Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Paper Towns goes in a different direction

A couple of weeks ago I rented the movie Paper Towns and finally got round to watching it. I'd watched and read the book of the Fault in Our Stars so I was confident I was going to like the film and I did but it was its ending that surprised me. Paper Towns the film goes against the grain: the boy does not get the girl. The girl is not a prize. She turns him down and chooses her own path...and I thought that was awesome.

Normally, I don't mind the old cliche of boy gets the girl. It's relatively harmless. It's also timeless. "And they both lived happily ever after..." is probably one of the oldest plots to still exist. It's the stereotypical happy ending we all expect to happen in MOST stories. The good guy wins, kisses the girl, fade to black.

The problem with this cliche is that it makes the girl a prize, the ball, a piece of property to be won. And this sort of thinking makes men think that they each deserve a girl that they were even promised that there is a girl for each of them. And that can lead to ugliness in real life sometimes when a guy might think he deserves a girl...and she turns him down.

So I was delighted in Paper Towns when the main character is turned down by Margo at the end of the film who tells him "You don't know me. How could you love me?" and he lets her go but it's still a happy ending. He goes to the prom with his friends and Margo disappears into the sunset to follow her dreams and her own path. He respects her and loves her enough to listen to her wishes and let her go. He grows up and realizes that he was just idolizing her (and maybe being a bit stalkerish) and that the mature thing would be to back off and let her live her own life.

I've never seen a movie or read a book that ended like that and painted the whole thing as still positive. I thought it was incredibly refreshing and realistic and respectful toward women. I don't think books or films that have the old-school boy-gets-the-girl plot are necessarily BAD. I think there is a place for them and I like them in small doses. You can be critical of something while still being able to enjoy it. I just think that they have become a bit stale though and hope that more writers might go in the same direction as Paper Towns.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Different sides of a coin: how to define a powerful woman

I re-read all seven Harry Potter books this year for the first time in almost ten years. It had been so long that it was almost like reading them for the first time again. I'd forgotten bits and pieces so when certain characters died I would gasp and go "Oh, yeah, I forgot..." it was a fun ride and made me think fondly back to my childhood when I would be another kid standing in line for the latest Potter book. One of my favorite characters in the series has always been Mrs Weasley. I think it might be because she reminds me a bit of my Mum. She has a lot of children, she loves them fiercely, and her house is always a bit of a mess.

Mrs Weasley would always make me laugh as a kid. I loved the scenes she had with the twins when she would find out about their latest scheme and I loved how she cared for Harry as if he were one of her own. I loved how she gave Harry Christmas presents so he would not feel left out and always looked after him at her house. The Burrow felt a lot like my house: a little cramped, messy, and very, very loud. We weren't as poor as the Weasleys though and we didn't have gnomes in our backgarden.

One of the things I like about Molly is how her biggest strength comes from being a house wife and a mother. I know a lot of people might look down on Molly and think she's not a good role model that we should encourage our daughters to do more than just learn how to cook and clean and raise children and I agree. We should encourage our daughters to do whatever makes them happy. If my little girl says to me when she is older she wants to grow up to be a stay-at-home mother I would tell her "that's wonderful" and if she told me the opposite I would tell her the same thing. I want my daughter to grow up surrounded by lots of different female role models. I want her to know that she can be a CEO or a doctor or an astronaut or just a Mum and a wife if that's what she wants. It will be her choice.

My favourite scene out of all of the seven Harry Potter books is when Mrs Weasley kills Bellatrix after the death of her son Fred. I love how she hunts her down and fights with the same skill and fury as everyone else; her love for her children and her passion for her family is like a fire running through her veins, it is her strength. When she screamed "NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!" it was such a shocking moment I gasped and shed tears the first time I read it. It was so honest and true. And I loved that it was kept the same in the film. Mrs Weasley looks like everyone else's Mum; harmless, a little frazzled, and overweight. What I love about her is how in the seventh book she shatters the "little housewife" cliche: she shows that despite the humble position she has chosen in this life she has incredible power and is NOT a victim. She will defend her family and cut down anyone who dares to hurt her children.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Writers should not have politically correct guns held to their heads

I think it would be great if more strong-willed female characters became common in fiction. I love Captain Plasma. Captain Plasma stands out from other characters like her because she is cool enough to be stocked in the "boy" isle of the toy store. This is big. Because through gender stereotypes we've brainwashed little boys into thinking if you play with "girl" toys than you are "a wussy" ... except for Plasma. She's cool enough to be one of the boys. And that's great.

It would be nice if in addition to more characters like Plasma that it became more common for people of colour, transgendered, and gay and lesbian characters to become more common as well. But I don't think writers should be forced into adding them. There is this growing movement of wanting to hold a politically correct gun to writer's heads and force them to add more diverse characters and that pisses me off so much.

What a writer does and the choices he/she makes is theirs alone to make. We are not going to make these changes happen through whinging, nagging, and bitching about it online. It irritates me when people criticise Disney for not having a disabled Disney Princess or for Girls for not having any black characters or for the Walking Dead killing off black characters because it just shouts me! me! me!

