Monday, 13 January 2014

On Nihilism, Villains, and Your Writing "Partner"

Note: Ooh, I forgot to post this...

So, I regularly get told I keep "interesting" company. I recognise this, and that's the way I like it. It keeps things spicy, especially when it's 2am and they're tired and not-all-that sober and start being philosophical. This, funnily enough, is where this post starts. So at 2am this morning, James - a guy I know off a game - was talking about the universe, and how our universe is like a grain of sand on a beach so anything we do doesn't matter at all. Far from what you'd expect, it was not actually an argument for nihilism.

His argument was that if nothing we do matters, then human perspective - studying and getting a career and a relationship - doesn't matter and we should solely concern ourselves with trying everything life has to offer us. This, is an interesting perspective, and somewhat similar to my own "if nothing we do matters, then our mistakes don't matter either; what reason do you not have to try?" viewpoint - though perhaps in a more hedonistic light than my own optimistic "let's stand up against injustice/cure all disease ever/get to the edge of the universe" stance.

At almost 6am this morning (don't ask, really please don't), I run across a post made on the imdb of all places, which was the most cracked up but interesting thing I have possibly read all year. I am still trying to make sense of it, but (s)he seemed to be rooting for outliers in humanity. People who do things differently. I am being entirely too civilised about this summary... specifically, they were rooting for the people we more appropriately name villains in our heads. It was a somewhat mind-blowing read, as it put things in the most... odd perspective. It was, boiled down, a point saying that everyone has dreams, dreams that someone or other probably wont like for some reason, and that the only reason the majority of humanity is civilised is because there's too much keeping us in line and stopping us from doing things we shouldn't.

Not from that post, but a general thought - that I have probably stolen but long forgotten where from: we are all the heroes of our own story. More general thoughts, this particular on from an old friend of mine from high school: if you've got an idea, someone else has already had that idea and is writing it now. It's odd to think someone out there is writing the same thing - more or less - as me right now.

But where do those two general thoughts interlink? Got an idea? Is it a little cliche? A little boring and done-before? What's the flip? Like freedom is the positive thought path from nihilism, like our villains are someone else's heroes, there is always a different perspective. Why shovel the same when you can sprinkle a little something different? For every loss there's a gain somewhere. For every gain there's a loss. Like energy can only be converted - and not made or destroyed, so probably can luck and whatever good or ill will - if you believe there is a driving force in life - runs circumstance.

Is there another way you could take whatever conflict is going on in your story? If not, you're not looking hard enough - and probably the figurative "I had this idea too and am also writing it" race buddy isn't either. It's not the general plot at the end of the day that matters all that much - after all, there's apparently only 7 basic plots, but there are millions of books - it's the execution. "Race buddy" was the wrong term, but I can't think of a better one. Think of it as a project with the end-date being the time you die. Doesn't matter when you complete it, the best writer wins... in an ideal world - but that's another post ;)

See you next time,
Zahra

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Yay, It's Autumn! (Featuring An Apology)

I haven't written a post for this blog in just under three months. And that, quite frankly, is awful. I say that I enjoy writing and then I don't actually do any. I apologise for this. I don't even know why that happened, I'm just... ridiculous. It's also been about a month since I wrote on my blog I Tend To Ramble (the link to which has kindly been put onto the sidebar to the right by Zahra). I don't know what's wrong with me. I have had no motivation.
Let's move on to something else. Autumn. I adore Autumn. Firstly, it looks wonderful. Orange, yellow, gold brown, red. I love that combination of colours. Secondly, it's so fun. I may be eighteen in roughly nineteen days but that doesn't mean I don't love running around kicking through piles of leaves. If you have never done that then you have not lived (well, I suppose you have, literally, but you have not been living life to the fullest). Autumn also means hot chocolate, winter coats, Halloween and my birthday. So you can see why it is my favourite time of year. Well, technically, roughly end of September/beginning of October to end of of December/beginning of January is my favourite time of year. Because that includes Christmas too. But it's too early to be talking about that. (And, quite frankly, it's too early to be selling Christmas jumpers, Primark, and selection boxes, WHSmith. Those are just two of the places I have seen Christmas stuff being sold, it's so annoying. Please wait until after Halloween).
Halloween is brilliant. I've had a Halloween-themed birthday party a few times now (my birthday is on the nineteenth and I usually have the party during October Half Term Holiday) and it's always fun. What's not to love about it? You can dress up and eat sweets and it's all very enjoyable. My friend Roanna dressed up as a weeping angel for my party last year, which was brilliant (I love Doctor Who).
Well, I think that's it for now. Until next time,
Rebecca.


Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Mortal Instruments

(A small note: I had so much planned, and so little actually got typed. I'm sure I will blog about it all soon. My "muse" - I hate that word, but it's the best I have - has begrudgingly sloped back it seems.)

You knew this was coming. Given that my small "Why I x Sebastian Verlac" trilogy of posts are the most searched things on this blog - and amongst the most viewed, I had to cover the film and aftermath - even though Sebastian Verlac (why yes, I will continue referring to him as such - some people haven't gotten to the end of book three and most people missed the important line quietly spoken by Hodge in the film, so some people don't know...) isn't in the series until book three.

At this point, I don't know whether I can bring myself to buy the last book in the Mortal Instruments series when it finally comes out. Book 5 wasn't that good, but it's the film that's tipped me over the edge.

Don't get me wrong, the film was generally great - and pretty awesome for an adaption, if very corny in parts and very divergent from the source material in places (duh, it's a film adaption) - but the film flopped (I blame lack of advertisement) and now Cassie Clare is apparently running around (well not literally running around) talking about how it's all the director's fault it flopped and that she had little input in anything, when back at comic-con she said:

"There really was almost nothing where I didn't bug Harold about the costumes, or the sets, or the casting, or the story [on] one level or another. It was a very, sort of, group process because he was sort of introducing me to how you make a movie and I was talking to him about, you know, the stories and where they went in the future and how things in this movie would affect the story down the road and it was very collaborative."

Having carried on reading and loving the books despite the "plagarism" scandal (interpret the plagarism and its inclusion in quote marks as you will, for I shant be going into it. I myself was not particularly bothered by said "plagarism", and did enjoy what I managed to find and read of the Draco trilogy) and all the other accounts of her generally being a horrible person (oh there are a lot of those), I'm kinda pissed at her attitude. Eh. I will probably still buy book 6 - I hate leaving a series unfinished. But don't even mention the upcoming Dark Artifices trilogy. I'm not reading that now.

Prediction: though they do still appear to be doing a second film, if it really does go ahead there wont be a third.

I should probably in some capacity mention the film. It was good. Generally well cast - despite my doubts - even if side characters like Izzy and Alec were left flat and uninteresting, and Jamie Campbell Bower did a very good job of playing Jace - even if he's still not hot. Clary (Lily Collins), Simon (Robert Sheehan), Jocelyn (Lena Headey) and Luke (Aidan Turner) in particular I thought were played very well, and Valentine was played as best he probably could with the depth of his character being cut down in the script and the styling being as it was. Definitely looking forward to more of Godfrey Gao's Magnus if there's another (though where were Rafael and Kaylie!?).

In terms of plot it was kept largely on line and it was well done, and I can see why some of the more gimmicky bits were taken away (i.e. Rat-Simon). It's nice to see it was still kept much of the tone of the book. The ending... no. There were some interesting and good additions to the ending, but... the ending should not have had demons in it (Valentine could not canonically - no, in this case I do not consider the film canon - physically summon demons until he had the cup. At all) and time should have been spent explaining the Forsaken, and Valentine should have at least tried the whole family aspect thing before slamming Clary's head into the desk (as it was in his character to actually be somewhat family-orientated). I can forgive it for taking place in the wrong setting (and the big portal discrepancy), but not those actually fairly important plot points.

