My Weaknesses and Strengths as a Writer (This should be fun.)

The TCWT blog chain is back! Admittedly it’s been back for a long time, but I didn’t do last month’s prompt because reasons. But I’m turning seventeen in four days (mark your calendars, people) and I realized that I only have thirty-six months of the blog chain left, so I better make them all count. This month’s prompt is an easy one:

“What is your greatest weakness as a writer? What’s your greatest strength?”

Sorry, did I say this was an easy prompt? Well, by easy I meant “harder than trying to avoid getting spoiled for Avengers: Age of Ultron.” I mean seriously, is anyone not talking about that movie? Even my dog is talking about that movie, and I don’t even have a dog.

Okay, the prompt isn’t that hard. Though I can see how it would be. Most writers aren’t too great at pointing out their weaknesses, which is why they have people like beta readers and random people they find on the street to point them out for them.

Note: I said most writers. I am not like most writers. For one thing, I’m significantly better looking (ladies? *wiggles eyebrows*) and am completely aware of all my strengths and weaknesses. I’m just too lazy to fix them.

The Weaknesses:

  • I abuse semi-colons; like, a lot.
  • I have two default tones: goofy and angsty. Romantic and extremely emotional scenes are always nearly impossible for me to do, unless it’s related to emotional experience I’ve had in my life. (See: The strengths.)
  • I’m still not entirely sure what it means to split an infinitive, so for all I know I’ve been doing this for years and have been driving my reader’s crazy. Don’t get me wrong, people have explained the “Never split infinitives!” rule to me before, but it never seemed like an important rule and I quickly forgot about it.
  • I’m bad at coming up with names. And once I’m set on a name, I don’t like to let it go. For instance, in one WIP (I’m still working my 550,000th draft of it, by the way. There was a minor character named Matthew Black. He was a really smooth-talking guy with nice hair, and was in charge of this mutant training organization. A real stand-up guy. When I was thinking of a pseudonym for this blog, I went with the same name. (The fact that I took a smooth-talking character from my own novel as a pseudonym, make of that what you will.) However, in my latest drafts, the character of Matthew Black has evolved into a significantly darker character, responsible for at least eight deaths and not afraid to commit more if it serves his cause. And I still haven’t changed his name, or mine.
  • Am not particularly good when it comes to writing villains.
  • I don’t write nearly as often as I should. This right here is my greatest weakness. In pretty much any writing guide you’ll ever read, “Write a lot,” and “Read a lot” are the two tips that are always there. And yet I am wildly inconsistent with both of them. I’ll go through long periods where I’ll write a lot but not read, or I’ll read a lot but not write. And then there are those sad little periods where I do neither. I’m in a writing period right now, but I’m not sure how long that’ll last.

The Strengths:

  • I like to think I’ve gotten a lot better at writing female characters. Back when I was like, twelve years old, there’d only be one girl, and she’d be the stereotypical Strong Female Character. But now there are multiple well-written characters with their own agencies and personalities with a proportional effect on the plot. I know, this should be normal and not a big deal, but I think twelve year old me would’ve been impressed.
  • I’m good at writing angsty characters.
  • I am fantastic at portraying the sheer awfulness that middle school students are capable of. While not all middle school students are bad, this is the age where pretty much everyone is at their worst. At best they are awkward and self-conscious. At worst they are a bunch of whiny entitled brats with next to no concept of empathy whatsoever. I know this because I was stuck with the worst kids ever for two years, and their shitty antics always manage to pop up in my stories, one way or another.
  • Also, I’m good at writing middle school kids, the good and the bad.
  • I’m good at pacing.
  • I’m good at writing beginnings.
  • The first third of all my stories are always the easiest to write (and easiest to read, I’m told).
  • “I no longer rely too much on adverbs,” I whispered very very quietly.
  • My comic relief characters have a weirdly high mortality rate.
  • I always manage to resist the urge to plagiarize.
  • I’ve mastered the art of understatement.
  • I’ve been told I’m funny.

And that’s all for this post. There’s probably more to the list, but I’m too lazy to think of them all. And besides, for most of the important parts of writing, I fall somewhere in the middle, where I’m not consistently weak or strong in said area.

