book

A Small Writing Portfolio

Hey, readers.  Recently I applied for the position of story writer on a Minecraft server owned by Altaris9, and he requested that I include at least 3 examples of my past work, so he can see what I’ve written.  I’ve decided to compile some of my best work here, so he can see what he’s working with.

This is an excerpt from chapter 28 of my novel in progress, Stormborn.  (I did change the working title, if you happened to notice that I used to call it Dragonborn.  The old title just didn’t really fit anymore.)

The men are looking at me.  Quickly, as if they don’t want to be noticed, but I’m an expert at seeing things that people don’t want me to see.  One of the men laughs and turns around.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see Arrow stiffen, and I think I know why.  He’s noticed what I did.  This guy looks too much like Masen to be coincidence.
He gives me the kind of appraising look that people used to give my little sister, the kind that means he thinks I look attractive and he wants to look at me just a little longer.  I sit up straighter and catch his eye coldly, and he turns around again, pretending he was never looking.
They don’t know who we are, at least.  They wouldn’t be laughing like that if they did.  The third man whistles, and that’s the last straw for me.  One hand firmly on handle of the knife strapped to my leg, I raise my voice.
“What is it, boys?” I ask.  My voice can hardly be called sweet, but the note I use is teasing in a way that makes all three of them turn around to face me.  “Is my shirt on inside out or something?”
The third soldier chuckles.  I can’t help thinking that, even if he wasn’t one of the enemy, his chances of enticing the likes of me are very slim.  He’s short and a little on the porky side, and his short auburn hair is slicked down with sweat.  But, somehow, I can’t take my eyes off of the tallest one.  He’s a little older than Masen was, his eyebrows a little darker, and his nose maybe a little longer, but they have to be related somehow, because, in my experiences, coincidences like this don’t happen.
They must notice that I’m watching him, because the other soldier – the one that looked at me first, with the crossbow – gives me a steely grin and crosses his arms.  A warning look.  It’s not good practice to develop a crush on a girl you don’t know anything about, I think.  She might be a fugitive, one that’s ready to slit your throat at the first sign of trouble.
“Your shirt’s fine,” says Masen.  No, it’s not Masen, but it might as well be.  “Say, do you want to sit up here?  With us?  You don’t have to sit next to them.  Kids are annoying, we know.”
Across the aisle, Arrow makes a rude hand gesture at the three of them, and I have to stifle a small chuckle.
“You think so?” I say, putting one arm (the one that’s not holding the knife) casually around Ambrosia’s shoulders.  “The question is, would I find the three of you any less annoying?”
Finn turns to look at me, and there’s a warning written on his face.  Don’t, his expression says.
He’s probably right.  I’m attracting attention from three people that probably have the power to put us back in Wulff’s hands.  But it’s too late to stop now.
“That depends,” says the short one with a grin.
“Well, I’ll pass,” I say, leaning back and stretching out my legs.  “So far, the kids are making better company.”
The one with the crossbow leers at me.  I’ve decided already that I don’t like him a bit.  “Come on.  You won’t regret it, we swear.”
I take the knife out of its leather sheath and look down at it, casually rubbing a nonexistent speck of dust off of it with my thumb.  “Well, if you say so.”
Finn says anxiously, “Q…”  I mentally thank him for not using my name.
“Shut up, blondie,” says the soldier with the crossbow.  “She made her decision, didn’t she?”
It’s a funny thing, but it comforts me to see that the soldier that looks so much like Masen is the most well-mannered of the three.  If I’d seen his lookalike acting like this creep, I doubt I’d be able to remember the real Masen the same way.
Watching the three boys carefully, an idea occurs to me.  Before, I hadn’t considered them to be anything except an obstacle, a hurdle to jump over in the race to the safe house in the mountains.  But maybe we can turn them into something else.  A tool.

This is the excerpt of my book from 2014’s NaNoWriMo, which I did actually self-publish, but under a different name than the one I use on my blog.

