Book Discussion: Graphic Novels and Comic Books

bd; graphic novels & comic booksEarlier this week, I read the graphic novel of An Inspector Calls, which is a play and has been remade into film time and again (most recently on BBC 1 a couple of weeks ago). However the format I found it in first was graphic novel.

I really got into manga or comics when I was younger and I’m only discovering them now. They explore stories in a way that no other format can – in novels, the reader has to imagine the scenes. In films, the scenes may move too fast for the audience to see and process what’s going on. Graphic novels have the unique USP of having both pictures and text, and then the added bonus of being able to read in your own time and go back to any bits you didn’t quite bit.

The downsides of graphic novels is, obviously, they aren’t novels. If you get the graphic version of a novel like Percy Jackson or Twilight, for example, then the entire text won’t be there. (However, that was the great thing about An Inspector Calls – it had the entire original text.) When I took the Odyssey at college, I persuaded my mum to get it for me as Marvel did a comic version, and, whilst it was great, it didn’t have all of the detail I needed.

Overall, whilst I really enjoy graphic novels and comics, they don’t “do” it for me the way that novels do. I still enjoy them, though, in a way unlike I enjoy novels which are good but in a different way. I’m even working my way through a collection of Catwoman comics at the moment.

What’s your opinion on these gems of the literary world? Do you like/dislike them? Read them? Don’t read them? Tell me what you think, people!

28/09/15

I sucked again and ducked out of writing book reviews. My excuse this time? I’m ill. My first (last?) cold of autumn is here.

This week, I’ll actually have a book review up (I think that’s because I scheduled it, but y’know). It’s a great book, so have a good look at the review! (Uh, if that’s the book I’m thinking of, but most of the books I’ve recently read have been pretty good anyway!)

I’ll also have Wednesday and Friday posts up too!

Have a nice week, all, and stay cool.

Know Your [Writing] Limit

writing lmitrfs hgftmsaLike anything in life (even bananas – apparently, eating 480 of them will kill you), writing has its limit. This limit varies from person to person, and from time to time. For example, on good days I can write around 10000 words. On bad days, I might struggle with 100 or none at all. On mediocre days, I might write a couple of thousand, but I might run out of inspiration or steam faster than I normally would.

Writing is like using a muscle. And it’s great when it’s working well. But if you strain it, it hurts for the next few days: if you sprain it, it can take weeks or even months (I should know, I have a permanent swelling on a 4x sprained ankle). So basically, uh, don’t sprain your writing muscle.

“BUT HOW DO I KNOW?” I hear you cry. “How do I save myself from this terrible pain of not being able to write?” As aforementioned, the limit of the writing muscle varies from person to person. So, for one person writing 1000 words in a day might cause them to burn out and not be able to write the next. For someone else, it might be 5k or even 25k. (Which is pretty good if you’re the latter, because I guess it means you’ll almost never burn out. Uh… touch wood.) So I guess you might want to try seeing just how far you can stretch your limit before it’s terrible the next day.

On the other hand, you can under stretch your writing muscle. Like, if you don’t walk around for one day, and then the next day your joints are stiff and it just takes longer to get moving. This also varies from person to person. Some people can take maybe a few days or a week or so before they have to write again, but for others they have to write every day or the next day it just takes twice as long to get going. Once again, try figuring out your limit.

So, if this whole article is me basically telling you to do something which probably seems useless right now, why am I doing it? Well, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, you never know when you’ll need it. For example, you could be on a great writing spree, but you’re nearing your word limit. What do you do? Stop writing, or carry on? If you carry on, then you’ll probably be burnt out the next day. If you stop, you might desperately want to go back, but that means that you’ll be fired up and raring to go the next time you sit down with your novel. Why do you care why I’m saying this? I’m not saying you have to stop, but I’m giving you an informed decision, so that your novel can continue. It’s horrible to be burnt out and hating what you’re writing when you force yourself to, so unless you have an urgent and unmovable deadline, I’d stop at my limit, personally.

