Thursday, April 20, 2017

Specific Tastes in Reading and Writing

Our last post was getting a little overwhelmed with comments, and maybe it's time for a little subject change anyway. I thought of this story as I'm in the middle of writing something and having some trouble with it. I realized there are a couple of reasons I'm having trouble with it. One being that I tend to write more one-shot stories, just brief little scenes, and multi-chapter stories are outside of my comfort zone. But then I realized probably the bigger problem I'm having with it, is that I don't think I like writing Han and Leia when they aren't already together and happy.

So that got me thinking and wondering about whether or not other writers have certain scenarios or situations that they are drawn to as writers. For me, usually I'm just drawn to them already being together, often already with kids, too. Now, that is strictly as a writer. As a reader I can't think if anything specific of that nature I'm drawn to. I mean, sure for certain moods I might feel like, "I really need to find a happy, fluffy scene to read right now." But mostly I'm just looking for an interesting story, and that could mean all sorts of things.

Does anyone else have this problem I do where you have a hard time writing outside of a fairly narrow set of parameters? Truthfully for myself about the only thing that comes to mind is sweet little domestic scenes. I don't know if that is just me or if it is my brain trying to overcompensate with us being bombarded with these stupid ideas that they never would've worked out. Probably a little of both. But it is really causing me problems when I need to keep writing them being not together/annoyed with each other when all I want to do is write them like, spending a long morning in bed or something.

When I do write outside of my own narrow parameters, it also somehow feels inauthentic to me, which also doesn't help. Like the one time I wrote them as having some marital problems, it just felt... icky and wrong, and I don't think it was well written either. Other people don't seem to have this problem. Although I am sure I've noticed that with some other writers, they seem to do the opposite, often writing about them before they were together and preferring that side of things. As a reader those stories are probably more interesting too.

So does anyone else always find themselves coming up with similar scenarios or sticking with similar ideas when writing? And what about reading? Do you look for any specific things?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Star Wars Celebration 2017

For anyone who has not been paying attention, Star Wars Celebration is this weekend. And it includes the celebration of the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, which is incredible. I watched most of the live feed this morning which included visits from George Lucas, Mark Hamill and, amazingly, Harrison Ford. It's the first time he has appeared at a Celebration, although he was supposed to appear in 2015 but it was too soon after he had been in his plane crash. It was great to see him there, but of course it was incredibly sad to be reminded that we no longer have Carrie. There was a lovely tribute and a video that had some old behind the scenes footage, including some downright adorable footage of her and Harrison, as well as a few brief glimpses behind the scenes of Episode 8.

Anyone watching or paying attention? I'm sure tomorrow we will finally get an Episode 8 trailer. I'm sure I'll watch and see. Still feels like there is a bit of a downer around all of this with Carrie gone, but it's nice to see her so fondly remembered.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

From the Archives: Your Writing Style

This post originally appeared HERE on November 8, 2011

A while ago Push asked me if I thought it was possible for someone to change their writing style. I don't know why that question popped into my head this morning but I thought writing styles would be a good topic of discussion. My answer in this case was yes, but it was probably going to take a lot more conscious thought and effort than just writing like you usually write. But let's start somewhere else.

So, what is writing style? It's basically just generally the way you, personally write. You could take three people and tell them to write the same scene and it could be done in a completely different way because they each have a different writing style. I mean, just look at the quickie challenge, for example.* Many of you pointed out how Push's writing has a certain flow to it, and I can't put my finger on it either, but it is just the style in which she writes. She also tends to use analogies, which isn't something that comes naturally to me. My favorite example of this, and this has stuck in my head for seriously like a year, was when she had Han coming home and Leia wasn't feeling well, and she said the tissues were strewn on the bed around her as though they were Jabba's minions. I still love that.**

My own writing is pretty straight forward and I rarely seem to come up with those sort of melodic sentences or paragraphs, but it's clear and concise and I'm at least pretty sure it gets the point across. Digs I'll use as another example because I've read her stuff before she posts, and she has her own style as well. Again, I can't really describe it, but it is uniquely her and I'd probably have a good chance of guessing she was the one who wrote something even if I didn't know.