Now if you excuse me, the ice cream man is driving by my house for the first time in nine months. I will go and enjoy a sour apple flavored snow-cone.

May 2015 blog chain prompt/schedule:

Tuesday May 5th — The Little Engine That Couldn’t

Wednesday May 6th — Ariel Kalati, Writer

Friday May 8th — Galloping Free

Saturday May 9th — Miriam Joy Writes

Sunday May 10th — The Ramblings of Aravis

Wednesday May 13th — Light and Shadows

Friday May 15th — Musings from Neville’s Navel

Saturday May 16th — The World of the Writer

Tuesday May 19th — Butterflies of the Imagination

Wednesday May 20th — Introspection Creative

Friday May 22nd — Spellbound

Sunday May 24th — Unikke Lyfe

Monday May 25th — The Long Life of a Lifelong Fangirl

Wednesday May 27th — Against the Shadows

Friday May 29th — Teens Can Write, Too, announcing June’s chain

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In Which I Can’t Think of a Proper Title for this Post (TCWT)

Huzzah! January’s TCWT Blog Chain is here, and this month’s prompt is:

“What is something you feel is generally written well in fiction? What is something you feel is generally written poorly?”

Well, if I had to pick one thing that bugs me, it’s the young adult genre’s tendency to romanticize or overlook creepy behavior. An obvious example is Twilight, where Edward watches Bella while she sleeps and this is considered perfectly fine, but I’m not going to bring that up because 1) bashing Twilight is so 2009, and 2) I haven’t actually read it; everything I know about the series I’ve heard from other people. So instead I’m going to talk about another terrible young adult novel, The Fifth Wave.

Now, I originally gave The Fifth Wave a three out of five stars, but my opinion of it has slowly but surely decreased over time, to the point where it’s now a one out of five. I tried reading its sequel, but I got roughly fifteen pages into it before being forced to light the book on fire, whilst chanting “Burn, demon, burn!” the whole time.

(Warning: There are spoilers. But The Fifth Wave isn’t worth reading anyway so it’s fine if you read ahead.)

Anywho, the main character (Cassie) falls in love with Evan, a guy who is actually an alien from outer space sent to help murder all of mankind. And that’s not even the worst thing about him. No, he continues to do creepy things like:

  • Bathe Cassie while she’s unconscious.
  • Read Cassie’s diary without her permission.
  • Not allow her to leave his house. “If you try to leave, I’ll just follow. You can’t stop me, Cassie.”

Yet Cassie falls in love with him anyway. Why? Because he’s hot. He’s like, super muscular, and his eyes are all warm and chocolatey. The fact that he is attractive (we know this because the author/Cassie constantly feels the need to let us know how hot he is) apparently makes up for his unhealthy behavior. This all leads up to a contrived love triangle where Cassie is stuck deciding between creepy stalker Evan and boring, perfect Ben. Which leads us to. . .

Love triangles. Young adult books are terrible at them. At best they feel like a waste of time and at worst they make me want to steal candy from a baby. (Because why the hell would you give a baby candy anyway? It’s not like s/he’s going to remember it.) I hate young adult love triangles so much that in my current WIP, I purposely set up the beginning of a love triangle just to kill off two sides at once. Why? Because fuck triangles, that’s why. Triangles are for squares.

[Exception: The Raven Cycle, by Maggie Stievfater. All the character dynamics in that series feel natural and realistic, which is just one of the things that makes it the best ongoing young adult series I’ve ever read.]

Now, to abruptly change the subject: let’s talk about dialogue. Specifically, dialogue in fantasy novels, and how it has a tendency to feel overly clever and fake, as if the author is trying way too hard to be witty. Take this little snippet from The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson:

”I can see you are a woman of discriminating taste.”

“I am. I do like my meals prepared very carefully, as my palate is quite delicate.”

“Pardon. I meant that you have discriminating taste in books.”

Oh snap!

The book is filled with lines like that. I assume they are meant to lighten the mood and they do, sort of. (I always end up cringing, and said cringe makes me forget about all the bloodshed and death.) At first I thought that the character was intentionally written with a bad sense of humor and that no one else wanted to tell her this because they didn’t want to hurt her feelings. But having read Mistborn and half of Words of Radiance, I’ve come to the conclusion that the author is simply not that great at this whole “humor” thing, and that’s okay.* After all, not everyone can be as hilarious as me.

