Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Book Review # Dos: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Okay, so I had been hearing alot about Divergent before I got to read it. A lot of people were saying that Hunger Games had finally found its match with this book, so i had pretty high expectations. Lets just say, it wasn't what was expecting. At all.

And I loved it.

Here's the synopsis:

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

Wow, so yeah, this was a great book. I love books that have me question things like my values and priorities and basically get me really thinking. And this was definitely one of those. Big time. Haha, I once stayed up till almost 2 in the morning reading it (shh.... don't tell my mom that...), it was so hard to put down. I loved the plot and characters, even though if I'm honest, it was sometimes frustrating to see the way that Tris' society was beginning to affect her... which got me thinking again about the above again :)

Also, I especially loved the theme that bravery is also selflessness, and that it is not the absence of fear, it is acting in spite of your fear.

But other than that, it was an gripping story with romance, action, amazing characters, and some mystery to boot :) I'd definitely recommend this and can't wait for the sequel, Insurgent!!

Yeah, I'm Weird. But Aren't We All?

Okay, confession: I'm a bit of a dork. I'm one of those people that gets really attached to dumb little things. For example, we were at Walmart getting supplies for a camping trip I was going on, and my dad wanted to be buy me a nice new flashlight. But I told him no. Why? Because I wanted to take the crappy old blue one I've been taking for the past three years.

So yeah, I'm weird , but there's alot of people like that out there that have some weird little quirk to their personality. And one of the things I love the most while reading is seeing a character like that.

I like it when an author adds some little quirk, pet peeve, obsession, etc. to a character that makes them real. Like in Paranormalcy, Evie wishes she could raise just one eyebrow, but she can't, so she has to raise two and look surprised or startled. And when I read this, I about fell out of my chair because I was thinking " SAME!!" It just about made my day.

In another book I loved, Sean Griswold's Head, the MC Payton is way into organizing (okay, so more like OCD), to the point that she spent 50 bucks to buy a leather organizer. Now, would I do that? Heck no. But it was endearing, and she was so into it that it was hilarious, and I liked her even more.

I once read a book where the MC brother died. She was always sad that she lost him, and said he was a great brother and all, but honestly I didn't really care much about him until later on, when she talked about how goofy and funny he was, and how when she was sad, he would make a dog with his hands and pretend it was talking to her. Yeah, he was kinda wierd. But in a funny, goofy, approachable way, and suddenly I loved her brother.

What I'm saying is that we shouldn't be afraid to give our characters some weirdness to their personalities, because it makes them more real, more likeable, and even more relatable. In fact, I think we should. Nobody likes a flat character, and one of the best ways to dimensionalize (yes thats a word, its just not... official yet) your character is to give them a little bit of personality that sets them apart from others. And your readers will thank you.

( Note: If you make your MC enjoy kicking kittens, licking themselves, or just being obnoxious to point of near insanity of those around them, for the sake of adding personality, that might not go down too well with the readers...) So yeah, don't make them weird in a sadistic, gross, or annoying way; we want it to be endearing.

So, do you have some irrational obsession, practice, fear, favorite object, you name it, that gives you personality? And do you prefer it when authors add quirks to their characters, or do you find that wierd? Share your thoughts below :)

Why Authors Write Love Triangles

Every body knows that one of an authors main goals ( besides getting published and uber rich- uh, i mean, enjoying what they do...duh) is to be different. We want to avoid cliche's ( or apparently only certain ones, since vamps and werewolves are still going strong), so that our novel isn't known as the book that was like this one, which was like that one, which is very similar to this one over here.
So why do people keep writing love triangles?

Because they're a good idea. If you do it right( i suggest my fine, albeit lengthy, post below which tells you how to do exactly that).
So, here's what they accomplish:

1. DRAMA. We don't like it when things are easy, especially people's love life. We like to see misunderstandings and inner conflict ( of course, only if its resolved later on)

2. Character Development. It gives a chance for your character to grow through self discovery and a lot of deep thought and decision making.

3. Contrast ( look at the scalene love triangles below)

4. Creates a need for people to still read our books! Not gonna lie, there's this a couple series that I would have stopped reading by now if it wasn't for me wanting to know who the girl chooses in the end. If you make a good love triangle, people will get in debates about whose better ( ever heard of Team Edward or Team Jacob? ... Yeah, neither have I), and readers will give alot of thought to who they like better and why( ... or atleast I will...). So basically, if done right, it increases readers interest ( or obsession) with the books, which comes in handy when your writing a series.

