Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ender's Game (Ending Note)

I loved Ender's Game through and through.  There wasn't a dull moment.  It only took me about a week and a half or so to read it, my quickest read in months.  Shortly after my midpoint analysis I came to my final conclusion about the point-of-view.  It is third-person omniscient that happens to be rather limited, not third-person limited as I originally thought.  I gave the book 5/5 stars on goodreads.

I tore through the next book in the Ender Quartet, Speaker for the Dead, in only three days.  Other than the half-annoying/half-cool use of Portuguese, I loved it.  It was very different from Ender's Game, but it too received a 5/5.

In completely unrelated news: NaNoWriMo, bring it on.  There are only 28 hours until "go time".

Sunday, October 28, 2012

All-Natural Warfare

            General Verde surveyed his petty resources: the B-ranked heavy transport Coronado, swelling with two hundred veteran marines, NiƱa, a speed-class fighter mounted with a single plasma turret, Pinta, a sluggish bomber, and the light transport Madrid with a load of two nuclear-armed tanks.  The force would surely seem imposing to any of the surviving European factions he had dealt with at home, but here it was like an atheistic David seeking out Goliath.  It was all he was commissioned to capture an entire continent of the newly-terraformed Mars.
            Verde boarded Pinta with a grimace set solidly upon his face.  The interior was spacious enough for the journey.  Sparkling white walls formed a cube set apart from the pilot’s bay at the vessel’s head and the ammunition hold and cabins to its rear.  Half a dozen seats grew out of the far wall, yet only one was occupied.  In it sat the wily Colonel Rodriguez, his tactician.
            “General,” the Colonel stated.  He showed no further sign of deference.
            Verde scoffed under his breath.  “So they’ve finally decided to be rid of me, those blood-thirsty warmongers.  To think that I could besiege seven colonies with barely a city garrison.”
            The Colonel patted the seat beside him and waited for Verde to sit.  “You cannot give up hope so soon.  I have quite a few tricks for them.”
            Verde’s stomach lurched upward.  With the clicking of his restraints, the bomber had launched into the atmosphere without a delay.  Several minutes passed before his organs settled and his lips loosened.  “And what tricks, may I ask, are those?”
            The Colonel laughed.  “There’s a reason we could only fit two tanks on Madrid.  Our ammunition is not limited to simply nuclear warheads.  We have something far more dangerous.”
            “More dangerous?” Verde inquired.  He was almost as angry as confused.
            “A metric ton of static bombs and two of copper projectiles
            “What do you plan to do with that?”
            “Give them a storm they won’t soon forget.”
            Verde’s face dimmed from red to pink.  “You think that it could actually work?  Fire static bombs into the clouds and lightning rods into their colonies?”
            “How do you think I captured Paris with only a battery and two platoons?”  The Colonel was smiling in his twisted, weasel manner.
            “You never told me how you did it, now that I recall.”
            “It’s a hard concept to grasp, but it works.  We’ll still need to take the ground one mini-nuke at a time, as usual, although it’ll be a lot easier.  They can’t deploy their own troops when we’ve cut off all approaches with enough electricity to fry a fish at the bottom of a Pacific trench.”
            “And if that doesn’t work?”
            “Then the Spanish are rid of their old warhorse too stern to retire.”
            “Fair enough,” Verde said with a nod.  He closed his eyes.  “Wake me up when we land.  I’d like to see if you can pull this off.”

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Comparing Prose and Articles

I've found that there are many connections between writing prose and writing articles.  Below is a list of a few similarities and differences.

  • A wide variety of lengths
  • There is a range of humor and seriousness
  • Some people are really good at writing them, while others are not
  • There is generally a lot more telling in articles than in prose
  • Articles tend to be drier
  • Articles have subjects, while prose pieces have genres
  • The audience for most articles is older than for prose (in general)
  • Different "masters"
  • Best-selling prose novelists tend to be better known than the most celebrated writers of articles

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ender's Game (Midpoint Analysis)

I have some mixed feelings toward Ender's Game thus far (about half-way).  There are a lot of things I like about it, but a few things that I don't.

