Archive for August, 2013

Fearless Defenders #6This is the issue that you absolutely love but at the same time want to kick it in the sweet spot.

The reason to love it is that it took a chance and paid off on a character death. Normally, character deaths, especially of new characters who have only been around five issues, are really annoying and only meant for ‘shock value’ and do nothing to further the story. Here, it’s quite obvious that this was all staged from the beginning and Annabelle made a warriors sacrifice. She went up against Rage knowing full well how squishy she was. This is made even better by the fact that everyone reacts the same way the audience wants to and freaking punches Val in the face. The complete story arch from beginning to end is very organic and that makes it brilliant.

But there is plenty reason to hate it and that’s because they kill off Annabelle, a new character that seems to have existed solely for the purpose of getting killed off. Not cool.

Though somehow I don’t think this is the end of this, Bunn has put too much into the execution of this story arch not to have it pay out with more than this.

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Astonishing X-Men #65Everyone wants to be the bad guy because it takes effort to be the good guy.

I knew there was something to Bobby’s therapist, apparently it was all in his head. Would have preferred him getting actual professional help, but Liu did write this in a rather stunning way. There was no easy answer, no easy out. Bobby, for all his joking, is extremely low on the self-esteem and probably clinically depressed too. Combine that with unimaginable power?

Speaking of, Bobby is capable of doing everything he just did without the need of the Death Seed. Being basically an Elemental creature now makes him very powerful if he just puts his mind to it. I doubt though that we’ll see much come of this though. Astonishing is being cancelled and it never quite fit in with the rest of the universe as to what events were going on (except where kittens are concerned apparently).

Still, it’s a nice introspective study on what a lot of people go through, not feeling like they are ever quite as good as they should be, regardless of what they do in their life.

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via io9

The Only Kind of Sentence You Should Use in Your Fiction

People will advise you to write all sorts of sentences. Snappy sentences, lyrical sentences, Hemingway-esque short sentences, long Faulknerian sentences. But there’s really only one kind of sentence that actually works: a sentence that carries the reader forward from the previous sentence. This is harder than it sounds.

I don’t care what kind of fiction you’re writing. Introspective or action-packed, sprawling or tightly focused, character-driven or idea-driven — it doesn’t matter. You can write any kind of story you want, and this still applies. Each of your sentences has to build on the previous one, propelling the reader forward.

Usually, I’m a big fan of saying there are no rules in fiction-writing, just suggestions and lists of things that are hard to pull off. But I’ve been thinking about this one a lot lately, and it feels pretty iron-clad: Your sentences should build on each other.

Part of the joy of reading, especially fiction, is the feeling of being swept forward by narrative, and following the chain of statements from A to B to C. We read to “find out what happens next,” but also just to follow the thread.

The Only Kind of Sentence You Should Use in Your Fiction

At this point, a lot of people are probably slapping their foreheads at the obviousness of what I’m saying here. Of course sentences should follow each other in some kind of narrative or logical progression. What else would they do?

But I feel like this is easier said than done, and I read a lot of fiction that fails to do this. You know that thing where you’re reading a book, and your eyes just slide off the page and you find yourself not reading further? It’s like you just can’t read any further, even if you want to?

Yeah, that’s probably due to sentences not building on each other.

I encounter this problem a lot in fiction, and I’ve noticed it in some stuff I’ve read lately. It can happen with well-written, beautiful sentences, or with clunky, stumbly sentences. And it’s one of the easiest problems to miss, when you’re revising your own work — because you either look at each sentence individually, to make sure it’s a good sentence on its own, or you skim the whole section. Plus you know where this is going, because you’re the author.

This is especially a big issue in science fiction and fantasy, because immersiveness is such a huge part of world-building. And your readers can’t get immersed if you don’t carry them from sentence to sentence.

It’s about Narrative Flow.

The more books I read and the more stuff I try to write, the more I’m convinced that story is everything. Telling a good story, in a way that engages people, is the best thing you can do, no matter what kind of story and how you tell it — and a huge, ineffable part of storytelling is momentum. Readers (or audiences) need to feel like they’re being carried along on a current of story.