So, yes, this article was almost completely redundant of my last one, but I still decided to write it to show that sure, I sometimes get annoyed with all the love triangles out there, but from a literary standpoint, its a smart move. And because I forgot to mention that fourth point in the last post, and I didn't want to make it any longer.

So, what about you? Do you like the drama, etc. that love triangles create, or are you sick of it and just want a decent straightforward romance? Comment on it below!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Oh So Famous Love Triangle

Aah, the uber-popular (you could even say over used) love triangle. Every ones writing about them these days.
But why? Whats the point?

Well, first off, we need to get to know The Triangle. There's two basic types: what I like to refer to as the equilateral and scalene love triangles. (wow, my geometry teacher was right, I would use triangles in life(even though, somehow, I don't think this is what he was referring to...))

The Equilateral Triangle
This is what I like to think of as a "true" love triangle. It's one where there's two evenly (or at least very closely) matched guys vying for the MC hearts. These are the kind that create alot of emotional confusion and inner turmoil for the MC; where they have to make an impossible decision between two people they love. This kind also provides an opportunity for the character to grow as they think deep thoughts on what is right for them and find self discovery, etc. Also, another reason we love these so much is because we like to see what she chooses and why she chooses it.

The Scalene Triangle
So this is the name I've given to what I think of as "bad" love triangles. This is when one character is obviously the right choice, and the other guys just kinda... there. Now, these kind of triangles can serve a purpose. They could be used as a contrast: to show that Exhibit A is clearly the right man, because he loves the main character for who she is, while Exhibit B just wants her for her body, etc. It can also help the main character to know whats right: Exhibit A loves her, but he does some pretty sketchy things and wants to get her involved, while Exhibit B loves her too, but wants to help her make good decisions. However, when writing these kind of love triangles , never, NEVER, try to make a "bad" triangle look like a "true" love triangle. IT WILL DRIVE YOUR READERS INSANE.

One of the things I hate most is when I read about a girl who has one guy who lusts after her, and another guy who loves her, BUT FOR SOME REASON SHE DOESN"T KNOW WHAT TO DO. It's unrealistic. No one would sit there thinking : " Well, this guy wants me for my body and is trying to get me to do insert-bad-thing-here, but he's kinda hot and I kinda like him. But then there's this guy who loves me and wants whats best for me, and I think I love him too. What should I do?" At these points, I just want to go in and slap the MC.

If you want a love triangle that is confusing and hard for the MC, and requires her to make a tough choice, then make sure you give her reasons to be confused. Make both of the guys people she could be happy with, people she loves. You get a good example of this in Matched, by Allie Condie.

But if your point is to show contrast, to prove that this guy is better for x amount of reasons (great, more geometry...), then don't make your character all confused and wondering what to do.

And honestly, are you just adding in a love triangle because every body else is? Sometimes it seems to me like this is the case. I read a book where you got one guy who the author clearly likes, and wants you to like, and the other guy is just kinda there. Sure, he likes the girl, but she already has her mind made up on the other guy and doesn't really pay attention to him. This just created some pointless complications.

Now, don't get me wrong. I like drama. But give it a reason to be there. If you want to create a complication with two people's relationship by adding in another guy, make sure that the outcome moves them forward.

For example: The MC love this guy, but is too shy to get across her feelings, even though she's pretty sure he loves her back. However, just as things start to move forward, another guy shows up whose all over her and showers her with attention. She doesn't really know how to react, so she lets him do it. The guy she loves sees this, thinks that she no longer needs him and is hurt. This then forces the girl to overcome her shyness and tell the guy she loves that she loves him before she loses him forever.

Get it? If you want drama, give it a reason to be there so that its not always drama drama drama. Because people will get sick of it. We want to see your MC make hard decisions and to grow, and thats one of the reasons why we like love triangles.

Next up : why authors write love triangles. ( don't worry, I promise it will be ALOT shorter)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

First Book Review!! Demonglass, by Rachel Hawkins

Woohoo! My first book review! Okay, so before I get started on how freakin' amazing this book was, I'll give you the synopsis. But before I can even do that, I should probs warn you that you shouldn't read it if you haven't read the first book, Hex Hall ( which you should), cus it contains some pretty big spoilers. So, that aside, here you go:

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Acher to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

And now I can start ranting. Okay, so this book is definetly in my top favorites now, and I think I'll go read it again tomorrow I loved it so much. Sophie is a way lovable sarcastic MC, and her snarky comments continually caught me by surprise and left me laughing. And Archer... aaaah, Archer. Let's just say, I loved him even more in this book than first book. Oh, and then there's Cal, too. Yeah, this book has some pretty good guys alright.

