Category Archives: inspiration

Review: The Indispensable Heroes of Guards! GuardS

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When a book dedicates itself to fantasy’s expendable Red Shirt Army with the witticism of a P.G. Wodehouse novel, you know you hold a diamond. When I given Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards! to read, I was a little weary to give it a try. The dull artwork of a strange looking dragon on its cover wasn’t eye catching. The summary on the back was about as appealing as a very moldy ham and egg sandwich. But, encouraged by my friend’s enthusiasm, I trudged on like a good soldier and opened the book.

Six words in, I knew I was infected.

Guards! Guards! is full of clever sentences that get right under your skin. It opens in a fictional place of Terry Pratchett’s own imagination called Discworld. Our unlikely heroes are the Night Watchmen of Ankh-Morpork who dedicate themselves to alcoholism and never running too fast lest they actually catch a criminal. It’s these four characters Vimes, Colon, Nobbs and Carrot drew me closer to the pages. I felt as though I were a part of their crew.

The plot begins when an incompetent secret brotherhood schemes to replace the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork with a puppet king of their own. In order to accomplish their evil deed, they summon a dragon using a stolen magical book and that’s when the mayhem starts. It’s up to Captain Vimes of the Night Watch and his rag-tag team to stop this dragon and restore order. My favorite character out of this crew was Carrot. Having lived his entire life in the underground caverns of the dwarves, Carrot discovers a whole new world when he steps foot into Ankh-Morpork. He volunteers with the Night Watch which we are told nobody would ever think of doing. His naive yet bold nature reminds me of myself when I moved out of my parents’ house and discovered the life of a city girl.

The voice and style of Guards! Guards! is marinated in Pratchett’s love of good British farce. A ridiculous cast of characters find themselves tangled in improbable scenarios and complications. The heroes and villains are silly enough for us not to take seriously yet so thoroughly well done they seem almost tangible. Our antagonist, the Supreme Grand Master, is a whimsical parody of an egotistical maniac driven by his hatred of humanity’s stupidity. Lady Ramkin, a potential love interest of our protagonist Captain Vimes, is overweight, hazardously confident and sharply eccentric with her fondness for dragons. The story is full of action and spotted here and there by extreme cuteness such as the scenes with the swamp dragons. Also, hidden in the text is a treasure trove of references to Hollywood films.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wishes a great read.

The Concept of Today’s Flat Writers

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What do you do when you feel as though words are coming out of you sounding flat? As though they have no air. No color. No vibrancy which attracts the reader to the page. I have finished with a chapter for my book and I dare say that I’m glad with it, however the ending has stupefied me. I look over and ask, how should this be ended? I can see my character climbing into her car and saying farewell. But the words don’t surface in the correct order. They are all jumbled messes spilling from me in ink blots.

When I’m usually stuck in a rut like this, I open a good book and start reading. If a book is thrilling and the writing terrific, my power of words returns to me sharply. I feel inspired and a fresh flame of passion. I can write again, aha! Is what I say. My problem happens to be I’m extremely picky. It’s difficult for me to choose or even to find a good book. Sometimes, I scour the web for something smashing and mostly come up empty. Last night, I started reading a few stories on the New Yorker but eventually fell asleep half way through them.

I feel there are few good writers today. All of their writing has gone flat. Why is that? Sure, there are quite a few compelling stories that have and are being told, yet many of them have seem to forgotten the art of writing. The art of putting words together just so. I believe the poets have a better concept of it than us writers.

One great, amazing piece I have recently discovered and read is Nirvana by Adam Johnson. The story quite literary knocked my socks off. It was that brilliant. The artistry which Adam uses to convey his thoughts. The emotional context of the story. The beauty of the sentences so cleverly put together. And, the descriptions that leave me speech less. My favorite description Adam uses is when he describes the skin of a character as the color of refrigerator light. It’s a unique way of saying pale and weak. In my writing, I’ve tried find unique ways to describe things too. Sometimes I’ve succeeded and other times…

My point is, writing seems to have become flat. And I wish for somebody to prove me wrong. To show me all of the miraculous stories which have been written but never entered my radar. I believe finding a brilliantly written story will guide me out of my own quandary.