Writers do not owe people anything and writers are not public property that can be controlled with a vote. If you do not like the Disney princesses or the characters in Girls or in the Walking Dead...then write your own. It's not hard. Well, no it is hard. But it's not impossible. Just sit down at a computer and stare at it until you get an idea. We shouldn't shackle writers to political correctness and force them to write what we think is acceptable not if its not the story they want to tell. And what annoys me in particular about the complaints directed toward the Walking Dead is that it is so...misplaced and stupid. There are a lot of black characters on that show and people of other races who have been alive for a long time. In fact I would go as far to say the Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead are two of the most racially diverse shows on television. But it's not good enough for these people. They always find something to complain about. They've convinced themselves that the shows are racist. But it's not racist to kill off a black character. And it's not like white characters are never killed off on the show. I get such an angry twitch when I hear these people complain because they hate no right to tell Robert Kirkman how to write his books. He can kill off whoever he wants.

There's a lot of comics out there that have female characters in it that I hate. The anti-Plasma's if you will. These are the old cliche female "super heroes" with giant breasts, tight round bums, and outfits so tight you can see their camel toes. When I see figurines of them in the shops I'm torn between annoyance and rolling my eyes and laughing a little because they are really, really stupid looking. But the people who write those comics and the people who enjoy them can like that stuff if they want. I'm not going to hold a politically correct gun to their heads and force them to change. Instead it's better to step back and wait for the change to happen slowly, naturally, on its own. Because writers should be able to express themselves however they want. They shouldn't be censored or forced into a tight narrow little politically correct cage. Do we really want writers to be chained to some sort of politically correct rule book? to have some sort of quota for diversity in their cast? Do we really want writers to have to justify why the black character died? or why Becky hasn't got any black friends?

Politics should stay out of creativity.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Captain Plasma is the female remodel we need!

I was in the shops the other day when I saw a large Captain Plasma doll standing next to some plain white Storm Trooper dolls. And it suddenly dawned on me... this was a FEMALE character... and you couldn't tell. Her armor is so gender-neutral you might think she was a man. But she's not. She's a woman. And she's awesome. I love how her outfit looks the same as the other storm troopers except it's a little bit more fancy and she has a cape. Her sexuality isn't over the top. Attention isn't drawn to her breasts or her butt or her vagina or her legs. She isn't super thin and hasn't got over sized breasts. She isn't supposed to be a sex symbol. We're not supposed to look at her and comment on her body. Her body is not important. When we look at Plasma what we are supposed to see is strength. This woman is important. And she's serious about her job.

Someone commented on the Star Wars facebook page recently "Her armor isn't female looking enough" and the person in charge of the Star Wars page had an awesome response: "It's armor. On a woman. What more do you want?" DAMN RIGHT SON.

When we have female super heroes who run around in heels or in tight clothes with their zipper pulled down to show off a generous amount of boob it is such a tired, old cliche. Let's have some realistic female heroes please. No more heels because who the hell can chase down bad fellas in platforms I ask you? and who would want to do it in a skin-tight outfit that would be impossible to move around in yet alone run:

I love that Plasma looks the same as the other Storm Troopers because it tells me that she is their equal and is not meant to be goggled at. She is more than just a pair of boobs and a vagina. She is to be taken seriously. She is just as smart and just as much as a threat as any other trooper in the Empire. And you can buy a doll of her! She isn't going to suffer the same fate as Black Widow. She is being celebrated. She exists in the toy isles right next to the male Star Wars characters. And that people is HUGE. Because try and find something with Black Widow on it. Because you probably won't be able too. Because she wasn't included in much merchandise at all because of the old fashioned idea that little boys wouldn't want her included because they wouldn't want to be "the girl" when playing make believe.

So you can understand then why I was happy to see a big Plasma doll in the shops. We need more female role models like her that are so cool, so awesome, that their gender should not matter. Anyone, boy or girl, should want to be her. Because she is awesome.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Why I think Sailor Moon is an awesome female role model

I had to do a questionnaire for a university assignment recently and I did it about characters and plot. One of the questions I asked was about female role models in fiction and if people wanted to see less damsel in distresses. One of the answers said that they did want to see more and less female characters who had to have a "male balancing act" and I immediately thought of Sailor Moon. Sailor Moon has a lot on her shoulders for a fourteen year old but also has a lot of people surrounding her who want to help. Her friends are her body guards and would not hesitate to lay down her lives for her and then there's Tuxedo Mask never hesitates to pull her out of a tricky spot.

Sailor Moon depends on others for support. And she's criticized a lot for that. But I don't think she should be. She draws a lot of strength from her friends and partner. And that's ok. It's ok to depend on others for support and help. To ask for help. But what makes her a great role model is that the person she depends on the most and draws the most strength from is herself. If you were to take away all of the people precious to Sailor Moon you would not crush her. You would not stop her. And I love that about her. Her friends are killed more than once in the manga and the show and she just keeps on fighting. She doesn't stop until the job is done. She has a "male balancing" act and I don't think that's a bad thing. It makes her a stronger person. And let's be honest. We all have someone in our life we would fight for.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Writers shouldn't be shamed or bullied into being politically correct

I posted a questionnaire about writing and publishing online recently as part of a university assignment and got a whopping 128 responses! I'm slowly reading through them all and it's been very interesting thus far. One question got a lot of interesting and slightly fired responses and that was one where I asked is the "damsel in distress" trope overused, overdone, and would you like to see it reinvented? Most said yes, but some said that writers should not be pushed into doing it, and should write the stories they want to write. And I agree.