But I feel like this is a consistent problem in the fantasy genre, at least of what I’ve read of it, which admittedly isn’t much. Even A Song of Ice and Fire, which has the highest hit-to-miss joke ratio of any fantasy series I’ve read, occasionally includes a line or two that made me think, “No one would ever say that, or if they did, they would be immediately punched in the face.” This needs to stop.

On the bright side, I believe that epic fantasies are great when it comes to getting the reader invested in the characters. I’m pretty sure this has to do with the sheer amount of time you get to spend with the main characters. If you spent over a thousand plus pages with a character and don’t at least form some sort of attachment with him or her, you are either a terrible person incapable of empathy or the writer is simply not that good.

Because the twelfth of January is about to pass, this post must come to a premature end. Sorry if I rambled too much in this post, or if it was incoherent. Rest assured that it will be edited and revised the moment after I get some sleep. Here’s a list of all the other participants:

5thhttp://whileishouldbedoingprecal.weebly.com/

6thhttp://jasperlindell.blogspot.com/

7thhttps://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/ andhttp://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/

8thhttp://miriamjoywrites.com/

9thhttps://ramblingsofaravis.wordpress.com/

10thhttp://semilegacy.blogspot.com/

11thhttp://kirabudge.weebly.com/

12thhttps://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/

13thhttp://maralaurey.wordpress.com/

14thhttp://dynamicramblings.wordpress.com/

15thhttp://theedfiles.blogspot.com/

16thhttps://horsfeathersblog.wordpress.com/  

17thhttp://www.juliathewritergirl.com/

18thhttp://butterfliesoftheimagination.wordpress.com/

19thhttps://gallopingfree.wordpress.com/

20thhttp://www.alwaysopinionatedgirl.wordpress.com/

21sthttps://deborahrocheleau.wordpress.com/

22ndhttp://irisbloomsblog.wordpress.com/

23rdhttps://clockworkdesires.wordpress.com/

24thhttps://introspectioncreative.wordpress.com/

25thhttp://wanderinginablur.blogspot.com/

26thhttps://anotefromthenerd.wordpress.com/

27thhttp://randommorbidinsanity.blogspot.com

28thhttp://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

29th – https://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)

*I mean, Sanderson is a boss when it comes to everything else.

What Characters Are You Most Like? (TCWT Blog Chain)

Sorry for the late post. I was totally going to finish it on time, but my family unexpectedly took me to visit my cousins’ house up in the untamed north (New Hampshire) where I wasn’t able to use the internet for a while. Well, I probably could have asked to used the computer or something, but I was too busy playing Kan Jam and rediscovering my passion for Guitar Hero to try. Besides, I’d been thinking over the prompt for weeks at that point and I still couldn’t come up with a satisfactory answer.

This is a horrible excuse, I know. I will make it up to you somehow, by writing a post that’ll blow you away, what with my mad linguistic skills and nice hair and all.

This month’s prompt, as you should’ve been able to tell from the title, is:

“What characters are you most like?”

This is the type of prompt that requires you to be brutally honest with yourself, and to list your flaws and weaknesses and share them openly with the internet. If you don’t do this, you’ll end up picking characters that you aren’t actually like, but you wish you were, and people will roll your eyes at your selection and say “Ha. As if!”

For example, I came dangerously close to picking Omar Little from The Wire.

For those who aren’t familiar with Omar, he is basically Robin Hood. A gay black American Robin Hood who’s been roaming around the streets of West Baltimore robbing drug dealers for the last decade or so. He’s not afraid to shoot anyone who messes with him, but he never harms innocents, he never swears, and he’s the type of guy to show up in court wear a snazzy track suit with a tie. Even homophobic racists love Omar, he’s simply that cool.

Unfortunately, I am not like Omar. We don’t have a whole lot in common. When I walk down a street, I don’t hear shouts of “Matthew’s coming! Yo Matthew’s coming!” as everyone runs away. I don’t have a shotgun, and I’ve never pretended to be an eighty year old man in a wheelchair just to put a few drug dealers off guard. I would like to pretend I’m as badass* as Omar, but that is not the case and will probably never be. Now excuse me while I cry for the next hour or so.