So, how do you come up with your own style? I'd say you really don't. Write however comes naturally. You may wind up having to make some changes along the way that take some practice, but once you practice for a bit, that comes naturally, too. By that, I mean, like sentence structure. I was awful at varying sentence structure when I first started doing this, until someone pointed it out to me. It was all, "He did this. She did that. They went there." It's just very awkward to read if you start every sentence with your subject. Just varying it a tiny bit: "Later, they went there." Or, "After finishing cleaning up, she saw him." As opposed to, "She cleaned up and then she saw him. They went there later." Both get the same information across but by varying the sentences a bit it just makes it a little nicer to read. That is not to say you can never, ever have two similarly structured sentences in a row. This was just an example. And sometimes it is even a style choice to do so in order to get the point across. Like, say: "He wanted her. He needed her. He loved her." So once again, not a rule without room for some interpretation, just something to look out for.

It's funny, but sometimes you have to watch out when you read something in a particular style that really stuck out for you and then go to write something yourself you may find yourself somewhat mimicking the style. I think when Push asked me that question she was curious because she felt like she was getting too descriptive and wordy in her writing. I haven't felt she's crossed the line into too much (or if I did in something of hers I was reading, I told her) but sometimes we can get caught up in looking at what we perceive as flaws in our writing. I think she said when she first started this she wasn't all that descriptive, so she made a conscious effort to be descriptive until it just became her natural style of writing. I don't think there's anything wrong with this. Well, if you start to have like, seven adjectives in a row, then maybe you're getting too descriptive. But she uses it in a way that just really sets the scene for our readers. Even in the quickie challenge, which was quite short, we all had a very clear picture of where they were.

A lot of us maybe have writing tendencies that we have to watch out for because they might not be the best way to go. I find myself starting a lot of sentences with, "S/he only hoped that..." or, "Fortunately..." or, "Of course..." I don't know why. I do it all the time.*** Not just writing my stories, but in these blog posts, in e-mails I write to friends, everywhere! Again, it's not that it's wrong to start sentences that way, I just have to make sure that I don't do it too much within a story to the point where it gets noticeable and annoying to the reader.

So, again, can you change your style? I think yes. But I also think that you will still always have an inherent way that you would prefer writing, even if you try to push those instincts down and write another way. I'm sure I could write something that used a lot more interesting words and stuff you might have to use the dictionary to look up (I would have to first) but I don't think that with time that would become my preferred way to write. That said, sometimes you do have to make some changes, such as me with the sentence structure thing, in order for your 'style' to be worth reading. Those sorts of things can be changed with practice, and I'd also like to think that I've worked at it enough that it is not the case.

Whatever your style, I'd say you should do your best to just embrace it as your style. We are all our own worst critics and just recently I was saying how my writing is too straight forward and utilitarian, and Push was like, "Ugh, my stuff is too flowery and wordy!" Opposite problems, obviously, and while we feel that way about our own stuff, we were both quite complimentary to each other and saying that we're not "too" anything. It seems more like we each want to steal just a little bit of each other's style in order to balance ourselves out :)****

Style is tricky to pick out sometimes and at least to me even tougher to describe, but if it's something you've never noticed before, I'd encourage you to pay more attention the next time you're reading and think about whatever writing style you've been using.

2017 notes:

*The quickie challenge is tagged in the sidebar, literally just a bunch of stories of Han and Leia having quickie sex. So, enjoy. 

**I still think this is one of the most clever analogies I've ever read.

***And I still do this all the time, I can't seem to stop.

****In doing more reading of actual published books it has become apparent to me that lots of authors have very different styles. Some write in very interesting ways that are pleasant to read. Others write more straight forward like I do. Both ways get the story across, so it's ok to be more like one than the other and not feel "less than" if you aren't writing in some other way you think you "should" be writing.

One final note, one of the most unique writing styles I've come across is the late, great Carrie Fisher. I have never read anything from anyone who writes quite like she does. It's so unique to her that I don't think that it could be replicated. But I also think that life would be boring if everyone wrote like her. So, embrace your style and write the way you write.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

From the Archives: "Canon" Things I Choose to Ignore

This post originally appeared HERE on March 12, 2012

Han's hand is being very sneaky while Leia isn't looking...

