So I’ve been telling many of my Twitter writing pals that I don’t buy books blind. In other words, I don’t buy books I have not yet read. I’m always super wary of new books and having to spend money on something I don’t know I’ll like makes me shudder. There are exceptions to my rule though –
The book is highly recommended to me by people I trust or know very well. An example of this is The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. I am an avid listener of the podcast, Writing Excuses, and every half a dozen episodes, they would name drop this book. I thought it sounded awesome and eventually decided to take the plunge and buy it. (I loved book and its sequel, by the way)
The book is buy an author I love or is a sequel to one that I have read. I’ll pick up a Brandon Sanderson novel without having read it because I like his books. Likewise I grabbed the sequels to Locke Lamora immediately after reading the first and I didn’t read those two before buying.
But I recently preordered a book by an author I haven’t read and it was not recommended by other famous authors or close friends of mine and it got me thinking, “Maybe I don’t follow my own rule. Maybe I buy blindly more than I realize.”
In the past year or so I’ve bought:
Second Star by J.M. Sullivan
The Fated Blades Trilogy by Steve Bien
The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Haze by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
1984 by George Orwell
Rose By Another Name by Melanie Thurlow
Alethia by Megan Tennant
And a few others which I have misplaced and forgotten their names.
These were all blind buys. Yes, I bought two trilogies without having read any of the books first. I still haven’t read them so I don’t know if I wasted my money or not. So far, most of the books I’ve completed and enjoyed.
I guess 1984 wasn’t so much of a blind buy, but aside from it being a classic, no one really had any convincing arguments as to why I should read it. i.e. great characters or awesome magic.
Perhaps buying blind isn’t as bad as I make it out to be, as long as I get my books.
I haven’t written a blog post since April, (excluding reblogging a few posts) so what have I done in the past five months?
It hardly feels like anything, especially when I look at the negatives:
1) abandoned a novel idea
2) failed miserably to rewrite Nano 2017 novel
3) jumped around from idea to idea and never gaining traction
And compound that with feeling completely stuck and overworked…
Let’s just say summer sucked.
But I had a writing breakthrough July that helped me get back on my writing feet and submit a short story just a few days ago. I realized I was an Plotter. Not a Plantser like I always thought. I need to know the majority of my scenes before I write (the more the better) and that my story will work before I put a single word down. That way, I don’t have to throw it all away when it comes to revision because it all was terrible and spend another 6 months redrafting.
I realized this after I had made an outline for the rewrite of my Nano novel that I thought was thorough enough but still had some gaps in it. I thought I could pants my way through those gaps. I didn’t and I wrote all the scenes I had planned and nothing for the ones I figured to discover write. So I was left with about 10k words to the next point on my outline and, after jumping ahead and began repeating my first draft, I stopped writing.
Further reinforced by my short story, which I did plan, and was able to successfully steer it though six drafts to a satisfactory level of goodness without getting sick or bored of the story. Because I had planned it out ahead.
I’m planning on tackling Nano again this year, but instead if flopping around for 30 days and hating my story by the end, I’m spending every day thinking about what can happen in my story and how the characters would react. Because I get excited by knowing what I’m going to write.
Frederic leaned against the wall, tugging a handkerchief out of his suit pocket and dabbing it against his forehead. The dragon baby was heavy and thankfully, asleep. She had fidgeted and cried the entire time he searched for a room where she could sleep. A place that wasn’t going to burn if she belched more flames. The library had been his first thought, but she nearly set the whole room ablaze with a burp. He tried the study, the sitting room, dining room, wardrobe, and gardens, but every place he went to had something that burned. He didn’t want to carry around this fire breathing potato anymore. What he needed was a large room that was dirt and cement, like the cellar.
The cellar. That was it. There was a few shelves that could burn, but it wouldn’t be hard to move them. Frederic reached for his flask, but his…
Guest blog by Matthew Charlton; friend, programmer, writer, and lover of stationery-based erotica. Find him on Twitter.
Have you ever come upon a book that looked so ridiculous that you had to read it? One of those books with a stupid name, an awful cover and where the photo of the author seemed to be a screenshot from a 70s porn movie? If not, you certainly haven’t spent enough time in libraries.
But if this has ever happened to you, you know full well that feeling of being called by the book, hearing that little voice in your head that says “oh come on, it’ll be fun”. And when you still hesitate to spend those precious two pounds on that nonsense you imagine the author’s photo on your bookshelf, next to Jane Austen, Agatha Christie and Isaac Asimov, and that’s it, you now need to buy it.
On Saturday April 14th, I attended the Michigan Writing Workshop in Livonia, MI. It was awesome last year when I went, and this year was just as awesome! I met many great people and learn lots of great advice…as well as I need to remember to take more photos.
Most of the sessions I attended were giving advice on writing queries, though I did attend a session of writing speculative SFF and on called “Writer’s Got Talent” where they read people’s first pages aloud and gave feedback. Mine was not selected 😦 but my sister’s and brother’s pages were selected! Woo! Go family!
I got to meet author of the Fated Blades series, Steve Bien (again, forgot the picture), but got signed copies of books 2 and 3 in the series! They were sold out of the first book. 😦 He did give some great advice on approaching and brainstorming an speculative element, and I’m totally using the worksheet he handed out to help plot my next few books!
Anyway, a quick shout out to everyone who attended! I can’t wait to go next year, unless I’m published and rich by then. But then I would come back and teach!!!