Words might be the atoms of storytelling, but sentences are the molecules. Verb by verb, they propel.

The Only Kind of Sentence You Should Use in Your Fiction

Often the best works are the ones which feel like they’re sort of taking you by the hand — but this doesn’t have to be literal hand-holding. In fact, some of the most difficult, impenetrable works of fiction are the ones which do the best job of having sentence lead to sentence — even if they’re challenging you along the way. Samuel Richardson’s Clarissaand David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest are both 1,000-plus-page tomes, which challenge contemporary reading sensibilities in different ways — but they’re both ferociously propulsive on a sentence level.

Here’s an example of a reasonably well written paragraph where the sentences don’t really seem to follow on from each other:

The Captain was in another one of his stygian moods, as if sensing that mutiny was a subject of conversation below decks, in the radiation-drenched catwalks close to the engine core. Babies have an innate awareness of motion, but they can’t distinguish shapes very well, and it’s part of why they don’t know other people as separate individuals. The spaceship was swan-shaped, but Nestor often thought it was more like a big ugly goose, that honked and shat at the same time. Anti-matter is not stuff you want to be juggling when you’re drunk.

Okay, so that’s sort of an extreme example — those sentences are all literally non-sequiturs — because this is often a subtle problem and it’s hard to dramatize. The point is, just reading the above four sentences is exhausting, because there’s no thread carrying you from one to the next. After the sentence about the captain’s bad mood, you want the next sentence to tell you more about either the mood, or the mutiny. Maybe a description of the captain’s grumpy mannerisms, or the noises on the catwalks.

I feel like I see a less extreme version of the above example pretty often — sentences that are perfectly okay in their own right, but don’t build on each other, or create any sense of momentum.

Types of non-building sentences

The Only Kind of Sentence You Should Use in Your FictionAt least in my own writing, I see this happening a few different ways:

1) The gorgeous sentence that gums up the works.

Sometimes you write a sentence that you really, really like. Even though it doesn’t actually add anything to the surrounding sentences, or make any sense with the flow of the other stuff going on in this section. It’s just such a nice sentence that it’s hard to let go of it. But sometimes you find that one particularly beautiful sentence messes up your whole flow, and you have to sacrifice it for the good of the herd.

2) Saying the same thing over and over.

Sometimes, you write three sentences in a row that basically just say the same thing in slightly different ways. Put another way, you sometimes have sentences that just restate the same or piece of information, with only minor variation. Or think about it this way: sometimes, you fail to notice that you’ve written three sentence, which only dispense a single nugget of description, action or emotion.

3) Straight-up non-sequiturs.

Like the example above. Except that of course you could do that on purpose, as a stylistic thing, and I could see making it work. It’s more just that if you don’t intend to have all your sentences skipping from topic to topic, with no apparent order, you may have a problem.

4) Just a general lack of focus.

This is the most common problem, and the hardest to diagnose. Maybe the sentences are all following a topic, and they’re progressing to a large extent. But at the same time, things are just… gumming up. And part of this gummage is the fact that there’s no strong viewpoint or narrative voice in this section. Each sentence just feels slightly disconnected, or like it belongs in a different paragraph than the others.

How to diagnose this problem

The most obvious thing is just to re-read your work 1000 times, until things jump out at you, or claw at your subconscious while you’re in the bath. But once again, there’s the problem where you skate over some of the flaws in your own work because you know how it’s supposed to flow and you can’t really see past that.

The Only Kind of Sentence You Should Use in Your Fiction

But hopefully you’re getting feedback from other people on your work — either beta readers, or a writing group, or just random people on the subway. And you can often spot warning signs, when people say things like “This is where I started to bog down,” or “This part felt really slow to me,” or “This is where I wanted to skim.” Often what the reader perceives as “slowness” isn’t that nothing is happening — it’s that the sentences are not carrying the reader ahead.

