Game of Thrones: A Final Perspective

***WARNING! THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR SEASONS 1-8 OF GAME OF THRONES AND THE ASOIAF BOOKS!***

I’ve defended some of Game of Thrones‘s more questionable or controversial decisions, or, at the very least, accepted them, even if I didn’t always understand them. Literature and television are different mediums, and translating one to the other is not always seamless. I appreciate the hard work that everyone – cast, crew, producers, everyone involved in the making of this series – put forth into turning a beloved book series into an epic genre-bending show that drew in millions of fans across the world. It built an enduring legacy, and has deserved the huge amount of awards and recognition it has earned across its run. This is obviously a show made with a huge amount of dedication and passion, and people have watched it so closely and loved it so dearly because of that.

That brings us to Season 8, which recently finished airing after a year and a half hiatus after season 7. The final season, where viewers learned the fates of their favorite characters and the identity of who would reign over Westeros from the fearsome Iron Throne. But now that it is over, and the dust has settled, there has been a massive amount of backlash from fans and critics. For the first time in the series, I agree with a large portion of it.

Do I think the ending sucked? No. But I was left wanting.

I’m not opposed to Daenerys as the “Mad Queen,” and the ultimate “villain” of the show. I’m not opposed to Jaime turning back to Cersei. I’m not opposed to Bran being elected king, and I’m not opposed to Sansa being made Queen in the North. In fact, I have very little issue with what was done this past season on Game of Thrones… my issues lie in how they happened. The root of that is in the pacing. And the writing.

Game of Thrones used to shine because of it’s subtle scenes – conversations between characters which may seem trivial at first, but convey motivation, emotion, and shed light on other plot points and decisions in a meaningful and often masterful way. Of course, much of this can be chalked up to the source material, the ASoIaF books by George R. R. Martin, but some – such as the conversation between Robert and Cersei in season 1, where the pair discuss their marriage – are a show-only invention. Those scenes – introspective scenes, scenes were characters let down their barriers, where we can really get into their thoughts and feelings and see into their development, have always been more vital to the show than cool battles and brilliant effects. Yes, those scenes are excellent too – the battle at the Blackwater and Battle of the Bastards are some of the most visually striking and powerful battle scenes ever seen on television. But scenes like Ygritte’s death carry more emotional weight because we saw the full development of her relationship with Jon, and we knew how she felt being betrayed by him, and how he felt knowing he would have to betray her. Scenes like the revelation of Jon’s parentage through Bran’s vision of Jon’s birth tugged at the viewer’s hearts because we knew how Jon felt about being a bastard, and we simultaneously come to realize how much Ned loved Lyanna – and Jon – to keep that secret for so long. The Red Wedding was shocking, but even that has a ton of build up, with Robb making error after error, paying the ultimate price to learn that love cannot always overcome oath breaking and losing the loyalty of your followers and that inexperience can be a fatal flaw. Cersei blowing up the Sept of Baelor has an incredible amount of multi-season build-up, with Cersei’s desperation and paranoia over Margaery and the High Sparrow culminating in one final explosive act, pushing her beyond redemption and causing her to lose her last beloved child.

I can think of several more examples from the earlier seasons, but overall, the small, intimate scenes are vital to the show’s success because they lead to larger scenes – such as those big battles or dramatic climaxes – having a more significant impact. Huge events often have a series of little events  building toward them at a balanced pace. And what season 8 (and 7, for that matter) lacks is those small moments. The result is rushed conclusions that bear less emotional weight, and payoff that feels both disappointing and underwhelming. Game of Thrones has always been so much more than dragons, occasionally gratuitous nudity, and grueling battles. It’s been about political sabotage, intricate human relationships, racism, the fallout of war, religion, and a multitude of other issues and subjects. But the final season feels superficial, falling short of she standards set by the GoT of seasons 1-4… even 1-6. 