We all have them. There are things that George has added to "enhance" the Star Wars universe to make it "better" except to most of us they do the exact opposite so we choose to completely ignore their existence. I find it funny how riled up we get when he changes things and makes them wrong, especially since as I've said before, this is a fantasy world and we can really all believe whatever we choose to believe. Most of these things are from the prequels and the books but some are definitely from changes he has made to the original trilogy. There is nothing in the original original trilogy that I do not see as absolute truth. But now a list of things I refuse to believe ever happened/existed:

1. Han not shooting first. We know he did. Obi Wan is allowed to chop a guy's arm off after a little shoving match but Han can't blast Greedo before he knows he's about to be blown away? It's been said before and I'll say it again: Han shot first.

2. Midichlorians. Even in my first, naively hopeful viewing of Episode I, I came awfully close to audibly groaning at the thought that you could measure Force sensitivity by some sort of micro-organisms floating around in your blood that some people have and some people don't. It should be mysterious and undetectable, just an innate ability. Not any additional crap in your blood stream. So to me, they do not exist.

3. Luke and Leia's mother died in childbirth because she "lost the will to live." Sure, Leia totally got her incredible strength from a woman who gives up and lets herself die for no reason just because a man left her, even though she now has two children. I'd be fine if she had died in childbirth of actual medical complications, but this is ridiculous. Although to be honest I still can't decide if I like the childbirth thing better or the idea that Leia actually does remember her a little, and her dying.

4. Bria. Nope. She never existed. Han had some women, you know he did. But in my own head he was never even close to being in love before he met Leia.

5. Anakin and Jacen's deaths. Han and Leia's children live long, long lives and they don't have to witness anything but their weddings, children, triumphs, etc.

6. To go along with the above, Jacen turning to the dark side. He instead grows up to be a pretty decent guy.

7. Almost anything that has to do with COPL. Han and Leia do not wait four years to get married. No prince shows up, Leia doesn't almost fall in love with someone else or treat Han like crap. Just... no.

8. Han and Leia not raising their own kids. I'm not going to get into a debate here about how many kids they have, whether it's twins, whether Leia would name one Anakin because for whatever reason those particular facts don't bother me like they bother a lot of other people. But, whatever children they have, they make every effort to be parents to without having someone else raise them.

9. Similar to #8, sending their children off to some remote planet for the first two years of their lives. That's just insanity.

10. Ewoks blinking.

11. Darth Vader screaming, "Nooooooo!!!!!" He does not do that ever, in any of the movies, for any reason.

12. Leia totally immersing herself in work and ignoring her family. She works, sure, but she has plenty of time to be a wife and mother.

13. Han and Leia spending most of their time apart. In my eyes, they actually spend the majority of their time together after marriage. And before, really.

14. Luke falling in love with a woman inside a computer.

15. Mara getting killed. I know, why should I care? But come on, as much as Han and Leia didn't deserve for their children to get killed, Luke didn't deserve to lose his wife, either.

16. Luke and Leia's parents having a ridiculously cheesy "romance" and spouting off nauseating lines to each other such as, "Your beauty is intoxicating." Yuck.

17. The existence of Jar Jar Binks.

18. Qui Gon Jinn teaching Obi Wan. Seriously, didn't Yoda say he taught Obi Wan? Why did all of these things get changed?

19. Chewie's death.

20. Anything else bad that happens to any of them.

Please add on if you see fit to do so. I'm sure there are more things that we all like to think never "actually" happened.

2017 notes:

Obviously there are FAR too many things that are now "canon" that I am choosing to ignore, I think it would take up too much time for me to type them all up.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

All the "Celebrity Cameos" in the Union Comic

I have been wanting to share this for other people to see for a very long time. The following comes from the Union comic. For those of you who are unaware, this comic featured Luke and Mara's wedding and the events leading up to it. Yes, Luke and Mara got a whole illustrated comic just for their wedding, and Han and Leia got 2 paragraphs at the end of the worst book ever. Well, what can you do? This is probably the closest thing in "official" canon (or ex-canon now, I guess) to fanfic I think. I mean there is a whole scene with all the ladies hanging out and chatting at a spa.

But, truthfully, the thing that stuck out the most to me when reading this was all of these pictures that look exactly like several well known celebrities. And there is no way that it was an accident. So, here are all of the ones I noticed, although there could very well be some I missed!


 Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber

 Jack Nicholson

 Steve Buscemi

 Nicolas Cage

 Bruce Willis

 Tommy Lee Jones

 Paul Simon

And I'm also putting this here just because it is one of my favorite things.

