Thursday, October 31, 2013

Guest Story Editing Part 3 Explanation

Because it's Halloween, I'm going to be horrifyingly brief.

I only made a few real changes in Part 3.  I love playing with dialogue tags, so I went to town, trying to hone the story through them.  The dialogue needed a little more style, so I provided it.  It was as simple as that.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Instead of reading a literary criticism today, stop by the blog of Alissa Leonard and read my flash story "Escaped from the Labyrinth," my entry in her 17th Finish That Thought Contest.  I will post my normal Tuesday post on Sunday instead.

(Note: My story ended up "Special Challenge Champion")

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Edmund stroked the edge of the key.  The tarnished metal was so cold he shivered.
His grandmother's special box sat in front of him on the bed.  Intricate grooves adorned the top of the miniature chest, yet the sides looked plain and warped, almost as if it had never been finished.  One edge was stained red, another charred black.
Edmund slid the key into its hole.  Took a deep breath.  Twisted.  Lifted the lid.  Gasped.
There lay a single sheet of paper, folded up in thirds.  Edmund pulled it out, his once-shaking body still as a stone.
He read the elegant script aloud, “If you are reading this, I have gone.  Fled, but not perished.  I cannot die.
“You were chosen from among my grandchildren to be the next in our ancient line to learn the Hidden Ways.  Go to London and find a man who goes by the name of Merlin.  He claims not to be the wizard of lore, yet I would not be surprised if he was.  He will tell you what to do and how to find me and your other ancestors, hidden away.  Waiting.  Tell no one you are leaving.  Give your grandfather a hug for me before you go.  With love, Grandmother.”

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Guest Story Editing Part 2 Explanation

Again, this is an explanation of an old post showing unedited and edited parts of a story my cousin wrote for her seventh grade English class.  Read along with "Guest Story Editing Part 2."

The first sentence/paragraph of Part 2 was in need of some rephrasing.  It was too abrupt and indefinite.  I gave it direction by stating that "the situation changed for the worse."

Dialogue pushed the plot forward in the next sentence.  Wiggles' mother called him away to the kitchen.  I cut the speech down a few words to improve the narrative rhythm.  The nickname in the original served little purpose, so I removed it.

Paragraph three needed only tweaks, the most important of which was changing a "tell" to a "show."

The final paragraph turned into three.  A sentence of description became a paragraph to add literary appeal, expand the setting, and slow the pacing.  You could argue that there was some character development there too.  The second of my created paragraphs did pretty much the same thing.  My wording could have been a little better.  The edited version of the story left off much the same as the unedited version, albeit with a few more words.  I could have told less.  It's not bad enough to worry about, in my opinion.

Any other suggestions or comments?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Children of the Mind (Ending Note)

Children of the Mind gained a lot of traction in the second half.  Orson Scott Card really stepped up, as I expected.

The largest section of each character arc arrived in half two.  They were very cool.  I didn't exactly foresee them, but they were properly foreshadowed.

Plot-wise, tons of stuff happened.  The events were tense, contemplative, and satisfying all at once.  Card is a master of his craft in this regard.

The setting comment from the midpoint analysis stands.

Children of the Mind earned an A- overall.  There were some problems, but nothing unforgivable.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Bloodshot Biologist (Part 3 of 3)

(Note: This humor is extremely deliberate.  It's supposed to sound awful.)

     A light-brown-haired man stepped in front of Tim’s path several yards ahead of him.  His beard seemed to glow in the limited light.  In a gruff voice he declared, “I challenge thee to a martial arts bout.  En garde!”  The man exploded forward, curved hand above his head.
     Luckily, Tim was also a master of forearm-warfare.  He crouched slightly and waited.  As soon as the man dropped his hand to strike, Tim shifted to the left.   He swiped out at the back of the man’s calf, nearly throwing him off balance.  The man whipped around with a high kick.  Tim brought up his arm and slipped it even higher, bringing the man to the ground.
     With a look of satisfaction, Tim crouched down beside the man.  “I believe I’ve…” he began, but was cut off by a jab to the face.  “That’s how you’d like to play?” he asked while ramming his elbow into the man’s sternum.
     The man leapt to his feet with a grin.  “It’ll take a lot more than that to take me down, and yes,” he said.  He made a taunting gesture.  The provocation was met by a hard swing at the thigh, deflected with ease.  Another thrust of the forearm landed across his abdominals a moment later.
     “You are quite an admirable opponent,” he said with a sneer.  “I guess I’ll have to use my secret weapon”.  The man bent down slightly, leapt into the air, and spun, right leg stretched in from of him.  The air seemed to pop with the sheer wickedness.  Tim jumped out of the way, body clearing the kick by only a few inches.
     “It’s time to end this,” Tim declared.  He charged forward and faked a blow to the shin, causing the man to back up a step and defend his legs.  Tim took the moment of weakness to lunge forward and pound his arm into the man’s chin.  The man’s eyes widened.  He teetered for a moment, and then stated, “You have discovered my weakness.   My honor is shattered.  I must depart.”  A fierce gait moved him away from the battlefield, a single tear marring his rugged cheek.
      Satisfaction spread across Tim’s face.  He continued his stroll, triumph evident in his walk.  The stream narrowed slightly as the trees thinned.
     Tim came upon a sturdy wooden door.  “Blacksmith” was spelled out in iron letters above the frame.   Pink twine fastened a piece of paper to the lion’s-head doorknocker.  It read: “Out on party business; do not wait for me.”
     And so Tim fell to his knees and wept.  The End.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Guest Story Editing Part 1 Explanation