I don't think writers should be shamed for not being politically correct and forced into changing their stories to meet the demands of the social justice crowd. Like the people who want Link from Zelda to be a girl in the next game. He's never going to be a girl. He's a boy. And that's that. I've been playing Zelda since A Link to the Past came out and I've never had a problem with Link being a boy. And then there are the people arguing that the Assassin Creed games should change their main character to be a female...but why? If the writers want it to be male then that's their decision to make, and there's nothing wrong with their decision. I think more games should go the the Splatoon route and give players the option of being either a boy or a girl and what their skin colour can be. But if a game doesn't do that I'm not going to attack them on social media for it.

Writers should not be censored. They should be able to write whatever they want. The "damsel" trope IS tired and old and I would like to see more writers moving away from it but it has to be their decision. And I think it's happening. We're seeing more and more shows and books with female protagonists coming out like Orphan Black. I'm excited about the character of Captain Plasma in the new Star Wars film. A FEMALE STORMTROOPER! and one in pretty, shiny, awesome armor! How amazingly awesome is that!?! It's pretty mind blowing that TWO of the main characters in the new film are going to be female! That's pretty big considering in the original trilogy there was like...two female characters in the whole three films I think and that was Leia and Mon Mothma.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

If you are a writer you can also edit

When I was a kid back in the dark ages before twitter and facebook I joined a message board for writers and entered a brutal and honest world. I learned a lot from those writers but man oh man were they hard on me. It was so difficult to take their raw, uncensored views. I fought them so hard but eventually I learned how to handle their criticism I grew older, wiser, and became a better writer because of it. I learned so much from those older, wiser writers. They helped me understand English better. They pushed me to learn (in my own spare time!!) grammar, sentence structure, and plot structure. Through them I became a better student. I became smarter. And I got balls of steel.

Now, as a 31 year old, I find myself getting increasingly irritated with the "writers of today" who seem like an entirely different breed. The writers back in MY day (and I know that makes me sound old) told me "learn to edit yourself!" and I took that advice and ran with it. But I'm noticing a trend of people pushing professional editing services these days and it just makes me want to start smacking heads together. The writers I'm speaking to honestly think that they can't edit. They think it's a completely different skill that's beyond them or above them. It's not. It's really, really not. And I say that as someone learning it at the moment in university. Can you teach yourself highschool level grammar? because that's what it's about. But what bugs me about the classes I'm taking is how so much focus is put on grammar and spelling.

Grammar and spelling are important. But a good editor in my opinion would not be focused on just that. I want an editor to look at the structure of my story and tell me if it works. Do my characters work? what about the setting? and the sentences? Grammar rules can be broken for artistic effect. I mean, hell, I just tried to read "The Farm" and had to put it down in anger because the author had written it in first person but was "telling" instead of showing. It was quite literary his Mum sitting at a table just...talking. That was it. That was the whole book. I put it down and remarked to my husband "HOW IN THE HELL DID THIS GET PUBLISHED!?!"

If I was that man's editor I would have told him "Start again" the premise was great but his construction was so poor it read like it had been written by a Highschool student who was failing English and had no idea what past and present tense was. But obviously no one told him this. People have patted him on the back and told him his book is great and all of the positive reviews have left me bewildered. In my editing classes I was told not to change an author's their words were holy, or something. Oh no, just correct the structural stuff. Um, fuck that. This is what I mean when I say that a good editor has to be a good writer. A writer with balls would not be mad if an editor told them to start again because they would go "Oh, okay. Thank you for the honest critique!" because they now have a chance to go back to the beginning and correct their errors and make their story BETTER!

If you can teach yourself to write you can teach yourself to edit and do not ever dismiss the opinions of other writers as being less than the opinion of a "trained" professional editor. You do not want someone who is going to tell you that you are great when you are not. You want someone who is going to scratch out entire segments in red pen and tell you to start again. And you need to be able to take that cricitism with dignity and maturity and not react like you have been unfairly wronged.

Learning how to edit yourself will make you a better writer and will improve your understanding of English. It is a very important skill to develop. Get an editor if you want but it won't help you get published and frankly it's a lazy route you're paying someone else to do work that you yourself should be doing. Join a writer's group. Read, listen, learn. Get other writers to read your work. Read books on grammar. And then edit yourself. And then let go of your story's hand and let them wander out into traffic.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Link is a male but that doesn't mean women cannot be heroes