From the start, Oriel could tell Gwynn was having a bad morning.
Leyla, who was unbearable on the best of days, had obviously woken up on the wrong side of the bed that morning.  She couldn’t sleep out in the open with the bright full moon in her face, and she was used to a soft, expensive mattress and feather pillows, not a couple of blankets and a sleeping bag.  Everyone heard Leyla loud and clear as she complained about how horribly she’d slept last night, and she was acting like it, too.  Gwynn looked like she didn’t have much longer before her fuse burned down and she exploded.
“Honestly, you’ve got to be insane to be able to sleep on a place as hard as that,” Leyla snapped the next morning as Oriel cooked a quick meal of pre-packed chicken and bread over the campfire.  “It’s absolutely terrible.  I didn’t get a wink of sleep.  I won’t be able to perform well on patrol later, and Adrion will be so angry with how badly I’ve done…”
“I thought you wanted to come on patrol, Leyla?” said Gwynn innocently.  “If not, I can see if…” Leyla shot her a disdainful glare, cutting her off mid-sentence.
“At least, if I’d slept well, I could take over when you teenagers mess it all up,” she snapped, her eyebrows knit together.  “Adrion’s counting on me… I’m never going to be able to understand how you nutcases are able to actually sleep out here!”
“They’ve slept on worse,” Madeleine piped up defensively, her voice resolute despite Leyla’s withering stare.  “Oriel’s told me, when she was two, she and her sisters had to sleep on the cold, hard ground for a month when the Wraiths destroyed their village.”
“Like barbarians,” said Leyla with an infuriatingly haughty glance at Oriel.  “Well, I suppose I’ll get used it in time if I want to be as great of a patroller as you two.”  She was staring daggers at them both.
“I didn’t know human beings could be this rude,” muttered Madeleine contemptuously to Oriel through a mouthful of chicken.  “I wasn’t just bragging for you.  You and your sisters have been through so much more than that idiot.  Adrion’s not playing favorites, whatever Miss Nightspirit says.  You’re just better.”
“Believe me, I know,” agreed Oriel.  “Unfortunately, though, I think we’re stuck with her until tonight.  I don’t like it any more than you do.”
“But I think we both like it more than Gwynn,” Madeleine pointed out.
“True.”

This last excerpt is from an unpublished piece of mine, a rough draft of a story I came up with as a sequel to the one I self-published.  I had honestly forgotten that I wrote this until today, and it’s actually not that bad.  It’s a little bit long (a whole chapter, although not a long one), so I won’t be offended if you skim.

