TCWT Blog Chain: Change and More Change

This month’s TCWT chain had the following prompt:

“What are your thoughts on book-to-movie adaptions? Would you one day want your book made into a movie, or probably not?”

Well. Books are hard to turn into movies. They’re two completely different mediums. Books can be as long or as short as you want (though there are guidelines for particular genres, they aren’t hard-set rules), while movies generally have to stay around an hour to two hours. (Unless it’s Lord of the Rings, of course.) In other words, when books are turned into movies, you have to figure out how to fit the entire story into just an hour and a half.

And because they’re so different—because books tell stories with words, while movies tell stories with images and sounds—sometimes it can be difficult to tell the same story exactly the same way.  Hence, things are changed.  I think those changes are important to make a good book-to-move adaption, but they have to be the right changes.  Some changes I’ve seen in movies just don’t make sense.

The Lightning Thief, for example.  A lot of things were different between the book and the movie.  Some things were big, like the fact that the actors were all around sixteen, while the characters in the book were twelve.  I’m not sure why that was done, maybe just because they wanted to use older actors.   It wasn’t really that big of a deal, though, right?  Did it screw up the story?  Eh.  Then there were changes like the fact that a lot of Riordan’s humor, which is part of what made the books so awesome, was strangely lacking in the movie.  And if it was there, it wasn’t really memorable, because I can only think of one joke from the movie, and it wasn’t even that good of one.

One of my favorite parts of the book was the scene where the camp bully, Clarisse, picks on Percy and tries to shove his head in the toilet.  Was that in the movie?  No.  And for good reason.  While it was good in the book, if it was in the movie, it would have slowed down the pace of the entire movie, and that wouldn’t have been very good.

There were other changes, like the fact that the book characters Clarisse and Annabeth were combined into one character in the movie.  I personally didn’t like that because it prevented Annabeth from fulfilling the expectations I had of her, after reading the books.  At the same time, I could see why it was done, because it might slow down the movie if there were too many characters to keep track of.

It’s hard, I think, to turn a book into a movie.  On one hand, as I’ve said, it’s hard (if not outright impossible) to turn a book into a good movie without changing anything.  Ender’s Game is proof of that.  Not a whole lot was changed out of the movie, as far as I can remember, but there was so much story, crammed into so little time, that it took away the emotion.  The book made me cry when I finished it (yes, it really did), but the movie just seemed kind of…flat.  My parents think the movie would have been better if they split it up into two parts—but then they’d have to add something to give a good climax for the first part, and what would that mean?  Change.

On the other hand, it’s hard to change anything and not have all of the fans freaking out.  How many people disliked Lightning Thief? Yet, if you look at it for it’s own, it’s not a bad movie, really.  I very strongly disliked the movie Howl’s Moving Castle because it changed so much from the book.  Some things were minor, but they probably annoyed me the most.  Calcifer was blue.  Was it that hard to make him blue?  And Sophie’s hair did not stay grey, it turned red again! Come on!  And what happened to Howl’s hair turning ginger? That scene was funny.  I’ll admit, I haven’t seen the movie in years, and I really only remember the things that annoyed me, so I can’t tell you if the movie was actually any good or not.

Anyway, I restate my point.  Change is important, but it has to serve a purpose.  Random changes done-just-because-it-can-be-done do not endear fans to the movie.

And to answer the last part of the question, I’d love to see my books turned into movies.  I’d be pretty nervous to see them, but I’m curious how other people would interpet my characters and how differently they’d see them than I do.

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Review of Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation

I don’t normally review books, but this one needed to be reviewed.  So here it is.

I had two people recommend this book (and the rest of the series) to me, so I decided to try it.  After getting extremely annoyed at my library’s e-book selection, I figured out how to put the book on hold (it was a new library, with a different system…I’m not completely computer-illiterate, I swear), and when I got to the library, I picked it up.  I realized, then, that I had no clue what the book was even about.  Oops.  But, really, if someone who has good book tastes and whose opinion I respect and/or value recommends a book to me, there’s a good chance I’ll try it.  Especially if it’s two someones.  (Unless there’s a lot of said someones.  Then I have a bad habit of avoiding the book like the plague.  Hence why I haven’t read Divergent yet.  Oops.)