Effects: good, but I shouldn't have really had to comment as there should not have been as many as there were. The whole demons and fire thing... no.

(Cutting short this here as it's getting long, if people are interested I may lengthen :P)

Despite what seems like an unhappy film review, I did love the film. It was pretty awesome imo, and I will - after figuring out if I can get a blu-ray player or not for my new laptop - see if I can get it on pre-order when it comes out on DVD/Blu-ray. Mmmm.

9/10 - possibly an inflated score, but I really did enjoy the film.

See ya next time,
Zahra.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Presents from Jack

Reminded Jack of his story of Icicle, and gave him a nudge by pointing out that "tomorrow" in regards to the last post was a looong time ago. He agreed, and started writing again. The first bit I got last week - before he left on holiday, and the last bit I just got. Missed the original post? It's here.

Icicle exhaled heavily as he saw the guerilla fighter slump into a bloody pool on the hot dry ground. Hands shaking from the shear amount of adrenaline coursing through his pulsating veins, Icicle gently rested his dirty rifle against a withered bush, pausing for a second to make sure it was still in working order. Despite it being the standard issue assault weapon for the US army, the rifle was notorious for jamming in the heat of combat, which was exactly the last thing he wanted, now he was stranded in the arid heat of the Badlands. An eerie silence hovered over the surrounding area, only broken by the gentle breeze whistling through the wreckage of the now ruined car. The car! Slowly, Icicle hobbled over to the crumpled mess he had been driving moments earlier, all the while assessing his surroundings. Heat shimmered off of the rocks and sand that called this terrible place home, all the while being foreshadowed by the ominous mountain terrain not too far off from his position. Despite his rugged physique, Icicle had been rattled by the crash, and as his heart rate started to lower, the true physical pain of what had just happened stared to creep through him like spiders crawling under his skin. Cuts and abrasions, some deep, some shallow littered his arms, legs and face, chewing at his skin. Gently, he removed his stone washed shirt to reveal yellow-purple bruised menacingly flowering their way up the right hand side of his body. “Still, could be worse” he muttered to himself in his surprisingly low but soft voice. However, as he reached the wreckage, the realisation of how bad things were hit him like the crash he’d just been in, as his worst fears were confirmed…