Lila, it seemed, was in no better emotional state than Ayanna.  She and Fawn knew that it was no wonder that the Lapi queen was stretched thin; her two best friends – one of whom she’d married – were about to go to war, and she didn’t know which side to choose.
Ayanna’s idea had been right.  Lila’s stronghold was already a sort of refuge for the people who didn’t want to take sides in the war.  There were plenty of Lapies there, but also a few Ombra and two or three Scimitai.  Ayanna had told Lila that she didn’t want to stay there full-time – she was too loyal to Adrion and the other Ombra; she would feel like a traitor backing out of service as the deputy – but it was nice to know that she had a place to fall back if things went wrong.
Akha had been there, too.  Lila had explained that she had no other place to stay; as the ambassador, she’d been living in a small cottage outside Lila’s headquarters anyway, and it was too dangerous for her to try to go home on her own.  Lila had already guessed that Akha might be suspected in the theft of Bernard’s ring, and she knew that it wasn’t safe for her to throw herself out in the thick of things.
Ayanna had already explained the situation with Oriel to Lila.  Aster was particularly upset to hear how the three sisters had split up recently, but at least she had Fawn to hang out with; even though there was a five-year age gap between them, the two were still good friends.
That left Ayanna, Lila, and Akha to discuss things by themselves.  Lila and Ayanna agreed that this war had to be stopped at any cost, but Akha wanted to go deeper.  She wanted to know who had started it and why.
“Ajéda was a safe place when I arrived,” she said uncomfortably, fidgeting with her skirt in her lap.  “I did not think that I would have problems here, now that your war has ended.  I did not expect this.”
“None of us did,” said Lila heavily.  “It was as unprecedented as anything.  The war with Malador, we knew it had to happen at some point.  Tauro and Ava were at odds with him long before Ajéda was pulled into the fight.  But whoever stole Bernard’s ring… it was as if they wanted this to happen.  And it pushed Bernard right over the edge.”
“You’re not staying with him anymore?” asked Ayanna.  “I mean, you two are married and all…”
Lila shook her head.  “He’s taken to staying at his own stronghold,” she said unhappily.  “I thought I might as well stay at mine.”
Akha clasped her hands together tightly, her knuckles turning white, staring intently at her interlaced fingers.  “Lila, you must find out who has done this,” she said, her voice low.  “The kings will not stop their fighting until what was stolen is returned.  We cannot return it until we know who has taken it.  We must solve this.”
“She’s right,” said Ayanna, looking at Lila pointedly.  “We can’t wish this problem away.  Find the source of the problem, pull it up from the roots, and get out of this mess.”
“That’s where we differ,” answered Lila.  “You’re thinking like an Ombra – looking at the big picture, trying to figure out a solution with the least amount of trouble.  I’m not like that, Ayanna.  I’m a Lapi.  I – I want this problem solved as much as either of you, but I can’t shut out everything else.  I want to help the people involved in this mess.”  She spread her arms.  “How am I supposed to solve a crime when I have a house full of refugees to take care of?”
Ayanna sighed.  “I understand,” she admitted.  “But all of Ajéda is at stake here.”
Lila ran her fingers through her hair anxiously.  “I know,” she said.  “Trust me, I know.  But I’ll admit, I’m not as smart as you or your sisters, or even Adrion.”
“That’s not true,” said Ayanna immediately.
“Yes, it is,” said Lila with a small smile.  “You’re Ombra.  You’re all smart.  That’s why I’m leaving that part of the task to you.  My job is to shelter these people – people like Akha, who can’t stay at home because of the danger this war is already causing.”
“I cannot stay here forever,” Akha reminded, her eyebrows arched.  “I must go home sometime.  My village is waiting for me.”
“It’s too dangerous,” said Lila.  “We already discussed this.  You can’t go out alone.  This war won’t leave your village untouched, either.”
“She doesn’t have to make the journey alone,” Ayanna said.  “Fawn and I can go with her.  We’ll take her home, then ride back.  If we take the long way around – move south of Imperial Ajéda, then circle around the east and back up north – we’ll stay out of the way of the conflict.”
Akha made a small noise in the back of her throat.  “You know not what you are asking to do,” she said nervously.  “It – it is not peaceful in the northern lands.  The trees, the stones…”
Whatever Akha was talking about, it sounded a whole lot less threatening to Ayanna than the Scimitai-Ombra war happening in Ajéda.  “It doesn’t matter,” she said.  “I’ll do anything I can to help.”
Akha tried to smile, but it looked more like a grimace.
“Ayanna, we’d be glad to have your help,” said Lila, sounding relieved.  “I understand, as the deputy of the Ombra, you’re taking a risk helping us to stop the fight between Bernard and Adrion.”
A frown flickered across Ayanna’s face for a moment.  “It’s okay, I don’t have anything to do, anyway,” she said.  “Adrion’s letting Gwynn and Dmitri help him instead of me and – and Oriel.”
Lila’s gaze grew sympathetic.  “I know how it feels,” she promised.  “I grew up with twelve other siblings.  Feeling like I’ve been replaced is nothing new to me.”
Ayanna smiled halfheartedly, glancing out the window.  The rain wasn’t as violent as it had been the night before, weakening to a misty drizzle, letting a watery light slide through the small row of windows behind her.  The three women had met in Lila’s study, a wide room with pale pink walls, two tall bookshelves flanking the doorway, and three wooden chairs in which Ayanna, Lila, and Akha sat.  Judging by the angle at which the light was coming into the room, they’d been there for a few hours, and it was getting late.
“I should be going,” said Ayanna.  “Gwynn will be home soon, and she’ll wonder where I am.”
“Won’t she be there later, if she and Adrion are helping Dmitri prepare?” said Lila.  “Planning a war isn’t something that can be done in a day.”
“Maybe,” admitted Ayanna.  “But, honestly, I just need to go home.”
A trace of a smile appeared on Lila’s lips.  “I understand,” she said.  “Go ahead.  I enjoyed your conversation today.”
“As did I,” said Akha, nodding her head once.  “I am grateful for your offer to help me home.”
“It’s no problem,” said Ayanna.
Akha’s face was sad, as if she knew something Ayanna didn’t.  “It is a problem,” she said slowly, before turning away, unwilling to say anything else.
In fifteen minutes, Fawn and Ayanna were on the road again.  The streets were quieter now that the sun was going down, but Ayanna still had the disconcerting feeling that it wasn’t safe anymore.
As Lila had guessed, when Ayanna returned home, Gwynn was nowhere to be seen.  When she opened the door, Ayanna could almost imagine it was a completely normal day; she’d arrived home after work, and Oriel and Gwynn were waiting for her.  Oriel would be sitting on the couch, making loud conversation as she always did, Gwynn would be in the kitchen cooking up one of her culinary experiments, and Fawn would be waiting by the door for when she arrived home, ready to give her a hug and ask her how her day was.
Ayanna blinked, and all the misery and fear of the past day came flooding back.  The house was dim and silent; the windows were splattered with dust and rain from the storm from the previous night.  Reality hit her like she’d been clubbed with a baseball bat.  Fawn was standing right behind her, as solemn as sad as Ayanna was.  Gwynn was at Adrion’s headquarters with Dmitri, helping him prepare to make his first move in the war.  Oriel… well, Oriel had deserted them.
“What now?” said Fawn quietly.
Ayanna clicked on the electric lights.  They sputtered to life, bathing the living room and kitchen with a yellowish light.  The setting was a little depressing, truth be told; Ayanna much preferred natural light to this artificial imitation.
“I don’t know,” said Ayanna with a sigh.  “We’ll wait for Gwynn to get home, I guess.”
When Gwynn finally arrived home, the moon was high overhead.  She was frowning irritably, her eyebrows low over her gray eyes.
“Hey, Ayanna,” she said, rubbing her eyes.  “I’m finally back.  Where’s Oriel?”
Ayanna bit back a sob.  How was she going to explain to Gwynn?  “Oriel and I, uh… it’s complicated.”
Trying not to cry, Ayanna did her best to explain what had happened with Oriel to Gwynn.  Gwynn didn’t get as emotional as Ayanna did.  Rather, her frown just grew more pronounced, her eyebrows knit together and her eyes narrow.
“You’re saying… Oriel left… to join the Scimitai?” said Gwynn.  Despite her sour, cold expression, her voice sounded wounded.
“Yes.”  Ayanna was afraid that if she tried to talk again, she wouldn’t be able to hold in her tears.
“That’s… that’s…”  Gwynn sounded hurt and angry.  “That’s more stupid than anything she’s ever done!  And that’s saying a lot.  What does she think, that she’s going to take a sword to everyone she’s ever shared a guild with?  Does she think she could fight us?  That was the dumbest thing she possibly could have done!”
“I tried to stop her,” said Ayanna, her eyes squeezed tightly shut.  “I really tried.  But she – she sounded so determined.”
“She’ll be back,” promised Gwynn grimly.  “There’s no way she can stay with her new guild.  She’ll regret it as soon as she sees what those people are like.”
“She knows what they’re like,” argued Ayanna miserably.  “She’s met them.  She likes them.  She – what if she… what if she really doesn’t belong with the Ombra?”
“She’ll come back,” said Gwynn again, and Ayanna noticed for the first time how scared her voice sounded.  Even though Gwynn and Oriel teased each other constantly, Ayanna knew that they really loved each other.  There was no way Gwynn would ever stop missing Oriel, even if she still had Ayanna, Fawn, and Dmitri.  “She has to come back.”
Ayanna hung her head.  “She has to,” she repeated, trying to convince herself more than Gwynn and Fawn.
“Won’t she?” asked Fawn in a small voice.
None of them really had an answer to that.