Now would also be good time to admit that I am not Batman, nor am I anything like Sherlock Holmes, Han Solo, that guy from those Old Spice commercials, Finnick Odair, The Doctor, Albus Dumbledore, Atticus Finch, Jack Sparrow**, Jack Shephard, Jack Bauer, Jack Reacher, Jack Dawson or Jack Skellington. (There are a lot of Jacks.) I’m really more of a Quentin Jacobson type of guy.

Quentin’s a slightly nerdy teenager who obsesses over and idolizes a girl he barely talks to anymore. Okay, maybe that’s not the most flattering description of him, (you all probably think he’s a creepy stalker, and therefore you’ll think I’m a creepy stalker, and that’s not good), so I should also add that he’s reasonably well adjusted, has a great sense of empathy and is willing to pull some pretty groovy stunts, once his crush Margo manages to unleash his bold, more mischievous side.

I saw myself in him a lot, both the good and the bad. I understood why he’d like Margo as much as he did, and why in the beginning he went through such lengths to impress her and in the end we went through such lengths to find her and figure out who she really was. For the most part, I would have done the exact same things he did throughout the novel, and yes, that includes spending the night in an abandoned, asbestos-filled building reading Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.

I think I need help.

There’s also Stuttering Bill (real name: Bill Denbrough) from Stephen King’s It, who is really just all types of awesome, a word I don’t use that often, you know. All the main characters were fantastic and well written, and I felt like I’d known each and every one of them my entire life. (Note: that’s impressive.) But Bill was the one I could relate to the most. I never had a stutter, as far as I can recall, but I did have some serious speech problems as a kid and still do, though not nearly as bad. I’ve gotta say, King nailed the whole experience down, from the bullying he went through to the frustration he felt each day, not being able to complete a full sentence without screwing it up. Yet despite this, he still manages to stick up for himself and his friends in times of struggle, and he even becomes the unofficial leader of his little gang of outcasts to which all the main characters belonged.

Sure, I never had a younger brother who died shortly after getting his arm bit off by a clown (that happened like, five pages in, so it’s barely a spoiler), but that doesn’t mean I can’t relate to him in just about every other way. He also loved to write as a kid, and even ended up a successful author as an adult, which is exactly what’s going to happen to me. *fingers crossed.*

He’s also described as being very handsome countless times throughout the novel, which is yet another thing we have in common. We might as well be twins.

So in conclusion, I am not Omar. Instead I’d consider myself a less obsessive Quentin, or a less stuttery Bill, or perhaps I’m Hawkeye. I would make an amazing Hawkeye.

 ****

August 2014 blog chain prompt/schedule:

5th – http:// semilegacy.blogspot.com/

6th – https://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/

7th – http://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/

8th – http://sammitalk.wordpress.com/

9th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

10th – http://irisbloomsblog.wordpress.com/

11th – http://www.brookeharrison.com/

12th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/

13th – http://uniquelyanonymous.wordpress.com/

14th – http://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/

15th – http://novelexemplar.wordpress.com/

16th – http://nutfreenerd.wordpress.com/

17th – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

18th – http://writers-place-for-you.blogspot.de/

19th – http://roomble.wordpress.com/

20th – https://taratherese.wordpress.com/

21st – http://thependanttrilogy.wordpress.com/

22nd – http://freeasagirlwithwings.wordpress.com/

23rd – http://butterfliesoftheimagination.wordpress.com/

24th – http://theweirdystation.wordpress.com/

25th – http://teenageink.wordpress.com/

26th – http://www.adventuringthroughpages.wordpress.com/

27th – http://randommorbidinsanity.blogspot.com/

28th – http://missalexandrinabrant.wordpress.com/

29th – http://dynamicramblings.wordpress.com/

and http://thelonglifeofalifelongfangirl.wordpress.com/

30th – http://fantasiesofapockethuman.blogspot.com/

and http://www.turtlesinmysoup.blogspot.com/

31st – http://theedfiles.blogspot.com/

and https://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain)

*It occurred to me that by praising Omar and calling him a badass, I’ve probably completely missed the point. *shrugs* Oh well.

