Friday, 30 November 2012

Flashfiction Friday #14: NaNoWriMo Week 5

Okay, as of today, NaNoWriMo 2012 is finished. And I completed my 50,000 words yesterday. I started off this month really thinking I wouldn't be able to manage it, so I'm pretty proud of myself for doing it. Of course, the first draft of the novel is nowhere near finished. I reckon I'm only about two-thirds of the way through, so the next month is going to be interesting! Anyway, I was thinking about giving you all the final paragraph of the 50,000 words, but it's kind of a spoiler, so I plucked out another part. Enjoy.
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Michael thought about this for a moment, putting the end of the pen back in his mouth. Should she say something? Point out that it was her damn pen he was chewing on? If she did, he might try to give it back to her. Maybe she should just slip it in his bag or pocket or something as he was leaving. Then wash her hands really carefully.

He snapped his fingers in her face again.

“Okay, you have got to stop doing that.”

“And you have got to stop zoning out.”

“Then you should probably be less boring when you talk.”

“You think coming up with a plan that will keep Stan from tearing both our heads off is boring? Fine, you deal with that shit on your own, then.”

“What? Why would Stan tear our heads off?”

“Oh, interested now, are we?” Michael opened the laptop again and picked up his chair to turn it very deliberately. Tessa fought the urge to kick him very hard under the table. The only thing that convinced her not to do it was the fact that she wasn’t wearing shoes. Growing up with an older brother had taught her that kicking someone in the shin while barefoot usually hurt you a lot more than it hurt them.



Thursday, 29 November 2012

CLOCKWORK PRINCE

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Love and lies can corrupt even the purest heart...

So, this is the sequel to Clockwork Angel which I reviewed last week or the week before. I don't tend to review sequels, since I can't really see the point in it. But this book was bothering me and I wanted to get my issues down somewhere.

Very little actually happens in this book. I mean, yes, there are betrayals and backstabbing and going off to drug dens in the middle of the night, but really, very little has actually changed by the end of the book. Two of the characters are engaged (a decision that has divided the readers of the series, though actually, I can't see the big issue there) and a major character's history has been revealed (although not the one that I personally was interested. Seriously, does anyone else think that Mortmain might actually be Tessa's father? It would explain so much. I know he plans to marry her, but Clare is no stranger to incestuous love stories).

That's about it, though. For a while, it looks as though Charlotte and Henry will be removed from the Institute, but that doesn't happen. For a while it looks like Sophie might finally get an interesting story, but that doesn't happen. I will say one thing, though - the love triangle that I complained didn't actually exist in the first book comes to life here. It didn't really move me, as I don't actually really like either Jem or Will (though, gun to my head, I'd have to choose Will), but at least it was there this time.

The writing's fine. In places, I thought it dragged a little bit, but I do quite like Clare's writing style. It's just that this book was so lacking in story, and it's not a short book. My copy runs to 496 pages, so that's a long time for not much to be going on. Honestly, I think maybe the whole series (obviously I haven't read the final instalment in the trilogy, but I'm making an assumption based on the first two) could have been condensed into a single volume. It sort of reminded me of the second trilogy in the Mortal Instruments series, in that maybe there just isn't enough story to sustain it.



Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Plotting or Pantsing

So, last night I realised that I hadn't written a blog post for today and was struggling for something to actually write about. Then help arrived in the form of a tweet from my friend Mark:

Mark's writing his first novel. For the record, I did not bully/pressure/or in any other way coerce him into writing it. Maybe I gave him a little nudge, but he was already standing on the edge of the cliff, waiting to jump. Now, the fact that he'd started writing it and then asked about planning was a bit of a red flag for me. But then I thought about how I actually like to plan my writing, and it occurred to me that I've done just that.

For my first NaNoWriMo (in 2010), I chose to write a novel I'd come up with a couple of days before, rather than something that had been brewing and formulating for months. All I really had was the idea - guy catches a deadly parasite and has to a) hide this fact from his girlfriend, and b) try really hard not to give her the deadly parasite. That was all I had, and I got something like seventy thousand words out of it. But it's unusual for me to work that way.