If you’d like to leave a rating or feedback in the form of a comment, I’d be glad to hear it.  I’m always working on improving my writing, and I’d love to hear what you think.

Thanks for reading!

Advertisements

TFG Movie Reviews: Allegiant

I saw this movie on Friday (which was apparently opening day!) with the decently awesome cousin of mine who goes by Celestia on the Internet. According to my dad, the reviews were (and still are) horrible – one out of many examples he gave me was that only 10% of Rotten Tomatoes reviewers said it was worth seeing. Still, it was something to do besides levelling my World of Warcraft character (ah, but that’s for another post), and I got to have pizza and cheesecake, so I went.

I have to say, I’m not sorry I saw it. It’s not an inherently bad movie. There were some things about it that I would never say were great, but if you’re looking for something to do, here you go.

I’ve heard people say that the story was bad. That’s not wholly true. Maybe the execution wasn’t amazing, but I thought the base storyline itself wasn’t bad. (I’ve heard before that I’m too easy to please to be a reviewer. We’ll see about that.) It’s a pretty cool premise: an isolated, ruined city, divided into five factions that dictate everything from the clothes you wear to the way you spend your leisure time, that, as it transpires (boop boop, spoiler alert!) is actually an experiment set up by a bureau of geneticists that are trying to “breed out” of humanity damaged genes that were put there by the world’s own governments.
While the story wasn’t bad, I thought it was pretty butchered in the movie as opposed to the book. In particular, the characters. Book Tris’s faction aptitude was evenly split among Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the smart). Emphasis on that last one. If, without knowing the story, I had to guess which faction was chosen for her, I’d say that the aptitude test was so fed-up with dealing with Movie Tris’s idiocy that it shut itself down and told her to just go factionless. Seriously. I can think of multiple examples where simple truths had to be shoved in Movie Tris’s face for her to comprehend them. Really, Tris, Tori is dead, screaming her name over and over for five minutes isn’t going to help. No, Tris, Four cannot come with you upstairs. No, you can’t come together. Seriously, why is that difficult to understand? Tris, don’t trust David. Yes, we get that he told you he’s good, but people can lie, Tris. There are a hundred and one reasons not to trust him, but I don’t expect you to be able to understand any of them.