But also, this is one reason why reading your work aloud is so important. There is no substitute to reading your own work aloud, either alone or to an audience. You can pretty much instantly tell if the sentences are not flowing right, because it’ll be hard to read aloud. You’ll find yourself stumbling or pausing more, because the sentences aren’t smoothly leading into each other.

The bottom line is that your prose doesn’t have to be breathless, or dynamic, or action-packed, or even particularly easy to read. But a lot of what makes a strong narrative comes down to the flow, from sentence to sentence, and if people are feeling as though there’s too much static in your signal, take a hard look at how your sentences are following each other.

Often, the best sentence isn’t the most clever or the most beautiful, but the sentence that picks up right where the previous sentence left off and moves the reader along.

Magazine cover images via Micky the PixelMcClavertyUK Vintagehorzeltoyranch andSFordScott

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I’ll start posting my fan fiction series on my blog here in a month and I was going to also post it on FanFiction.net where I have an account and posted several of my fics. However, I’m running across the problem of not knowing where to file it on FF.net.

X-Men: The (fan fic) Series is a proposed television and so far there have been no live action tv-series, only cartoons. The upcoming S.H.I.E.L.D. series is live action but not X-Men, in fact, no X-Men will ever appear in it since it’s Disney!Marvel.

So I’m left with either posting in the comic or movie sections of FF.net.

This is an AU of the comic-verse, I’m trying to stay as close as I can to comic canon even though I’m taking from the movies, cartoons, etc.

This is a live-action treatment more akin to the movies and may appeal more to the movie-fans as it’s more in that style.

I have a month to decide what to do, but I’m at a bit of a standstill and could use some input and suggestions.

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Was it the sales? Was it the backlash? Or did they realize it was a bad idea from the start?

Here is the solicit for Avengers Arena’s 17 & 18 via BleedingCool.

AVENARENA2012017

AVENGERS ARENA #17 & 18
DENNIS HOPELESS (W)
KEV WALKER (A)
Issue #17 – COVER BY FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA
Issue #18 – COVER BY DAVE JOHNSON
Issue #17 – “BOSS LEVEL” PART 4: THE FINAL FIGHTS RAGE ON!
• Up on Murder World Island, it’s the surviving contestants in an all-out battle royale!
• Down in Arcade’s lair, it’s two other contestants vs. Arcade!
Issue #18 – “BOSS LEVEL” PART 5: THE SEARING SERIES FINALE!
• Arcade’s mad plan comes to pass! Who lives? Who dies?
• Shock follows shock as the game reaches its last desperate seconds!
• AVENGERS ARENA ends here…but it’s also the launch pad for what comes next!
32 PGS. (EACH)/Rated T+ …$2.99 (EACH)

What will this mean for the characters? Will the deaths stay or will it all turn out to be some kind of VR thing and everyone is alive and well? Or will they just kill everyone off and be done with it? We’ll find out soon enough.

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Here is a new blurb for Captain America : The Winter Soldier, courtsey of Bleeding Cool.

original

After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk.

Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy—the Winter Soldier.

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The Maximoff Twins: Scarlet Witch and QuicksilverI’ve seen a lot of confusion about Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch being in the upcoming Fox and Disney/Marvel movies. Here is what you need to know:

1. If one studio uses the Maximoff twins, can they be used by the other?

Yes. When Fox received the license to use the X-Men in film, Wanda and Pietro were put in a gray zone and both studios have license to use the characters, with limitations.

2. What are the limitations each studio has for using the twins?

  • Fox can use them as ‘mutants’ related to ‘Magneto’ with some kind of relationship with the ‘X-Men’ but they can not be refered to as ‘Avengers’. (They can be Brotherhood, free agents, X-Men, or other, as long as Fox has the license for that group.)
  • Disney can use them as ‘Avengers’, but they can not be specifically referred to as ‘mutants’ nor their father mentioned by name. (The studio has the choice of either leaving that ambiguous, i.e. orphaned at birth (which is canon), or they can write in a new back story.)