The characters in Orson Scott Card's premiere novel are incredibly designed.  They're compelling and exceedingly clever.  That's also a downfall.  They're too smart.  I don't care if these children were made in a lab, Card bends the golden rule of science-fiction "it has to be plausible", not in the technology or setting, but in character.  Granted, the characters are only as smart as Card himself.  That, however, is a plus, he's very intelligent.

I've never encountered the point-of-view style found in Ender's Game.  It's neither a positive nor a negative attribute.  Third-person limited seems to be the POV, although statements break in in the first-person occasionally.  Thoughts with a flourish?  Perhaps.

While I consider this book "adult" for the purpose of my "currently-reading" list, I'm not really sure on that.  It's violent for sure, although not sickeningly so.  The main character is a child young enough to be a chapter book protagonist, further complicating the audience.  The prose has a few too many "tells" and reads at a far lower level than The Wheel of Time, poking at young adult.  I'm sure I could find Card himself explaining the audience if I looked hard enough, but I'd rather continue speculating, at least for the time being.

Overall, I'm excited about Ender's Game and the rest of the series.  It's a change for me, a necessary change if I want to become an editor of speculative fiction, taking with open arms.  I might leave further comments when I finish.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


   Can you imagine a world without sound?  You can see people moving their mouths and waving their arms, but you have no clue what they’re saying.  Some people say that waterfalls are soothing, but to me they’re just falling water.  I don’t have a favorite movie, because I can’t understand them.  Hard life don’t you think?

     I was born in a small town in Pennsylvania.  I had a pretty good life early on, but I had no friends.  I had to go to a special school and learn sign language, so I could finally learn how to communicate with others.  I met my first real friend in fourth grade.  She was a deaf girl just like me.  Her name was Lucy.  Lucy and I would play with little paper dolls my dad would make.  We would make them do sign language and talk using them instead of our real hands.  Lucy died of meningitis two years later, the same disease that had made her deaf since birth.  I sobbed so hard I could swear that I heard it faintly.   Eventually I recovered and made several new friends at my school, but it was never quite the same. 

     In seventh grade I picked up my first hobby, playing tennis.  You can play tennis perfectly fine without the ability to hear.  I learned quickly and my parents set up a net in my backyard for me to practice.  I got pretty good at it, but there were no local teams, so I couldn’t play competitively except against my friends. 

     High School for me was pretty boring.  I hung out with friends, but there wasn’t much to do.  We couldn’t have very long conversations, because our hands started to cramp up after a while.  I played more tennis at home and went to school.  I decided that I wanted to be a writer, because my disability didn’t limit me.  I joined my school’s newspaper staff and started writing articles.

     Once I graduated from high school I got a job with a local newspaper.  The job is really fun.  I don’t usually write articles about myself.  But today I did.  This is my story. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012


NaNoWriMo is coming up on November 1st.  For anyone who doesn't know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month [November].  The purpose is to get writers writing, with the bar set at 50,000 words in thirty days.  I plan on participating for the second time, although the first time I ended with practically nothing to show for it about a week in (about 2,000 words).  I was derailed by vacation (yeah, one of several excuses.)  This time I will be working on a YA fantasy that is based upon a mixture of epic fantasy, YA contemporary fantasy, and Hayao Miyazaki's films.  My goal is to simply get the story going by the end of the month.  I'd be happy with as little as 10,000 words.  Is anyone else planning on trying NaNoWriMo out?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

One Book Down, Many To Go

I finally managed to finish The Great Hunt, which I had slowly hacked away at since May.  It was a phenomenal book with a ton of plot-lines and characters.  The book filling its slot on my "currently-reading" list is Ender's Game.  I've never read a sci-fi with an adult audience, so I'm excited for it.  Hopefully I'll finish it in less than five months...

Sunday, October 14, 2012


I'm sort of bringing back an old feature of my blog, although with a twist.  Here is a side-by-side of the rough and clean versions of a fantasy flash fiction piece I wrote a little under two weeks ago.  (I would have released it last week, but it was too rough, as you'll see.)