In season 8, Jon – a man who has believed his whole life that he is a motherless bastard – learns that he is a Targaryen. Not only that, but he is the true, legitimate heir to the Iron Throne. In the same moment, he discovers his lover is also his aunt. And yet, other than a few shocked looks and some brooding expressions… do viewers really know how Jon feels about this bombshell? Sure, he continues to swear himself to Daenerys (though he discontinues their romance), and denies wanting the throne… but we never get into his head or dig into his emotions over the ordeal. How does he feel about Ned really being his uncle? How does he feel knowing that his true father is Rhaegar Targaryen and his history is linked to Robert’s Rebellion overall? What does he think of Lyanna? How does he feel about being related to Maester Aemon, who he so admired at the Wall? Just how devastated is he to lose his relationship with Daenerys? He went from thinking he was a lowly bastard to discovering he is basically the center of intense conflict, and the product of two noble houses. We never get immersed in his emotions the same way we have in previous seasons, and so, his character development over the season feels stunted. It made him seem like a distant shadow of himself – a ghost, if you will.

Cersei did nothing this season but lament the lack of elephants, sleep with Euron, and stare out of windows… oh, and die. We never get tapped into her thoughts or emotions at all. Lena Headey does a brilliant job with what she was given, but there is so little reflection on Cersei’s character it comes across that the show didn’t know what to do with her, and her death is lackluster. Viewers expected her to die this season, but when the fateful moment comes, there is nothing surprising, nothing to make the viewer feel for her, nothing to signify or emphasize Cersei’s arc across the seasons. It’s like she only existed in season 8 to be taken down, and that is a poor tribute to Cersei’s character, who fans have loved to hate since season 1. She peaked in season 6, when she blew up the Sept.

Daenerys’s descent into madness, her almost fated Targaryen fall from grace into paranoia, took place in basically half an episode. Sure, there are hints of it in previous episodes and seasons – her initial instincts toward violence only being curbed by her advisers, her family words and legacy being “Fire and Blood,” the losses of her closest allies and friends and her steadfast belief in her destiny as a “liberator” pushing her to the brink. It’s not as though there is no build up at all. It makes total narrative sense for her character to take the turn she does in “The Bells,” and I personally love the idea of Daenerys becoming the conqueror she used to imagine eradicating. But because the pace over the last two seasons basically warped into hyper-drive, the change in her character feels far too abrupt, even if the seeds had already been planted long before. I suspected it might happen, and yet, seeing it unfurl in a blaze of death and ashes felt far too sudden. And honestly, Daenerys (and Emilia Clarke’s portrayal) deserved better, and the backlash is completely justified. The twist lacks the depth of previous seasons – it’s a detonation instead of a slow burn. Audiences – especially those who do not delve quite as deeply into the theories and book lore – felt like they had the rug ripped out from beneath them.

Even more egregious (to me, anyway) is Jaime Lannister’s return to his sister and lover, Cersei. Again, it’s not totally unbelievable that this would happen… but Jaime has had seven seasons of redemption, of trying to shed the “Kingslayer” moniker and prove himself as a man of honor. He finally turns on Cersei “for good” in the season seven finale, to fight for the living and go north. But when that fight is done, he sleeps with Brienne, then leaves her once he hears that Cersei is in danger… all in a single episode. And then, in the next episode, he meets his fate first at the sword of Euron of all people (which… I’m not even going to go there) then dies embracing Cersei as the ceiling caves in around them. So, what do viewers take from that? That seven seasons of building up one of the most intriguing characters, with an arc that explored the roots of his actions and his struggles with how people perceive him and how he hoped to leave the shadow of his tainted legacy behind, meant nothing? Again, narratively, it’s not outside of the realm of possibility that Jaime would do this – but seeing his turn in character take less than one episode is so sudden, so abrupt, it fell completely flat and carried no emotional weight whatsoever. Jaime was one of my favorite characters, and I didn’t even care when he died. Sure he died in the arms of the woman he loved, as he said he wanted to. He and Cersei left the world as they came into it; together. The seeds were planted for his decision, but were given no time to flourish, and the presentation of it was way too rushed, which made his fate feel anticlimactic.

I could go on. For example, there’s no way the other six kingdoms would be totally fine with the North remaining independent, and many of the other Highborn lords likely wouldn’t approve unanimously of Bran being king, either. Is there still a need for the Night’s Watch, if the White Walkers are gone and the freefolk are content beyond the remains of the Wall? How could Icy Viserion take down the Wall but not that rock that Jon was hiding behind? How could Drogon single-wingedly take out Cersei’s forces, including the Iron fleet and the Golden Company, when one episode before, he had to flee a portion of Euron’s ships to avoid being killed? What was the Night King really after? Did the Night King ever really matter beyond being a little speedbump if he and his forces were defeated in a single episode, and the rest of the Realm never knew the true danger they were in? Where the fuck is Meera? Who gets Dragonstone? Why does it matter if Jon goes to the Wall if Grey Worm and the remainder of Dany’s forces are leaving, anyway? You might think these are trivial questions, and maybe that’s true… but they are questions that the show would have answered in previous seasons. Instead, the final two seasons were a race to the finish with no time to dwell on emotion or development, when the show used to truly thrive when it did take time to dwell on those things.