Neither studio gets to use them as a whole.

3. Will they be played by the same person?

Nothing says that they can’t be, but since they will be two different versions of the same character, one a mutant, the other an Avenger, then it only makes sense to have two different actors. Think of it as if Keaton and Bale had their Batman’s come out at the same time. Both are Batman but done in two very different tones with a different take on the Gotham universe.

4. Then who will be playing them?

Evan Peters has been cast as Quicksilver in Days of Future Past and Wanda will not appear in the film.

Names have been thrown around for Avengers 2 but no official announcements have been made at this time.

5. Wanda isn’t in Days of Future Past, so Quicksilver is an only child?

Not necessarily. Singer only says that Wanda will ‘not appear’, meaning her character will do just that, not appear in the film. This does not mean she can’t be referred to as existing some place else at the time, i.e. “Have you spoken to your sister?” “Last I heard she was in Australia.”

Or, they could simply leave it as a non-issue. If no one asks him if he has siblings, and he never volunteers the information,  then for all we know both Wanda and Lorna exist someplace (and possible show up in a later film).

6. If they aren’t mutants in Avengers… then what?

We don’t know at this time but there are several options. Augmented Humans. Experimentation. Alien Tech. Magic. Etc.

Personally I’m voting for ‘magic as a higher form of science’ because I believe not only would that be closer to their original status as mutants but also fit in well with the established concept via the Asgardians. Also, Doctor Strange.

7. What about their heritage?

The twins were grew up as the modern equivalent of Romani after being adopted when their mother died at childbirth (probably).

Nothing has been said in Days of Future Past regarding Quicksilver’s adoptive parents or where he grew up. Evan Peters does look like the son of Erik who is a German Jew. Wanda took more after their mother who was the Romani, but as Wanda’s not appearing in the film, I doubt much will be made of this and Quicksilver will be German or from a Soviet Block country.

Whedon has said that he’s looking at ‘edgy British’ for the twins. Now, ‘British’ does not mean the twins could not be of Romani heritage but they apparently will not be first generation Romani. Whether or not they hold any ties to the Romani heritage is highly suspect at this time as the studio may decide to avoid the subject in order to keep from causing any kind of political incorrectness.

Basically, it is more likely that the twins will be ‘white washed’ in Avengers than in Days of Future Past.

8. No Magento in Avengers, what does that mean for the twins?

Not a hell of a lot. The twins were in the Brotherhood then joined the Avengers long before they realized their true parentage.

 I think that is everything, if there is something I have missed, let me know and I will do my best to answer it.

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So it’s ‘confirmed’ that there will be no Wanda in DOFP, but it’s not clear if this means she’s simply somewhere else (maybe Australia) or if Pietro is an only child in this universe. I will accept if she’s just not around (or they leave it open, i.e., they don’t say either way) but if they make him an only child then I will be very disappointed.

From BleedingCool

Crowds at Montreal’s Fantasia Fest last night were treated to some footage from X-Men: Days of Future Past and a Q&A from director Bryan Singer. I’m guessing it would have been the same reel of clips that I saw at Comic-Con, but I’d certainly have liked another chance to see it. Just one more reason I wish I was at Fantasia Fest.

JoBlo‘s man in the field gathered up a list of notes from the Q&A, and while there was a lot of previously-heard stories and other bits of business, some of it was fresh or worth another go-around. Here are the points that stand out to me. There are spoilers for old X-Men movies implicit throughout the rest of this story.

  • Tom Cruise is deferential to his directors.
  • Singer doesn’t see Jack the Giant Slayer as creatively compromised but does think it was mis-marketed.
  • Russell Crowe wanted to play Wolverine bald and that’s why he didn’t get the role
  • Singer thinks that X3: The Last Stand made a mistake with Cyclops.
  • While editing the first X-Men, he got into such a row with the editor he smashed a bottle on the wall and was locked out of the editing room for three days.