Secondly, if you know what your under-limit is, it gives you a great excuse to get away from social occasions.

In conclusion, it’s not necessary to know your writing limit. You don’t have to know if you’re going to struggle to write the next day (there are ways around this, and I’ll probably discuss helping you get started in another post) but it sure helps. Likewise, if you know there’s a really important scene coming up next and you really, really want to write it, sometimes it’s best knowing that if you leave it, it’ll still be awesome the next day, instead of a forced load of drivel from the over-written mind.

WRITING

Book Discussion: Character Extremes

bd;character extremesIn the book I’m reading at the moment (Shadows: A Dark Touch Novel by Amy Meredith) the two main characters, at least to start with, were such Mary Sues. They love shopping. They’re pretty. They’re popular. They’re talented. They’re fancied by most of the opposite sex. They have a lovely group of friends. Oh, and they’re the protagonist of a book. WHAT MORE DO THEY WANT?

Oh, and most readers hate them. Go figure.

And then you get the entirely opposite of a Mary Sue (aka the inventively named “Anti-Sue”). They’re disliked by other characters. They may be abused. They might kill people. They’re dangerous. They’re probably unattractive, like a creepy Disney character. They don’t really have any talents except ‘negative’ ones. And, obviously, they’re the antagonist of the book.

But… most readers adore them. Go figure. Again. I hope you’re good at maths.

Why do readers prefer the damaged, easily hate-able antagonist, and yet despise the person we’d probably all like being? Are they a reflection of our inner thoughts? Is the Mary-Sue deemed too unrealistic? Why, then, is the Anti-Sue also incredibly unrealistic, but more loved? Why am I questioning this? Is it because I’m doubting myself? (I’d love a best friend like the two female main characters in the book I’m currently reading.) Is it because I’m tired, and as this is a “book discussion” post I am completely turning it over to you? (Don’t answer the last one.) What do you think, readers? 

21/09/15

Hi everyone!

So, guess who actually rocked out and got both the Wednesday and Friday posts done last week!? Me, that’s who! Your totally not terrible blogger! (Unfortunately, I sucked over the Sunday book review because I stayed over my boyf’s house, but I’ll be doing a triple review this weekend! Yes, uh, really…!)

I hope everyone’s had a nice week. The weather is turning here in the UK, but I hope it’s, y’know, fairly nice wherever you are. How’re you all doing?

Have a lovely week, guys!

The Pros and Cons of Scriptwriting

screenplay1This year, my English coursework is based around performance texts. That means writing a speech, obituary, stage play… or, as I did, a script. (I mean, a stage play is pretty close, but not quite.)

Last year, I wrote a full-length film script, which ended up being around 20000 words. And I loved it. I loved it more than I ended up loving the characters of my as-yet-unfinished November NaNoWriMo novel (which I have grown to hate). I loved writing it, and after a couple of scenes I got used to writing in the script format. But since then, aside from maybe two or three short films (only 10 minutes or so long) and obviously my English coursework, I haven’t written scripts: I’ve gone back to prose. And, I miss it.

Some of you may be in this predicament, and not know where to go next. Some of you may have only ever tried one in your life and are perhaps looking forward to trying out another one, but aren’t sure if it’s right for you. Some of you may not even write and have accidentally found this post. But whatever you’re doing here, why not read on anyway?

Pros of Scripts

  • Some people – like me – find they take a less amount of time over prose.
  • There’s some really cool programs like Celtx you can use.
  • You can do loads of them fairly easily.
  • If it’s turned into a film/TV show/short film/even read out by your drama-ish friends, it feels awesome.
  • Not as much description is needed as it’s a visual text – or, if it is, then it doesn’t have to be written about in a flowery way, it can just be stated. That’s pretty good if you suck at description but are great at dialogue.