Nintendo is bringing out a game later this year called the legend of Zelda triforce heroes that gives the player the chance to play as 3 Link clones who work together as a team. A blog asked Nintendo if you could play as a female and they said no because you are Link clones and Link is a male which is fair enough. I like Link and don't mind that he is male. I don't think they should make him female just to please those who would like to play as a female Link. That wouldn't be Zelda would it? But what Nintendo said next had me rolling my eyes. They implied that only male characters can be heroes. Now this might've been something that was lost a bit in translation or maybe it's just another example of how sexist Japan can be but I just face palmed. It's such an old fashioned cliche thought. Of course women can be heroes. I don't mind that the backbone of Zelda is a bit cliche because it's part of what makes the game what it is. You rescue Zelda as Link. And Zelda is not always a damsel. In some games she is Link's equal and fights alongside him. In other games she eludes capture for a long time, or even helps defeat Ganon at the end. I would love a game from her perspective but I doubt it'd ever happen. And even if it did I wonder if Nintendo would put the same effort into it as they would with a traditional Zelda game. And I think it probably wouldn't get the same reaction. People like Link. And that's ok. If you change the formula of Zelda too much people get upset. And again that's cool. Zelda works well how it is. But it bugs me that Nintendo thinks that women cannot be heroes. Women can be more than damsels in distress or the ball that gets the plot rolling. I would like at the very least to see characters like Zelda or Tetra or any of the other awesome female characters from Zelda feature in other games. Zelda in Mario Kart would be awesome. That'd be a good place to start. Women can be heroes Nintendo. Yes it doesn't bother us to play as male characters. But it bothers some of us when you say that only men can save the day. It's just not true.

Is it wrong for writers to have dollar signs in their eyes?

EL James did a twitter Q and A recently and it went hilariously bad. People asked her why did she hate the English language, when was she going to write something original, questions about abuse, etc. I chuckled a little but I also felt kind of bad for her. It annoys me how she has giant dollar signs in her eyes. I realized a long time ago that the chances of making money from writing are pretty slim and that even if I did make it big the stress to constantly churn out multiple novels a year to keep me from sinking financially would be too much for me. So I write for fun. Writing is not a get rich quick scheme. That's not to say you can't make a quick buck...if you're not interested in writing anything of merit. A quick look on Amazon will show anyone that there is a wide variety of cheap smut out there like dinosaur porn! And you can do quite well at it. If you're willing to churn out piles of dog poop at a quick pace with no thought on quality just to cash in. So yeah... you can make money at writing but you're going to be a bit like Brian the Dog from Family Guy. Remember the episode where he writes a Get Rich book and it has five blank pages for people to write their dreams on? Yeah. Like that. So go ahead if you want. Write the quickest, shittiest you book you want and make a quick buck. But you're not going to earn a lot of respect from other writers and some readers. But I guess there's nothing wrong with wanting to make some money. But personally if I wanted to do a get rich quick scheme I could think of a dozen other things that are probably more easier than writing garbage and selling it on the internet. I don't think EL James is the worst writer ever. Her writing straddles the fence between bloody terrible and not that bad. What annoys me about her is how she got her start from fan fiction. Write something original Ms James. It's great you've had so much success with your books. But if you could just do something original than maybe people might back off you a little bit. But even if you don't you're still going to be laughing to the bank anyway. So while I may not agree with you 100% I do have to tip my hat to you for the success you've had even if your books are not my cuppa of tea.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Great ideas that fall flat

I've really gotten into graphic novels this year. I'm now a fan of Saga, Fables, the Walking Dead and Y the Last Man. I've almost finished Y the Last Man and I've both enjoyed it and at the same time thought it was a bit meh. Y has a great start: a plague wipes out every man, boy, male fetus and male animal on the planet leaving women to inherit the world and one man - Yorick - and his pet male monkey alive. I loved this series at first. The premise was utterly fascinating. Can you imagine a world without men? There would be some countries in the world that would fall apart because women are restricted from doing so many things. But other countries would probably be able to pick themselves up relatively quick and get back on with things. Y makes you think about how we treat women and makes you ask the question why do we restrict women from doing so many jobs? Why do we let gender stereotypes restrict what both men and women can do for a living? Men should be able to work with children and women should be able to be CEO's and brickies and tradies and truck drivers in larger numbers. I think gender stereotypes are so deeply ingrained in us as a society that we don't even realize that we are passing them on. Some of these stereotypes I'm all right with. I think women should have equal rights but like HELL I am going to squish a mouse. Nope. That's what men are for. Men with their giant feet. The problem with stories like Y the Last Man is that they have these great ideas that that...fall flat. Y has a great opening, and then nothing much happens for a while. The plot kind of fizzles out. And I've noticed this is a trend. A lot of stories have an explosive beginning and then the middle is flat and boring. Like in Lord of the Rings. I tried to read those books. I got to about the end of the second before I put them down. I hate how so much of those books is devoted to the characters just walking places. I feel like a lot of these type of stories need a really good edit. I just put down Petals in the Wind after getting 200 pages into the 500 page book. I loved the first book Flowers in the Attic but the second was like a steak with a lot of fat on it. The middle of the book is completely pointless and boring. It could've been cut back a lot. I think that book would've been better if it was about 150 pages or so less and more of the plot focused on Cathy planning and executing her revenge on her mother and grandmother. A great opening (or hook) is extremely important in fiction. But do not neglect the middle of your story. You have to have a plot that has a beginning, a middle and an end. All of the exciting stuff cannot just happen at the beginning. And you can't expect the reader to read through 300 pages of nothing to get to the good stuff at the end. Edit, edit, edit.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Rewriting your book from the point of view of another character is really lazy

There is a new Fifty Shades of Grey book out and it's written from the point of view from Christian Grey and tells the story of Fifty Shades of Grey from his point of view. I...hate this idea. If you strike it lucky with a book writing ANOTHER book that is the SAME book but written from the point of view from another character is LAZY and a GREEDY grab for cash. E.L James could've written something new, fresh and original for once in her life but once again she is riding the coat trails of Stephanie Meyer who started down the road of doing this but never went through with it in the end. I have not read Grey but I have been reading the reviews (which are hilarious) I have flipped through the book in the shops and it's a lot like the other ones intriguing with a twist of bullshit. Her writing style straddles the line between intriguing and shit. It is raw, rough and simplistic and cringe worthy but with flashes of something in might be talent growing out of a pile of dirt or it might be the ramblings of a woman who thinks too highly of herself. I don't know. I won't be reading the book. But I look forward to it being mocked.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

When is it ok to use rape as a plot device?

