Friday, October 26, 2012

The best and worst in High Fantasy

High Fantasy is a genre with a lot of good, and a whole lot more bad, and it seems like no one can really agree on what exactly it is that makes the genre good or bad. And it's such a wide genre that it's really not surprising.
I've been reading a lot of high fantasy lately, a kick started by the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. I hadn't given the genre a lot of attention lately, because everything I had read was... blah. Mistborn, then subsequently everything else Sanderson has written completely wowed me and renewed my interest in the genre. There are three things that set his novels above the rest in it's genre. Strong Female Characters. Detailed Magic Systems. An Extraordinary Plot.
High fantasy isn't known for it's strong female characters. The Hobbit didn't have any women at all. Game of Thrones... er, well, I'll get more into that later. Sanderson actually creates real and vivid female characters. I'd almost say he's better at writing women than men. As a lady, it's refreshing to see that not all male authors see women the same way, as flat, predictable characters that do exactly what men seem to want them to do.
Sanderson's magic systems are, in a word, daunting. I try to think of creating something so intricate and involved, and I get a stomach ache. And each of his series has a different one. I would say he fleshes out his magic systems far more than any other writer that I've read, and that's okay. Fantasy doesn't necessarily need magic to be fantastical, and really, you don't need to understand how it works. Lord of the Rings has very little 'magic' in the traditional sense, yet it is a paragon of the genre. Harry Potter has a whole lot of magic, but Rowling doesn't need to explain it in great detail. But wow, is it impressive what Sanderson has done with his novels. His attention to the minutiae and rules of magic give a very structured frame to the world, giving characters clear cut boundaries that they cannot cross over, no matter how high their power level is. Even if it's over 9000.
He gives the same attention to detail to his plots as he does his magic system. Really, the plot and the characters showcase this, as is shown in the Mistborn novels. A theme from those books is showcased in the rest of his stories, "There's always another secret." He shows that reversals can be surprising and awesome, even if you're expecting it. The only book I predicted the reversal in was Elantris, and even then I only guessed about half of it. If I tried harder, I think I could have guessed the endings of the other books, but I was having such a good time reading, following the characters, learning the magic system, exploring the vivid worlds created, that I really didn't care to try. That is something great.
Oncce I'd read everything Sanderson had to offer, I decided to move on to another popular High Fantasy series, one that has it's very own HBO series. Game of Thrones was... disappointing. I finished Game of Thrones and even checked the second book out from the library. I then proceeded to not read it, playing Skyrim and Harvest Moon instead. I was intrigued at first, the world seemed interesting. Summer and Winter weren't yearly, instead lasting for years. The storyline with the exiled children of the dethroned king piqued my interest. The northern wall, and the threat that lies beyond it sounds awesome. The rest though? Eh. Too much sex, WAY too much incest, flat boring female characters, and male characters that are almost as bad. The only parts I enjoyed were barely touched on and not fleshed out, I assume for later books, but I don't care enough to read further. George R.R. Martin failed to deliver a satisfying enough story that I would be content with so many unanswered questions and incomplete plot lines. Spoiler here: And the 'big reversal' of the King's children actually being the children of his sister and her twin brother. Sooo not surprising and a little gross. End of spoiler.
So, I'm starting Sword of Shanara, as I never got around to reading it in high school. I've heard good things, so here's to hoping!  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Writing, Writing, Writing Away

Over the last three days I've put down over 10,000 words on a new project I'm working on, and I'm pretty sure I'm only about half-way, three quarters through the first act. It's really encouraging to me that I've been doing this, because it's what I really want to be doing with my life. It makes having to go to work that much harder. So, my goal is to really push through writing this manuscript and by November or December really start working on getting it edited up. 2013 is the year I want to publish. Granted, 2012 was the year I wanted to publish as well, but I see now that Aether might just need to be put on the backburner a little.

When I get to that point with this manuscript that I'm looking for agents again, I could really use any and all support, good thoughts and fairy godmothers I can get. I could use those right now too. I'm pursuing my dream, giving it my all, and I believe that my hard work can pay off.

Back to writing now~

Monday, August 13, 2012

Why I don’t care for Movies made from Books.

Why I don’t care for Movies made from Books.

This is one thing that anyone who knows me really well can tell you that I’m particularly vehement about. I like to read. A lot. And in some minds that may be enough to condemn movies altogether. The thing is, I really like watching movies too. I worked at a video store for three years and quite happily watched just about every movie that I could. The problem?

The stories and craft necessary to write a book or a movie are very different.  What is the number one complaint you hear when a new movie based on a novel is released? 9 out of 10 times I’d say it’s “they left out so much! All of my favorite parts!” The other 1 out of ten is usually “it just plain out sucked.” The prime example of that would be the movie version of Eragon. Yikes. The only redeeming part of that movie was how pretty Saphira was.

There’s a reason they’ve extended the upcoming Hobbit movie into 3 full length films. For a book that is around 100,000 words, give or take, that seems like the only way to do it full justice. There’s just too much story to be crammed into a three hour film.

A movie script has about an average of a minute of film per page.  So, let’s say one three hour movie has around 200 pages. A Microsoft word document has usually 300 or so words, give or take based on formatting. That’s a lot fewer words.

But of course, movies aren’t as much about the words. If  you sat through a three hour movie that was nothing but dialogue, it would be absolutely terrible. Movies are about the visual, emotional, connection that the actors portray through a combination of body language and dialogue. A character cannot be as introspective in a movie without a voice over, which can be done very well or very not.

I recently reread the Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind. I love those books. They are very philosophical, bringing up issues about what it means to be human, or even sentient. I hate putting those books down once I start reading, I’m kept on the edge of my seat because I just need to know what is going to happen.

They wouldn’t make great movies. A lot of the books are dialogue, and very thought provoking dialogue at that. I’m a little leery of the upcoming Ender’s Game movie. I have faith that Orson Scott Card knows what he’s doing, and Harrison Ford as Col. Graff intrigues me.

I’ve been told by many people that I need to learn to set aside the book when I see a movie. With the Harry Potter movies, I simply was unable to do that. I feel that those movies were too much too soon. If they had waited ten, fifteen years from the end of the series to make the movies it might have been better. I didn’t like the movies at all, but I adore the books. How can I set aside the stories that I absolutely adore when a movie is butchering the same story?

I’ve been asked if I publish a book, if I’ll want to sell the movie rights. I really don’t think I would. Not until at least twenty years after the book is published. Or until I’m dead. Really, either way works for me. If I publish a successful book, I want it to be successful by it’s own merits. I want readers to fall in love with the story and the characters the way they were meant to be. Not because the actor was really really cute. If I want to make a movie, I think I’ll write a screenplay.

Frankly, I think there need to be more truly original screenplays instead of relying on the popularity of books. A good, compelling story on screen is hard to do, but I love it when it’s done right.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Wonder-Toast. He's suave, sophisticated, crunchy. Who could resist?

Follow his adventures here or on my dA

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wonder-Toast 2

The Mighty Wonder-Toast doing battle with his nemesis. :D

Also on my deviantArt Wonder-Toast

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Mighty Wonder-Toast!

The Mighty Wonder Toast can solve many problems such as spilt jam and hunger issues, often at the same time.

Also on my dA, Wonder Toast Comic

Monday, February 27, 2012

Aether Sample

Download a free sample of my novel Aether

Epub format, use any free reader software to view such as the Amazon reader, Nook, Sony Viewer.