Space Team

“Engage the freaking Tachyon Drive!”

“Stop yelling at me!”

“Newtonian Photomist to full power!”

“My station is falling apart!”

“Wait! Wait! Everyone flip! Incoming wormhole!”

“We’re all gonna die!”

“NO! Not like this. Not here!”

And that was a brief example dialogue one would expect during a game of Space Team. The exclamation points are understatements of the loud chaos that ensues. If I could only recommend one thing for the rest of my life, it would be this game. I literally want to add exclamation points to every sentence, but just assume that from now on. Accept the excitement that is oozing out of me right now.

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Here’s a quick rundown of the game:

You and up to 3 other people are in a spaceship. Commands are listed on each device (phone or tablet). It may be for you or another member, but everyone must communicate and collaborate to get it done before the timer for each instruction is up. Too many mistakes and you all die a painful, fiery death.

It’s a ridiculously simple local multiplayer game with retro 8-bit style graphics, but probably the most intense and interactive game out there on the app store. It’s easily overlooked (took me a year before I finally tried it out), but once you and a couple friends download it, it’s SPACE PARTY time! For added chaos, they have a “Massive Mode” which doubles the max amount of player but is prone to crashing.

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Now let’s get deep (since this post can’t just be a game review).

Although this game teaches the wonderful and vital concept of teamwork, it also brings the worst out of us. The further we hurtle into the “heart of darkness” of deep space, the more chaos rises to the surface. I probably get the worst with my patience. I’m the guy that is playing on other people’s phones in addition to mine and screaming out commands. And this is just a game. I can’t even imagine (or rather I do not want to imagine) how crazy I’d get in the face of actual life-threatening danger. Would I be the first to abandon ship and grab the only escape pod? Would I be the one that betrays the crew to the alien bounty hunters chasing us? I hope all this psychoanalysis doesn’t kill the game for me, but that’s some food for thought.

We truly get to know ourselves when inhibitions are forgotten amidst chaos.

Legostalgia

Nostalgia is easily one of the most powerful tools with the widest range of emotion you can use in your writing. You can break a reader down in reminiscent tears or bring that smirk to the corner of their lips. And behind that tiny smirk can hold so many beautiful memories.

Today I saw the Lego Movie. Out of all the movies out there, this was the one that coaxed that rebel tear out from my eyes. This cheesy, stop animation movie  opened the floodgates of childhood memories. I looked back at the crazy robot fights I had with my friend with our made-up rules. Half the battle was being able to agree on which rules to allow. Then there were the cities and towers we constructed with the mismatched bricks we could find. It was our own little world we its own set of laws. We had the freedom to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted (until dinnertime of course).

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The Lego company made a brilliant move with this film. The whole franchise relies on nostalgic references whether it’s Star Wars, Harry Potter, or Batman. This is what makes literary allusions so great too. With a simple reference to another preexisting work, the reader can get so much and you as the writer didn’t even need to delve that deeply into the matter. However, it also relies on the reader’s knowledge. For example, my cousin who lived most her life in Vietnam was in the theater too. She literally slept through the movie about 15 minutes in. The play on nostalgia had absolutely no effect on her because there were no memories from which nostalgia could stem from. She had marbles, not Legos. So with these sort of things, extra attention to the target audience must be kept in mind. 

What is something in your life that holds a lot more meaning behind it than it normally should?

Just a dream?

Have you woken up from an amazing dream and desperately tried to recollect its events as more and more slipped away?

My dreams are intricately cinematic with multiple POV’s and angles, action sequences, conflict, and love interests. I rarely recall my dreams though. The great part about that, however, is that it sort of filters out the boring dreams. My subconscience even manages to slip in some emotional scene to tug at your (or I guess just my) heart strings or throws in slow-mo here and there. I like to imagine myself as a director in these situation so forgive me if I speak as if my dreams have an audience. My dream even have establishing shots. But the thing I appreciate most of all is the attention to detail of it all. The plots are original, sometimes even interesting, but it’s so broken up. So sporadic. This is exactly how I feel with this whole project. The ideas are there. But the continuity is lacking. And I’m only on the second chapter! So I end up with the Miami Heats. Great components that struggle to work together. A mashup of incoherency (albeit great incoherency) where the only conflict exists with the storyline.

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This is another topic all together but imagine not being a mere spectator of something but actually experiencing it. Take “living a dream” to a whole new level. Imagine immersing yourself into a movie so deeply as to have your adrenaline rush, your tears fall, and your breath cut off. I want to create something one day that does this to my audience: weave a story so intriguing with imagery so beautiful that they pay no notice to the realism or verisimilitude.

My first chapter was a breeze because I was just laying down the foundation. Now there’s the whole issue of building upon it, while maintaining sense and furthering the plot. And it’s only going to get harder as I get farther and farther into the book. (I apologize in advance but I love my metaphors) If I seek to build a skyscraper, I better plan it pretty darn well before letting people go in it. But if every story is making the building more unstable, I can’t really continue from there.