Game of Thrones and Outlander have both been in the news lately because characters in both suffer a rape. GOT features a lot of rape in it because it's set in a very dark, very violent early medieval type fantasy world. Outlander is set in the 18th century it does feature some rape and is unique because it touches on the taboo subject of male rape. GOT is used to pushing boundaries and the latest rape was nothing different. Sansa was raped off screen by Ramsay Bolton and this annoyed a lot of people. There are many who are tired of rape coming up a lot in fiction. And it can be a tired stereotype. A lot of the time it is used as a plot device to move a story forward or trigger a change in a character. The rape victim has to find the strength to pick themselves up and find the strength to go back on with life etc. What annoys people when it comes to female rape is how often female characters across multiple genres and mediums are subject to it. Authors have a tendency to go "Well, the character is female, what's something terrible that happens to women a lot? I know! rape!" It's like people don't know how to add an obstacle for a female character to overcome that isn't rape, about a man/or finding a relationship, or motherhood. It's old. It's tired.

In Outlander Jamie is raped by Captain Black Jack and it's one of the most gripping and wonderfully written scenes in the book. It is emotionally devastating and beautiful and sad. The plot shows just what an incredibly strong woman Claire is and at the same time touches on a subject that is not shown enough and that is male rape. It is terrible what happens to Jamie. But the scenes that follow when Claire doctors him back to his former self are beautiful and touching and worth the read.

People said that GOT had crossed a line with Sansa's rape but I don't think it did. Firstly in my opinion it was not the most graphic thing to happen on the show. What annoyed me about it was how silly Sansa was to put herself in that situation. Now she is stuck firmly in the role of the damsel in distress and I am really hoping hard that she will save herself because otherwise her rape would've been pointless to her character development instead being a plot device for another character to either come in and rescue her or "come good" again.

I roll my eyes a little when people gasp and clutch at their pearls when GOT does something to shock again because that's GOT does! It's a dark and gritty fantasy drama! No one is safe! The GOT world is unfair and brutal and cruel and that's the whole point of it. If you don't get that by now then maybe this isn't the show for you. What I'm saying is that rape is apart of that world but - at the same time - if used too much it can still be stale and boring and tired. So save yourself Sansa. Be strong. Don't be a damsel in distress.

As for Outlander I think Jamie's rape served much more of a purpose and was not just thrown in for shock value like Sansa's was. Jamie's rape is shocking because male rape is just something that is not seen on TV and in some circles is even deemed not real. Jamie's rape was all the more brutal because it took a big, proud strong man and broke him. It was done on purpose. It was planned. It wasn't thrown in at the last minute. And he was saved by his wife. Was it wrong? No. I don't think rape shouldn't feature in books and tv and film. If done right it can be emotionally powerful. It is when it is done lazily that it is tiresome. Don't chuck in a rape scene "just because" your character is female. It has to have a purpose. Is your character going to learn and grow from it? Don't put it in for shock value.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Who cares who shot first? Let it go already!

The Star Wars movies have come out on digital download and half of the reviews for the original trilogy are people bellowing on about how they are the special editions and "warning" people not to buy them. Oh please. Let it go already. Yes some of the additions to the trilogy were silly and served no purpose like changing it so Han shot second but continuing to whinge about it after all this time is so stupid. Just stop. Yes I think they should release the original versions. Maybe they will someday. But the special editions are not that bad. I loved them as a kid. I was a huge fan already when they came out and loved being able to see them in the cinema. I thought the additional scenes were mostly great. Some served little purpose, some were not that good, but others added a bit more flesh and colour to the films like the scenes at the end of the third film when you see people rioting and knocking down statues of the Emperor. The two biggest things that continue to bug me are how they changed the voice of Boba Fett (the original voice was WAY more sinister and less nasally sounding) and I did not like how they changed Anakin's ghost to be his younger self. That made no sense. Luke is smiling at him like he knows who this person is which is dumb because he looks nothing like the man who just died in his arms. Also why would Anakin appear as his younger self? as a kid I thought "Well, that was the last time he was "Anakin" I suppose..." but yeah, it was dumb. But you don't hear me still flapping my arms and going on about it to this day. It's amazing how loyal the fanbase is for Star Wars and it's going to be interesting to see how much they embrace the new films.

Can a character develop a life of its own?