One small red hole.  That’s all it had taken to so suddenly and abruptly take the life of the man he’d been traveling across this harsh terrain with for the past few days.  Hundreds of different missions and assignments completed over the years, and yet one small, fast moving piece of lead had brought all that to a close.  Face almost unrecognisable from the crash, James (cant remember the name so change if needed) sat slumped, his seatbelt wrapped around him, squeezing him to his seat like a Boa Constrictor.  The distinctive smell of iron-tinged blood haunted the air, clinging to Icicles nostrils, bringing back memories of the many horrors he’d committed through his life.  It always amazed him how much there always was, the life giving fluid almost eager to escape the very body that had contained it through the years.  It was pointless to check for a pulse, but an almost childlike sense of hope drove Icicle to do so anyway.  Nothing.  One last look at his fallen comrade was his way of saying goodbye, and with that, he turned back into the robot like character he was paid to be.  Calmly he walked around the car to the other side, his hand gliding over the fiercely hot metal of the trunk.  Grasping the handle firmly, he yanked the deformed metal of the backside door away from its one functioning joint, dumping it unceremoniously on the dirt.  The familiar sauna-like heat of the inside of the car hit Icicle as he leaned in, slightly melting his icy composure as he grimaced.  On the back seat lay his and James’ webbing and packs, frayed but still intact.  With a couple of swift, almost effortless movements, he hauled the whole lot out of the door, landing on the ground with a dull thud.  Then moving to the front of the car, he grasped his map, binoculars and sunglasses and made his way to the packs he’d just removed.  Gently placing himself down on his own pack, he started to rifle through James’, picking out different rations and equipment, carefully ordering them into piles.  Then he hit the jackpot, as he pulled out an elongated, dull, black case.  Quickly popping the locks with a metallic click, he carefully opened the case to reveal its contents, a disassembled Vanquish .308 sniper rifle, complete with bipod and scope.  Gently he stoked over the weapon to make sure it was ok, before closing the case with a snap.  After pilling in the scavenged equipment into his already bursting pack, he forcefully closed the bag, straining to tighten the straps so eager to loose themselves.  After securing the sniper rifle case to his pack, he removed all of the magazines from James’ webbing, adding them to his already substantial collection.  Not that that mattered now.  He knew as well as anyone, this mission was a two-man job, and he was still facing a 70-mile trek on foot after the destruction of his car, and that was without taking into consideration he was about to enter one of the most heavily guarded places in the world.  Briskly walking over to the wreckage, he pulled a tan coloured shirt from under the drivers seat, tenderly sliding it over his beaten body.  A sun-bleached baseball cap lay in between the legs of James, flecks of dirt giving it an uneven texture.  Without disturbing James’ body, he hastily grabbed it, plonking it on his head as his eyes moved up to the neck of his deceased companion.  A surprisingly untarnished set of dog tags wrapped round his neck, sitting calmly on his chest.  Grasping firmly, Icicle pulled the tags, the bead link chain clinging to James’ skin till a ping signalled its release.  The sound of fabric rubbing was the only sound Icicle could hear as he slid out of the car; such was the remoteness of this place.  Making a grunt as he put on his pack and webbing, he looked at his wrist to see his GPS, only to find an un-tanned strip where the GPS had once sat.  “Useless made in china shit” Icicle mused to himself as he pulled out his map.  A couple of thinking minutes later, Icicle started to set off toward the North-West mountain ranges, breathing gently as he bent over to pick up his rifle.  Then, with a determined look soldered into his eyes, he began his trek, constantly processing the information around him.  His thoughts then turned to his target.  “What had he done? Why was he a target?”  Quickly, Icicle forced these thought out of his head, replacing them with more information about his surroundings.  After all, his job was not to ask why, only how.  All he needed to know was who the target was, and how much he would get.  £20 million was the price, and quite rightly.  It wasn’t every day someone ordered a hit on the United States Vice-President after all…            

Yay! I do love a little writing. So thank-you to Jack :)
(Yes, I shall be fixing the formatting and such (can't do on my phone :/), don't worry, just wanted to get this up before I forgot :) )
See ya next time,
Zahra (and mostly Jack)

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Speaking My Piece...

So, on planning a joint day by the writing club I "run", a picnic club I'm in, and for a film trip, I made an announcement on the date changing. Now you're probably thinking, "why is this relevant to general writing?", but just bear with me a sec.

See, at the end, I jokingly (because no-one will adhere to this clause once it's changed) put "raise your objections by 12pm tomorrow or forever hold your piece". And then I realise I had never seen the "speak now or forever hold your piece" quote written down (with either piece or peace) and a 5 second Google search said it was "peace". This makes absolutely no sense.

The whole phrase is about arguments. You don't speak to say you're at peace with the arrangement, you speak your "piece" about why the arrangement is - in your eyes - wrong. It's your one time to argue that the marriage is unlawful or for some other reason shouldn't occur before the marriage is sealed and you have to hold your "piece", having lost the chance to speak it.

Holding my "peace" about an arrangement would be to argue against it, and no-one wants to hear you moaning about their marriage for their whole life (in fact, this sounds like an excellent way to lose friends... ironically however, I appear to have misplaced a friend by not speaking my piece... *sigh*), so hold your piece, not your peace (unless the situation calls for speaking your piece and it's the right thing to do).

Back to writing, the moral of this is to use your common sense when quickly Googling spellings/grammar. A common sense thing, right? To use your common sense. But sometimes we forget to as we rely on Google too much (as Google is usually right... I think ;) ).

See ya next time,
Zahra.