Maybe it was bad acting, maybe it was bad writing, maybe it was just that Shailene Woodley didn’t have the IQ to empathize with an only moderately smart character like Book Tris. That movie could have spared itself from countless critics’ harshness if it had only cast someone different.

Another character whom I think the movies kind of skewed was Peter. I’ve never seen movies one and two, only read the books, so I knew all the characters but not what they looked like in the movies. It wasn’t too hard to distinguish Tris, Four, Caleb, Christina, or even Tori, but Peter, although he looked decently accurate, was so different where personality is concerned that it took me a sizable chunk of the movie to make the connection. Movie Peter was a lot more likable than Book Peter, for one thing. He’s not a guy I can picture executing people for Jeanine or stabbing dudes in the eye for no reason other than that they were stronger than him.

While several of the characters weren’t up to scratch, the pretty 2016 effects were actually quite good. Futuristic dystopian movies like the Hunger Games (which were, by the way, better than the Divergent trilogy) always provide a lot of opportunities for cool space-age effects, and Allegiant didn’t disappoint. Although the storywriters/adapters could’ve gone with a little less pay than they probably got, the special effects teams, at least, seem to have had an adequate budget.

A lot of my movie reviews are based on accuracy to the book they’re based on, so here comes that part of my review.  There were a lot of little things the movie changed for the sake of conciseness (like Tori’s death, for instance), and that’s understandable.  But the most major difference I and Celestia noticed was the ending.

(WARNING:  The upcoming part of the review pertains only to people who have read the book, who are the only people who care if the movie was true to the book, anyway.   If you’re reading this review and trying to decide if you ought to see the movie or not, you should probably skip the next couple of paragraphs.)

At the end of the book called Allegiant, instead of shooting up a few pipes to solve the movie’s problems, Tris had to break into the laboratory that was formerly Jeanine Matthews’s to disable the memory serum that was about to wipe the minds of everyone in Chicago.  This might’ve been able to go without a hitch if it hadn’t been protected by a lethal dose of death serum.  Caleb, Tris’s brother, was ready to sacrifice himself to save Chicago in atonement for his support of Jeanine, but Tris took his place, disabling the flow of the memory serum and effectively killing herself.

There are, from what I can see, a few contributing factors to the directors’ decision to change the ending.  One is that they want to get just a little more money out of the Divergent franchise before it’s over, airing the fourth movie, Ascendant (how is that even going to work?  The plot has nowhere left to go), and they couldn’t do that if they killed off their protagonist.

Another is that, like at the end of The Giver, they didn’t want to end the movie on a dismal note.  People who go to the movies for a good story generally don’t have the same standards as people who go to a book for the same thing:  while readers might be looking for a darker, more poignant tale, moviegoers would rather see their triumphant hero defeat his or her adversary without serious personal sacrifice.  There are, of course, a few exceptions (I don’t envy whoever had to produce Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), but the Divergent series – the movies, anyway – appeal to a different audience.

Maybe the directors knew that Shailene Woodley was too stupid to even pretend to figure anything out in a lab, so they had her break some stuff instead.  Okay, maybe not, but it’s fun to imagine.

Anyway, as a final rating, I’d give Allegiant three out of five stars.  It probably could have won back one, maybe two stars if it hadn’t been for the lead actress.  It was enjoyable to watch where the story and especially the effects were concerned, but by the time it was over and that rather catchy song came on (I like Tove Lo’s music), I wasn’t sure how much more Shailene Woodley I could take.

Thanks for reading and checking out my blog!  If you found this post informative, helpful, or plain enjoyable, I’d like it if you gave it a like and a nice rating.  If you didn’t like it, I give you permission to give me a bad rating.  (That’s why there are five stars, after all.)

~ Summer

Edit: In addition, I found this hilariously awesome video that gives you a pretty decent idea of what the movie is about. I recommend you check it out.

Dragonborn – a few excerpts I’m proud of

Hey, guys, and welcome to Teen Fiction Girl! NaNoWriMo ended more than a month ago, and I met and exceeded my word count goal of 50,000 words in one month, but I’m still working on my novel, a piece called Dragonborn. (You can read my earlier post about it here.)
It’s already 309 pages long, and I’d say I’m about halfway through the story. I’ve done a bit more work on the cover; I found a new font that I really like, and I think I’m going to use it instead of the scrawly one that I was already using. But this post isn’t about fonts, it’s about cool excerpts.

If you write, you’ve probably written a paragraph (or two or three) that you’re exceptionally proud of. If not, you should be proud of the stuff you’ve written, because even starting to write a novel is something to be proud of in and of itself. I’ve written a few things that I’m exceptionally proud of, too, and it makes me happy that I have a blog to share them on.