Anyway, for those people who actually like to know what they’re reading before they put it on hold, here’s a summary stolen—ahem, borrowed—from Amazon, with my actual review following it.

All Jack Blank knows is his bleak, dreary life at St. Barnaby’s Home for the Hopeless, Abandoned, Forgotten, and Lost—an orphanage in the swampland of New Jersey. Covertly reading old comic books is Jack’s only solace. But his life changes forever when he meets an emissary from a secret country called the Imagine Nation, an astonishing place where all the fantastic and unbelievable things in the world originate. Including Jack.

Jack soon discovers that he has an amazing ability—one that could make him the savior of Imagine Nation and the world beyond…or the biggest threat they’ve ever faced.

I went into the book with not much expectation, since I barely knew anything about it, but I had heard it was good.  Hopefully it really was good as I’d heard.  The first sentence caught my interest pretty quickly, which is always good.  I ended up getting stuck at a little church on Monday for twenty minutes while my brother was part of a “meeting” thing for a Boy-Scout-like-troop-thing that he’s in, but I didn’t mind, because I had my library book!  Yay!  My mom started teasing me about how I was being so “loud” while I was reading.  Ha-ha.

Anyway.  The more I read, I realized, the more I was enjoying it.  I liked Jack fairly well.  He seemed like an interesting protagonist, and his “ability” was also pretty interesting.  The other characters I liked, too.  Particularly Jazen, though I don’t really know why.

I think, though, the thing I liked the best about the book was the setting.  I’m not really sure why, but I thought it was awesome.  I enjoyed seeing the different parts of the Imagine Nation.  There wasn’t a whole lot of description, but I thought it was really cool anyhow.

The other thing I really enjoyed was the ending.  In my experience, an ending can make or break a book, sometimes.  If the ending is not very good, it kind of screws up my perspective of the entire book.  But I didn’t have this problem here, thankfully.

In fact, the only issue I had with the ending was that my mom decided sixty pages until the end was the perfect time to have me make tacos for dinner.  I also just so happened to have after-dinner dishes that day, so I spent about two hours trying to act civil with my siblings until I could go back to the book and finish the climax.  I think I did okay.  Maybe my siblings have finally learned that talking to someone who’s been interrupted from an exciting part of their book is not good for their health.  I get…kind of cranky and snappy.

Anyway, throughout reading the book, I kept thinking that this book would make a really cool video game.  If there isn’t one already, someone needs to write one.  Brain, why are you reminding me of those IOS programming books I have on the shelf? Oh yeah, right, I’m supposed to be reading them and learning it…

Overall, I think I’d give this book about four and a half out of five stars.  I can’t decide if I should round that up or down, so I’m just going to leave it at the half.  I’m definitely going to read the second book.

TCWT Blog Chain: And in the Morning, I’m Makin’ Waffles!

I almost completely forgot about this blog chain.  Great way to start off my first post for it… Thankfully, I was reminded the day before I was supposed to have my post, and not the day after.  So I’m not late!  Yet.

Anyway, for those who don’t know what this chain is, here’s a link to the page.


Anyhow.  This month’s prompt was:

What kinds of published books would you like to see more of? 

Oh boy.   What a big question.  So here’s a list.