So where do I go from here?

Frankenstein

I have been able to read Frankenstein, a classic tale of a monster that learns how to read and speak French. These are some things I was able to take from it:
Again the motifs of tragedy (the murders of Frankenstein’s loved ones) dominates the book. I found the contrast between and disruption of Frankenstein’s picteresque life with that which was to come (although like the rest of the book it was excessively drawn out). Then there was the supernatural aspect which always sparks at least some inkling of interest in me, especially when a little science fiction is thrown in the mix.

I thoroughly enjoyed the irony in the fact that Frankenstein essentially created his on undoing. There was the constant battle in my mind of whether he deserved it or not. This ambiguity is what I believe kept me engaged in between the horrendously monotenous painting of nature scenes and meticulous narration of every little thing. Who was the real monster? Frankenstein or the creation. It was rather frustating at the same time because just as you begin developing sympathies towards the well-spoken creation, it’d go off and kill someone.
The conflict of mankind vs the monster has its ups and downs. What I mean by that is Mary Shelley draws the hopeful gleamor from your eyes that perhaps somehow the monster could make it and then BAM! She grinds it beneath her feet. This ability makes or breaks writers in my opinion. The ability to manipulate your readers in a certain direction only to throw them the opposite way. Toy with their emotions and make them audibly vocalize gasps of shock.
I hope I can pull that off in this mystery, thriller of mine.

Green Eggs and Hamlet

Just one chapter in, and I’m suffering some mild writer’s block. I feel like I’m chasing a plot without a map. Just running around looking for any clues. Unfortunately I’m not much of a sleuth. I have so many ideas floating around though. Now I just need a net to catch them all. Maybe even get a scrapbook with cute, artsy paper to put them in. I’m sorry. Sometimes I get carried away with cheesy analogies. I hope none of you are lactose intolerant. Ok that was the last pun. It was a Gouda one though wasn’t it.
Anyway, although I didn’t get much writing done, I did finish up Hamlet. It got me wondering what about Shakespeare’s work made it so entertaining. The supernatural aspect of King Hamlet’s death made it edgy. Murders are always interesting. The play started and ending with murder with Polonius’ sprinkled into the mix. But I think what really hooked people was the life he endowed his characters with. Pure emotion poured from their raw personalities. I hope to make my own characters just as rich and dynamic. A great plot can’t go anywhere if they are no great characters to drive it forward. I  imagine it like pasting some stick figures onto the masterpiece that is the Island of La Grande Jatte. The landscape and scenery is all there, but it most be given life, depth, personality by interesting characters.

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Post-Thanksgiving Recovery

Thanksgiving this year was probably my biggest and most exhausting. Catching Fire was good, but it was a pretty big let down considering all the hype from my friends. I got some work down for the music video (my little pet project for my English class). My parents got a record high flood of passengers at their work (about 1,200 people or 24 buses worth). The turkey dinner was amazing. I gorged on that fatty skin with absolutely no regard for my cholesterol levels. I got to get my first run of the season up in Mt. High. The snow was thin and iced, but it was still fun.  It was my baby Vanessa’s first ride and I rode her throw a thawed out patch of pebbles. Vanessa is my snowboard by the way and yes, I name my inanimate possessions. That’s just how I roll (or slide – bah dum tss). I’m sorry but when I write informally, I go nuts with the parentheses (I’m cool like that).

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Anyway, the food coma I was in didn’t pair up well with the lactic acid from the trip so I spent the rest of my break immobilized with soreness. And when Sunday came around, I was not ready. At all. I have come to realize how bad of a planner I am. But oh did it hit me hard this time. Now I’m going to have to crank this whole week to catch up. It made me think about the invaluable benefits of something I had to do for my project: map out dates and key events that I planned to have done by then. If I am really expecting to get this novel done by the end of the year, I’m going to have to get my planning game in order.

I really appreciate the feedback I got for my first chapter: “Coming with the Clouds” and I’m glad you guys liked it. Looking forward to the next chapter! If all goes well, I’ll have it out for you by next Tuesday.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Taking from the great works of these men and women in hopes that one day I might put back great literature of my own.

What I’m aiming for with this whole “project” if you will is not to write fan fiction. Yet I’ve been drawing ideas from a fan-fic blog. It’s a great starting point that has given me a push in the right direction but it feels lacking in what I’m looking for. Currently I’m in the search for a great blogger that writes original stories. Not short stories but full on novels. I’d love any suggestions so feel free to comment some below.

Despite all of that, I ended up writing a fan-fic of sorts for an activity: I had to come up with a 100 word story using parts of well-known quotes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. They were “Something is rotten in the state of _______” and “revenge ____ foul and most unnatural murder.”

