Friday, June 29, 2012

Divergent Book Review (with writers in mind)


Normally I don't do book reviews, but this book was such an enjoyable read that I wanted to praise it, as well as see what made it so great in order to apply to my own writing. I'm sure you've all heard that you should read like a writer, and that's exactly what I (tried) to do. So here it is my thoughts on Divergent.

Plot Summary according to Goodreads:
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.

Characters: Our main character Beatrice/Tris is interesting and is constantly dealing with her inner struggle between what's right and wrong. She's a bit of an underdog and sometimes her niceness is viewed as a weakness by herself and others. Although I liked her, sometimes she felt a tiny bit flat. There was just something niggling at me about her, but I don't know what exactly.
What I took away from her character:
-Give the MC honorable traits ( Tris's niceness, and humility)
-Let them screw up and go against their honorable traits (Whenever Tris did this my heart sped up a bit and I hurried onto the next page. I wanted to see what would happen because of that choice.)
-Everyone roots for the underdog
-Develop them a lot. Don't skip out on their character
-Make them relatable
-Make them exciting/do exciting things (People read to escape from reality, and every time Tris was about to do some daredevil stunt I was drawn into the story more)

There were lots of characters that were managed surprisingly well. If you have a large cast of characters for whatever reason (for this book it was because of the competition) choose a few to center in on and give them all very different names so there is no confusion on who's who.

The love interest. He needed his own paragraph. He was great! I may have a tiny character crush on him, tehe. What I learned:
-He wasn't perfect and love interests shouldn't be
-It didn't focus a ton on his appearance except when Tris and him were making out and that gave depth to his character (fyi this book had a few PG-13-esque scenes. Not so much that I felt like I should stop reading it, but it was there, just so you know.)
-He had back story and was relevant to the story in more then just the love interest role. It got me thinking about it in terms of "If the love interest wasn't the love intere
st would he still be needed in the plot of the story?" The answer should always be yes.
-They were good together, not on again off again. They made each other better. There wasn't constant drama between them.

Originality: Wow. Completely original and I didn't feel like I was reading something I've already read. A bit info-dumpy in the first few chapters, but that was quickly forgotten. What I learned:
-When creating so much don't info dump. Only tell the info if they absolutely must have it. It's better to just let the story go on and let the reader figure things out as they go.

Plot: It was amazing. Subplots and twists and turns were great. Ending felt a tad rushed. What I learned:
-There should always be a subplot(s)
-Take the time to think the plot out and drop hints/set up for the ending
-Don't introduce new characters that have never been mentioned before in the ending
-Use scenes that are important to the plot to develop character, don't just have scenes that are specifically for character building (or have very little)

Writing: Thinking back, I don't remember a thing about the writing itself, I just remember the story. What I learned:
-The words you use and writing style shouldn't distract the reader from the story. If the reader notices your writing style then you should consider toning it down a bit
-However that being said sometimes writing style will get noticed because it adds to the story (think Shatter Me or Blood Red Road), if in doubt obt for the going unnoticed, though

Ending thoughts:
If you liked the Hunger Games you're sure to like this book.
I would say age 15+. Maturity of the reader taken into account though, I would say at least in high school is the aimed for audience.
A book doesn't have to be incredibly deep, moving or lyrical to be entertaining. This book was pure fun!

INSURGENT HERE I COME!!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Poisons: For Writers

The other day at the library I had a minute before I started my shift, so I quickly buried myself in my favourite section. One shelf, the one to the left, is the writing section and the one to the right is all the decor/art/photography stuff. You can imagine why I like that section. By the way, if you're not familiar with the writing section at your local library (808.3-ish by Dewey system, fyi), then you should check it out ASAP.

Ok, back to the point of this post. I went down a rabbit hole. I found a book there called Book of Poisons: A Guide for Writers by Serita Stevens, RN, BSN, MA, LNC and Anne Bannon. And yes, all those degrees after Stevens' name were on the book cover, so of course I had to check it out.