**Captain Jack Sparrow. Sorry.

Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Writing (TCWT)

I always had a thing for reading and writing. At four years old I was wolfing down Dr. Seuss books like it was nobody’s business, and by first grade I could finish any one of those Captain Underpants novels in less than a day. No big deal. Inspired by George Beard and Harold Hutchins, I started writing my own mostly plagiarized comic books, which kick-started my ongoing writing career.

I’ve since retired from the comic book business, but I have yet to stop writing stories. Most of them have been science fiction, and centered around a main character (always around my age) with similar characteristics. Basically me, except perfect in every way, and everyone who opposed me was just evil, an idiot, or both. Which brings me to this month’s TCWT blog chain:

What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started writing?

There are so many things to choose from, so I’m going to cheat and mention several of them. First off, I would’ve loved it if someone had let me in on this particular nugget: characters with flaws are infinitely more interesting than those without them.. Also, books where the main character is almost exactly like the author will never sell well, unless you’re John Green. For years I was writing characters who were idealized versions of myself, and surrounded them with characters who were just shallow versions of my real friends. And the villains were always real people I didn’t like, like my annoying older brother, who was always one-dimensionally evil and/or stupid.

(In my defense, my brother did (and still does) often act in a cartoonishly evil/stupid way. But that doesn’t mean he’d make a great character.)

Another helpful tidbit would’ve been: Your parents’ opinions are almost always useless. This may not apply for those of you who have parents with writing experience, or genuinely criticize your work instead of just “This is amazing! I’m going to put this on the fridge so I can read it every day,” but in my case (and most others) your parents probably laughed at your writing as a little kid; they just complemented it because they didn’t want to discourage you.

Of course, I don’t blame my parents for doing that. If I had shown my dad one of my stories as a little kid, and he replied with, “Don’t quit your day job, kiddo. This story sucks,” there’s a good chance I would’ve been discouraged from writing altogether, and this blog wouldn’t even exist.

Of course, the downside to this is that it gave me unrealistic expectations. I actually thought my work from five years ago actually had a chance of being published. (Heh heh.) And worst of all, I didn’t improve as much as I could have because I wasn’t aware of all the huge flaws in my writing, mostly because no one pointed them out. Which brings me to my next point.

Get people who aren’t your friends or family to read your writing. I wish I had known about beta readers. If you have a blog, you should post a few short stories or something, where people can criticize it for free. People on the internet are not exactly known for being too polite, after all, and they can be extremely helpful when it comes to critiquing your work, especially on WordPress. For my More Than I Can Chew interactive blog story, I have the delightful Plotwhisperer who isn’t afraid to say what she does and doesn’t like about each chapter, and it helps. A lot.

But the main thing I wish I knew from the very beginning is: Don’t censor yourself. Don’t stray from certain topics or themes just because you’re afraid you’ll offend someone. Write about what’s important to you and don’t hold back.* You don’t see this advice being used often on this blog, (it’s a humor/book blog. Topics like gun control and abortion would just be off-topic), but when I do write about potentially controversial subjects, they work out much better than I could possibly anticipate. I was Freshly Pressed from a post titled, “How to be a Young Writer Without Making Me Want to Punch You in the Face,” and I almost didn’t publish it because I was afraid it would upset some people. And it did upset some people. A few people politely disagreed with it, others impolitely disagreed with it, and one guy wrote an angry rant calling me an “arrogant fuck who doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” and continued to insult my blog and teen writers in general.

I can still remember large portions of that comment (he was a mean one, that guy), but I also remember the hundreds of other amazing comments from adults and teens alike. A bunch of teenagers were inspired by it, many adults were impressed and a high school English teacher even said she was going to show this article to all her students. For every angry commenter, they were fifty other nice and supportive ones. So I laughed to myself as I deleted that asshole’s comment and moved on with my life.

When you reach a wider audience, you’re bound to get a few mean critics, but if you’re afraid to speak your mind, you’ll never reach that audience to begin with.

Someone should quote me on that last sentence. That was deep.

*Of course, there’s a difference between speaking your mind and being a jerk. If you’re being racist/sexist/homophobic/prejudiced towards any group, don’t be surprised when you are either ignored or receive angry feedback. And I won’t feel bad for you.