The exercise was interesting for two reasons. It really challenged me to come up with a concept and furthermore think of a way to introduce, elaborate, and conclude it within 100 words (87 if you exclude the words from the quotes). I typically struggle with just starting to write and seeing where it takes me rather than establishing structure to the plot. Next there was the idea of drawing inspiration from literary giants. Emulation I believe it’s called. Taking from the great works of these men and women in hopes that one day I might put back great literature of my own.

I’m still getting my creative juices flowing. Only enough to get the first few lines of the first chapter out of myself. But without further ado, I present to you all…

“Knight of Vengeance”

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Something is rotten in the state of Gotham: a city where the rat-ta-tat of machine guns and screams broken and breathless lull its denizen into an apathetic slumber. But the silence that night rang louder than any boom or bang the city had ever known.

Something is rising from Crime Alley’s inky shadows. As Thomas cradled his son, his heart grew colder with the lifeless blood running down his white sleeves. With every drop that splattered onto the dank concrete, his crippling grief became rage unquenchable.

There was no other way but revenge to this foul and most unnatural murder.

Point-of-view

I have been debating on whether to use a third person POV, like in Harry Potter, or a first person POV, like in Percy Jackson. If you guys haven’t noticed yet I’ll be making frequent references to those two books. I want my little novel to emulate the style, genre, and overall “feel” of the books, but at the same time, I fear for my life that I’ll rip them off big time. That’s not my intent though. I’m not planning on copy and pasting my content into a cozy template, but rather to incorporate my own unique jazz to the whole thing with an original plot.

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Here are the pros and cons I’ve been considering between the two:

I think writing in 1st person would be the easy way out. It can be extremely personable and relatable in a way that directly invites the reader into this fantastical world.

However I wouldn’t have as much room for the artsy imagery that I’m so fond of like I would with 3rd person. Perhaps the protagonist wouldn’t “talk” so much with the reader but the descriptive language would immerse the reader into the world of John Sonner.

As of now though I’m leaning towards 3rd person and have actually started to write in it. I’ll just have to see where it takes me.

The Protagonist

I feel guilty for caving into this very much overdone model of a typical teenage boy that becomes the “chosen one” of some sort and uses his newly discovered powers to save mankind. But hey. Give me a break. This is my first attempt at a novel so I might as well us model that has proven to work. Depending on how I feel, maybe I’ll even throw in a best friend trio with some love interests thrown in the mix.

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Books like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson have flooded the market targeting young adults with its superficial content of fantasy worlds and magic. I like to rag on them but it’s a love-hate relationship. It’s like that song that you absolutely hate but can’t help but tap your feet to. But I understand where the popularity comes from. The characters are relatable in the fact that they too are teenagers, so readers are able to imagine themselves in a much cooler world. It’s also no coincidence that both of these popular series incorporates the “real world” into its fantasy world, adding to the effect that there just might be something more on the other side that we just don’t know about. It’s an interesting thought that entices a bulk of today’s young readers.

The inner conflict that my protagonist struggles with will be the responsibility that he must face with  the power and knowledge he now has. And if you go to my previous post “The Antagonist” you can read all about who John Sonner will be pitted against. I’m interested myself in how John will turn out. I’m just hoping he won’t be an exact replica of the before mentioned characters.

The Antagonist

What makes a good story is not the protagonist. A good story consists of an interesting and original plot. A plot is driven by a conflict that can keep you on your toes. So a predictable antagonist-protagonist relationship will at the best leave you with a mediocre story. So it all dwindles down to the villain to carry the book. You could say the bad guy makes or breaks it.

When I think bad guy, I see smiles, not a menacing brute. I came across Shakespeare’s Iago in my reading recently and I’ve never appreciated evil like this before. A villain that simply beats up on the main character doesn’t allow for much personality or complexity. What sets Iago apart is his mastermind persona. The way he manipulates the other characters so smoothly without any suspicion gives me a whole new revelation on the term puppeteer.

Satan

This is what has made Satan such an iconic figure throughout history. It’s a shame really at what culture has made his appearance out to be. The hideous, horned demon with unsightly red skin, forked tongue, and hoofed feet, doesn’t do justice to who Lucifer, the angel of light, was.  The Satan I picture does not cackle in a gruff, echoing voice. But rather he speaks softly, seductively, enticing his unsuspecting prey.

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An antagonist using strength alone, relies on strength alone and can be overpowered. However, an antagonist that turns his foes against each other and manipulates them to do his bidding without them even realizing it can do so much more harm. For a more relatable example, look at Iron Man 3. The villain does his during work behind the scenes, setting up a pseudo-villain to take the glory (and heat) for everything. This throws even the ingenious Tony Stark off of the true trail and allows Aldrich Killian to do even more damage. Ironically outwitting is so much more powerful than overpowering.