Cons of Scripts

  • The question is after you’ve written them, what to do with them? Producing the film yourself takes time and effort, plus you might need a decent sized-wallet. Even if you send it to someone, there’s not guarantee it’ll be seen or even viewed.
  • You may not get the depth of characters or settings as you would when you write prose.
  • You can’t really publish it without there being a production of it, really. Well, it’s difficult. I think. Actually, I don’t know much about this point, but, to be honest, I would imagine it’s tricky.
  • Even in scripts, your characters can turn out to be complete bums.
  • And sometimes your plot sucks the same.

So there you have it: my list of pros and cons of script writing. It’s up to you what you do next (that sounds very ominous). As for me, I’ll probably be writing scripts in the future, as I enjoy them way too much to give up.

Book Discussion: Unconventional Novels

bd; unconventional novels

Earlier this week, I finished reading the short story collection Long Journey to Deep Canon by T.T. Flynn. No, you probably haven’t heard of it. Despite most of the stories having been written in the 1950s – so to be in print now is quite an achievement itself – but the reason you probably haven’t heard of it is more to do with its genre: it’s a western.

Western novels aren’t bad. In fact, I love them. But western novels, like, ooh I don’t know, historical sci-fi (I don’t actually know if this is a genre, or if any books in this genre even exist but there we go) are a genre everyone knows by name… but most people don’t actually read.

I don’t know what it is about unconventional novels – perhaps some of them simply aren’t deemed “high brow” enough, or perhaps because all of the “popular” books are young adult, adult fiction, fantasy, or a picture book – but it seems like a lot of people don’t like to read them. Maybe the common idea is that if it’s not been written about in The New York Times or isn’t sold in Waterstones, Barnes and Noble or on the Book Depository, then it’s not worth reading about anyway. (If you were curious, Long Journey can be bought B&N and the Book Depository. I bought mine for 50p at the UK store The Works.)

Personally, I’ve found that many non-limelight hugging books have actually been the best reads. Some of my favourite books (you can see ten of them here) are less conventional ones, such as Journey to the River Sea, Peter Pan, Sisters Red and The Wreck of the Zanzibar – now, how many of those have you heard of? – are actually my favourites, have proved a great inspiration and, especially noted in the recent Long Journey to Deep Canon, have produced the most life-like characters I’ve ever read.

Overall, I don’t know why some genres are more unconventional than others. To be honest, I encourage people to read outside of the box, and I do it quite a lot: I haven’t read Fangirl (although I have just ordered it), Cinder, The Mortal Instruments, Lord of the Rings, Paper Towns, Game of Thrones, To Kill a Mockingbird, Throne of Glass or Sherlock Holmes. Of course I’m not saying any of these books are bad and shouldn’t be read – in fact, quite a lot of them are on my bookshelf right now, just yet to be opened – but perhaps its time we should all be branching out, testing our comfort zones, and finding something which truly makes our hearts leap when we turn the page. Your favourite novel may only be known to say, a thousand people, and although you might want to discuss it with your best friend, or rant about that ending with someone you met online, doesn’t it make it special that you’ve found your own little gem in the world?

what do you think? do you think unconventional novels are over rated? perhaps underrated? and, of course, there can be unconventional novels in conventional genres (which is something I haven’t touched on here, but at least that leaves room for the future!)! do you read unconventional novels? would you like to, if it were deemed “conventional”? is it ever possible for unconventional novels to be read in a conventional manner? am I confusing myself and simply creating more questions than I answered in this post? yes, is the answer to that, yes I am… 

14/09/15 (a day late)

Oh my gosh do I suck at this or what.

I can’t even get a short Monday post out on time! Aah well. I will try to improve. 

So I’m looking forward to a book discussion post, a writing post, and even a book review (shock! horror!). I’m also hoping to – if I, uh, remember – to reblog someone else’s post in favour of a guest post as no one has sent any in (although, if you want to feel free to!!).

Have a lovely week everyone!