A week or so ago author Diana Gabaldon posted a message on facebook correcting reviews of the latest Outlander TV episode about the sexuality of her villain Black Jack Randall. Diana said that he is a not a homosexual he is in fact an equal opportunity sadist who will take either men or women it all depends on who he has more access too and considering the time period the books are set in the reason he targets men more is because women did not usually roam the countryside by themselves. I admit I was confused when she said he was not a homosexual because he does come across that way and claiming that he is not frankly makes things a little confusing. His obsession with Jamie is a little too strong for him to not have some homosexual tendencies. I know that people can fall on a spectrum when its comes to sexuality and I'm not one of those people that thinks bisexuality that does not exist, however, Jack does not come across as a man that likes both men and women. He comes across as a man deeply, disturbingly obsessed with Jamie. There is also the scene when he tries to rape Jamie's sister Jenny and cannot get it up. Jenny laughs at him for his inability to perform. Most people interpret this scene as Jack is homosexual and cannot perform because he prefers men. Maybe. It could be that he has trouble getting an erection or maybe it was her laughter that turned him off. Whatever Diana's intentions were for the character either she did not do a good enough job getting those ideas of hers across to the reader or, more likely, Jack developed a life of his own and went off in his own direction. She might not have intended for him to be homosexual but that IS how he comes across. This brings up an interesting question about writers and their characters and who is in charge of whom. Should we listen to Diana? or should Diana look at her character and accept that he has developed in a way that she did not intend?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Super Mario 64 takes me back in time!

I've been playing Super Mario 64 on my Wii U and I've been having so much fun. It amazes me how well that game has aged and how much it still feels exactly the same to me as it did when I first played it maybe twenty years ago now? God was it really that long ago? The graphics are amazing for its time and it is stunningly creative even now. When I enter the castle and that music starts playing there is something about that room with the blue walls with white smiling clouds that makes me so fucking giddy. I've never actually 100%ed the game because I have a thing with not liking to do that with some games because you can only play something through once for the first time. If I never finish it then there is always something waiting for me to discover. I might actually finish it this time. I'm even getting 100 coins in each of the levels. I've never done that before. I love things that make me feel like a kid again. It keeps you young. It makes me happy. I never want to let go of that little girl. I hope she always stays with me.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

What the Star Wars books meant to me

It took me a long time to learn how to read. The first books I got into were Peanuts. I really liked Patty because she had brown hair and freckles like me and struggled in school like me. I also liked how she was into sports and was a tom boy and was a good friend and wore shorts and thongs and wasn't a stereotype of what a little girl should be. I wasn't a huge tom boy. I was a mix. I loved fairies and mermaids but also Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles. When I was about 13 I read my first Star Wars book. I liked the films and my mother and sister were reading the books and already had a little collection. I'll never forget when I read the first opening paragraph of the first book in the Thrawn trilogy. This was very different to Peanuts! as the author described a star destoryer sliding through the inky blackness of space I could see it in my mind like a movie inside my skull. It was amazing. My own little world. My escape. I have no idea how many of these books I have now but I went through a phase where I wanted to collect them all and bought a lot online. I will never throw these books out because they were some of the first I ever read and I look at some and can remember where I was and how old I was when I read them. I'm even keeping the ones I didn't like and didn't even read because I've had them so long and some of them were my mother's which I pinched. These books are my child hood. I grew up with them. It saddens me that the new movies are ditching them but it makes sense really because the other alternative would have been to re-cast the main three actors but they also wanted to do their own thing which is fine but that doesn't stop me from being sad over how much is being lost. No Jaina, no Mara, no Jacen to name just a few characters now gone. They're not publishing the books anymore either. They want to start a fresh. Again I understand why. In the books the main three were getting pretty old. They couldn't go on forever. At the same time though plot lines have been left unfinished and good characters that could've taken the story forward are being pushed aside. I'll be truthful though I haven't been into these books in the past few years as I used to be. The last series was too political, too boring. I'm going to read the last few because of nostaglia they are the last ones I feel like I have to at least try to read them. I guess its best to think of the books I love as a seperate reality of star wars I guess. Those stories, those characters, they're still there and still important and I'll always have the memories. These books got me into reading and helped me become a writer and I think helped me in school as well. The more I read the more my English improved I think.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

People should stop bugging George R.R Martin

I think I've blogged about this before but I'm going to blog about it again: people who keep nagging George R.R Martin to finish his series have absolutely no idea how hard it is to write a book yet alone a series as fucking huge and mind boggling as his one is. It is so easy for them to shout "Hey! finish writing!" and crack a whip without taking two seconds to try and wrap their brains around how mentally exhausting and isolating writing can be and the sheer amount of pressure this man must be under to finish soon and to make it good. I once read that JK Rowling was under so much pressure to finish book four of Harry Potter on time that she considered breaking her own. That's fucked up. I think George probably will finish the series. Just because he's a big guy and not a spring chicken doesn't mean he's on deaths door. And even if he doesn't finish he probably has enough stuff written that a ghost writer could probably pen the rest of it and we're going to see the end in the show first anyway. I used to love his books and I still do but they're gone on for too long, are too long now, and have too many sub-characters and sub-plots running around like headless chickens that for the life of me I cannot remember who is who and what the hell is going on. That doesn't make his book bad. He's still an awesome writer I just think that he has too many ideas and tries to slap them all down on the plate when sometimes I think he needs an editor to tell him to cut it back and get to the juicy, meaty bits. He will finish in his own time and even if he doesn't he doesn't owe anyone anything. That man should live his life how he wishes. He shoudn't have to become a hermit until he finishes the books. Its like every time people hear of him doing something else or see him doing something else they want to snap their fingers and go "Hey! fattie! go write!"