Another thing that contributed greatly to my eternal love for this book was that it did something thats hard to do: It surprised me. I've read ALOT of books ( okay, understatement of the century), and I've gotten pretty good at seeing things coming, even the ones that can take most people by surprise. And it surprised me at least like five times.

All in all, I think it was an amazing book: lovable characters, amazing plot, plus a whole starcrossed lovers romance to boot, and Im actually going to go read it again today ( yeah, I'm a nerd, what can I say?). So yeah, I would definitely recommend this book to any one who likes YA fantasy and sarcasm :) ... and probably even the people who don't.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Bad Boy Syndrome

Okay, so I just read an AMAZING book the other day, but sadly I can't say what it was because I'm about to give away a big spoiler. Anyway, so in this the main character has this whole little budding romance thing with a guy that they work on throughout the whole book. And then near the end, they argue, they kiss, happy ending. Right? NO, because two seconds after kissing the guy, she finds out that oh hey, actually he's and agent for the organization that is basically out to kill all of your kind( which isn't human, in case you were confused). So she freaks out, and the guy is forced to pull out a knife and break open a window and basically run for his life and disappear. Okay, so we just find out that throughout the entire book, he has been lying to her and the others around her, and could very likely have just been using her. So we hate him. Actually... no. If anything, he just got hotter. Like, ALOT.

And it doesn't just happen in this book. I've read another book where the MC's love interest turns out to be the son of the woman trying to kill her. Or in another book, where it turns out that the MC's love interest was strongly connected to her brother's death, or in another book where the guy was a thief, etc. So, why is it? Why do us readers drink up all these stories about bad people who... actually aren't bad people? Why don't we hate them when we realize all they've done?

It's because we like to see a boy who's raised by people to think a certain way, to do certain things, and yet somehow rises above it a is a good guy. And even if he hasn't risen above it completely, then the beautiful wholesome girl comes along and his love for her convinces him to have a change of heart! Even better!

So why is it that we love to hear about redemption and all that other stuff I've already explained? It's because these people are showing us that we AREN'T a product of our environment, that just because were born in the slums doesn't mean we have to act like a slum ( or in this case, just because your raised by evil terrorists doesn't mean you are one), etc. And even if we don't consciously think/ feel it, when we see or read these stories of the bad guy turned good, we have hope that we also don't have to be a product of our environment. If they can do it, so can we( but our's would probably be alot less dramatic).

Plus, you know, there's just the fact that bad boys are hot. And everyone likes to read about that( ...well, at least girls do)

Friday, July 22, 2011

I'm going through withdrawal...

It's been nearly two days since I read. TWO DAYS!!! I've been so busy designing and posting on this blog that I haven't read, which is why I'm taking a break today (plus you know, the whole blogger's block is kinda back...) But never fear! I will be back tomorrow with something amazing to say! ( or possibly today if I'm struck with some huge epiphany or realization or my inner muse decides to talk to me for once, which i highly doubt will happen)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Introducing your new world, program, society, insert-insanely- complex- and confusing-thing-here.

Okay, so I don't to have to repeat that title through out this whole post, so were just going to talk about introducing new worlds ( although the same things should apply to all the others).

K, so you've written this insanely amazing book about this insanely amazing character who lives in this insanely amazing world. Problem is that this new world that your so proud of is pretty confusing and has alot of rules that the reader needs to know about. The main question is how to teach the reader with out making it: 1. obvious ( as in having the MC say: " Here, let me explain..."), 2. BORING, and 3. long.

Well, for starters, don't give the information all at once; only give the relevant information (and at the right time). We don't want to know the entire history of your dystopian society on the FIRST PAGE of the book. Save the information for when we want to hear it. And if all thats important is the fact that your country is ruled by a corrupted totalitarian government with an evil leader, then don't tell us about the bloody Civil war that took place 500 years before and put that government in place.

