Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What I've learned part deux. Or Salem's Plot

You know what I've been up to these past few days? Yeah, me neither. Where the heck did this whole month go? Can you tell I'm trembling in my shorts right now? This time tomorrow, I'm taking the exam that's been causing me to freak out all over the place and I'm... super scared. If you don't hear about me after this post, you should know I probably died of a terror induced heart attack (or drowned in kittens).

Right, now that's out of the way...
I've finished editing Hunters - version 2.0 should be hitting CC as soon as I take out my scholarship money and pay for a premium membership.

Until then, I've finished 2 more books. That is right - Salem's Lot by Stephen King and Fallen by Lauren Kate or what the hell her name is (mopey girl crying in the forest cover). So here's a few things I've learned.

1. Omniscient... eh, not so much.

I know I used to write omni, so this is a bit nasty of me, but I don't think it works for horror stories - but I'm glad I read the book, since I remembered what it was like to read decent literature in Romanian.
What I did realize, is that opposed to close third (which seems to be the trend right now), it's harder to care about the characters in omni. I did like some people in Salem's Lot (one of them dies - NOOO, Jimmy, come back to us!), and the other two survive (I'm glad I liked Ben and Mark before I knew they would be the ones to survive).
Fallen is close third so it doesn't come in here.

2. A lot of characters are... normal?

Okay, if anyone ever gives me hell about a lot of characters again, I will personally flip them off. I mean, WTH? Salem's Lot had a million characters and you found out a lot of nasty, gory details about mostly all of them. And no one complained, and everyone thinks Stephen King is a genius. They bothered me at first, until I started not giving a damn. Anyway, I enjoyed how everything was wrapped up at the end.

Fallen doesn't have a ton of characters - it falls into normal character section. So not commenting on this yet.

3. I don't get scared reading books.

Salem's Lot did give me some nifty dreams though (as did Fallen, since the atmosphere was really well described). But, no, I don't get scared - not even rapid pulse or anything. I enjoy them, but that's about it for me. And it kinda pisses me off - Me want to get scared!

That's about it - I've learned less this time, I know, but I've been busy freaking out to pay proper attention to the technicalities of these books.

Mini Review for Salem's Lot

Ben goes back to Salem's Lot (where he grew up) to write a book. The town is full of freaky people and there's a weirdo house there which scares the crap out of all the people (don't know why no one set fire to it at some point). It takes about 300 pages into the book to reach the vampires. IMO, the first 120 pages are useless. But the read is entertaining. The writing flows, most of the sections are short and it's not boring. Not overly interesting, but not boring. When the vampires pop out, I'm not really scared because they seem to have a lot of weaknesses (crosses, holly water, not being able to open doors and other such). The action scenes are pretty good, I liked some of the characters and I enjoyed the ending.

Overall verdict - pretty nifty. 4/5 stars.

Mini Review for Fallen

Lucinda Price goes to a correctional facility because she's crazy/considered guilty for a mysterious death. There, she meets some peeps and Daniel (I'm starting to really like this name, but due to my Daniel) who flips her off on the first day. To cut a long story short, Daniel's a fallen angel and Luce is his long lost love who reincarnates every 17 years because she always dies a tragic death.
I mainly enjoyed this book - the description was good and not too much, since everyone was pretty freaky and crazy, the dialogue felt real (is that a trick?), and the characters were pretty good. I actually liked Luce - she seemed to have a personality up to some point. Also, the author is not afraid to kill, and that's always good.

What bugged me about this book:

For the death of her, this woman can't write action. It was so confusing, half of the time, I had no idea what was going on. The fact that I read this book in Romanian could be a part of it, but I've never read a more confusing fist fight.
The plot was a little like... eh? Get into the character's head is fine, but I don't want to have absolutely no idea what's going on. Most of what I got out of this book, plot-wise, I pretty much imagined myself. Daniel doesn't really explain what's going on, the pieces don't come together, and before a bigger explanation is given, the book is over... lul, what?
It did take a little long to get to the point - but I didn't mind - I kinda got a bit impatient one chapter before they made out - so I'm a trooper.
Daniel isn't done too well - he doesn't make me go swoon - she seems to have no reason to love him except that she's done it before - not a big fan of that - I wanted him to do stuff in the real world that would have her falling in love - and he didn't really seem to have a personality - except being weird and protective and confused/confusing. Could've been better.

Overall verdict - though I harped on it, I enjoyed it and finished it in like 3 days. So, 3.5/5 (because of the things I harped on, because I enjoyed it as much, if not more than Salem's Lot)

Well, this is it - have fun with my craziness. I'm reading the Hunger Games right now - wanna see what those are like.

Wish me luck! Tomorrow is the big day. Freaking out again... *runs off to solve more previous subjects*

Monday, June 20, 2011

Freaking out. Unbelievable!

Yes, I am officially freaking out - there are nine days left until I have to give my degree exam and I'm at a loss as to what to do - the pile of books on my desk has been read, last years' tests have been solved and I'm... going crazy with the nerves. I almost had a break down today. That's why I'm so calm now. I believe I'll make it in the end and it will be over soon.

I swear, they inched toward me!

Speaking of believing... how much do you suspend your belief when you read/watch a movie. I'm a reader and a movie goer - I know movies and books aren't real. They don't have to accurately reproduce normal life or they'd be...boring. Because you get to watch Real Life every day.
When I read/watch movies, I want to escape reality. That's why I buy almost anything (well, except stuff that doesn't actually make sense.)
But, lately I've come across a lot of reviews and comments on both books and movies - comments that say - I will not suspend belief for that - that doesn't make sense and it isn't even remotely possible... this being said about fiction/sci-fi films. O-Kay...