Out of context, these excerpts might seem a little mixed since the story happens in so many places, but I’ll put them in chronological order to make them a little easier.

They’re never going to let me go if I let them chase me until I get back to my house. Dropping the bag with the bread onto the ground beside me, taking care not to spoil the precious food, I spin around to face them, putting on my best menacing look.
“What’s wrong?” sneered the dumb one. “The quick little bird is too tired to fly?”
“No,” I say, groaning inwardly. Snappy comebacks are harder to come up with when you’re focusing on looking for a nice soft spot to punch. “I’m not a bird.”

“If you’d let me finish what I was saying,” Glyssa goes on, glaring at Ambrosia, “you wouldn’t be so indignant. Of course I’ll help you, too. What, you think I’m going to break one of you out and leave the other to die?”
“I don’t know, you’re pretty good at leaving us to die,” I say. With Glyssa safely on our side, I figure that it’s safe to start antagonizing her again.

“What if we hid outside of the Union? They couldn’t legally arrest us if we weren’t on their turf, right? Then again, I guess these people don’t care much about legal, but we could still hide out somewhere.”
“It would be a good idea if we knew of anywhere outside the Union to hide out,” says Glyssa with a shrug. “Unfortunately, the only top-secret location outside the Union that I know of is the one that you two set fire to this morning.”
“That would be a bad place to hide,” I agree.

I close my eyes. It all started when I was about eight years old, living in a village on the very edge of Athria, on the western border of the Union. To say that the place was a bit wild would be a dramatic understatement. It was completely feral. My own father had been killed in a fight with a bear; my mother couldn’t be bothered to care for me. I figured this out when I was very little. Sometimes I’d tell her that I loved her just to figure out what kind of mood she was in. Sometimes she said nothing at all. The other times she’d give a heavy sigh and say, “I love you too, Finn.”
But even then, I could tell she was lying.

Maybe I’ll post some more excerpts in the future.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy my writing, I’d love it if you’d leave a like and maybe a nice rating. You can also subscribe (via wordpress or email) if you want to see more things I post in the future. Feedback and constructive criticism are always welcome as well.

Thanks,
~ Summer

Difficult Characters (and their solutions)

Hey there, reader, and welcome to Teen Fiction Girl!  This article is loosely based on a dream I had last night, which was loosely based on a problem that I (and countless other writers, young and old) encounter often.

My dream last night was a rather accurate representation of a death scene that I’ve been planning in my novel for a while now.  (This novel is my NaNoWriMo novel; while I did reach my word count goal for the month, I didn’t finish the book, so even though I technically won NaNoWriMo, I’m still writing.  If you haven’t already, you can read about that novel here.)  After I woke up, I was pretty proud of how spot-on my interpretation of the scene and characters was.  As we all know, your dreams can kind of run away with things like that.  The only inaccuracy was the landscape, and nobody cares about details like that, anyway.

The dream I had was a dream about myself writing the story from inside the story.  Rather than a writer, I was a director, telling the characters what to do and how to do it.  I felt like a movie producer, telling the “actors” (my characters), “Okay, you go over there!  You, pretend to be dead!  You, actually die, because this is your death scene.  But first, say these things, okay?”

The thing was, the characters/actors didn’t want to do what I said.  They wanted to do their own thing.  And when they didn’t want to do their own thing, they had no idea what they were supposed to be doing.  They were total loose cannons, and my writer self was immensely frustrated.

After I woke up, I realized, after much careful meditation and reflection on the subject (alright, not really), that this was a sort of metaphor for a situation I’ve been in many times.  Have you ever began writing a story or book with perfectly clear ideas of what your characters were supposed to be like, and then, when the story or book was finished, seen your characters turn into something entirely different than what you intended?  Either you can admit defeat and let your characters be their less-than-perfect new selves, or you can go back and do a whole lot of editing.  Both are equally frustrating, and neither produce the results you hoped for in the beginning.

Alternatively, your characters didn’t turn into completely different versions of themselves, but they ended up flat and personality-less, mere vehicles of the plot you intended for them to carry out.  Or maybe you went over the top with their development and now they’re too great, so perfect that no one can relate to them.  (This particular kind of character is called a Mary Sue; you can read my old post about them here.)