I don't plan out every detail. I have to have the key events, I have to know the shape of the story (though I'm not so fixed on having to know how it ends). I have to know a little bit about the characters and the rough shape of the plot. But that's it. I tend to come up with an idea that I like, and it grows and evolves over a couple of weeks. When I'm not thinking about it, I come up with new things - plot events, characters, bits of dialogue, ten-page conversations...they just come to me. I write them all down in text files and then, once that new-idea-fever has died off a little bit, I know I'm almost ready to write. That's when I go through what I've written down and plunked in a folder with a generic title (the one for my now-titled WIP is "Devil") and put them into an order. Each key event in the story gets its own subfolder and then the text files are sorted and arranged in the order I'll use them. And then I'm ready to start. Basically, for me, writing is joining up the bits I've already written.

Of course, this is just how I write, and not even all the time. I have sat down and planned meticulously (though I never finished that particular novel) because there was a confusing timeline that I had to keep straight. I have, as demonstrated above, starting writing without having really any clue about the story I was writing. Both have benefits. I know people who hate to plan because it stifles creativity, I know people who hate to go with the flow because they need the structure to be able to write. Neither one is right or wrong, it's all about finding what works for you. I'm lucky in that I've found my method pretty quickly (and painlessly) but just do what feels natural. And if it doesn't work, try something else next time.



Friday, 23 November 2012

Flashfiction Friday #13: NaNoWriMo Week 4

Tessa resisted the urge to throw her coffee in his face, mostly by telling herself it wasn’t even that warm anymore. “Tell me, Michael, why does Stan like you so much?” Tessa asked, tapping her pen against her bottom lip.

“I’m a likeable guy.”

“Really? I hadn’t noticed.”

“You obviously don’t pay enough attention.”

“Is this you being likeable?”

“Clearly not. Would it help if I bought you another drink?”

“You say that like you bought the first one.”

Michael heaved a sigh, catching the dust on the newspapers and sending it into Tessa’s lap. “Look, I don’t care whether you like me or not. I’m not here to make you like me. I’m here because you screwed up and lost this guy, and now I have to spend my time fixing your mistake. You think I want to be here? Because I don’t. I also don’t care whether you like me.”

“Understood.”

“Really? Can we work now?”

“No. Do you know what the clock means?”

“The clock?” Michael asked. “What clock?”

“The one in Stan’s office. You know, with all the hands?”

“Right. Stan’s clock,” he said. “No, I never asked. Never asked about the snake either.”

“Snake?”

“Yeah, for a few weeks he had…I’m not sure exactly but I think it was an anaconda circling the room whenever I was there. It was kind of weird.”

“No shit.”



Wednesday, 21 November 2012

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

I was so worried about seeing this film. I was really looking forward to it - bear with me, those two comments together don't make me a crazy person - and usually when I'm looking forward to a film, I end up disappointed by it. This one did not disappoint.

Pat (Bradley Cooper) is back home living with his parents after spending eight months in a psychiatric institution. He's got a plan to get his life back together and win back his wife, Nikki. Except he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) and his plan is a little derailed.

It's a lovely film. I hate lovely films, I know, and my friend called this one "heartwarming." And yet, I loved it. I really did. It's funny and moving and at no point did it become preachy. Both characters are suffering from mental illness - Cooper's character has bi-polar disorder and Lawrence's is depressed - but the film isn't about that, it's about the people and their lives and just trying to get through life with a positive attitude.

I was impressed by Bradley Cooper, who, honestly, I've always really considered to be just a pretty face. I don't think I've ever seen him in a film where he was required to actually do any real acting, but he was very good here. I cared about the character and where he would end up. I hate to say it, but I was rooting for him. I only ever root for villains. Jennifer Lawrence was good, too, though she did cause a little debate between my friend and I - I think she's just a bit jealous because Lawrence is the same age - as were the rest of the cast.