Let me know if you attended and like, retweet, comment, or share! 🙂
First things first, if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, then go do that. Now, I know you’ll probably ignore that, but you can’t say “You never told me!”. Yes, actually, I did. So HA!
I first read Ready Player One (RPO) when it was first released in 2011 and before it was this really big deal. I was browsing the NEW shelf at my local library, saw it and thought it was interesting, so I read it and loved it. Then I bought it and read it again. A few years later, after the movie had started production, I read it again. And somewhere along the way I purchased the audiobook (in CD format!) and had Wil Wheaton read it to me. Basically, I almost know the story better than Ernest Cline does.
Needless to say, the movie got everything wrong and the book did it better.
However, I still give the movie high marks, at least an 8/10. To may judgement, that’s pretty damn good. I never give anything a 10 because that means there wasn’t one thing wrong with anything (lighting, sound, acting, story, etc. I get picky) and it didn’t get a 9 because there were actually a few things I though could have been executed better.
Wade/Parzival and Samantha/Art3mis love story: The movie quickly shows Wade’s infatuation for Art3mis by having him show off Aech’s garage and babbling like a dopey schoolboy. Their relationship only really develops in one other scene before Wade declares his love for her at the dance party. Soon after they meet in person. Their relationship then builds in the real world, though they continue having moments during their attempts for find the Jade key. Of course at the end, they kiss and “awwwwwwe :)” -_-
The arc didn’t work for me. The emotional beats were off – information was revealed incorrectly that lessened the emotional impact of the romance. Their kiss didn’t matter or carry any weight because anyone with at least one eye and a brain knows that’s what happens with romances. (Greg, pick your jaw off the floor. You’re embarrassing me.)
In the book, their kiss wasn’t really that important either, but every time I read the ending to the book, I tear up. Why? The whole final scene has the moments Cline leads to throughout the novel. Revealing Art3mis’s name. Seeing each other for the first time. There’s more than a kiss. Also, the break up at the dance club was more dramatic because Wade and Art3mis had been throwing the Hunt aside to hang out and go on raids. Wade’s relationship with Aech falters. Wade can’t stop thinking about Art3mis. He even says “I felt like a large wooden stake had been driven into my chest.” when she dumps him. The book is told from Wade’s POV which does allow for closer and deeper emotions, but the movie should have structured the romance to have rises and falls and that tear jerking ending like the book has.
The Crystal Gate: The three keys are all needed to open the Crystal Gate in the movie. Makes sense, since that is why they’ve been gathering the keys anyway. This takes away from the important message the book has at this same moment: You can’t do things alone. Halliday made the contest not just because he liked games and had no heirs, but as a way to reconcile with the mistakes he made in his life and as a way to teach others to not make the same ones. The movie presents this with Halliday hiding his clues in key moments his personal life. If the two methods had been combined, it would have been extremely emotional and memorable.
The ’80s Nostalgia (or lack thereof): In the novel, there are hundreds of references to the ’80s. In fact, every clue and subsequent challenge was centered around some tidbit of pop culture from the decade. However, in the movie, the OASIS just seemed to be another videogame and Halliday’s love of the decade was lost. The clues seemed to be more based off his personal life (see point above). Part of the reason I loved this novel was the heavy handed lathering of ’80s culture and I wasn’t even alive during the ’80s. I was born in ’95. It gave the story a very unique flavor that won’t be replicated. The movie was just another action flick with very common stakes and world building.
Overall, the book was more successful because we were able to understand the characters better. Film tends to be limited on how much we can see and how well something translates to a visual medium. The film did a good job with being upfront about straying from the novel and I was disappointed at first, but it allowed me to put all those reservations aside and enjoy the movie for what it was.
Besides, the book is always better. 😉
If you’ve seen the movie, or read the book, what did you think? Which one was better? Comment and let me know!
If you don’t already know, I work part time in a library, and a rather big one. Well, bigger than I’m used to, but having a floor for youth and two for adults I feel constitutes big. Anyway, I work on the youth floor and was shelving some YA books and I have a tendency to read the back covers and occasionally a random chapter…or two. Well, one of these books, Renegade by J. A. Souders, made my heart stop beating.
It was my story.
Well, not exactly mine, but the concept was the same. Evil Ruler controlling a paradise with mind control. Main Character a offspring of said Evil Ruler. Some one from outside world comes along and opens MC’s eyes. Try to escape/stop Evil Ruler. The End.
So naturally I checked the book out, read it, and decided that it was different enough from my idea that I could continue working on my story. Luckily, I am still outlining at this point. However, the more I think about it, the more I realize that they are just they same story and I am very saddened.
Goes to show you there is no such thing as an original idea.
However, having done massive amounts of world building already, I decided to actually use it all instead of a fraction of it, which didn’t eliminate the similarities completely, but masked them by making it a part of a much bigger story.
And I mean bigger.
Example: Say my original idea was like a bookshelf filled with lots of amazing books. Well, I came across another bookshelf that had many of the same books, I decided to be different by upgrading to a three story library. Boom. Take that!
It’s a little overwhelming to say the least. Fun, but overwhelming. So much so nothing is making sense anymore, in the story at least. Real life never made sense so no hope there. Also, every idea I have for this story feels like its coming from Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, or Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International. (Darn you guys for coming up with awesome stories! Both are amazing books and you should definitely read them.)
There’s no such thing as an original idea, but there are always original ways to look at them.
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