Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Battling Writer's Block

We all have those times where we sit down to write and things just don't work out. We don't know what to say or we are stuck on a plot point or a character issue. But its how we deal with those times that help define us as writers.

Diagnose the problem

Figure out whats keeping you from writing and try to fix it. I know easier said than done in some cases, but if we know what's bothering us then sometimes we can come up with a solution and move on. Although other times the issue is bigger and we need time to clear our heads and really work through a solution. Its in those times that I really define myself as a writer. However, its almost always not in the way I expect. Its when I'm stuck on one problem, that a new idea usually presents itself. More often than not its completely unrelated but its exactly the distraction I need. It gets me going on something else and allows for my subconscious to deal with the issue behind the scenes. When the right solution presents itself, it bursts through loud and clear. Although, don't always expect a quick fix, sometimes the right answer can take days, weeks or even months.

Take a break

If its not working, don't force it. Usually a little distance helps the juices start flowing again. And when you take a break don't let your mind worry about the time you are "wasting". You aren't, in fact "wasting" any time, you are resting your mind. Only when your mind gets a true break, can it naturally flow back to the world of writing and the story you are telling.

Talk it out

The expression two heads are better than one holds true with writing. Writing is not a solo sport as much as a lot of people would like to believe. Talk through your issue with someone else. Sometimes the other person doesn't even have to say anything, and just hearing yourself talk through the plot or the characters presents the right answer. Other times its something the other person says that sparks an idea or possible solution. Don't keep your writing to yourself. It's okay to get help!

Stay positive

A positive attitude goes a long long way. Keeping your spirits up and being excited about your writing causes a chain effect. One good idea can start a spark and one spark is all it takes to cause a wildfire. Run with the ideas, get excited about them and keep writing.

Do what you need to do to keep moving forward

If you need validation get it, but do realize seeking criticism is a two way street. Not everyone is going to like everything you write and that's okay. Criticism will usually be constructive. Odds are you have a good idea but you may need help with execution, description, character development, point of view, you name it. No one is perfect and writers all need help with something. So don't beat yourself up over the criticism, use it as a guide to improve

Find inspiration wherever you can

Read the news or blogs, watch TV, read books, people watch. Whatever it takes. You never know where your next big idea is lurking. So if you're sitting around staring at your blank computer screen waiting for inspiration, odds are its not going to strike. Get out there and live your life, inspiration will find you.

The law of averages
Yes I'm an engineer and yes that sounds like math but its not entirely. I swear it applies to writing. So you had a bad day you only wrote five hundred words, or maybe two hundred or maybe even just one hundred. Or maybe you only wrote one single word. Hey you wrote something and that's more than you had yesterday. Don't sweat it though, because remember that day last week when you wrote two thousand? Or maybe tomorrow you'll have your best writing day yet. Tomorrow is always a new day and you never know what it might bring you. So if you only wrote five words today, at some point it will balance out with the thousands you write another day. Not everyday can give you the word count you hoped for. Some writing days are like Mondays and others are like Fridays. Take each day as it comes and let the numbers fall where they do. It all averages out in the end.

Don't let yourself get hung up on the right wording

The right words come but not always when you are writing a first draft. Don't let this stop your flow. If the right word or phrasing isn't coming, try a thesaurus. If you cant find it quickly, write down what you have and move on. Don't waste precious writing time on looking for the perfect phrase. You'll never find it that way. Wait until editing. You never know that sentence you spent hours trying to make perfect, might just get thrown out later. So don't sweat the details early on.

Whatever it is that's causing you to struggle with your writing, don't let it define you or take over. Take a deep breath, stare the beast in the eyes and tell it "you don't own me." Then go out there and have fun with it. We write because we feel. If nothing else turn this horrible experience into a small writing piece. Who knows one day you may look back at that piece you wrote at your low point and smile at how far you've come.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Hunger Games: A Perfect Example of How to Effectively Adapt a Book to Movie

Screenwriters, producers, directors, and actors take note, The Hunger Games is exactly how you execute a book to movie adaptation. Were scenes added, things removed, details change? Of course, but it was the exact right blend of those things that made The Hunger Games as a movie such a fantastic adaptation. This is really saying something when you go from inside the head of one character in the book to an outsider perspective in the movie. It's even more powerful when you do this in such a way that anyone including fans of the series and those unfamiliar can understand and fall in love with the story and the characters.

The world The Hunger Games exists in, was built and put to life on the screen in spectacular fashion. The premise and the stakes were clear from the instant the film began and the juxtaposition between The Capital and District 12 was evident right off the bat. It was abundantly clear that The Capital had it all and the districts had nothing.