Overall, it's a wonderful film. Like I said before, it's both funny and moving and I really cared about the characters. I almost cried at one point. I didn't realise it was based on a book until a few days ago, and I suspect that the film is very different, but I can see why it's already generating awards buzz. Of course, it won't win because the films I love never win (The King's Speech beat Black Swan, and The Artist beat The Help) but you should definitely try to see this film. You won't regret it.



Tuesday, 20 November 2012

CLOCKWORK ANGEL

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Magic is dangerous - but love is more dangerous still
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray arrives in England during the reign of Queen Victoria, something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Friendless and hunted, Tessa seeks refuge with the Shadowhunters, a band of warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons. Drawn ever deeper into their world, she finds herself fascinated by - and torn between - two best friends and quickly realises that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

Yeeeah, so I had mixed feelings about this book, which we'll get to in a moment. This is the first book in the "Infernal Devices" series, a spin-off/prequel series to the "Mortal Instruments." Now, I liked the original MI trilogy quite a lot, but felt that the fourth and fifth instalments were pretty awful, really. This book fell more to side of those later instalments. I found it really quite boring until very close to the end. Honestly, I was trawling through it and tempted to give up, and then in like the last four chapters it suddenly became interesting. I can't put my finger on what exactly changed, but something did and I got really into it. Then it ended.

Re-reading the book's blurb (in order to copy it out above) it struck me how it doesn't really describe the book at all. Especially the references to the love triangle and being torn between two friends. As far as I'm concerned, these things didn't actually happen. Clare was clearly setting up for a love triangle to exist in the rest of the trilogy, but it doesn't exist yet. Call me crazy, but that kind of bothers me. Especially since Tessa doesn't actually seem all that drawn to Jem, just Will.

Maybe I'm the reason I didn't enjoy this book. Maybe I read it at a time I wasn't really wanting to read it and I should have given it a few weeks. This was strongly indicated that it took me 84 pages to make the connection between the Pandemonium Club in this book and the nightclub named Pandemonium in the Mortal Instruments. Yeah, 84 pages. I like to think this is because I forgot it existed and was reminded by the trailer for the film, which I saw for the first time the morning of the day I twigged. 84 pages. That was hard for me to admit.



The Four Person Conversation

I like to write dialogue. Seriously, my writing is like 90% dialogue, 5% dialogue tags and 5% everything else. Which is fine by me. Others might disagree and say that there should be a lot less dialogue, but I think it's the best part of a novel. It's where the characters come alive.

In fact, the only part of writing dialogue I don't like is when I have three or more participants in a conversation. Three isn't so bad as long as you're using first person, then you can have I, he and she said. If you're not writing in first person, you hit a barrier. You have, in most cases, two people of the same gender. Now, some people will tell you this is why the characters all need to have distinct voices, so that the reader can tell who is talking without a dialogue tag. These people are right, of course, but it's a lot harder to do than they make it sound.

And then we hit the four-person conversation. In my work in progress, there's a scene where four of the characters are bowling. And talking. I thought it was going quite well, then I realised that one of the characters hadn't said anything for two full pages. I'd completely forgotten about him because he just didn't have anything to say. Because that's the real problem with multi-person-conversations - finding stuff for them all to say. It has to be interesting stuff, boring bits get cut out eventually and you're probably left with a character not saying anything if you've just made them talk for the sake of it. Not everyone has something worth saying in a conversation.

In the end, I claimed that poor Kimble had gone to find some different bowling balls to explain why he'd been silent for so long, but that kind of feels like cheating. Suggestions??



Saturday, 17 November 2012

BREAKING DAWN PART TWO

Okay, so I was planning to write a review of the final instalment in the Twilight series - Breaking Dawn Part Two. Mostly so I could brag about going to the midnight screening (this is a stupid thing to do, by the way. I've done it for like four films now, and it's horrible. The atmosphere's great but I was exhausted before it started and then couldn't get to sleep afterwards. Just don't do it.)

Then I actually saw the movie. Now, for weeks now I've been seeing stuff about how they changed the ending. And I don't want to spoil it for anyone. I'm so glad I didn't know what they'd changed. I approve of the change that was made - for the most part - and I think not knowing is a huge part of that. The reaction/atmosphere in the cinema was incredible. I've never experienced anything like that. It was really very strange.