A long, long time ago I took a story my cousin (her name is Maren Shenal) had written for her seventh grade English class and posted it one segment at a time on my blog along with revised versions of the segments.  I want to talk about editing more often on my blog, as for the past nineteen months I've focused mostly on drafting.  My next few writing posts are going to explain why I changed the things that I did when I revised my guest story (and perhaps refer to some things I would have done differently had I been writing those posts "today").

I will start with Part 1, which can be found here.  It's best that you follow along.  (If anyone is even reading this...)

The first sentence in the original felt too abrupt and showed too much for my taste.  Its implied style seemed a little too first grade for the rest of the story.  I turned that sentence into five.  The final two sentences could have been done better, for sure.  I now prefer something like, "Don't get me wrong, they had their fair share of hardships, but they were often small and almost always funny, and the case of Fluffy and Wiggles it was both."  "But" in the preceding sentence would therefore be changed to "albeit."

I retained the next sentence more-or-less.  It felt like the story needed some more description to balance out the opening dialogue, so I added some.  My revision was a little shaky.  I would have ended better with, "...yet his sharp teeth broke the pleasant image.  Fluffy caught a glimpse of his coat of dense purple fur on the very brink of squealing.  She held back a laugh."

The third sentence needed the same treatment as the second and some cutting.  I told more than I should have.  I could have shown with just a few extra words.  "Wiggles stared at Fluffy's long, horse-like body, his eyes shifting only to gaze upon the large black horn emerging from her skull.  In the corner of his view, Fluffy's hair sparkled in every hue of a rainbow.  The knot in Wiggles' stomach softened.  He smiled."  That's much better, in my opinion.  I took the purpose of the nickname and amplified it by changing it to description through the opposite character's eyes.

Sentence four was fine after a trim and a dialogue tag (although the tag could have been omitted).

I decided to maintain the narrative nature of the final sentence in Part 1 and only change the wording.  It does well enough as a transition in this genre.

Is there anything else anyone thinks should be changed?  General comments?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Revisiting Ender's Game

Since Ender's Game hits theaters soon and I have PSAT testing tomorrow morning, I figure it's in my best interest to repost my criticisms for Ender's Game and call it a night (right after I finish my Pre-Calc homework).

Midpoint Analysis

Ending Note

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Bloodshot Biologist (Part 2 of 3)

     Tim woke at a leisurely hour.  He massaged his neck and shoulders before rising with a yawn.  “It will be a long journey to the forge,” he thought aloud.  He strode over to a corner where he kept his travel-sack and bundle-stick.  The feel of burlap meant great adventure to Tim, as he was far from well-travelled.
     From his dresser Tim retrieved a fresh set of garments.  A forest-green tunic above a linen shirt and cloth leggings made up his clothes for travel.  Tim fished a fistful of copper coins, a few artichokes from his pitiful garden, and a waterskin.  He placed them in his sack and tied them to his stick, setting it aside so that he could perform further preparations.
     Food was limited in the forest.  Tim nibbled at some wild pears that managed to grow on a feral tree not far from his dwelling.  The excitement of his quest began to gnaw at him.  With a toss of his fruit to his friends, Tim entered his boots, mounted his luggage on his shoulder, and set out into the wood.
     The floor of the forest produced a soft crunch.  Or a grotesque ooze when he stepped on…  Nonetheless, Tim trudged forward at a brisk pace.  The rounded to the east down a gentle slope.  The downgrade was flanked by maples, the same trees he used to make syrup for the squirrels.  He didn’t eat it himself, that would be folly.  The squirrels don’t take kindly to people who eat their syrup.
     The faint pathway out of the wood edged to the right along a spindly stream.  The minor waterway was the main source of water in Tim’s part of the forest.  It doubled as a marking system to grant the easiest exit from the forest.  Tim followed it for about a mile with little excitement.  That all changed.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Writing a Movie Review

I had to write a review of the movie Gravity for my local newspaper's Thursday High School Highlights section.  The format I used was very similar to the one I developed for my literary criticisms.

As with most nonfiction essays, the review began with an introduction.  Of course, the language must be just a little lofty with plenty of buzzwords.  The basic position (favorable or unfavorable) should probably be stated upfront.

My literary criticisms typically have three body paragraphs, one each detailing plot, setting, and characters.  For a review I added two paragraphs.  The first, linked to characters, critiqued the film's acting.  The second, linked to setting, critiqued the film's visuals/effects.