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Will Negan be uncensored on the Walking Dead?

The Walking Dead TV show has almost caught up to the comic books and everyone is asking is Negan going to appear and is he going to be censored? In the comic books Negan is a man who carries around a baseball bat covered in barbed wire and he swears a lot. Every second word is fuck. This is apparently fine in the comics which everyone knows are for adults - but in the TV show (also for adults) if he does appear its pretty much a given that he is going to be as violent and crazy as he is in the comics but the swearing will probably be gone. And the question is why?

Why is violence allowed on TV but not a character who swears like a child? In the Walking Dead TV show we have seen people get horribly ripped apart and a child shot in the back of the head - and that is okay, apparently, but swearing isn't? Why are swear words so taboo? there is a scene in the show when Rick says "They're messing with the wrong people" but in the book he says "They're fucking with the wrong people" I find it bewildering and amusing that as a society we're fine with horror violence but sex? boobs? swearing? God no! That's taking it too far. But seeing a man wince while zombies feast on his insides? Fine, mate. After all. This show is for adults.

I can understand censoring a show for children but I don't understand why we censor shows for adults. Are adults not allowed to swear? are we not allowed to hear someone swearing? Why? They are just words. Back when I was watching Breaking Bad there was a scene where someone had written fuck on a bit of paper and the word was blurred out! Why!?! In Breaking Bad of all shows? Melting bodies in a bathtub is fine but God forbid someone writes fuck on a bit of paper. That's taking it too far, man.

I hope Negan does appear because he is a great character and a great villain but I hope he is not censored. That is never going to happen though which is frustratingly stupid.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Fifty Shades of Grey movie was not that bad!

I read Fifty Shades a Grey a while ago now and can remember summing up my feelings as "Meh" when I finished it. I managed to finish the whole thing which doesn't make it the worst book I've ever read. I was defintely intrigued and it held my attention in a lot of bits. I would probably label it as either a C or a B minus. It started off shaky but got better but ultimately, in the end, I could tell it began its life as a piece of fan fiction. The author has talent but it is raw. I think in time she will improve. There was a lot that was good but there were a lot of bits that were poorly written.

What was interesting about the movie was that it took a medicore book and cut out the flab and made it into a somewhat halfway decent film. The best thing that film was did was take out all of Ana's stupid inner dialogue. In the book she constantly makes references to her "inner goddess" when she thinks about wanting to have sex with Christian. It was stupid, childish and horribly repetitive.

Once you take all of that out the whole thing comes across as way, way more mature. What you're left with is an intriguing film about a relationship that straddles the line between abusive and adventurous.

Why do people hate the characters on Girls?

I discovered the show Girls last year and immediately got sucked in. I loved the writing, the wonderfully flawed characters, and how realistic I felt the whole thing was. The characters on Girls are very well written. In real life people have layers: we can all be a jerk, a bitch, a narcissist, or the best friend you could ever have. The girls on Girls are normal dumb 20-somethings learning about the world one mistake at a time. What mystifies me about this show is the level of hate often directed toward it.

Yes, the characters are not always likeable. Marnie is in my opinion the least likable. She was positively gleeful once she realised she was putting a wedge between Desi and his girlfriend. The look of delight on her face at the end of season three when she saw them fighting. It was a little disturbing like she was feeding off the drama like the witches feed off souls like in Hocus Pocus.

Hannah is annoying, selfish, mentally ill, and sometimes baffling but she's not the worst person to ever walk the face of the Earth but the way some people whinge online you would think she was the most terrible human being ever. I find it weird that people watch shows like Breaking Bad and cheer on Walt as kills people and then melts their bodies but when Hannah does something flaky the pitchforks come out?

The hatred for the characters on Girls is a lot like the hatred that was directed toward Skylar White back when Breaking Bad was on. People had an irrational hatred of her as well and it made no sense. She finds out her husband is a drug lord, a criminal, a meth cook and a killer and she does not react well and she's a bitch because of that? I found it fascinating that so many people thought she was the more shittier human being for having an affair and not "supporting" him compared to him being the Darth Vader of the Meth world.

Why do so many people cheer on characters like Walter White but mock and complain about characters like Hannah from Girls goes nude or ditches her friends to go and do something selfish? How is Hannah the more terrible human being? Hannah is a typical, self-centered, slightly spoiled young girl who is used to a certain level of entitlement. She is raw and real. And that is what makes her such a well written character. I don't hate her for her flaws. I find her flaws fascinating. I went and saw Fifty Shades of Grey yesterday at the cinema and I was talking to my husband about it afterwards and how I felt that Ana was a bit of a blank slate. Anyone could be Ana. "Oh I study English Lit and work in a hardware store" it's like the author spent five minutes fleshing out her character. Now Hannah, on the other hand, is so detailed, so fleshed out, I could talk about her for days. Love her or hate her but you have got to admit she gets people talking and that is the sign of a good writer.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Why do journalists use such crappy cliches all the time?