The right pacing. The story moved and didn't have any extra fluff. They got in all the essentials, told the story and moved on to the next important piece of the puzzle. There were no extraneous scenes and nothing felt out of place. The flow was spot on.

The Additions. The added scenes with Seneca Crane and President Snow not only set the stage for the first movie but also the entire series. They were effective in showing the iron fist with which President Snow rules and controls the twelve districts. The scenes with Caesar Flickerman showed that The Hunger Games above all else is a sport and for the sole entertainment of others, not just a reminder of the past. The control room scenes illustrated that no matter what the tributes did, the gamemaker was still pulling the strings. Finally the scene between Seneca and Haymitch proved the importance of the ideology - if things don't go according to plan you fix it so it does, because if you don't the wildfire gets out of control. All groundwork set forth for the second installment Catching Fire.

Casting. I'll admit I had some reservations about some of the casting. However after seeing the movie, I 100% agree with every single casting decision made. The actors did an amazing job bringing their characters to life and I couldn't have imagined it better myself. In some cases such as Haymitch, I actually enjoyed the movie portrayal better than the book. And that is really saying something.

With that I say a huge thank you to every single person involved in bringing The Hunger Games to life. I've never been so impressed with a book to movie adaptation. It was exactly what I hoped for and you've made fans extremely happy. Thank you for proving that even though nothing can replace the imagination generated from a good book, movies representing the characters and worlds from books can be done right.
The odds are certainly in your favor for future adaptations in the series!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

And the winners are....

Thanks to all who entered my first blog contest!

Three people won Starters bookmarks signed by Lissa Price.
Ishita aka Fishy

And the winner of the signed bookmark plus a copy of Starters is ....


Congrats to all the winners, I emailed you, please send me your mailing addresses and I will send out your prizes!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Starters Review + Giveaway

I had the pleasure of reading an Arc of Lissa Price's Starters, and in addition to the following review I will be hosting my very first giveaway! **Squees with excitement** Giveaway details below.
Callie Woodland is a sixteen year old Starter living in a dystopian version of Los Angelos. Her world has been ravaged by the Spore Wars. Only the very young and the very old were inoculated against it. Those between the ages of twenty and sixty died when the spores were released. Starters unclaimed by Ender relatives were forced to the streets unable to work or make money to survive - until Prime Destinations.

Prime Destinations is a secretive company that allows Starters to work by renting out their bodies to Enders who want to feel young again. The Starters go to sleep for a period of time and wake up much richer.

Starving on the street and with a sick younger brother Tyler, Callie inquires at Prime Destinations and ultimately decides to become a donor. Things seem to be going well, until she wakes up at a nightclub in the middle of one of her rentals. She quickly finds something is wrong with her chip. The discovery sends her on a journey that causes her to question her actions and everything she knows. She risks her life to try to uncover a much larger and more sinister plot

From the moment I heard about Starters, I knew I wanted to get my hands on this book. It definitely did not disappoint. It reminded me a bit of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse in premise but there are only a few similarities. The book was exciting, hard to put down, and left me guessing what the next surprise would be at every turn of events.

I loved Callie's character and strength throughout her journey. She changed nearly every person's life she touched. Despite having to make difficult choices, she stuck to her beliefs along the way.

Starters is an eery and twisting ride that takes a deep look at human behavior. As adults we all want to be young again but at what cost? The story makes you take a deep look inside and wonder about the choices we make and the costs we may not have considered. Starters had me squirming in places wondering if people could really be that cruel for their own benefit. And it ultimately forces the question, if you were in Callie's situation what would you have done?

Starters debuts Tuesday, March 13 and I highly recommend you check it out! An e-short entitled Portrait of a Starter: An Unhidden Story is available now and also well worth a read. It sets the stage for the story that unfolds in Starters. For more information about Starters, to see the book trailer or read an excerpt visit http://www.randomhouse.com/teens/starters/ . For more on author Lissa Price visit her website http://www.lissaprice.com/ .
I'm definitely looking forward to two more upcoming e-shorts and the second book Enders!

And now for the giveaway! One winner will receive a copy of Starters plus a bookmark signed by Lissa Price. Three other winners will receive signed bookmarks. All you have to do to enter is follow my blog and leave a comment below answering the question, if you were an unclaimed Starter, would you go work for Prime Destinations or would you find another way to survive? Don't forget to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win. If you tweet/facebook/blog etc. about the giveaway you'll get an extra entry, just be sure to leave a link as proof.

Contest ends midnight CST Monday, March 19, 2012. International entries welcome!