Feel free to use this format if you ever write a movie review.  Or don't.  I don't really care.  As long as it's well-written.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Children of the Mind (Midpoint Analysis)

So far the final book of the Ender Quartet is decent.  It isn't mind-blowing, but it certainly isn't bad.  Xenocide, the preceding book, started out slow as well.

There has only been one pair of characters I don't like introduced.  Their dialogue is simply annoying.  I'm not sure yet if that was done intentionally.  Otherwise, the characters are great as usual.

The plot is very complex for the halfway point of a novel, yet it isn't confusing.  I like it.  There are multiple threads and several POVs (kind of, as I consider it to be omniscient).  After years of reading YA, it's nice to read those sorts of novels.

The settings are cool as usual.  They aren't as flamboyant as those found in space opera, (I consider this to be under the "soft" subgenre) although they suit the book.  It's all good.

Keeping things brief, this gets an 86% so far.  Hopefully it will improve by the end.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Bloodshot Biologist (Part 1 of 3)

(Note: this is very deliberate humor.)

     It was deep in the forest that it happened.  The forest was rather deep.  It was a rather deep, rather green forest.  The local people even ventured to call it “The Rather Deep and Green Forest”.  In this forest a great and mystical thing happened.  Actually, it was two progressive mystical happenings.  They were so mystical that some called them “The Mystical Occurrences from the Rather Deep and Green Forest.”
     The mystical occurrences from the deep, green forest began one day in a small cottage in a rather emerald-hued section roughly mid-way into the forest.  This was the cottage of a man.  He was a solitary, intelligent man.  The local people called him “Tim”.
     Tim was a man apt to study.  He spent his days on his porch with a mug of tea, peering out into his vast yard watching little woodland creatures.  He was fond of the animals.  The animals were each given a name, although their true titles were known by Tim.  One grey rabbit he called “Fluffy”.  A red fox he called “Auburn”.  The names go on and on.
     Tim studied the animals for hours a day, for so long that his eyes were quite bloodshot.  It was this behavior that earned Tim his nickname “The Bloodshot Biologist”.  Needless to say, he preferred that over Tim.
     After years of watching the various species of creatures in his little nook, Tim had a thought.  He thought something like, “and now for something completely different.”  Thus, he went inside and brewed himself his first cup of coffee.  Whilst doing so, Tim had another thought.  “I’m getting tired of the animals in my yard,” he pondered, sighing audibly.  “I think I will make myself a new one.”
     This posed a problem.  How would Tim create a new animal?  A tool!  A special tool would be needed for an animal to be created.  Tim made a plan.  He decided to make a trek the next morning to the home of the local blacksmith.  The blacksmith lived in the far-off “Rather Shallow and Plain Forest”.  After so much productive thinking, Tim got into his cot and drifted to sleep, dreaming of different animals he could make once he had a tool made by the blacksmith.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Link...Because I Have Homework To Do

I posted yesterday for IWSG and have a lot of homework to complete, so instead of a writing post you're getting an excellent link that's been floating around for a while.

The Gateway to Brandon Sanderson's Creative Writing Lectures Out of Brigham Young University

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

IWSG---A Brief Encouragement

This is my third post for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group.  From Mr. Cavanaugh's blog: "Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!"

Today I'd like to offer a brief encouragement.  I received an email today saying that my latest submission to MicroHorror had been accepted and was already up on the site.  If I can get a publishing credit (however insignificant) any of you can.  Most of you have more schooling and life experience, seeing as how I'm a 16-year-old high school Junior.  So, go for it!

You can find my horror flash piece here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Emperor's Soul

The Emperor's Soul won a Hugo.  After reading it, I understand why.  Admittedly, I haven't read much of Brandon Sanderson's work yet, but compared to others in the genre he's in the highest of classes.  I'll give my score upfront: 97%.

Shai is clever.  She's good at what she does.  She thinks ahead.  She's proactive.  She's almost everything you could possibly want in a protagonist.  The cast of secondary characters have progressively lower strength based upon how important they are.  It's not a fault in the writing.  In fact, it may have been done on purpose.  The more the character was focused upon within Shai's POV, the more we were able to learn about them, leading to an increase in how strong they seemed as characters.  Everything worked splendidly.

I don't want to give too much away about the setting.  I have no complaints.  The story's set in a faraway part of the world from Elantris.  The setting is more anthropomorphic than most.

I had concerns with the plot coming in.  I worried for nothing.  Everything flowed.  Nothing felt too extraneous.  There were some cool little subplots that had both aesthetic effects on the setting and tweaks on characters.  They were nice to read.  The main plot held me.  I can't say anything more without giving things away.

Sanderson did pretty much everything right.  The only things I can really complain about are the switching of viewpoints for tiny periods of time at the end, although those are forgiven, and the oddity of the chapter titles.  They made practical sense, yet were slightly awkward to read.