So, I'll just say this - if you haven't seen or liked the other movies, don't bother seeing this one. It's an excellent send-off, but if you didn't like the others then why would you care? And if you are planning to see it, be sure not to read anything about it online beforehand.



Friday, 16 November 2012

Flashfiction Friday #12: NaNoWriMo Week Three

Here's another extract of my work-in-progress, One Previous Owner, which is also this year's NaNoWriMo project. It's going well, I fell behind - really behind - but I'm caught up now. I was even ahead for a couple of days! So, enjoy! (And beware - bad language ahead).

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There was a shriek of brakes. Tessa hit the ground. Where the hell was she? She looked around desperately and found herself in the middle of Main Street. Literally in the middle of it. She was sprawled on the tarmac, the side of a car inches away from her.

Shit. Tessa jumped up and dusted off her hands just as the driver of the car got out.

“What the fuck are you doing?”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t see you.”

“You’re in the middle of the fucking road!”

“There’s really no need to shout,” Tessa said, trying to calm him down and not attract any more attention. She had a feeling everyone in the vicinity – drivers, passengers and pedestrians – was watching her. “I’m sorry. I didn’t see you. It won’t happen again, I’ll be more careful in future, I swear.”

“I could have killed you!”

“Yeah, but you didn’t so-”

“Did you hit your head? Are you concussed? You can’t just waltz out into the middle of the road like that. You’ll die? Do you understand that? Do you realise that?” He was leaning towards her, face inches from her own, and she could see that he was more scared than he was angry. He really thought he might kill her.

“I’m so sorry.” It was all Stan’s fault. Sending her back to the centre of a busy road was just too far.

The driver sighed, running a hand through his floppy brown hair. It was sticking to his forehead. He was sweating. Tessa suddenly felt terrible. He was just some random, normal guy, probably driving home from work or to pick his kids up from school or something. Just an ordinary, suburban dad, heading home to see his family.

“I’m sorry,” she said again, feeling like she might cry.

“Stop apologising. Are you all right? Are you hurt?”

“No, I’m okay. I really didn’t mean to scare you like that.”

“Just don’t fuck about by the road in future, all right?”

Tessa bit back a comment about him speaking to his kids like that and nodded, trying to look both sincere and ashamed of herself. Apparently it worked because he looked her up and down once more and then, satisfied, got back into his car. Tessa stumbled back to the sidewalk and found two familiar faces watching her in horror.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Flashfiction Friday #11: NaNoWriMo Week Two

Okay, so I forgot to post this last week, but in my defence I was busy graduating from university, complete with stupid cap and gown. So, I'll put one up now (Thursday night) and then another one tomorrow. In this scene, Tessa has just been summoned to Stan's office. Stan is the devil. And not in a metaphorical sense. He's the actual devil. Enjoy!

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“There were people around. We talked about that,” Tessa said, sinking gingerly into the leather armchair on her side of the desk. The word armchair sounded too comfortable. It was that sort of shape, but it was stuffed to the point that it was hard and uncomfortable, with strangely sharp edges.

“You work for me.”

“Do you want people to know you exist?”

Stan shot her a look. It was those eyes that sent a shiver running deep through her, down to her soul. Well…something deep inside anyway. They were huge and black, not dark brown, actually black, so that you couldn’t see where the pupil ended and the iris began. It was like looking into deep pits, you could just sense that they’d be able to swallow you up.

“I mean it,” Tessa persisted, trying not to show weakness. “You remember how much trouble it caused when you zapped me away from the dinner table on Christmas Day?”

Stan flinched. “Um, hello? You work for me. We don’t recognise Christmas as a holiday.”



Wednesday, 14 November 2012

THIS IS NOT A TEST

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

It's the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High, but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won't stop pounding on the doors. For Sloane Price, the end has never been something to fear. Six months ago, her world collapsed, and since then, she's failed to find a reason to keep going. As the days crawl by, and the motivations for survival change, the group's fate is determined less and less by what's happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life - and death - inside.