Has anyone seen Source Code? I liked it - I thought it was pretty original and I actually GOT the ending (well, at least I think I did, and I'm happy in my ignorance). Then I read some reviews about how it was so totally unrealistic... well, duh! It's a freaking sci-fi type thriller. If I suspend my belief enough to start watching this movie, how am I supposed to take it seriously.

Honestly, I've had this trouble with my own writing. I know it's easy to get around in Paranormal and fantasy and such, but when you write normal fiction, you have to keep it more realistic. And I agree - but that doesn't mean that when I read contemporary/normal fiction, I expect everything to be 100% accurate and believable - I tend to cut the world/the characters some slack and see where they go from there. Maybe everything will be explained in the end.
I like fiction especially because unusual stuff happens (and it might make me laugh). Don't know... this is some new trend I've noticed.

*Shrug* Yeah, well, I hope I'll come back with something half decent next time I post (Like a over 90 average on my test :D)

Signing off... (and still kinda freaking out)

Friday, June 10, 2011

What I've learned

Hi all!
I know it seems like I've been gone forever. Yeah, I kinda have. Maybe you're wondering what I've been up to these last days. Well... mainly this.
Goodbye Hogwarts!

And this

I look so smug, I know you want to slap me!

And now I'm just looking forward to a degree exam and college is officially over. Unfortunately, I still have a ton to study, so I might be MIA for a while.

I also wanted to discuss some writing stuff today. Can you believe that?
Remember that I mentioned getting a ton of books and reading for fun again. Well, it appears I can no longer read without at least attempting to crit. So I did some learning from my reading experience.
I've been reading The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare - I've only read City of Bones and City of Ashes as those are the only ones available in my country. And I read them in Romanian, so I haven't learned anything word-wise (which was a bummer). This is going to turn out to be a mini-review as well.

So here is what I've learned.

1. World building rocks! 

Honestly, I loved the world building in this book - the demon - Shadowhunter thing, the whole Downlanders (or how ever they were called (again, read this in Romanian)) legends and the new take on vampires and werewolves made  me dig the series. I came to the conclusion that it's one of the most important part of Paranormal and fantasy novels.

2. Your characters don't have to be very likable.

I don't know about you guys, but I couldn't give a damn about Clary as much as I tried and Jace was so annoying, with not knowing when to shut the hell up. And the whole relationship between them... I suspect they're not actually brother and sister and will hook up, but Jace wanting to hook up with Clary even if he thought they were siblings (saying no one had to find out) completely put me off him.
Clary was a bit too blank as a character - I think she's supposed to be a readers' surrogate (and if so, she's much better done than Bella Swan), but I like my MCs with a tad more personality. I can't tell you anything about her, except that she drinks coffee at 15, which I find quite wrong.
The only characters I can say I truly liked are Luke and Magnus Bane - they're fun :D

3. Description kills

And I don't  mean this in a good way. Honestly, the first volume was fine, but the second (seeing as I read it right after the first) was so repetitive it took me almost 2 weeks to read it (whereas I read the first book in 2 days). If I heard about how angel-like and golden Jace was one more time, I was gonna puke!
I know I'm a minimalist when it comes to description, but I think this took it to another level. It was just too much - Clary couldn't even think for 2 sentences before getting distracted by a crack in the wall.

4. Moderation is the key

When it comes to plot twists as well. These books gave me a headache - okay, just the last one - the first was pretty easy to follow. But the second book comes to destroy everything that the first settled. Whoa! Slow down! I want to get time to get used to the changes - and I don't like to...like not trust anything the author says - even the real stuff. And the whole he's dead - oh, wait, no he isn't- oh, wait, yes he is - oh, wait, no he isn't thing really got on my nerves.
I did like Clary's super power, though. That was nifty. Though I can't believe no on bothered to train her.

5. Adverbs aren't that bad

Yes, there are adverbs in this book - and I think they were used well. Honestly, too much show is draggy and kinda boring (there was that in the books too). Why go through a whole phrase that slows the action when just a word can do it? Who cares if it ends in -ly?

6. Chapter length is not an issue

Not for me, at least. The chapters of these books are huge (including the chapter length epilogues, which kinda pissed me off - why not make them chapter n+1?). I've been worried about my own chapters, trying to keep them under 5000 words, but not anymore. And I suspect the Hunger Games are the same. I'll just say what I have to say in my chapters, even if it will make them longer.

7. Plot?

Okay, this plot is like... ultra simple with some background things thrown in to make it interesting. It's not a Wow! plot. Bad guy looking for stuff, good guys trying to stop him, other good guys are actually assholes. It's been done to death (including by me, but I usually come up with a twist in which I turn everything upside down - maybe she does too). I can't say the plot impressed me. It was interesting enough to keep me going, but not keep me on the edge of my seat. This might have been different if I was 14-15 rather than 22, so this could be me. ;)

8. Ending

Like there's another chapter following, only there's not. Which leads me to the conclusion that these books should be read in quick succession. Agreed. Then don't repeat all the descriptions a million times! (Sorry, had to get that off my chest)

So this was my reading experience. I'm currently reading Salem's Lot (hoping to get spooked). I'll probably learn something from this too ;)

Do you guys pick up writing tips from the books you read?