I’ve found that these things can happen when you’re trying to write a Perfect Character™.  By Perfect Character™, I mean you’re so obsessed with making your character completely, utterly brilliant that you think of them too much as a factor of the story and not enough as a character in the story.  Don’t try to make your character perfect.  Writers are human, too, and we make mistakes.  Stephen King makes mistakes.  Jane Austen made mistakes.  Even J. K. Rowling makes mistakes.  (Probably, although sometimes I doubt that.)  Sometimes, when you’re too obsessed with making your character exactly as it should be, you get too focused on one aspect of your character and forget to look at the whole picture.  When this happens, your character can seem wrong, like when you’re drawing a portrait and get too focused on the nose and suddenly you realize that the whole picture is out of proportion.

The solution?  Don’t write perfect characters.  Write natural characters.  What would you do in a situation?  Make your character do that, not what would best further the plot.  First, write you, and then, once you’re confident with that, get a little more imaginative.  If I were [insert person], what would I do?  How would I behave?  These questions are good ones, and ones that your story can – and will – answer.

I hope this post was helpful and/or interesting to you.  Leave a rating or comment to tell me what you thought, and if you liked it a lot, show me by giving the post a like.  (It’s funny how, when you like something, you hit the like button.  I bet you never would have guessed what that button was for, would you?)

Thanks for reading!

~  Summer

Movie Reviews: Mockingjay, Part 2

**WARNING:  This post will contain a fair number of spoilers.  If you’ve read the books, come on in, but if you’re new to the Hunger Games story, I recommend you skip to the end for the final rating.**

Anyway, hey all, and welcome to Teen Fiction Girl!  I’m fairly certain that I reviewed Catching Fire when it came out a couple of years ago (although I could very well be wrong) and this movie was as worth a review as any of its predecessors.

I’ll start with talking about the plot of the movie.  There were very few slip-ups where book/movie continuity is concerned.  The main thing that the movie producers changed was Katniss’s method of getting into the Capitol – in the book, she was authorized to go, whilst in the movie, she snuck in.  I don’t know which I prefer:  the book is the book, after all, but the movie’s method allowed for a little further development of Katniss, President Coin, and Plutarch Heavensbee as they plotted to make Katniss’s deviance appear to be their idea.  (Speaking of him, I remembered about halfway through the movie that the actor playing him was dead.  Luckily, there were no awkward mid-movie actor switches or anything; I think they covered it up rather well.)

I thought the two-part conclusion was going to end up like The Hobbit movies were – so stretched out in an effort to make more money that they were tedious and not even kind of like the books – but I think, all in all, I liked the two-part movie better than its single-sectioned predecessors.  The scenes in the Capitol were quite true to the book, right down to the type of pod they encountered and the members of Squad 451, which I’d have thought the producers would have considered too minor to include.  The death of the Leeg sisters was a little different in the movie than in the book, but the end effect was the same, so I hardly consider this a point of conflict.  They even included the girl in the lemon-yellow coat.

Katniss and Peeta’s relationship seemed perfectly natural to me; she seemed to push him away at first but finally realized what she was doing wrong.  Although I rather dislike Peeta as a character (I’m on Team Gale for sure), Josh Hutcheson’s acting was superb.  Especially in the conclusion, he played his part well, although I think that Katniss looked a little funny as a mom, to tell the truth.

The last and most obvious of the movie’s shortcomings was the conclusion of the war.  In the book, Katniss witnesses the death of her sister, nearly burns to death, murders the president, gets locked up at the top of the tribute tower for months on end, starts singing to herself like a madwoman, and eventually becomes suicidal before returning to District 12.  In the movies, only a few of these things happened:  Prim did indeed die and President Coin was indeed assassinated, but they made Katniss’s… ah… decline much milder.  Her burns were nowhere near fatal and there was no oncoming insanity.

I’m usually a lover of accuracy, but I’ll admit I enjoyed seeing the producers’ version of things more than I enjoyed reading Suzanne Collins’s.  If you were looking for a carbon copy of the book, you won’t find exactly what you’re looking for, but I think, on the whole, the story itself was great.

As for the production of the movie itself, I wasn’t disappointed in any way.  The characters all looked exactly as they should.  I was especially impressed by the camera team and President Coin – they looked identical to their book versions.  The camerawork was flawless, the soundtrack was great, and the effects were simply amazing.  The atmosphere looked so perfect for the story – District 13, the Capitol, everywhere – and the special effects, as I just mentioned, were beautiful.  I almost regret not seeing it in 3D, but if I had, I doubt I would have been able to enjoy it as much due to the awkwardness of wearing 3D glasses over my normal glasses.

And now, for the final rating.  For an almost spot-on story and the greatest effects I’ve seen in a movie all year, I give this movie four and a half stars out of five.  I took a half star away for the slight changes to the story, but other than those tiny discontinuities, there was nothing wrong with this movie.  I recommend it to anyone who even partially liked the books and/or other movies.