(Sorry there’s no photo. I had to resort to using my phone to write the post, and I’m not sure how to add pictures.)

Check out the other participants here:

5th – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

6th – https://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/

7th – http://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/

8th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/

9th – http://lillianmwoodall.wordpress.com/

10th – http://www.brookeharrison.com/

11th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

12th – http://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/

13th – http://theweirdystation.blogspot.com/

14th – http://taratherese.wordpress.com/

15th – http://sammitalk.wordpress.com/

16th – http://eighthundredninety.blogspot.com/

17th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com/

18th – http://novelexemplar.wordpress.com/

19th – http://thelonglifeofalifelongfangirl.wordpress.com/

20th – https://butterfliesoftheimagination.wordpress.com/

21st – http://theloonyteenwriter.wordpress.com/

22nd – http://roomble.wordpress.com/

23rd – http://thependanttrilogy.wordpress.com/

24th – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ – The topic for August’s blog chain will be announced.

The Book is Not Always Better

(Just kidding, it is.)

For the TCWT blog chain, the prompt is:

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

I like this topic, because it’s very broad and I can go in almost any direction I want, providing it’s not to the right. There’s a giant needle sticking out of the wall on my right side, and I’m trying to avoid it. Anywho…

Life is rough for book-to-movie adaptations. Not only must they be able to stand on their own two feet as a movie—a completely different type of entertainment than a book— but they also have to put up with all the die-hard book purists that throw a fit over every minor change.

(Note: I am occasionally one of those diehard book purists. Example: The Shining.)

I think we need to stop being so hard on these, poor, misunderstood movies. Directing an adaptation is like being forced to walk on a tightrope above Niagara Falls*, except on one side of the rope, there’s a bunch of crazy book-readers shouting “YOU’VE RUINED THE WHOLE SERIES!” and on the other side there’s a bunch of snobby movie critics saying things like, “I feel like this movie caters way too much to the fans of the book, to the point where it doesn’t stand on its own as a movie. Also, not enough symbolism, and the juxtaposition between motifs was a bit clumsily done. 2/5 stars.” And if the book in question is a young adult novel, then the critics will undoubtedly compare it to Twilight or Harry Potter, no matter what it’s about.

It’s a lot like basing a movie off a cartoon from the nineties, except with those you have people complaining “YOU’VE RUINED MY CHILDHOOD!” because as it turns out, it’s possible to destroy someone’s entire childhood simply by making a bad movie based off a show they used to like. Who knew?

I think people need to remember that a movie is completely different from a novel, and that some things that would work well in a book would look terrible in a movie. For example, Daenerys Targaryen is only thirteen when the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire started. Things would not have gone well if the producers behind Game of Thrones hired a girl who was actually thirteen to play her.

With many adaptations though, it can be frustrating, because some books have so much potential to be great, but the people producing it are clearly out to get you, and are intentionally making it terrible just to piss you off, so it seems. Why can’t they let me write the scripts for all the adaptations I’m interested in? It’s so unfair.

That being said, if some sketchy looking guy with a sketchy looking suit and tie came up to me and asked my permission to make a movie off of my novel, I’d probably say yes, because a movie is basically just one big advertisement for your book. If a trailer looks good, all the book-snobs watching it will think to themselves, “Quick, I need to read the book before this comes out. This way I could complain about how disappointing the movie is.”

Even better would be a book-to-TV adaptation, like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. Speaking of which, HBO really needs to write a mini-series for The Stand, by Stephen King. Just saying, I think it’d work out well.

Sorry if this post is a bit scattered.

Now click on the links below for the rest of the blog chain!

5th – http://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/

6th – http://theloonyteenwriter.wordpress.com/

7th – http://sammitalk.wordpress.com/

8th – https://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/

9th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com/

10th – http://maralaurey.wordpress.com/

11th – http://charleyrobson.blogspot.com/

12th – http://taratherese.wordpress.com/

13th – http://theweirdystation.blogspot.com/

14th – http://fairyskeletons.blogspot.com/

15th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

16th – http://novelexemplar.wordpress.com/

17th – http://magicandwriting.wordpress.com/

18th – http://mirrormadeofwords.com/

19th – http://www.brookeharrison.com/

20th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/

21st – http://eighthundredninety.blogspot.com/

22nd – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

23rd – http://aaronandtamarabooks.blogspot.com/

24th – http://www.butterfliesoftheimagination.weebly.com/

25th – http://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/

26th – http://turtlesinmysoup.blogspot.com/

27th – http://missalexandrinabrant.wordpress.com/

28th – https://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ – The topic for July’s blog chain will be announced.