And another thing: NOTHING ruins a book like taking away all the surprises. Don't get carried away and tell us everything to make sure we have any questions . We WANT to have questions (the good kind). Sure, we want to know how the world works enough that we're not totally confused. But we DON'T want to know all of its secrets. In the book Matched ( AMAZING book, btw), Cassia explains how the Matching system works before its her turn, but she doesn't explain the significance of the blank screen until acouple pages later when the information is suddenly relevant. This creates suspense and mystery. So you need to figure out what information we need to know ASAP so we aren't confused, and what information has to wait to keep us interested and wanting answers. TIMING people. Timing is everything.

Oh, and one more thing. You don't need to explain every single little thing. Give us some credit, we can figure some things out or just use our imagination. In the book Matched, there are these things called hover cars that are mentioned a couple times through out the book. Thats all we know about them though. Their names. We dont know how they look, how they work, how fast they can go and how high up of the ground they are. But thats okay. Because we don't need to know ( and quite frankly, I don't really care too much).

Now that you know some guidelines, I took the method of sharing info with the reader and broke it down into three really simple categories ( but only two really matter):

1. Don't teach the reader, teach the MC. Okay, so this is a really good method because it accomplishes other things besides the whole explaining thing. When the MC has to stop the conversation to say " Hold up. Can some one please tell me WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON??", it gives us, the readers, and opportunity to say " I know right! This is confusing!". This then helps the readers to connect and bond with the character as they learn together. Another pro to this method is that people are generally fascinated with discovery. Would the Percy Jackson series have been as successful if Percy had practically grown up at Camp Halfblood when we found him? No, I dont think so. Because we like to see Percy's confusion and reactions to the crazy things that start happening to him. Why? Because in most cases, its like what we would do. If I started getting chased by a Minotaur and my mom turned to gold dust, I would be FREAKED OUT. And so was Percy. So once again, we connect because our reactions are similar, and we're discovering new things together.

2. Have the MC explain it to the reader. Okay so when your doing this, keep it sounding natural. Keep it with in the flow of conversation/ thoughts your character is having, so it doesn't seem weird when they start spouting information. Evie from Paralnormalcy ( GREAT book), is not going to be walking around the mall reviewing all the rules and guidelines she must follow as an employee at International Paranormal Containment Agency. She might, however, complain about how much work it is to travel the world doing bag and tag missions after she just tased a vampire. Get it? Another way to do this ( if your introducing like a ritual, action, etc.) would be to have someone go before the MC, and have them kinda review/ explain what they're doing.

3.Have the narrator explain everything to the reader in the Prologue. Haha, no. Yeah, don't do this (unless your writing a childrens book, which in that case it could work). I don't want to read a Prologue( or worse, a first chapter) that says: Jimmy lives in ______. ____ was ruled by an evil totalitarian government that made there citizens do this, this and this. Ugh, no. Just DON'T DO IT.

Okay, so those are the most basic methods I could break things down into. Of course there are variations of this such as MC has a limited knowledge of things or that the MC knows everything and their explaining it to another character who is learning ( like in Inception), etc.

Oh, and one more thing. You don't need to explain every single little thing. Give us some credit, we can figure some things out or just use our imagination. In the book Matched, there are these things called hover cars that are mentioned a couple times through out the book. Thats all we know about them though. Their names. We dont know how they look, how they work, how fast they can go and how high up of the ground they are. But thats okay. Because we don't need to know ( and quite frankly, I don't really care too much).

Did I miss anything important, or do you disagree with anything I wrote? Or do you just want to complain to me about how insanely long this post was? Put it in the comment section.

GAH!! I have a minion!!!!

THIS IS A MILESTONE IN MY LIFE PEOPLE!!! A follower!! For me!! When I saw that, I about fell off my couch ( and yes, I said couch, not chair- I was using the Ipad ( which, btw, I do not recommend using for blogging because it wont let you post).... eep! I'm so happy!! Okay, so yes I know that all the mega bloggers (and not so mega bloggers) have hundreds of followers ( or heck, even 50 is impressive), but that's okay. Because hopefully, maybe, possibly, I'll be there too. But until then, I'm gonna be freaking out about every single follower I get.

Okay, now back to work.

Well... thats interesting

Okay, so incase you were confused, in my last post, thats two exclamation points and a smiling/ laughing/ happy face thing, its just the font makes it look... weird. But what ever.