So, basically, I heard "zombie apocalypse - teenagers trapped inside a school, five want to live, one is suicidal." And I was sold. I wanted to read this book. It wasn't quite what I expected. I'm not sure what exactly it was that I expected, but this wasn't it.

Firstly, Summers has done something really unusual - she's focused on the boring bits of the apocalypse. And because of that, it's actually really interesting. There's less bashing zombies' brains out with bats, and more sitting around and wondering what to do. I know that doesn't sound especially interesting, but it really was. My problem was that I didn't like any of the characters. Seriously, not a single one. At all.

I wasn't on board with the ending either. I've been thinking it over for a couple of hours and I'm still not happy with it. For those of you who have read it, the problem started when Sloane found her phone and the text message on it. Everything that followed was just a mess. Honestly, I thought the sender of the message was setting up a trap for her, and I kind of wish that was what had happened. As it was...meh. I didn't really care. Maybe I would have cared more if I'd cared what happened to Sloane, but I didn't.

The writing was good, it kept me interested right up until the last section, and so I'll definitely give Summers' books another go. I think maybe this book just wasn't for me. I enjoyed it, but I didn't love it like I was expecting to. I feel a theory about zombie books formulating...



THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Charlie's not the biggest geek in high school, but he's by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent, yet socially awkward, Charlie is a wallflower, standing on the threshold of his life whilst watching everyone else live theirs. As Charlie tries to navigate his way through uncharted territory - the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends - he realises that he can't stay on the sidelines forever. There comes a time when you have to see what life looks like from the dance floor.

This is one of those rare - very rare - cases when I think the film is far better than the book. This was just so lacking in any depth or real detail that it was more like reading a newspaper report than a novel. It's written all in letters, Charlie is writing to a person we never discover the name of (presumably the reader) about his life. This severely narrows the scope of what is said, he doesn't describe anything, he just tells us what happened. And, honestly, I found it kind of dull. It made me appreciate the film version a whole lot more. I think it's very telling that the author - who also wrote and directed the film adaptation - is primarily a screenwriter rather than a novelist. The detail that you would see on screen is missing from the text, and I think the novel suffers for it.

My other major issue with it is the ending. I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't read the book or seen the film, but the revelation at the end seems to come out of nowhere in the book. It feels rushed and clumsy, and I felt that the author had suddenly decided Charlie needed a reason for not being exactly like all the other kids. Personally, I don't think this was necessary at all, every kid is different, and the writing of it just wasn't up to scratch. In the film, it's built up to, dripped into the story as we go along, but it just appears in the book and it didn't work for me at all.

Overall, I probably wouldn't recommend this book or read it again. I might watch the film again, but the book was a real disappointment to me.



First or Third Person

So, my work in progress has hit a bit of a snag. Okay, so it hit this snag several months ago, when it was still just an abstract idea that was forming somewhere in a dusty corner of my mind, but I'm having to deal with it now.

I hate writing in first person. I don't even like reading it. You'll probably roll your eyes at me, but my problem is when a first person narrator describes something, be it themself, another character, a setting, anything. Well, not anything, just anything they'll have seen or experienced before the moment at which it is being described. See, to me, a first person narration is like an internal monologue, it's what the person is thinking as they do it. So, when a character looks in the mirror (which is a hideously clunky device and you shouldn't ever use it), why on earth would they tell the reader that they have long blonde hair and big blue eyes and porcelain skin? They might mention a spot that's appeared overnight, or that their roots are starting to show, but would they really comment on an aspect of their appearance that hasn't ever changed? I think not.

And that's an issue for me. I'm too busy suspending my disbelief as far as the narrator describing their every action to deal with them describing their own appearance and the world around them. It bothers me to read and I find it incredibly difficult to write. Of the seventeen novels I've finished, only two of them were written in the first person. So the natural choice for my work in progress was to just use third person, same as I always do, but then Tessa's voice started to bleed into my thoughts. I'd be jotting down a conversation I could imagine her having, and the tags would be in first person. Her thoughts would burst into the narrative.

I can't decide what to do. I could take the easy option and do what I always do, but I think maybe this story calls for first person narration and I'm just going to have to get over it.



Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Creating Characters

I've never really created a character before. I know that probably sounds silly, a glance to my bio on the right tells you I've written seventeen novels. They must be damned boring if they don't have any characters in them.

What I really mean is that usually, my characters just sort of appear in my head fully-formed. Or at least, almost fully-formed. They often come without names, their personalities are intact and so are their physical features, I just have to slap a name on them. Really, that's the only decision I make about the characters, (and it's a hideously difficult process). Occasionally, I'll tweak ages, but that's pretty much it. They just spring into being, like meeting a new person in real life. You don't chose how old they are or what they look like or how they behave, they're just there. And for me, that's what my characters are like.

Right now, however, I'm working on creating a character. I realised my main character (who was pretty much cooked but went through several names before I was happy) needed a friend. This friend did not occur naturally, I had to build her. I had to decide gender, height, build, hair colour, likes, dislikes, annoying habits, wardrobe, hobbies, family...everything. And I've really enjoyed doing it. I think I always felt a bit sorry for people whose characters didn't just come naturally, (I'm a horribly smug person, I know), and had to work on that bit too. But now, I kind of wish I'd had to do this sooner, because designing people is really fun.

Naming her was still a complete pain, though.



Monday, 5 November 2012

SKYFALL

Well, what is there left to say? I may well be the last person in the world to review this film, so I'll keep this short, sweet and (hopefully) specific. Needless to say, there will probably be spoilers. You have been warned.

I was not overly enamoured with this film. I'm not a huge Bond fan anyway - I've actually only seen the Daniel Craig ones and the God-awful Moonraker (don't ask) - but I was looking forward to this film immensely. The universe conspired to keep us apart, and I was actually feeling terrible when I finally sat down to see it. It's just a cold, but sometimes just a cold can make you feel rotten and I suspect I would have enjoyed the film more had I been feeling better myself. Anyway, my main issues with this film were, in no particular order:

1) It's too long. 2 hours 20 minutes isn't terribly long by recent film standards, but the opening felt dreadfully slow. I think the problem is the credits sequence, which I'm led to believe is a Bond staple. It's too long and it was put too far into the film. It would have been fine after just a couple of scenes, but it occurs too far in and just disrupts the flow of the film.

2) Javier Bardem is not in it enough. He was fantastic. In villain terms, think Heath Ledger's Joker. He was excellent. Unfortunately, and this ties into problem number one, we don't get our first glimpse of him until over an hour into the film. We all know he's the main villain, which makes everything that comes before his first appearance feel a bit redundant. It's not, it's all relatively important, but it feels redundant. Even after Bardem appears, he's not in it very much. It's a testament to how well written and acted the character is that he makes such an impact with such minimal screen time. I was reminded of Hannibal Lecter, who apparently was actually only featured on something like six pages of the book (I wish I could be more specific, but I've never actually read any of the books).

3) Okay, this really probably is a spoiler. The stuff in the house, when they're preparing for attack, (that's vague enough to not be a spoiler, right?)...did that part make anyone else think of Home Alone? Seriously, that just popped into my head and kind of ruined the finale of the film for me. They should have been better than stealing from Home Alone. I'm sure it's a coincidence, but it completely undermined the film for me.

4) Daniel Craig wears too many clothes. Hey, I'm shallow, what are you going to do about it?



Sunday, 4 November 2012

BEAUTY QUEENS

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Teenage beauty queens get stranded on a desert island.

I was hooked. That was all I needed to hear. I had to read this book. If only I'd known it was going to be a dull, didactic, cliche-ridden book without a story that panicked halfway through and threw in some stupid, ill-thought-out and frankly just irritating plot developments. Even the jokes wore thin after a couple of times because they're the exact same jokes all the way through the book.

Yeah, I was disappointed. The obvious comparison for me (having never read Lord of the Flies) was Michael Grant's Gone, which I really didn't like. I think with both of these books, the idea was great but the execution wasn't up to scratch. Both featured multiple POVs, while remaining in the third person, which actually made it very dull. You're never with any character long enough to make a connection and it all sounds the same. 