It's filled very useful ways to kill your characters off, and makes you feel a lot less stupid then typing "how to kill someone" into Google. Try explaining that piece of internet history. They aren't all necessarily deadly, but they do all have some sort of drugging effect. So I decided to post a few of my favourites (does that sound morbid?) paraphrased because each drug/poison has quite a bit of info with it:

A staple for Victorian Era novels, Opium:
Scientific Name: Papaver somniferum
Other names: Gum opium, poppy seed
Toxicity: 5/6
Form: -Gummy substance found in fruit and juices of opium poppy
-Can be smoked, drunk (syrup thick and sweet) or chewed
-Combined with other drugs could be laudanum

Effects/Symptoms: -Depresses central nervous system
-Euphoria -pinpoint pupils -slow/shallow breathing - low blood pressure -cardiovascular irregularities -unresponsiveness -deep coma -respiratory failure -death
Reaction time: Fatalities occur 2-4 hours after ingestion
Notes: -Used for pain killing and sleep-inducing effects
-Originated in China and other parts of Asia

Cobra Bite:
Toxicity: 6/6
Effects/Symptoms: -Pain within ten minutes -paralysis -weakness -stumbling -vomiting -impaired swallowing -convulsions -abdominal pain -fever -lung swelling up to ten days later -blood pressure falling -drooping eyes = toxicity in system -necrosis (premature death of cells) of tissue within 48 hrs. -Death caused by respiratory failure
Reaction time: -paralyzes nervous system within minutes -death within two hours
Antidotes: -antiserum only (must be given within 4 hrs. )
Notes: Of course all times approximate due to different heights, weights etc.

Anthrax:
Scientific Name: Bacillus anthracis
Toxicity: 6/6
Form: -Aerosol (most effective) and spores through the skin
Effects/Symptoms: -2-6 day incumbation period -fever -muscular pain -abdominal/chest pain -cough -fatigue -flu-like symptoms -shortness of breath -50% have brain bleeding -90% mortality rate
Reaction Time: -Symptoms start within 24 hrs., take several days to become full blown
Antidotes and Treatments: -isolation -removing clothing (if aerosol) -showering right away - doesn't get through unbroken skin -antibiotics -spores can "hide" thus treatment for 60 days



Okay, well. That was morbid, but informative. Now here's something to leave you on a happy note.

EDIT: I meant to add this originally, but I was in a hurry to catch something on T.V. I wanted to do a little "What I'm reading, what I'm watching and what I'm listening" to at the end of every post because we do it at work and it's tons of fun!

What I'm Reading: Divergent by Veronica Roth
What I'm Watching: Waiting for a new episode of Rookie Blue!
What I'm Listening to: Jason Mraz's album Love is a Four Letter Word



Friday, June 15, 2012

Liebster Blog!


I'm a Liebster bloggy again! Compliments of Paige Lollie; thanks so much for the award! She's a fairly new blogger over at The Dream Words, so feel free to check her out. I have done a Liebster award here before, but I figured I'd add a couple more. Basically you list some of your favourite blogs under 200 followers, link up to them, and let them know you awarded them. You're supposed to do five, but since I've done it before
(that and because I'm lazy) I just did two.


Dakota Densmore: My Frantic Scribblings




P.S. Just read a really good post on subtext over at the Bookshelf Muse. Check it out!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Story Starter: Take Two

Here's a story starter idea to help anyone out there who wants to write a new story or just have a laugh with a crazy new idea!

What's the story behind this picture? For some reason it makes me think of Frank Sinatra...
"Start spreading the neeeeews. I'm leavin todaay!"

Also, my friend posted a story starter idea thingy-ma-bobber that we got from a writing course we both attended, so I'll just give you the link instead of me typing it all out, haha. Don't you love it when someone else does the work for you?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Blog Hopping


Today I wanted to chat about blogs. I've been turning over ideas in my head on how to increase traffic to your blog, because a good friend of mine, Dakota Densmore, started up a new blog, and I wanted to help her get her blog My Frantic Scribblings off the ground. So here's what I came up with:

1. Visit, comment, and follow other people's blogs. Get your name out there! However, be classy about it. Don't just comment to leave a link to your blog, read the post and take a moment to make a comment that goes with the post.

2. Join up on memes and different linkys. This usually happens when a blog decides to have some sort of topic that everyone can post about and then put links to their blog at the host blog for everyone to check out. I've participated in a couple of these here are the links to a few good places to get connected with memes:
Beautiful People - Hosted by Georgie Penn and Sky
Snippets of Story - Hosted by Katie S.
These are great, but don't sign up if you can't follow through!

3. Get other blogging friends to drop your name and mention your blog. I always like to mention other blogs when I get a chance, because I know that I love it when someone links up to mine on their blog. Don't badger people, but once you've got a good relationship it can't hurt to ask someone to post a link to your blog somewhere on their page.

All those ideas are good to get the traffic coming, but ultimately you have to have the content to get people to keep coming back!

Happy blogging everyone!

Insecure Writer's Group: June 2012


God didn't do it all in one day. What makes me think I can?


-Author Unknown
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