Monday, February 29, 2016

What I learned from seeing PIPPIN (again)

Last week I got to see my favorite musical, Pippin, again. It's been my favorite since my high school did the production my freshmen year, and I was in the pit band, playing bass. (The basslines for the show are pretty good too.) The revival is especially awesome because it incorporates a bunch of acrobatics into the show and has a female leading player. I've talked about Pippin before, but I just feeling so strongly about it.

I must have seen Pippin twenty times now, counting all those rehearsals we did, yet it's still my favorite show. I could watch it over and over again, singing along with every line. And it doesn't get old. While I love the music, the lyrics, the costumes, for me what I love most is the storyline.

The plot follows Pippin, the son of King Charlemagne, who just graduated from university. He's trying out all these different things, war, the arts, following the church, being king, yet nothing fulfills him. He's searching for that thing that will satisfy him, but nothing does. (It isn't until he doesn't have it anymore, that he realizes what it is.)

This is something I connect so strongly too. My mom always says I'm searching, looking for something else of purpose, which is totally true. I've tried many different hobbies, searching for the perfect thing. But I know it doesn't exist. There will always be struggle and always a way to be better. But that's just who I am, always searching. (As I quoted in my other Pippin post, one of my favorite lines is "And here I am, to seize my day, if someone would just tell me when the hell it is").

While writing isn't perfect (it's so hard!), it makes me feel accomplished when I finish writing a book, being able to say "I made this". It's addicting. But I know also how it feels to be meandering through a WiP, trying to figure out if this is actually for me, just like Pippin throughout the musical.

So despite being made 44 years ago, the story can still feel just as relevant today as it did back then. That is the power of a story and something I hope to someday accomplish as well.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Writing in 3rd Person

For this WiP, I've been writing in 3rd person. I've never used 3rd person before, but I thought it would lend itself better to this WiP, since it's a bit darker and a bit more detached.

I love 1st person because you can really get inside someone's head, and hear their thoughts and feelings. It's a huge trend in YA because of that. You know, all the feels.

For me, I knew 1st person wasn't right for this WiP because I wanted multiple POVs. This story is about a brother and sister, so I wanted not just how they feel and what they see, but show how different they are from each other. I thought 3rd person would be the best way to do this.

I've been playing with the idea of omniscience POV, though I don't want the characters to be too detached. I read THE DREAM THIEVES a few months ago and liked the way Maggie Steifvater popped into different characters' POVs in the same scene. Obvi, I am not as skilled as Maggie, so it's been taking some time to see if it's working. (I still don't really know, but it's just a first draft.)

But I am enjoying 3rd person. Some of my weak skills are showing feelings, so I think this is working for me, since there are slightly less of them, since we aren't in the person's head. This also allows me to play with setting, and make it almost its own character, which I wouldn't get to do in 1st person. But it's definitely different.

Have you written in 3rd person? What do you like about it and what do you not like?

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Shannara Chronicles: TV Show Review

I saw a tumblr post for Kiersten White about the new show The Shannara Chronicles and decided to give it a try. I didn't really know what to expect because it's MTV.

Full disclosure: I haven't read the books. Well, I started reading The Sword of Shannara and got about 60 pages in and then put it down. I know, gasp. But I just couldn't get into it. It felt a bit like Lord of the Rings (which I also never finished reading, got 150 pages in and they had barely left the Shire, so I put it down too), which was intriguing.

From the first 50 pages that I read, they've already changed a lot. A bit for the better (no slow beginning), and a bit for the worse (why is the main character so sarcastic/snarky?). After doing some Goodreads research, it seems that most of this show is based off the second book, The Elfstones of Shannara, so maybe it follows that book more closely than what I read with the first book. Maybe I should read that one.

In general, I'm intrigued, but the acting makes me less so. Austin Butler is not my favorite actor (I liked him better as Wilke in Switched At Birth), but I like the actors they've surrounded him with. Poppy Drayton has an amazing American accent, so much so that I didn't even realize she was British until I looked her up. (With that name, it's so obvious, though.) Though the American accents feel kinda weird, (I just associate medieval/fantasy with British accents I guess), even though it's supposed to be Earth after hundreds of years.

The first episode, which is actually the first two, aren't great (I fell asleep twice (maybe three times?) watching it). So much is going on, (the huge world, plus the many different characters) that it's hard to get a grasp on things. But I had a lull in TV shows, so I ended up watching episodes 3 and 4. Things really start to pick up here and get better. It seems like it will be a "hero's journey", which aren't my favorite, but I'm interested in the characters and the world enough, that I can let the plot slide. I'm most intrigued by Bandon, who gets introduced in ep. 3, so I'm hoping there's some good development of his character. I also think Austin Butler gets better in these two episodes, so I'm hoping that will continue.

Overall, I'll keep watching (and see if any of the acting makes me angry enough to stop), but so far, I'm okay with it.

Do you think you'll watch it?

Monday, February 8, 2016

High School Book Club: January + February Edition

This month, we chose to read Pierce Brown's RED RISING. We had a brief meeting a few weeks ago, and despite the winter break, almost no one finished the book. So we decided, because those who did read, liked it, that we would give two more weeks for people to finish.

Most of the students still hadn't finished it (a usual pattern...) but those who did had good things to say. They thought the beginning was a bit slow, but after you got passed that, there was a lot of action and it was exciting. One student even brought up that it was in the universe as Ender's Game, because Brown had mentioned Commander "Wiggin" as one of the great generals (along with Alexander and Genghis).

Some had even begun to read the sequel, GOLDEN SON. Though we didn't end up picking that as our next book, I'm interested to hear which they liked better and what their thoughts were. I think I liked RED RISING better, but many articles I read touted GOLDEN SON as surpassing the first. (I'm also very excited to read MORNING STAR when it comes out soon.)

There were lots of thoughts for our next book, but THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN beat out AMERICAN GODS and WOLF BY WOLF by only a few votes. Hopefully, next time, we'll get  few more people to read...

Monday, February 1, 2016

When to start a draft over?

I've never started a draft over and the thought leaves me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it makes me feel like I'm not trying hard enough, that if I just push through I could make it work. That I'm making excuses because this draft is hard and if I start over, I won't actually finish it. (I don't know why I think that, because I've never not finished a first draft). That with starting over, it will take many more months to complete.

On the other hand, my gut is telling me this is what I should do. That the draft, while it will take forever and I probably won't reach my goal of finishing the draft by April 1st, will be better for it. It will be a lot of work, but it won't be like how it is now. Which is not working.

And this is how I decided to start over.

Last Monday was a snow day and I took the whole day to re-outline half of my story. It made me realize what I was missing (ahem, the ending and point of the story... well, at least the tangible point of the story) and that I couldn't move on until I figured it out. But to get to the ending in the story, I needed to rewrite the beginning.

And so I embark in my first ever rewrite and hope that this fixes some of my missing parts. I won't be able to start just yet, since I still don't completely know the ending, but I am looking forward to starting over and not completely dreading it.

Have you ever started a draft over? Did it help you in the end?