I was expecting quite a light, fun read and I didn't get it at all. My main issue with it was how much it tried to force its message down my throat. I don't mind learning from books, but I hate it when a book tries to teach me something. This book tried really, really hard. And honestly, the message itself didn't sit quite right with me, mainly because I have mixed feelings about the whole "appearances aren't important" thing which is so key in this book. Let's just grow up and face it - appearances are important. They have a huge impact on our lives. They shouldn't matter, but they do. I think the world might be a better place if more children were taught that.

The other part of the message was feminism. I don't like to call myself a feminist because I believe in women being equal to men. I know that's the definition of feminism, but so often nowadays feminism is really just man-bashing. And that's not okay, by my book. Feminism is about equality, not women being better than men, and I think that's the one thing about this book that I actually liked. I never felt that it was telling me women were superior to men. What's more, in the stupid flash-forwards in the stupid epilogue, several of the characters were married and had children. Because the point of feminism is equality and the right to choose. If you want to be a wife and mother and stay home with your kids, why does that make you anti-feminist? Anyway, that's the only good thing I can say about this book. The rest of it was essentially drivel.



Saturday, 3 November 2012

Flashfiction Friday #10: NaNoWriMo Week One

Okay, so technically it's Saturday, but I won't tell if you won't. So, since NaNoWriMo started this week, I was thinking that instead of doing the usual Flashfiction Friday, during November I'd post a paragraph or so from my NaNo novel. Mainly because I'm lazy. I'm already a couple thousand words behind (I'm not very well at the moment) but I'll catch up, and doing this will hopefully guarantee that I keep writing! I've never had trouble with that before, but I am kind of worried that I'll fail this year. So, in the interest of keeping going, today I'm sharing the first 400-and-something words of my work in progress One Previous Owner. Enjoy.

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Someone was cracking gum. Tessa gripped her pen tightly, picturing herself stabbing it into the culprit’s throat. She knew that sounded violent, but Dr Connolly kept saying that was okay. Healthy, even. Violent thoughts are fine as long as you don’t act on them.
            Whoever it was cracked their gum again. Obviously Dr Connolly forgot how annoying teenagers can be. Tessa bet if she could get just one of them, nobody at this school would ever crack their gum again. She’d probably get away with it, too.
            Especially since gum was banned from the school premises. After that incident with Laura Whitman’s hair (and Lacey Collins’ eye, though nobody ever remembered that part of the story) the teachers were hot on the gum thing for like a week.
            Tessa looked up at Mrs Peters, wondering if she was planning on doing anything about the incredibly noisy rule-breaker (seriously, Tessa thought, just chew quietly. It was like people wanted to get caught), but she was squinting at her laptop screen as always. She claimed to be marking students’ work, but since she hadn’t handed back an assignment on time in over four years, there was a pool going about what she was really looking at on the screen. Tessa’s money was on eBay. Mrs Peters was definitely the type to buy bits of old rope or knitted mice on the internet.
            Tessa sighed, earning herself a dirty look from Cathy Green (this action alone was enough to convince her that Cathy was the gum-chewer), and then went back to the questions she was supposed to be answering.
            What is your proudest moment?
            What is your favourite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon?
            If you could change one moment in history, what would it be?
            The last one was a new one. Mrs Peters had been Tessa’s English teacher for the last four years, and she’d asked them all the other questions five times now. It was her first day of class, break-you-in-gently exercise, but that last one was new.
            Tessa dashed off some stupid comment about wearing blue nail polish instead of green to see Stan, since the teacher wasn’t going to read it anyway, and looked at the last couple of questions.
            What is your greatest hope?
            What is your biggest regret?
            And there she was, right back at Stan again. Tessa wondered what Mrs Peters would say if she put the truth? She wasn’t going to read the answers, but if she did, Tessa didn’t imagine selling my soul to the devil would go down too well. If she was lucky, she’d get detention for not doing the exercise properly. If she was unlucky, which by this point she knew she was, well...Tessa figured she’d spend the rest of her days strapped to a bed in a padded cell.
            Well, things could be worse.