  • One of the things I want to see more of is female characters.  I guess this goes along with what a lot of other people have been saying—having more diversity in books—but I want to see more diverse female characters in the fantasy genre. I mean, how many different personalities, different combinations of flaws and strengths, different backstories, different goals, do you see with male characters?  Why can’t females have just as much diversity and differences?  Not just as a main character, either, but playing any role in the story.  Villain, sidekick, any of that.
  • More fairy tale retellings.  Yes, yes, I know, there already is a lot, but… they’re strangely fascinating.  I’ve never really been able to write one before—at least not very well—but I love reading them.
  • Less love triangles. Don’t get me wrong, I like a little romance. I can fangirl over my favorite ships. However, I prefer the kind that’s just a subplot, has a happily ever after at the end, and doesn’t thrown in any love triangles—especially if the sole purpose of them is for tension and suspense.  There really are other ways to create suspense, I promise.  And, well, I really do like happily ever afters.  I know they’re not very realistic—but when I read about “true love”, I can pretend that it really does exist and that maybe one day I’ll find some kind of Prince Charming, even though I feel darn near invisible to the male gender in social situations.  That sounds super cheesy, I know.  But I have a right to sound cheesy when I want to, thank you.
  • Anyway.  The last thing is different settings. I know there’s lots of different settings in different genres, but I mostly read fantasy, so the setting I see the most of is one usually loosely based off of medieval Europe. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that; it’s a fun time period and place. Almost every single one of my novels has a setting like that, too.  But I think it would be fun to see more fantasy novels set in completely different style settings. How about, say, a big fantasy that happens in the middle of Africa? Or Russia?  And not something modern, either.
    I want to write something like this, myself. I have German heritage and I’m sort-of learning the language, and I think it would be awesome to learn more about the culture and maybe use it for a story. I’ll be honest and say the only reason I haven’t done this yet is because I really…don’t know how to do the research.

And…to end my little list, here’s the other blogs in the chain.

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Books, Books, and More Books…Did I Mention Books?

My parents decided today we were going to go through our garage.  What does that mean?  It means my mom went through some of the many boxes of books in there.  And what does that mean?

Well, mostly that my to-read list just got…a whole lot bigger.  My mom found Ender’s Shadow and another book by Orson Scott Card in that series that I can’t remember the name of.  Those two are technically already on my t0-read list, though I’ll be honest and say I’m a little hesitant to read them, because Ender’s Game was just…well, if you’ve read it, you probably know what I’m talking about.  If you haven’t read it, you should.  It is definitely good.  (The movie wasn’t so much, though, so you can’t pull that on me, sorry.)

She also pulled out a bunch of books in the, what was it called, Swords of Shannara series.  She really wants me and my brother to read them, but…there’s so many!  It’s kinda overwhelming.  There were a few other things, as well, like another one I think is called Dragon Riders of Pern?  I’ve heard her and my cousin mention those a few times, but I really know nothing about them.

And all that is on top of the various other books I already have on my to-read list, like a lot of Brandon Sanderson’s books (*tries to ignore the Way of Kings book that seems to be staring at her from the bookshelf*), Lord of the Rings, which I probably should have read a long time ago, but for some reason have only really recently had any interest in, and a bunch of others.  There’s also the series from the library I’m trying to finish, two in particular, The Unwanteds (why, library, why do you not have book three?), and the Missing by Margaret Peterson Haddix.  I’m also currently in the middle of Dragonspell by Donita K. Paul.  And let’s not mention that I’m more or less rereading Ranger’s Apprentice, as well?

I definitely feel overwhelmed.  I’ve hardly had any time to read, with school and everything, so it feels crazy.  I know that’s not even all that’s on my list, either.

So…anybody have any suggestions on which I should read first?

The Importance of Writing Every Day

My dad made a point to me this morning: if you don’t practice a skill every day, or at least regularly, that skill begins to atrophy.  That works with almost everything. Last year, I did P.E. only on Wednesdays.  And I was terrible at jumprope.  I hoped that if I did it every Wednesday for the whole school year, maybe, I could get a little bit better.

Did I?  No.  It was every Wednesday and not every day.  I’m still absolutely terrible at jumprope.  In fact, since I haven’t touched a rope in over a year, I’m probably even worse at it than before.

How is this relevant?  Well, the same goes for writing.  What have I not been doing with my writing?  Doing it every day.  And what have I been finding when I actually do write?  It’s hard, it’s slow and mostly unproductive, and it doesn’t turn out very well.

Hmm.  I wonder if I see the issue here…

It’s actually rather frustrating.  I don’t want to have to sit down and re-learn all of this stuff, but I have to.  It’s kind of like my flute.  I haven’t seriously touched the instrument in five years, so when I sit down to try to play, my fingers remember which keys to push down, due to muscle memory, but I don’t really remember how to blow into the instrument properly.  So, I have to start over as a beginner.  Granted, I’ll admit, part of the problem with my flute is that it badly needs to be tuned, but that’s irrelevant.