*I saw a guy do this once. It was amazing.

The Worst Fictional Worlds to Live in

The blog chain is back! And Miriam Joy couldn’t have picked a better prompt:

Which fictional world would you most like to be a part of, and what role do you think you would fulfill within it?

Excuse me while I think back to all my favorite fantasy/sci-fi novels and think of the ones with the best settings. There’s Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire (only just finished the first book), and The Dark Tower series.

If I could be in the completely real fictional world of Harry Potter, I’d probably be unemployed and living on the streets. It’s a sad truth: the wizard economy would never work in real life. Why would anyone hire a fellow witch/wizard when they could get a house elf to do the work for free? Or they could just flick their wand around and whatever they need doing will be done. Magic has unfortunately made 90% of the wizarding population useless.

And I know what you’re thinking: “Matt, why can’t you just wave your wand around and make food and money appear out of thin air?” Well first off, I can’t magically make those items, according to the Five Principal Exceptions to Gamp’s Law. And besides, I’m a forgetful person. I would have lost my wand within a week of buying it.

So it looks like I’ll have to pass on Harry Potter’s world.

Then there’s middle earth, which I’ll also have to pass on. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m secretly afraid of elves. (Although luckily they all seem to be leaving soon.) The same could be said of Alagaësia.

I’d be okay with living in Westeros (I’d be a stable boy, because stable boys are cool), if it weren’t for the fact that everyone in this world seems to be some sort of scheming psychopath. Anyone with a conscience ends up dead.

There’s also the problem of the uneven seasons. Not only is this annoying, but it causes a bunch of problems the books have (so far) failed to address. First of all, how exactly do plants grow without a proper seasonal cycle? Where is all this food coming from? And how do they even measure the years?

And don’t even get me started on Panem.

I guess if I had to choose a fictional world to live in, it would be Narnia. Sure, it’s not perfect, what with its lack of antibiotics and all, but at least there’s talking animals. And there’s always the chance of me escaping into my own world (which I prefer). Hopefully, I’d end up as either a farmer, or a professional high-fiver. Either one’s fine.

Writing this post made me realize how horrible most fictional worlds are. Out of all the worlds mentioned above, I think Harry Potter’s is the safest, and I haven’t even mentioned the whole “Dark Lord Trying to Kill Everyone” thing. Even though everyone wants to live in a nice, safe, Utopian society, writers have accepted the fact that Utopias are boring. Dark, gritty worlds with high mortality rates are much more interesting.

Other Participants:

December 4th: Against the Shadows.

December 5th: Deborah Rocheleau.

December 6th: The Little Engine That Couldn’t.

December 7th: Relatively Curious.

December 8th: The Magic Violinist.

December 9th: Laughing at Live Dragons.

December 10th: This Page Intentionally Left Blank. 

December 11th: Kira Budge: Author.

December 12th: Brooke Reviews.

December 13th: Next Page Reviews.

December 14th: Susannah Ailene Martin.

December 15th: Musings From Neville’s Navel.

December 16th: Mirror Made of Words

December 17th: Woah!

December 18th: Lily’s Notes in the Margins.

December 19th: Wheat and Wine.

December 20th: Please Forget My Story.

December 21st: An MK’s Meandering Mind.

December 22nd: Miss Alexandrina 

December 23rd: Unikke Lyfe.

December 24th: Miriam Joy.

TCWT Blog Chain

I’m sorry for missing the date of the blog chain. To make you forgive me I will send flowers to each off your doorsteps. When they don’t show up, assume I really did send flowers and someone just stole them before they got to you. I was sick with a cold, and when I am sick, I’m a total wimp and I’m not good for anything. I spent most of the last two days sleeping, sneezing, and watching Scrubs reruns because I couldn’t concentrate on anything involving text.