I hope this was helpful to you.  Please, I’d love to hear what you think!  Leave a rating at the top of the page or, if you have a WordPress account, a like if you really loved it.  Comments are always appreciated – give feedback and criticism, and, if you like, suggest a post you’d like to see from TFG in the future.

Thanks for reading!

~ Summer

About My NaNoWriMo Novel for This Year

Hey, guys, and thanks for reading Teen Fiction Girl!  If you’ve followed my blog since I started it (which was like three days ago, so that’s not that difficult) you’ll know that the main subject of my November posts is the amazing thing called NaNoWriMo.  If not, well, I suggest you go back and read my first post about it so you know more or less what it is.

Now, to write, you need a novel to be writing, and I happen to have one right here.  *pulls out novel*

I don’t really know how I got this far without talking about it, but anyway, here’s my novel.

It’s called Dragonborn, and it’s based partially on this story-sort of thing I wrote with my friend a few years ago.  Well, it started out like that, anyway.  As I started writing it, it turned into something so different that really, the only things that are remotely the same are the personalities of the two main characters.

At first it was going to be a trilogy, but I’m infamously bad at being able to write even one and a half books in a series, so I decided I’d stick with writing only one.  However, my story was going to work best in three parts anyway, so I decided to divide my book into three parts sort of like Suzanne Collins did with the three books within each of the Hunger Games books.

This is the summary I put on my NaNoWriMo page.  I’ve been changing/updating it a lot, but this gets the gist of the story out there.

Ambrosia Kiau. Thirteen years old. She’s lived in the mountains her entire life, outside the Union, where her father says the society is a mess. She’d never leave. Not unless she had a really great reason to, at least. But when her beloved older brother, Eryth, goes mysteriously missing, lost on a missionary trip to Ki’baan, the worst slum that the Union has to offer, she’ll stop at nothing to bring him back home safely – that is, until a betrayal from a “friend” lands her in the middle of a grand scheme that she never dreamed of.

Ardonas Hackenley. Called Arrow by his close friends. Fourteen years old. A ghetto boy at best. His entire life has been spent fighting and thieving, struggling for survival in Ki’baan, his very own first-person-shooter of a city. He’s confident that he can handle anything, until he gets mixed up in a scandal that started with one stolen loaf of bread and quickly snowballed into something larger than he could have ever imagined.

These two have never met in their lives, and they never expected to. But when they’re forced into each others’ lives by a kidnapping, a manhunt, and a surly jailer named Glyssa Quint, they realize they have more in common with each other than they’d have believed… and uncover a truth – and a threat – large enough to swallow the Union whole.

Yeah, I guess that works for now.

Oh, and look at this.  It even has a cover.

Dragonborn-cover-tagline-2

This, also, is subject to a lot of change, especially the tagline, but considering I drew it all myself (aside from the font I used for the tagline and author name), I think it could be a lot worse.

Maybe I’ll post some excerpts later.  Maybe.

Anyway, thanks for reading!  If you enjoyed reading about my story (you’re not allowed to read the actual story yet, sorry!) I’d love it if you’d leave a like and/or nice rating, and tell me what you think in the comments!

~ Summer

NaNoWriMo is here!

Hey, guys, and thanks for reading my first real post on Teen Fiction Girl, which I will henceforth abbreviate as TFG!

So, if you read my introductory post, you’ll know that, for most of November, this amazing program will be pretty much taking up my life.  It’s called NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is a pretty accurate description of what it is.  It’s where several thousand people wait with bated breath for November to start, and when it does start, they write like writing demons to try and finish their word count goal (and hopefully even their entire novel, although last year that didn’t happen to me) before the month is over.  Remember this post?  Yeah, I did it last year, too.

That sounds like it would be hard, stressful, and/or frustrating, but really it’s more like decorating a cake than baking one – no instructions, no guidelines, just a virtual creative party where you can watch your piece come together with the amazing satisfaction of watching icing squeeze out of a tube.

This is my word-count meter for the month.
bloopIt’s kind of blurry since the original page was so small, but you get the idea.  It’s only November 9th and I’m already more than halfway through my word count.

Don’t believe it can be done?  Last NaNoWriMo, I wrote this article about a novel belonging to a NaNo friend of mine.  Unlike my book, The Juniper Tree, which never really took off, she actually completed, edited (yuck) and published her novel.  That she finished in thirty days.  That’s why NaNoWriMo is so awesome.

Anyway, thanks for reading!  If you’ve done NaNoWriMo before, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.  If you enjoyed this post, please leave a nice rating and (if you have a WordPress account) a like as well.  Thanks, guys, and happy writing!

~ Summer