I’m sure you can imagine the frustration I’m having.  I’ve been writing for nearly three and a half years, and yet, I feel like a total newbie all over again.  Except, I’m lacking the confidence I had back when I’d first started.  Then, I was amazed any time any words came out on the page.  When my first novel reached a word-count of 20k, I was absolutely ecstatic.

The other day, I went and reread my ’12 NaNo novel, just on a whim.  I was sure it was absolutely terrible, but it really…wasn’t.  Sure, there’s still my key signature of a lack-of-description, and some (most) of the dialogue is awkward, along with other random problems, but I’m actually rather impressed with the writing style itself.  It’s not terrific or anything—not even close—but it’s actually better than what I’m writing right now.

I wonder why.

I guess the point of this post is to say that I—and any of you reading this, ahem, looking at you, Kiwi—should try to write every day.  So, I’m going to give myself a goal.  Write five hundred words every day.  Just five hundred, no less.  I’m also going to try once again to limit myself to one project.  Not that I can’t write on any other project—I’d drive myself to insanity if I did that—but I have to write at least five hundred on one project, and then I can go write whatever I like wherever I like.

In order to really do this, though, I’m going to need someone to help me hold myself accountable.  Anyone willing?

The End

Sitting here, right now, I’m trying to figure out the answer to a question.  I know I’ve wondered about it hundreds, maybe even thousands of times, but I still can’t answer it.

The question is, what do you do after you finish reading a book?  Are you supposed to just move on and pretend that you didn’t really get anything out of the book?  Even when you really did?  Or are you supposed to sit and think about it, even if you’re getting strange looks from your younger siblings because you’re sitting on the stairs, with a book in your hands and tears streaming down your cheeks?

About a month ago, I was sitting next to a friend at church, right before the sermon started.  Her friend had just given her back a book that she had borrowed.  It was a book I’d heard of before, but didn’t know much about, and, of course, hadn’t read yet.  My friend offered to let me borrow it, and there was no way I could turn it down.

The book was titled The Book Thief.  Basically, it’s about a girl living in Germany during World War II.  It’s not a simple read that you can demolish in one afternoon as a time waster.  You might be able to read it in one afternoon, I don’t know, but it’s still not a simple, easy book.  It took me a month to read it.  I feel really ashamed about that, but I was having a hard time reading anything.  It wasn’t until yesterday that boredom finally cured me.

And so, I finished it today, about ten minutes ago.  It was a good book.  I enjoyed it.  It did make me cry, but I am a female who finally understands the taste of grief, so I’ve been crying at a lot of books lately.  (Believe it or not, A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass is in my list of books that I cried at.)

So, now I’m just wondering.  When a book really touches you, what are you supposed to do?  I’m not particularly fond of the idea of sitting on the stairs while my brothers half-argue with each other over something ridiculous and half-stare at me like something weird happened.  But, at the same time, just continuing on with my life like nothing happened feels wrong, somehow.  Like I’m not giving those poor characters what they deserve—even if they’re entirely fictional.

As you can tell, I ended up writing this blog post.  But I still don’t have an answer to that question.  Do you?

“Giving Up?” My Writer’s Curse….

Giving up and starting over. That is my biggest curse as a writer. I’ve started, oh, about six books. On one, I got almost to the climax, realized just how much I disliked my protagonist, and gave up. Another, I got about half way through it, got a little bored, and pushed it to the back-burner. I’ll finish it later—I know I will; I can’t give up on it yet (we hope)—but I won’t be doing anything with it for a few months, at least. If I’m accurately looking at my future, the soonest I’ll be able to work on it again is maybe December or January.

Another of my novels I wrote for NaNoWriMo. It was absolutely horrible. I won’t go into the details, but it wasn’t very good. Not even good enough to try to revise. In fact, the only good thing about it was that I got all the way to the end. I wrote THE END on it. (Though not literally. I never put that at the end of books.)

But that’s three books. The other three…. Two of them are actually the same book. I wrote it and finished it, realized it needed so much improvement that I needed to rewrite it from the beginning. (And I did so, again and again and again, never finishing before I started over again, for two years, with the only thing staying the same between each draft being the main character.) Eventually I did actually finish another draft that I’m really happy with it. I consider it a separate book because absolutely nothing about the two is the same. Not even, anymore, the protagonist.

