Major Influences #5: Shows with Characters Ages 25+

Major Influences Friends HIMYM The Office Mad Men Breaking Bad Sons of Anarchy Lost

As no one has probably noticed, most of the shows in my prior “Major Influences” posts are family and teen shows. This post will be on shows that aren’t quite as family friendly, which focus on characters over the age of twenty-five and allows for much heavier drama.

For the most part, comedies influence me in a fairly obvious way: it alters the kind of jokes I make with my friends and family, and in my writing. The effects of dramas, on the other hand, aren’t so easy to notice (aside from trying not to use plots I’ve seen elsewherejust as I try to avoid stealing comedy bits).

The best effect of any narrative, however, is the immersion into so many other lives and perspectives. You get to experience things which you might never get to experience yourself. Of course, I’m a proponent of travel and experiencing things firsthand (within reason), but you only have so much energy and fundsbooks, film, and television can get you places at a fraction of the time and cost and exposes you to scenarios you’d probably rather avoid in real life.

Anyway, on to the shows about characters considerably beyond their teenage years. Continue reading

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Pitching the Novel – Agent Query Draft #7; Synopsis Draft #4; Manuscript Draft #8

The POTUS and Ms. Maroney are not impressed with your pitch.

The POTUS and Ms. Maroney are not impressed with your pitch. Photo by Pete Souza.

I’ve been re-drafting and cleaning up my query, synopsis, and novel quite a bit in preparation to pitch my book.

With my first writers’ conference coming up next month, I want to focus on improving all my pitch materials to get some feedback from fellow writers and other folks in the industry. My stuff needs to be awesome before mid-September (or at least awesome-ish).

Over the last month or so, I’ve made a few observations which taught me (or reinforced) the following lessons:

1. You cannot write a good query without first having written a proper synopsis.

Alright, maybe you can, but it’s very unlikely. I found that after revising my book numerous times and writing multiple synopses for it, I was much better able to condense the more-interesting bits of my novel into the form of an agent query.

If you can’t condense your work into two pages and make it sound interesting, how can you possibly condense it into half a page?

If I may say so myself, my current query is many times superior to my original. I’m not surprised the six agents I queried sent me rejections (yeah, I only sent queries to six agents; that was about a month and a half ago). Well, four of them sent rejections, the other two just ignored me altogether.

2. Your work will never be good enough for you.

Every time you read through your manuscript, query, or synopsis, you will inevitably spot a bunch of things to be improved.

However, this doesn’t mean you should just say “@#$% it” and submit it to agents as is. It means you should revise repeatedly for a “reasonable” amount of time until things are very solid (maybe draft 7 of the query, draft 4 of the synopsis, and draft 8 of the manuscript), but don’t wait until you think it’s perfect.

There is no perfect (unless you’re somewhat delusional). Continue reading

Liebster Award

Liebster Award Chain Letter

I received a chain letter (perhaps better known as a Liebster Award) from scorpionglow which prompted me to answer ten questions, and then pass on to five lucky people the pleasure of responding to ten of my questions.

Thanks, Lisa, this song‘s for you.

Now, my answers.

1. What is your favorite fruit?

Apples because they make delicious pie, juice, and alcohol.

2. Why have you chosen to blog?

I chose to blog so I could say bad things about people where I know no one would see it. Well, that, and to get my name as a writer out there.

3. What is your favorite genre in which to read?

Science fiction and fantasy covers a whole lot of stuff, but that’s what I’m sticking with. Of course, some of my favorite works of literature don’t involve sci-fi or fantasy (e.g., A Farewell to Arms, All Quiet on the Western Front).

4. What is your favorite social media platform?

I’m going to say WordPress so the WordPress people will be less likely to shut down my blog.

5. Hometown?

Minas Ithil before it was overrun by the forces of Mordor and they put up this frickin’ gate. Jerks.