I saw an article titled "Wayward sister 'nun the wiser' about baby boy" it was about a Nun who somehow got pregnant. I read it and I rolled my eyes so hard I'm surprised they did not fall out of my head. Growing up I was told repeatedly to AVOID cliches as much as possible by the older, wiser writers I chatted with online. Why is it then that journalists go out of their way to use the most cringe worthiest cliches ever in their headlines? for laughs? It's not funny. It's stupid. It's bad writing. Please, for the love of God, STOP. Just tell the stupid story without trying to be clever. I mean come on. You have one job. Report the story. People used to tell me all the time to go into journalism when I told them I liked to write. I'm glad I never did. A creative writer is not the same thing as a journalist. When I see the front covers of some of the more raggy magazines that have lies on the front about the rich and famous that are not even close to being believable I think to myself "Is the person who wrote the story happy with themselves? All those years studying journalism to end up writing rubbish that most people will probably only read in a doctor's waiting room?" I feel bad for them.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Writing is not a good way to make money

I think most if not all writers have dreams of breaking it big at one point in their lives. We want to be the next J.K Rowling. We want to be successful enough that we can spend our days at our computer in our undies writing stories for a living. We want to be able to rake in millions and go to book signings and sit in bookshops surrounded by readers wanting to ask us questions. The reality is for most of us we will never achieve any of that. Writing is not a good career choice if you are coming into it to make money. Most earning little to nothing. There is a reason why the number one rule in writing is DO NOT QUIT YOUR DAY JOB. If you can earn enough from writing that you end up with a little extra in your wallet every fortnight congratulations you are doing better than most writers. The truth is most writers do not earn a living wage. Even fewer earn millions. Being a writer is not like working in a regular 9-5 job. You do not get a steady pay check. You spend hundreds of hours working on a book and then you throw it into a sea infested with sharks and hope to hell it does not get ripped to bits.

Success in writing depends too much on chance: What have you written? have you published it at the right time? what are people reading? is this the best book you could've written? could it have been better? What is trending right now? And so on and so on and so on. It is foolish to think that writing is a simple way to make money and it is wrong to tell others that it is a get rich quick scheme. The truth is if you make any money at all chances are it will be enough for a cup of coffee. Instead of having sky high dreams of being the next big author megastar my advice to writers would be to aim for something a bit more realistic: keep your day job but try and earn enough from writing so it can give you some extra pocket money whether that is a couple of bucks a week or a couple of grand a year.

Personally, I do not want to be super successful anymore. I think it would be too much pressure. I once read that JK Rowling was under so much pressure to finish the fourth Harry Potter book she considered breaking her arm to give herself a break. Yeah, that's fucked up. I don't want to be so successful that I cease to be a person and just become a cog in a machine that prints money. I mean it would be nice to make some money but I will settle for positive reviews online instead if I had to choose.

It is a long road toward success so enjoy the journey

Some people think that writing is easy. I mean it does sound simple. You sit down and write a story. How hard can that be? Surely it cannot take THAT long. But it does. People do not realize how long it takes to write a book or even a short story. You have to learn how to craft a story, how to make a character come alive, how to make a plot, how to create tension, how to edit, the correct use of grammer, and then you have to do the actual writing part. And once you've finished the story YOU have to edit it not someone else. Do NOT pay for a professional editor. As a writer you should be able to edit your own work. You need to learn how to do it. Paying for a professional editor is cheating. It would be like paying for a professional painter. Why do that when you can buy some paint and some brushes and do it yourself?

I've been writing for a long time and have yet to "have my big break" I am not a best selling author, my books are not available in the shops, and no one knows my name. Apparently, according to some, I should give up. I've been writing for longer than five years. Shouldn't I have been successful by now? Since I haven't does that mean something is wrong with me? Am I talentless? Am I wasting my time on books no one will ever read? Are my books boring? Are my characters dead? Is the problem me?

I don't believe in this idea of a "timeline for success" in fact I find it offensive. What people are saying is that I should give up. Firstly define success for me. Should I give up because I do not earn a living wage from writing? because I have not won an award? or because my books are not available in brick and mortar shops? I am only self-published. Is that not successful enough for you? Should I put down my pen because I do not have hundreds of followers on Twitter?

Publication is not a sign of talent and publishers are not Gods who know for certain what books are going to be successful and what books aren't. There are lots of writers who spend their entire lives working on one book that will become their lasting legacy. Others will publish half a dozen that will fail to take off and then they will publish one more and THAT one will be successful. And then there are those who are successful right out of the gate. Others might publish a book and it could languish on the shelves for decades before finally being embraced by readers.

What I am saying is just because I have not been successful yet does not mean that it is never going to happen for me. My next short story or novel could be the one that really strikes a cord with readers. Or it could be something I will write ten, twenty, or thirty years from now. I just don't know. I am not going to stop writing because it has not happened for me yet. I have faith in myself and my talent will only continue to grow and improve the more I write. I refuse to think that I am talentless because I've been in this game for over five years and have not struck it big. I am constantly learning, evolving, and improving. I am in this game for the love of writing not for the money. You would have to be nuts to think that writing is a good way to earn lots and lots of cash. I could earn more standing in the streets playing my husband's guitar.