            The moon poked out from behind cirro-stratus clouds.  It shone, entirely full.  Angoroth chortled.
            “Who is my target, commander?” asked Angoroth.  His voice was stone scraped on stone.
            A dignified man turned to him.  “General Crewhaw.  He’s in the command tent.”
            Angoroth nodded all too zealously.  An ancient gesture formed in his left hand.  He muttered what could have been a demon’s growl.
            Faint shouts were heard in the distance.
            “Dead,” Angoroth declared.
            The commander smiled half-way.  “Now, summon something at the narrowest part of the river.  They have a watchtower there.”
            Hand moving and vocal cords vibrating, Angoroth conjured.  Without his right arm, severed by a rogue warg, he could not call upon a fire djinn, the best option.  With a final jerk of his wrist and a shouted syllable, an imp appeared at the target site.  The only indication of its existence was a faint glow from its flaming skin.  Angoroth could sustain that much of his preferred spell.
            Breathing took great effort for Angoroth.  A fire blazed in the distance.  “One last task,” said the commander.  "Get some rest.”
            Angoroth spit bile.  He strode down the pathway to his small tent.  Inside, he slept.

            The moon poked out from behind cirro-stratus clouds.  It glowed, casting a perfect circle of light upon the ground.  A man chortled.  His cloak quivered in the breeze.
            “Who is my target, commander?” he asked.  His tone was like stone scraped on stone.
            A man wearing a tight, brass-buttoned blazer turned to him.  “Angoroth, finally awake I see.  Good.  Your target is their general, in the command tent.”
            Angoroth nodded all too zealously.  His hand contorted into an ancient gesture.  He muttered what could have been a demon’s growl.
            Faint shouts rang in the distance.
            “Dead,” Angoroth declared.
            The commander’s lips curled slightly.  “The enemy has a watchtower at the river ford.  I need it to be removed.”
            He spouted a curse, looking at the jagged stump beneath his right shoulder.  Only a moment passed before he picked up a chant, swooping from bass to tenor in short, guttural syllables.  His hand fluttered through several positions untraceable by the untrained eye.  With a final jerk of his wrist, his motion ended.  Angoroth stepped out of the tent and peered toward the river, shimmering in the moonlight.  The only indication of change was a faint glow.  It sputtered and seemed to die, yet before his next shaky breath it expanded greatly.
            The world grew fuzzy in Angoroth’s eyes.  His legs buckled. 
“One last task,” said the commander. 
Angoroth grimaced, his eyes red and glassy.
The commander smiled.  "Get some rest, Shaman.”

Friday, October 12, 2012


Sorry about the delay in posting.  I do not doubt that it will happen again in the future, unfortunately.  Anyway, let me begin.

Writers do not have the luxury of text in nice, neat thought bubbles.  We leave that to cartoonists (no offense to them).  In literature, it's a tad more complicated to display thoughts.  It can be done in a few ways.

First-person stories use thoughts in the most dynamic, fun way.  Thoughts are thrown in along with the rest of the text.  The narrator generally breaks in with his or her thoughts frequently and may tell jokes or propel a tone that is nearly impossible to replicate in other POVs.

Quotes may be used for thoughts, with the discretion that the dialogue tag should reveal that the character is not speaking aloud.  Sometimes characters may murmur things along with thinking them, especially if they have something important to state, yet cannot have their thoughts heard because of the POV.

While used infrequently, at least to my knowledge, italics can convey thoughts as well.  Robert Jordan does a splendid job showing the thoughts of his POV characters mixed in with the text like that of first-person, albeit italicized.

Character thoughts are an important part of any story.  While they are not necessary, they help to establish a tone in the writing, can be used to establish characters (and keep them from being flat), and can foreshadow as well as anything else.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Lack of Pictures

I realized that I almost never have any pictures on my blog.  As I can't think of anything else to post, I'm going to create a home-made image using Microsoft Word (yes, Word) for a writing genre fit for October.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


     Ivan scrambled out of the artillery scar he had entered early during the infantry assault.  He was surrounded by gore and corpses.  The battlefield was made even more dismal by the setting sun, causing the ruins of once great Stalingrad to turn a dull hue of grey, speckled in lucid crimson.   A fallen German soldier lifted his head slightly, the movement nearly undetectable.   Ivan hefted his Mosin-Nagant 1891/31 to his shoulder, took aim, and laid a bullet through the man’s head.  “That makes twenty-four,” he said under his breath in gruff Russian. 