The Black Gate

6. Are you drinking enough water each day? Continue reading

Major Influences #4: The WB (The CW)

The WB - Roswell - Smallville - Buffy - Angel - EverwoodThe CW (formerly The WB and UPN) is a force to be reckoned in the world of teen drama. I watched a good number of their shows, back when I was a more appropriate age to be watching teen dramas, and they’ve definitely left a lasting impact.

Vampires before they sparkled

Angel and Buffy

Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Angel (David Boreanaz)

Attractive young adults in a show about vampires? No frickin’ way.

Before The Vampire Diaries TV series, there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. I started out somewhat interested in Buffy, but I didn’t get sucked into Joss Whedon’s Buffyverse until the Angel spin-off. I watched both shows religiously even after Buffy was booted from The WB lineup to second string on UPN.

Though I watched all nine seasons of How I Met Your Mother, I’ll always remember Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof as Willow and Wesley (before Lily and Sandy Rivers). At E3 (don’t ask me how I got in), I once awkwardly shook Eliza Dushku’s hand: the most interaction I’ve had with a Hollywood celebrity in all my years living in and around Los Angeles (unless you count walking past Ashton Kutcher a few times on the way to and from the restroom on the set of Jobs).

Beside the paranormal setting, what I love about these two shows is the sometimes-ridiculous character banter, and how no character gets to be cool 100% of the time. When a character’s cool-meter gets close to being full, the writers have something comical happen to him or her (I’ve noticed people other than Whedon doing this, a recent example being Ronan in Guardians of the Galaxy—the humor in Guardians reminded me so much of Whedon I had to double check to see that he wasn’t involved).

So, if the characters in my novels have borderline-annoying back-and-forth conversations, and something embarrassing happens to my protagonist when he or she is trying to be cool, you probably have Joss Whedon to blame. Luckily, I didn’t watch Firefly until after I finished several drafts of my novel. Otherwise, it might have been too Whedoned-out. Continue reading

Music and Writing

A while ago I reluctantly went to hear a concert orchestra.

The program for the night included a variety of songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein (The Sound of Music), Hans Zimmer (Pirates of the Carribean), John Williams (Harry PotterStar Wars), Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings), Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Frozen ), and Claude-Michel Schoenberg (Les Miserables). Yeah, most of these were from films or musicals eventually adapted into film.

Photo by Frink51, distributed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Photo by Frink51, distributed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

As I sat and listened, trying hard not to check the notifications from my WordPress app, I started imagining possible scenes for novels I’ve long since stopped trying to write, and eventually a climax scene for a manuscript I haven’t yet started (the next in my potential series).

Though I’ve stopped listening to music while writing because it’s distracting, I may start listening to music entirely on its own (and not just while driving or in the shower). Music does some pretty awesome things when you just listen. Continue reading

Ethereal by KED

Ethereal by KED

My very own hardcover copy of Ethereal.

Leaving home to get to “work” at Barnes, I spotted a package by the door. Finally, my hard-earned contest prize had arrived: my copy of kdaugh1992‘s novel, Ethereal. I actually got an ebook copy of the book and finished reading it a while back, but decided to wait until I got the hardcover to write about it.

Ethereal is a YA novel following seventeen-year-old Reyhan as she embarks on her first mission as Militia, the special ops/intelligence agents of her society, to bring her treasonous sister back home. Things are not as simple as Reyhan is initially believes: there are mysteries to unravel, and a kindhearted boy whose life Reyhan potentially ruins before they even meet. Continue reading

Allegiant as Two Films; Legend as a Graphic Novel

Once again, I’m hearing things a bit late, but here’s some belated news:

1. Veronica Roth’s Allegiant will be split into two films

Tris Prior Shailene Woodley DivergentApparently, this fact was announced four months ago and I totally missed it.

Really, the whole last-book-as-two-films thing isn’t all that new; TwilightHarry Potter and The Hunger Games all did the same. However, as noted by Entertainment Weekly’s Erin Strecker, cutting Allegiant in half may result in “kill[ing] all the suspense” built up in the third film and ultimately result in two lesser movies. She explains that this problem is unique to Allegiant because of the way the book ends.

I think I agree. Continue reading