time? Lovely characters. I would recommend it to others, but not as heavily as some of my other favorite books.

Anyways, any thoughts on this book I haven't shared? What do you rate this book? Wrote a review on it you want to share? (Send me a link, I'd love to see what you have to think. :]) Any books you've read recently and think I should check out? (I'm in need of a few recommendations.)

Good luck and keep writing everyone!

(Originally posted on Zero at Heart)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Just wondering....

How many of you out there are on their first draft? How is that coming along?


I don't care if you're reading this post today or tomorrow or a year from now, go ahead and comment how your writing is coming. I'd love to hear form you!

To all of you out there, good luck and keep writing!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

#3


Wow, I haven't written one of these in forever! 
(See post #1 here and post #2 here)  

Continuing my personal series, I'll be talking about starting over today. Or going back to square one. Whatever you'd like to call it. 

How do you know if you're ready to give up what you've been working on and begin again, with nothing? I can't answer that of course, as it varies from person to person. But...I've decided to do it and I want to share with you all how I came to that decisions.

For months and months, I wrote in short spurts: different characters, different settings, action scenes, crowd scenes, quiet conversations. But it wasn't one big storyline I was working on it. Heck, I'm not even sure what to call it. Going in circles since 2009 is pretty much the only way to describe my writing life since 2009. There's also the discouragement I felt when I picked up a published book and thought, "Hey this sounds close to something I scribbled about." 

I think if you find yourself stuck like I did, let it all go. I'll be keeping my papers and notebooks but I don't plan on playing around with those words anymore. I've grown so much since I branched away from fan fiction years ago and tried just...fiction. It wouldn't be fair, I believe, to keep chipping at what my awkward block of ideas.

So as of today, August 2nd 2012, I call myself neither a writer nor a scribbler...because I have nothing. But that's not to say I will never have anything written down. I'm going back to the basics: seeking inspiration in music, art, nature, etc. and considering "what if" questions, about things that really matter to me. That's what I'll be focusing on in the near future. 

And hopefully, something good and fiction-y will come from it all. It's August already, more than halfway through the year, and there's just no more time to look back. 

Hope you have an inspired week, no matter where you are in the writing process. <3

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