And now these are unrelated, but from the graphic novels of the Zahn trilogy, just some panels I think are cute and wanted to share:

Because who doesn't want to see Han and Leia in the delivery room for the twins? 

I like this a lot too, she just wants him to hold her 

Ok so their faces are kind of ridiculous here but I still think it's sweet that Han is sweating too and right there with her.

 The aftermath, left to hold their babies for the first time.

 And then later on when they have the babies at home.

 This is right after she puts the baby down, and I just think it's sweet even if it doesn't look that much like them.

And hey, look, they're actually sleeping together!

Edited additions:

Here is Han quickly waking up and realizing he needs his blaster and his clothes

Here they are reuniting after Han was away for a little bit

Here they are holding hands

And one last one just because I thought it was cute how she is leaning over him with her hand on his shoulder. It's hard to see the hand in this but trust me, it's there

Ok this concludes my random assortment of comic stuff for you today. Mostly I just really wanted to show you guys the celebrities in the comic, because there is no way that is a coincidence for most of them.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

From the Archives: Why Them?

This post originally appeared HERE on December 19, 2011

Have you ever sat around and wondered, why am I so obsessed with these two? Let's get past the fact that, as evidenced by the above picture, they are just so darn adorable (and Harrison is super hot) and consider some other reasons. I find it interesting for me personally that I am so into this onscreen couple, or any onscreen couple because romance and chick flicks are not really my usual forte. That is not to say that they have anything to do with a chick flick, but if I'm looking for a movie to watch, I'm more likely to reach for something with Bruce Willis than Julia Roberts, and that's not because I think Bruce is hot, it's just because Die Hard is awesome. Speaking of which, I need to watch that soon since it's a Christmas movie...*

Anyway, the point is, I don't sit around swooning over love stories. I don't read romance novels. I don't give a crap about Edward/Jacob and Bella or soap operas or anything like that. I very rarely take a look at fanfic in any other genre, and even when I do, it takes me about half a page before I decide to stop wasting my time. That's probably a good thing, because I don't really need any other ways to completely waste time. Actually, looking back on things, there have been very few couples I cared about in movies or TV. Maybe Winnie Cooper and Kevin Arnold, but not really.** Definitely Zack and Kelly on Saved By the Bell, whose relationship was actually even more mature than Han and Leia as depicted in COPL. Clark Kent and Lois Lane, though mostly from the TV show Lois and Clark. And maybe for a very brief time Mulder and Scully. But none of these inspire me to write fanfic or even to bother reading it.

So, why Han and Leia? Maybe it's because there are just so many reasons to love them and so few reasons not to. It's a couple I've seen on screen since I was probably two or three years old. Of course at that point in time I didn't really care about romance or anything like that as I was more interested in robots and space ships and lightsabers, but they've just been a part of my consciousness since I got one.

Each one of them on their own is already awesome. Han kicks ass, doesn't take crap from anyone, speaks his mind, flies a really cool spaceship and has a Wookiee for a best friend. Leia is one of the strongest female characters ever depicted in the history of cinema. I took film history in college so I have even more authority to say that. She's strong, she's a leader, she doesn't back down in the face of adversity, fights for what she believes in and she doesn't need a man in order to feel complete. They're both independent people who certainly weren't looking for love when they found it. That's probably what makes a lot of other couples boring, the movie starts with one or both of them lamenting how horribly lonely they are and they can't find a boy/girlfriend or blah, blah, blah.

With Han and Leia, it was really, really inconvenient to fall in love when they did but they couldn't help it. It's also just a less obvious, mushy sort of romance. I love the subtlety. Han is not going to spout poetry or go off on Leia's incredible beauty, he's probably just going to kiss her. You know you only have to go watch the prequels if you want an example of overdone, bad romance. I think there's a lot of stuff that people say in romantic comedies that at the time the audience might swoon over, but if some guy said that to you in real life you'd either laugh or think he was some crazy stalker.

It also maybe helps that their romance is not the focal point of the movies. They both have more going on in their lives than worrying about falling in love. They're well rounded characters with a lot to offer each other and everyone else. They work incredibly well as a team in the face of adversity.