Some Really Cool Writing Websites

Most writing nowadays is done on a laptop, tablet or computer. Even if it’s written by hand, it’s generally typed up. The internet is a fantastic way to get in touch with your fans on social media, and even some literary agents have started to use Twitter to find their clients! But if you’re not using social media (which, by the way, can be a massive distraction, so be careful!), what can you be using which will help you in your writing adventure?

  1. Celtx. You probably haven’t heard of this one, but by goodness I love this website. I use it for all of my scripts (it was my best friend and saved my ass during Camp NaNoWriMo 2014 when I wrote my first full-length film script using the program) but you can use it for your novel, comic, stageplay, etc. It’s designed to be used online, but you can download the program and work offline if you so wish (which I have also done). And the best part? It’s freeee! Well, the free program is, anyway: like many things, you can pay to upgrade and use all of the extra cool features. I haven’t done that, so I can’t say much about the extra features, but even these features are pretty damn awesome.
  2. Wattpad. You probably have heard of this one. The famous Wattpad. Authors like Beth Reekles were discovered on it, but even if you’re a published and established author, you can use this platform to your advantage. For example, you can publish an extra short story or back story to one of your characters, or put up the first couple of chapters for free so people can try before they buy. Wattpad is probably primarily used by teenagers, so if you’re aiming at the younger generation, then it’s also perfect. Also freeeee.
  3. Writers Online. This is the counter part of Writing Magazine, a UK magazine aimed at, obviously, writers. It’s pretty cool (I subscribe!). This doesn’t really have any writing advice per se, but it has some competitions, and a list of events which you can, obviously attend. It’s just a cool one to know, to be honest, much like…
  4. Writer’s Digest. I’m going to be honest: I have yet to properly explore this website! I probably should because it’s quite famous and pretty damn cool looking anyway, but I haven’t yet jumped on this ship. However, I am referencing it in a college project because one of its articles was really helpful, and maybe I shouldn’t be basing my opinion of a whole website on one article, but it kind of gives it a little indication of what’s in store on this website.

There are plenty of other websites out there, but these are just a few to get you started, and are probably some of the biggest ones. Celtx is a personal favourite, and if you’re writing scripts especially I sincerely recommend it. (Word is a program, but is good for novels.) I am a member on Wattpad, but don’t like it too much. Writers Online – obvious like, and it’s quite good to enter all of the subscriber competitions I forgot about. Writer’s Digest, as aforementioned, is an as-yet unexplored realm for me, but I look forward to having a look around it in the near future.

What about you? What are your favourite writing websites (oh, obviously aside from WordPress!)? Do you know any I’ve written about here, or are they new to you? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

Book Discussion: Classics

During your time at school, you probably read a few classical books. Personally, I read Lord of the Flies, Of Mice and Men and Romeo and Juliet. In my first year at college, I read In Cold Blood and the fairly recent True History of the Kelly Gang. This year, it’s Macbeth, Pulp Fiction and Orwell’s Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays. 

Outside of school, you may not, however, have read many classics. I’m sure most people nowadays have read Pride and Prejudice, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Rings or even some Charles Dickens.

Some people prefer classics, some more modern literature, but often they don’t know why (unless it’s, “Because it’s more high brow” or “college”).

Why classics?

  • Escapism – not that modern literature doesn’t have it, but this has a contemporary view on a now historical world and takes you to another time, often.
  • The poetic language – a lot of literature nowadays consists of short sentences, mundane adjectives and universal spellings. Classics have long, flowing, poetic sentences, archaic spellings (connexions is a personal favourite) and brilliant words like, “Alas!” which are used almost as often as “Oh!” is nowadays and otherwise the only two “people” I’ve found in modern times to use this is Albus Dumbledore and Frank Turner.
  • The plots – they’re often with intriguing, different characters, lavishly layered with subplots.
  • And come on. It’s classics. The characters. 

What are your opinion of classical literature? Do you read classics? Do you like them? Comment & let me know!