And then there were a couple of bigger, chewier points.

First up, Singer said that The Scarlet Witch won’t be appearing in Days of Future Past. Which means Quicksilver will be operating separate from his sister. And I wonder if the movie version – or rather, this movie version – of Quicksilver will even have a sister.

There’s already a bit of a puzzle in his family tree, with the character apparently old enough that he would have been born before the events of First Class but that film’s Magneto, who in the comics is his dad, was seemingly unaware of him. I’m curious to see what they’re doing with this decision.

And then there’s Singer’s comments on how the “old” Professor X has returned. JoBlo’s note says, verbatim:

Could justify bringing Xavier back because he transferred his consciousness and could possibly construct a body around that consciousness.

Most were assuming that time travel was involved in the resurrection of Charles. At least I was, before I saw The Wolverine.

But what’s this with the word “possibly”? Does that come from JoBlo or Singer? It’s not clear. Because if Singer doesn’t know, for sure, how the character was brought back to life, then he must be leaving it ambiguous in the film.

He could be misleading us. He could be misquoted. Either way, this notion of constructing a body… that’s a new one to me. Has he ever shown abilities of that kind in the comics, because I’m certainly not aware of them if he has.

X-Men: Days of Future Past continues production now. It’s looking good to me. Expect to see it in US cinemas on May 23rd next year.

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Marsden told Vulture that he will not be in Days of Future Past, ergo Cyclops will not be resurrected.

And X-Men: Days of Future Past next year, or no? I mean, Cyclops was disintegrated, but if there’s time travel … No, no X-Men, unfortunately. But who knows? If this next film really works, Bryan [Singer] has said he wants to fix a few things, so hopefully that’s one of them. It was great, to have a movie like that, the first two or three X-Men, and the studios in Hollywood work really hard to find a formula that’s successful, and you want to keep that intact, so …

Did you have a chance to see The Wolverine yet? Because Jean Grey, even though she’s dead, gets to have a lot of moments in it. No, I haven’t seen it yet, just the trailer … but I hope that lays the ground for more. We’ll see. I always liked Cyclops, but they have a lot of characters that they have to parcel out, spend time with each one, make sure everyone feels like they’ve been given their due, introduce them appropriately, but you could do a spinoff of every one of those characters and give them so much depth to the story line.

Does he mean that he’s spoken to Bryan or just that this is what he’s heard? Clarification would be nice but there is no telling what is really going on this film, except that they’re giving it all away already. I mean, with their announcements before and during ComiCon, what is there left to really surprise us with?

  • They could have held off on the Sentinels till at least next year, giving us some wonderful ‘Cloverfield’ style shots of it to wet our appetite. Instead we get full frontal already.
  • They might have held off on Quicksilver but with the Whedon announcement they probably realized they needed to show that they had already had that planned lest look like they ripped off Avengers. Bishop was already revealed, along with Blink and Warpath, so… who’s left? Misty Knight?
  • They’ve also already told us Wolvie is the time traveler and give us the core of the whole time travel plot. They could have held back on that too, again, till at least the first full official trailer and such.

All that’s left is to give us the actual plot. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it does seem like all the big stuff that could have been used to entice us through glimpses and reveals closer to when the movie comes out (or at least not ten months away) have just been dropped on the table for us to fiddle and get bored with.

What am I saying? I’m saying that something like Cyclops being alive would be a really awesome thing. Not only do the fans want it, but it would be something that would be a surprise (though only in the way that Marion Cotillard playing Talia was a ‘surprise’ to anyone in the Batman fandom, but still).

Marion Cotillard down right said she wasn’t Talia.
Benedict Cumberbatch said he wasn’t Kahn.

Everything comes in threes…

Could Marsden saying he’s not coming back as Cyclops be our third? It wouldn’t take much to hide it as the future stuff seems to be all done indoors and we only need a single shot of him to prove the point, he could knock that stuff out in an afternoon.

Anyway, here’s hoping… but with these films, I have learned to expect disappointment.

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