And the last book of the six? That’s the one I’m working on right now. And guess what? I am seriously considering starting over again.

See, I’ve noticed a pattern with my novels. The only time I can ever really write the story is when the characters push me to do it. The one that I rewrote over and over for eternity—the reason I never gave up on that one was because I absolutely loved the main character, as well as a few other characters who snuck up on me. For my NaNoWriMo novel, I did like the main characters, though not as much as I could have. But it was enough to get to the end.

With my newest one, the one I’m attempting to write for Camp NaNoWriMo, I can’t get into a single character’s head. Not even my protagonist/narrator. Every time I try, he ends up sounding far too much like one of my other dear characters. But he adopts the other character’s bad traits, not the good ones. In other words, he’s entirely too much alike to her, but not in a good way. I’m not sure I like him at all. My villain isn’t being very villain-y, either. He’s got plenty of villainous traits, but…something’s missing, and I’m not sure what or why. My two lesser main characters have a backstory that’s currently driving the story, but that I know nothing about. They seemed to have interesting personalities when they were first introduced to the story, but then they lost it somewhere.

And perhaps it’s because I never wear my glasses, like I’m supposed to, but I can’t seem to find where they dropped it anywhere.

So here’s where the problem lies. I’m sure, at this rate, I’m going to end up giving up on this novel the way I did for my novel I wrote for Camp NaNo in April. That one had a similar pattern as this. I wrote a lot in the beginning. I have about 8k, when my goal would put me at about 5-6k. Last time, I think I was almost as much ahead as well. Then I got lazy and didn’t write as much…. and started to fall behind.

I panicked and tried to write, and of course, nothing came out. I barely got to my word-count each day, and it was horrible writing each time. Absolutely awful. And then I discovered that I really, really disliked the main character. Some of the others were okay, but the main protagonist was…boring. So I ended up giving up on that novel a week before April ended. I didn’t even write the climax, though I got right up to it.

So how can I avoid this? I see two options. A) Give up now instead of trying to force myself through it. B) Start over and change things, maybe even plan ahead more, so that I don’t run into some of these same problems.

And yet…. I dread starting over. I have spent the last two years, starting over again and again, because each time I wrote something, it wasn’t good enough. So I got rid of it, and started at the beginning again, without any of my previous notes. Started over completely from scratch. And whereas I can say that from doing that, I explored (and fell in love with) my world, plot, and characters more than I probably could have other ways, I do not want to go through that again.

I’m honestly not sure what I should do now. I keep wondering, too, why it’s only that one story that I can keep going back to, and never tire of. Even after two years of it nonstop. What’s different about it? Why can’t I find whatever it is that makes me like it so much, and find that same thing in another book? Why am I so attached to that one, and not another?

So here I am, rambling pointlessly. I realize I can be quite good at rambling when I want to be.

It’s the End of the World as We Know It! And I Feel Fine…

So, I find myself coming back from a weekend up in San Francisco. Well, one of the smaller cities nearby it, anyway. My family and I went up for my aunt’s graduation from college and my cousin’s third birthday party. It was fun, I’ll say. I think my aunt and uncle are convinced I am a very quiet person because I spent most of the time writing or reading.

I am not a very quiet person.

Unless I’m absorbed in a book, though. Just since Friday, I’ve read most of the first Ranger’s Apprentice book, The Ruins of Gorlan, and boy am I enjoying it. It’s very fun and exciting and I love the humor, too. I will definitely be continuing the series.

On another hand, I have also gotten quite a bit edited. Well, to be precise, rewritten. Editing is mostly rewriting, right? Just…not rewriting from scratch. Doing it from scratch is what got me into trouble before, but now I’m actually on draft two of my novel. My mother isn’t quite sure whether to believe me, though, especially since I’ve mentioned that I’ve had to rewrite some things.