Yeah, so the whole writing stuff is going to have to wait for a moment, while I celebrate both my supreme genius and extreme stupidity at the same time. So, what the heck am I talking about, you ask? Well, ever since I gave this little ole blog a facelift, there has been ONE thing that annoyed the heck out of me: I couldn't change the font/size/color of the text in my posts! And for a perfectionist like yours truly, it bugged me to no end. And then I decided to try different templates, and even though it took ALOT of tweaking to make it look right, I finally found one that would allow me to change the text in my posts!! Hurray!! Well, now that my triumph over the computer has been celebrated, I'm going to go eat lunch ... and probably celebrate some more.

Second day with a Writing Blog, and already I'm stumped

So I sitting on my bed wondering what the heck I could possibly write about today that might be somewhat relevant to someone out there. I had one idea, but it was very similar to an article by somebody else, and I figured whats the point of having my own blog when its just a repeat of others? ( I'm still not sure if this is more insecurities or common sense... I'll figure it out later). But then I happened to find (through basically a lot of random people stalking) this ingenious article! ( I also happened to notice that Madeline's my age and has over 200 followers - there is hope!) K, so now that I know how to get out of bloggers block... well, I have to do it. So I'll be back later with some insanely amazing writing advice that will totally make your day. Be prepared.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Makings of a "BIG" Book.

Okay, so with the whole ending of Harry Potter thing going on (not to mention my return to writing) I've spent alot of time thinking about what it takes to make a book successful? I mean, like HUGELY successful. So I picked a couple books to compare : Harry Potter ( duh), Hunger Games, Twilight, Percy Jackson, and the Mortal Instruments. Okay, so maybe that was more than a couple. So I was thinking about what these things have in common, and I found one thing they all had in common, except for the Hunger Games.

In each of the other books, the character basically finds out that there is more to their world than they thought. Harry discovers the wizarding world, Bella discovers vampires and werewolves, Percy finds out that Greek "mythology" is true, and Clary discovers the whole Shadowhunters thing. So whats the significance of this? I think what it boils down to is that it gives people the feeling that this fictional world could coincide with ours, and that helps them to accept and relate to the story and characters more, because atleast they share/ shared part of their world with us. Plus (but I'm not entirely sure on this), I think people like to think " What if? ". What if theres more to our world than we think there is? What if there are demigods, wizards, vampires, etc out there?

While this is all good usefull information, I was pretty sure there had to be more. And then i read this. Needless to say, I think she pretty much nailed it. ( I also think Im kinda an idiot for not realizing it earlier...). All of the "big" stories out there were new. DIFFERENT. They defined the genre/ topic that they wrote about. People think " Ooh, Twilight did very good, I think I'll write about vampires now." and think that thats their ticket to going big, rewriting something thats already been there, done that. But its not. ( Even though it does work sometimes, just not as well...). We dont want to revisit Hogwarts with a different Chosen One, we want to go somewhere new, someplace different that no ones showed us yet.

So now its your job to find that place and take us there.

What's the Point?

So now that you ( as in the wall) know that I am making this into a writing- slash- maybe-book-blog, Im going to back track a little. I had been considering doing this for a while, but never did, because of one excuse: No one even looks at my blog. But then one day i snapped out of it and realized something, actually, a couple things: ( dang, I must be really big on the whole list thing...)
1. Of course no one looks at this blog. Why should they? There's nothing to look at. Which leads to epiphany number dos:
2. ALL blogs start out with no followers. Obvious, I know, but for some reason it never really clicked for me. And this led to my third realization ( which i think is the most important one):
3. PEOPLE ONLY FOLLOW BLOGS IF THERE'S SOMETHING TO FOLLOW. I cant wait till i have followers until i start actually putting stuff on here. It doesn't work that way. I got to start out as if people do look at this blog, that way they will.

Now, this probably isn't really useful information to anyone out there, but it was a big moment for me, so i figured i would put it on my blog. And now my little introduction to my blog is over, so I think I'll start posting stuff that would give people a reason to look at my blog. But first, Im eating dinner.

Its Official: Im a Nerd

Okay, so remember how I said i was going to use this blog to follow other people's blogs? Yeah, well, turns out I'm an idiot. Why? Because I thought I could simply watch all the other writing blogs from the sidelines, with out making one of my own. Well, turns out that just wont work. For a couple reasons:
1. Blogging kinda sounds fun now...
2. Since I'm getting back into writing (only seriously this time), I've decided that making some writer friends might not be such a bad idea.
3. This helps me to feel more official and thus motivates me more to actually write.

So there, I've acknowledged and embraced my nerdiness, and am now ready to post stuff and pretend people look at this blog in the hopes that one day they will.