     He hunched slightly at the knees and paced forward at a diagonal toward a building with a somewhat intact near-wall.  When he reached the moderate cover, he dropped onto his stomach and proceeded to crawl forward against the brickwork, rifle inches above cracked cobblestone.  All was silent.  Another survivor, this time a solider of mutual nation, came out from behind an opened door and followed after Ivan.  Ivan paused for a moment to allow the man to catch up.  “Two is better than one, as they say,” he thought.

     After several moments, the fellow sniper arrived beside him.  His demeanor, face apathetic, showed that the man was used to seeing death, commonly at his own hands in fact.  The weapon he held was near identical to Ivan’s, save a lack of scratches caused by constant scraping on the edge of the pit he had laid down in.  “Your rifle startled me despite myself,” the man told him in a hushed tone, a slight smile across his dusty face.  “I did not know anyone else had survived that last wave.  We sure pushed them back though, and for a meager loss, nonetheless.”

     “I wouldn’t say it was meager.  Perhaps three hundred are dead.  The Nazis are defeating us.  First the bombings with their aeroplanes, and now these heavy ground assaults.  It will take every able gunman in the city, or whatever remains of it, to keep them back now,” Ivan replied.

     “Let us move forward then, may our fire instill fear in those dirty Germans.  Their young soldiers haven’t seen a Russian sniper in combat, especially not students of Vasily Zaytsev.”

     “May his doctrines keep us alive, and with us dear Stalingrad.”

     The two crawled forward and turned the corner to the perpendicular street, climbing over mounds of rubble as they copied the German’s retreat path.  Soon, sound could be heard in the distance, evidence that the German position was only a few blocks ahead.  The constant mortars had injured Ivan’s ears, so what he heard was heavily muffled, but it could still be detected, and he was alert.

     Nearly an hour passed by as the patient Russians crawled ever forward, slow as snails.  They had moved three blocks, and here the thick coat of smoke from the constant melees was not as thick.  Ivan caught sight of a German soldier far ahead, lifted his gun, took aim, and fired.  “Twenty-five,” he said.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Epic Fantasy Tropes

There are many tropes associated with Epic Fantasy.  Here are some of them with added explanation (with examples from Lord of the Rings and the Wheel of Time):
  • Everything is huge
If you've ever watched the Lord of the Rings movies, you've seen that many of the structures are massive.  The same thing applies to ancient cities in the Wheel of Time series.
  • Things happened in the past that blow "today" out of the water
The Age of Legends pretty much defines this one.
  • Cool groups of awesome warriors
There were the Rangers from Lord of the Rings and Aes Sedai, the Aiel, and the Seanchan from the Wheel of Time (to name a few).
  • Massive scope
The world is in peril, usually be some overlord who is the embodiment of evil.
  • An everyman protagonist
Lord of the Rings has Frodo, a feeble hobbit, and the Wheel of Time series has Rand al'Thor, a young man who seems to be completely normal.
  • Vastly different cultures
The Seafolk, The Game playing Cairhienins, Andorans, etc., the Wheel of time series is full of cultures.  The Lord of the Rings has the addition of several races' cultures.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Trope Dilemna

I was writing a list of epic fantasy tropes and realized that my novel didn't include two of them.

My protagonist, Fredric, a virtuous knight, is by far not an everyman.  He is wise, strong, and chivalrous, although he's a bit more stern for his own good.  Now that I think about it, I could even have him go a little pseudo-Whitecloak...

I have no ancient cities with massive structures.  I could pump up the size, but none of the magic in the book supports towers the size of skyscrapers and cities on the scale of those found in the Wheel of Time series.  I suppose I could add it.

Thoughts?  Should I change things or keep it as it is?