Tag Archives: plot

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.

Broken Bicycle

Bicycle

Have you ever tried taking a bicycle apart? Or a car or plane or something that would be a huge project to put back together?

I was sick for the past week. I took work off. I did nothing but lay in bed. I hated every minute of it. I had a nasty cold – the worst cold I’ve had in a long time. I didn’t think about my book for a week. I put it out of my thoughts entirely. I still have the cold, but I’m getting over it slowly.

Today, I started to work on it. But then stopped. I feel lost all of a sudden. As if, I’d taken apart a bicycle and couldn’t figure out how to put it back together. All the pieces lay surrounding me. I just don’t know what to do exactly.

The entire book, everything… It’s finished and it’s isn’t. I know what I want to have happen. I have the characters pretty much figured out. I have a ton of parts already written. It’s just figuring out the finer details and how to connect the dots.

Oh boy… It feels like it’s going to be the long haul.

Of Stale Baguettes and Black Lagoons

Stale Baguette

There are parts of my book I’m totally satisfied with. These parts are the fresh tidbits I’ve been adding. The scenes I’m very dissatisfied with are the ones I’ve written long ago. They feel very stale to me like an ancient baguette and probably because I’ve read them over a million times. I come to write these scenes and edit them… And I find myself eternally stuck. I absolutely hate it.

What will I ever do?

I’ll probably end up printing them off and try different ways of rewriting the parts. I just don’t know how to go about doing it. I mean to say, I don’t know what I should change or keep. It feels like I’m slowly beginning to sink into a black lagoon. I need to quickly find my way out of this swampy No Man’s Land.

The Fascination of Drying Paint

Staring Out A Window

I’m stuck on a scene… Or rather I should say I’m stuck on several scenes and probably the rest of my book.

The problem isn’t that I don’t where to take the scene. The problem is that I feel as if my engine has been used up. As though there is no gas left in the tank. This is a horrible, awful, terrible feeling if you happen to be on a deadline and constantly trying to push yourself to write more.

My book is due to be published… Well, the editors should be getting back to me by November-ish. At which time I have to send them my entire book in its completed state. It’s current state is about eight chapters out of thirty. I’ve a lot of material written from previous drafts. Some of it I’ve been using and it’s helped.

My favorite feeling in the world is that sense of fire you get from inspiration. The flame that burns and burns and propels you to write a really, really good piece. It’s as if the words themselves are coming from some celestial place in the universe. A place of divine inspiration. A place that happens… Not as often as we’d like.

The worst feeling is the moment you start writing and it’s like watching paint dry. Each sentence, description, everything sounds absolutely stark. Forced. I’ve tried everything to bring my words to life this morning. I was completely productive and cleaned. I showered. I did chores. I went for a jog. I came home feeling refreshed and ready to fight the world. But then, I get on here and start typing. The words won’t obey me. My creativity is kaput.

Sometimes, when I feel like this I’ll stick a really good soundtrack on that’s full of energy. A few times it has worked and vitalized my writing. This time however… I’m still watching paint dry.

Adding Twists After Twist Like A Pretzel

“I bet you didn’t see this twist.” – Officer X

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I’ve been working on plot and character development for my book. It’s been a very rugged road so far with many bumps, unexpected hurdles, and hair pulling moments. I can honestly say I haven’t enjoyed, but the moment it’s published and people say they love it… That moment will make up for it all. I’m counting the days til that day.

Twists are a lovely thing in a story. They make you go.. “oh! I never saw that coming!” or “Oh my gosh! That’s crazy!” They make the story ten times better. They make you want to go and read everything else by the author. I love twists.

One of my favorite storytellers who uses twists like a pro is Christopher Nolan. He isn’t an author exactly but he’s a great storyteller. I love the twists he adds to every one of his movies. Inception has to be by far my favorite for its uniqueness. The idea of going into someone else’s dreams. The idea of living in a dream. It’s intriguing and original.

And here I am going through my book and trying to Christopher Nolan it up. Add spice. It’s got some spice. And I think it’s an amazing story with the right amount of suspense and action. But my dilemma is how much spice should I add before it becomes too spicy? In other words, how many twists can I add to my story before it becomes ridiculous.

Oh by the way, he’s really the bad guy. And that other guy works for SpaceX. And that other guy wants to become president. And the real bad guy isn’t really bad but good. And there’s some random character I forgot to tell you about. He kills the entire world. The end.

Twists obviously can’t come out of the blue like some random object. Hints need to be given discreetly. The asteroid doesn’t just randomly hit Earth one day. It comes hurtling through space into our orbit. NASA freaks out. The government freaks out. Newspapers freak out. People freak out. Tension is built. Soon the question, “Will it hit Earth?” becomes “When will it hit Earth and where?” And cities become evacuated and people start going to church. Twists are like asteroids. They need to be built up but of course hidden. Like no one expects an asteroid to come hurtling through space.

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In Interstellar, Christopher Nolan does a famously well job of hiding the fact that Cooper is the one behind the bookcase. That Cooper is the one trying to communicate with Murphy, not aliens. He hides some hints in plain sight that you don’t expect. Such as the interview with Murphy when she’s old. The spacecraft that Cooper randomly finds on the ground. The sand particles forming lines on the floor. And S.T.A.Y.

I’m trying to figure out whether or not I should add more to my book. That’s the big question for me. I’ve decided that I should finish the rewrite and then worry about this. Which is probably a good idea. I don’t want to jump the gun. Especially when I haven’t even finished yet.