And let's face it, the actors who played them, along with being so good looking, had amazing chemistry. There are plenty of movies out there where you have the romantic leads, and they're both good actors and their acting is fine but there's just something missing that makes you not believe them as a couple. I mean, whether or not you think there may have been something going on behind the scenes between Carrie and Harrison, when those two are on screen being Han and Leia you can't imagine them having a platonic relationship.***

I don't know, they're both just such great characters on their own and such great characters together. They're a more interesting couple because their relationship starts out so volatile and they have such strong personalities and there's something about seeing that they wouldn't just love each other, but respect and admire each other for who they are.

I could go on, I'm sure, but I want to leave room for some ideas from the rest of you. Why do you love these guys so much? Why do you put all of this effort into reading and/or writing about them?

2017 Footnotes:

*Obviously it's not Christmas right now, but Die Hard is always a good movie choice.

**It's only been a little over 5 years but I really have no idea how or why I pulled Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper out right there. I guess because at some point I did care whether they ended up together? But it was all G-rated, and I have for sure never even thought to look up fanfic about that.

***Well now we all know how that turned out. So clearly there was some real chemistry off screen to a point. Whether or not that truly made a difference in their performances is still anyone's guess, but there was absolutely chemistry that is rarely replicated elsewhere.

Friday, March 17, 2017

From the Archives: They Don't All Have to Be Amazing

This post originally appeared HERE on July 5, 2011

This post is inspired by something that Push and I were talking about earlier. Now, of course we should all strive to write the best possible stories we can write. At the very least make sure that everything is spelled correctly, the format is easy to read and your grammar and punctuation are correct. Also desirable is writing people in character and having a funny, sad or interesting story to tell, no matter how epic or how short.

If you look at any writer's body of work, chances are not everything they write is going to be amazing. That's not to say that the lesser pieces have to be terrible, but if we all resigned ourselves to only writing amazing, incredible stories then most of us probably wouldn't spend a whole lot of time writing. I'd love for every idea I come up with to be one of those attention-grabbing, unique, epic pieces that people just can't get enough of. But that's probably not all that likely to happen. Sure, it might happen once or twice, but nobody can churn out that kind of thing one after another.

So the trick is to get over it and just keep writing. Accept things for what they are and if you have an idea you think might be fun to write, but maybe you know before you even write it that it's not going to be some incredibly compelling story, go ahead and write it anyway. And share it if you want to. That's not to say you must share every little thing you write, but maybe you don't have to be so hung up on what people will think and hope that they understand just as you do that it is what it is.*

I'm still trying to come up with some amazing story idea but it hasn't happened yet.** Come on, guys, I have one story that is 1700 words of Leia coming home to find Han in the tub.*** That's pretty much it. You think I wrote that one night because I thought it would be award-winning literature? Um, no. I wrote it because I was bored, I had a silly, fun idea that I thought maybe some people might enjoy a silly, fun read and hopefully it did not damage my reputation too much.**** I love writing, I felt like writing, that was what came to me, so I wrote it.

I think this kind of thing can be especially crippling if you have just finished something that you actually considered to be pretty high quality. You can't think of anything right away that might top it, so you don't write anything. My best advice is just to get over it and not take it too seriously. I've felt the same thing myself in the past and realized there's no real reason to dwell on it. Sure, we get reviews and stuff, but there are not major literary critics out there to tell everyone that we're past our peak. It's all in good fun and we shouldn't lose sight of that.

There are Oscar-winning writers out there who wrote incredible movies and sometimes wrote some less memorable ones. It's okay. It happens. It's just like how sometimes I want to watch The Shawshank Redemption but then other times I'm more in the mood to watch Old School. Do you think I'm deluded enough to think that Old School is a better movie? No, but they can't all be Shawshank and that doesn't mean we can't totally enjoy laughing at Will Ferrell being Frank the Tank.*****

So again, do the best you can do with your writing, but don't let that internal critic stop you before you even start. Don't be afraid to write something just because you don't think it will be 'good enough.' Otherwise you'll be out of practice when you do come up with a good idea or you'll wind up giving up entirely. And sometimes the bad ideas can lead to the good ideas, so don't stop writing!
2017 Footnotes:
*I'm still much in favor of writing if you have an idea, even if you have no intent to share it. It's very freeing.
**And nearly 6 years later, still no fantastic, epic ideas.
***It's true, I really do have a story where the entire plot is just Leia coming home and finding Han in the tub.
****This is amusing because I don't really have a reputation.

*****And I think we can all agree that there are plenty of times that Old School is just going to be more entertaining than The Shawshank Redemption.