But enough rambling. The prompt for this month is:

“How have both the people in your life and your own personal experiences impacted your writing? Do you ever base characters off of people you know?”

To answer the first question: Most of the people in my life haven’t really gotten me into writing. My parents encouraged me, leading me to think I was a writing prodigy for a while there, but that was it. I don’t think I know any people in real life who hope to be writers when they get older. If I do, that means they’re like me and don’t ever talk to anyone about it. So no one I know in my non-internet life actually ever gives me advice about writing. All of the writing help I get is from this blog and my awesome commenters.

My personal experiences, however, have affected my work, and I think this is true for everyone. For instance, the second chapter of the novel I’m working on (I finished the first draft!), involves the characters getting revenge on a rival “gang” by sneaking into their houses and pulling a bunch of overly-elaborate pranks on them. For legal purposes, all I can tell you is that something similar may or may not have happened to me in real life.

There’s also a scene in the second book in which a certain character “drops” a smoothie onto a very expensive car from the second floor of a mall (the car was there for a contest of some sort) and got chased down and arrested by mall police. The same thing happened to a friend of mine, except with a lacrosse ball, and he didn’t get chased down so much as he was escorted away and his parents were called to pick him up.

In many of my stories, I take instances from real life, and change them to make them more interesting.

As for the second question, “Do you ever base characters off people you know?” The answer is yes, though rarely. I used to do it a lot when I was a little kid, (to the point where the bad guy was always my older brother, the good guys were always me and my buddies and he also went to jail at the end) but now I only base characters off people in my life on rare occasions. I only do this if I meet a person who is particularly interesting. Such as that kid in the back of one of my classes who smokes pot everyday and is supposedly in a violent gang, yet is one of the most intelligent and nicest people I’ve ever met (not to say that weed-smoking gang members can’t be nice or intelligent. Sorry if I offended anyone within those categories). That kid would make an interesting character. I want to write a story with a main character based off him, but since I don’t know much about life in a serious gang, and I’m not planning on joining one any time soon,  the story has yet to be written.

I’ve noticed a strong correlation between bad decisions and great stories/characters. For instance, someone who does drugs and joins gangs clearly did not make the best decisions in life. But he’s a pretty interesting guy. Similarly, breaking into an enemy’s house in the middle of the night just to cover their entire bedroom floor with water-filled paper cups is not a wise decision. Neither is throwing dropping a lacrosse ball at a contest car in the middle of a very crowded mall filled with security guards. Or throwing a snowball at a car that you originally thought was your older brother’s but actually turned out to be this scary guy who likes to threaten ten-year-old kids with his fists of doom. But if someone had written these stories all down (something I hope to do), I would definitely read it.

So the lesson of this post is, the more stupid choices you make in your life, the better your writing will be. Probably. Don’t take my advice on this.

I hope no one decides to do drugs/join a gang after reading this. That would not be a good idea. You could just join the Blogger’s Gang, which I just made up right now, instead! In order to get in, you have to either A.) Kill someone, B) Sacrifice a lamb, or C.) Write a funny comment below.

My friends and I have done some pretty stupid things.

Participants:

5th – http://alifeonmission.wordpress.com/

6th – https://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/

7th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

8th – http://miriamjoywrites.wordpress.com/

9th – http://katiathewritergirl.blogspot.com/

10th – http://charleyrobson.blogspot.com/

11th – http://fida-islaih.blogspot.com/

12th – http://www.indianawriterblog.wordpress.com/

13th – http://charlieeatmybook.blogspot.co.uk/

14th – http://notebooksisters.blogspot.com/

15th – http://dearsaul.wordpress.com/

16th – http://bloodoverithaca.wordpress.com/

17th – http://realityisimaginary.blogspot.com/

18th – http://weirdalocity.wordpress.com/

19th – http://insatiablebeforedeath.wordpress.com/

20th – http://theloonyteenwriter.wordpress.com/

21st – http://myswordandpen.wordpress.com/

22nd – http://dreamerheadquarters.wordpress.com/

23rd – http://www.documentaryofateenagewriter.wordpress.com/

24th – http://www.brookeharrison.com/

25th – http://themagicviolinist.blogspot.com/

26th – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll be announcing the topic for next month’s chain.)