Including the climax and ending, which is what I got written over the weekend. I’m very happy about it, too. There’s nothing more exciting and more satisfying than writing a good ending. Or reading one. Now, the hard part is to hope that the ending is actually as good as I think it is. I’m sure my cousin’ll help me, though. There was one ending I wrote a while back that was confusing and rather anti-climatic. She pointed this out to me, and I realized she was right. I hit some inspiration, and the ending I gave back to her was amazing.

The thing I’ve realized with endings is that there are so many key parts to it. You have to explain things to the characters and the reader that they didn’t understand before (and that’s why you so often find the “villain’s monologue” at the end), you have to find a way to solve the problems you’ve been building up for the entire rest of the book, and tie up all of the other loose ends, all while staying exciting. And, if you are writing a series, then you have to find a way to tie the next book in as well, whether through a cliff-hanger or not.

I think I have it, though. Exciting and dangerous? Definitely dangerous, and I was excited as I wrote it, so I hope it shows through. Informative? Yes, maybe even a little much. I may have to cut down a few things, but usually that’s easier than adding in, anyway. Tying up the ends? I think so. That’s what a lot of the information was for. Cliff-hanger? Yes, yes I do have one of those. Good last sentence? I love my last sentence, both to the book itself and to the epilogue afterwards.

Long story short (pun intended), I am quite satisfied with this weekend. Now this week’s goals are catching up in my school, particularly science, working on some character development, and get some of those drawings done that have been percolating in the back of my head….

Time Quake (Sorta Review)

*This post contains spoilers to the book Time Quake.*

The problem with being a writer, I’ve found, is that sometimes it’s a little harder to enjoy a mediocre book. Amazing books are amazing. Horrible books are horrible. It’s kinda in the name. But when it comes to mediocre ones, you can either just shrug and say it’s okay, or pull it apart and make it seem more like a horrible book when it’s not.

I just recently finished Time Quake and I felt that it was mediocre. I really liked the first book, and I can hardly remember the second book, so I don’t know what my thoughts were on that one.

This one had the potential. After all, it was about quakes in time, essentially pulling time—and the universe—apart. I loved how science was pulled into it, from the dark matter and dark energy that Dr. Dyer and Dr. Pirretti discussed, to Kate’s Law of Temporal Osmosis.

However, the ending was awful. The problem was, if I didn’t think about it much, the ending might have made sense. But if I really thought about it, it was confusing.

First, there was the past that Lord Luxon changed. He went and killed George Washington. Okay. Manhattan turned into an awful factory-ridden city, still under control of the British. Interesting. A part of me wonders what Los Angeles turned into, since I live near LA. Luxon makes a point that Alice, who helped him with changing time, no longer existed. If he changed something as important as making the American Revolution fail, then a lot of history would have changed.

So, perhaps there’s a chance that Peter and Kate would have never existed any more than Alice, right? Which means, they would never have used the antigravity machine in the first place, which means, in the end, Luxon would never have gotten it. But then, if he never had it, then he wouldn’t have changed history, which means Peter and Kate would have existed, which means….. Okay, it seems we have a bit of a paradox there.

But then there was the climax to the the story.  I kinda wish that Kate’s disappearance had been a bigger deal.  It was almost just like, “Oh no, Kate’s gone”, when it should have been, “Oh no!  Kate’s gone!  We have to fix time and save her!”  Then, their solution to the entire thing was to go back to the future, somehow get all the way to Derbyshire, and stop Peter and Kate from going to Dr. Dyer’s office.  The parallel worlds just suddenly winked out of existence because of that—which seems a little convenient—and yet, Gideon and the Tar Man are stuck in the future, which might be fine with Nathaniel, but what about poor Gideon?  He’s lost.  And, Dr. Pirretti still remembers everything.  It just doesn’t quite make sense.  If their solution to get rid of the parallel worlds worked, wouldn’t Nathaniel and Gideon go back to the past?  Wouldn’t Dr. Pirretti have forgotten everything?  And a part of me also thinks that it’s a shame to see Peter and Kate’s friendship suddenly disappear just like that.

If I wrote fan-fiction, I’d be tempted right now to re-write that ending to be more satisfying.  However, I’ve never written a piece of fan-fiction in my life, so I have no clue how to do it properly.  For all I know, I could write something even worse than this.

Maybe I’ll try to write one, anyway.