Of course, I assume many of these endings and storylines will unfold differently in the books. There are more characters and situations involved in GRRM’s story than the show was able to portray without alienating the casual viewers, such as the fAegon arc, Victarion’s plot, and the schemes of Doran and the Sand Snakes. And if some of these points raised in the GoT finale remain in the intended book ending – such as Daenerys torching King’s Landing – I believe they will have much more development, and won’t feel unwarranted or unjustified. Readers will see character growth and motivation more clearly. I’m only sad that the version we got on the show lacked the intricacy of the previous seasons and the books, the little moments that made Game of Thrones so powerful and made the characters easier to connect with.

If fans out there loved the final season, then that’s great – and I hope that many folks did love the finale. There are parts of season 8 that I thought were amazing – Cleganebowl was excellent, and Drogon nudging at Daenerys after she was stabbed broke my heart. I will still watch the entire series over and over again, and there are so many elements that I have admired consistently over the years. I went to the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience back in 2017. I have a lot of merch, and will continue to wear my GoT shirts and such with pride. I don’t hate the show just because I found fault with the finale, and I don’t think those faults negate the incredible impact that GoT has had on the fantasy world. I just wish we had been given two full seasons to close it out – a little more time, and a little more depth, would have gone a long way.

Rose of Autumn

(I wrote this poem a few years back for an unfinished fantasy story that will likely never see the light of day. It’s about a woman who eventually became a queen,widely revered for her beauty and feared for her skill with an ax and her prickly attitude. I actually like how it came out, so I hope you enjoy!)

 

Amid fields and forests kissed with leaves of red and gold,
a flower grew, of whom so many stories have been told.
A Rose quite fair, with sunset hair and eyes of vivid green,
her heart so bold it seemed that she was destined to be queen.

She was taught to dance and sing, as any proper lady should,
her beauty flourished as she blossomed into womanhood.
But she was no dainty maid kept locked away up in a tower,
for she could wield an axe with grace to rival any flower.

Many journeyed ‘cross the land to gaze upon her face,
yet none who dared to seek her felt the warmth of her embrace.
But all the stories failed to tell the reason for their scorns,
for she was called the Rose not for her petals, but her thorns.

The first lord asked, and then the next, but all were turned aside,
no man could tame her wild heart and claim her for a bride.
Thus many souls fell victim to her brambles and her glares,
until the Rose of Autumn crossed the gallant Lord of Bears.

 

(This poem was intended to have a companion piece, entitled “Lord of Bears,” but I never actually wrote it – if you like this one, maybe I’ll give it a shot!)

Favorite Tropes

Writers are often advised to avoid certain tropes in their writing, but let’s face it… some tropes/cliches are unavoidable. And some are irresistible!

Tropes and cliches can be bad, don’t get me wrong.  They are dreaded and spurned for a reason. They can break a story and turn a reader away from a book or series completely. But tropes wouldn’t be so notorious if they didn’t work or appeal to readers in the first place. And if used effectively, they can ensnare readers instead of pushing them away.

As a writer, it’s vital to make a trope or common theme feel unique and fresh upon implementation, and to do it in a way that will attract readers. It’s about making a trope your own, if you will. So, as a reader… what are some tropes that are sure to draw me in?

Firstly, I love, love, love… love triangles. GASP! I know. I totally LOVE ‘EM. I know they’re controversial and lots of folks think they’re overdone, especially in YA, but I can’t get enough of them… as long as they are done well.

I don’t want a hero or heroine waffling between two flawless options. I don’t want to see two handsome dudes treating some girl like she’s a trophy to be won. No new girl in school draws the eye of a misunderstood loner, but his shy next door neighbor has always held a torch for him. I want real, grounded drama. Legitimate connections between characters. Angst that isn’t contrived. Complicated feelings that go beyond, “Oh, I like you….and I like you, too! UGH, life is so hard!” Something I can feel invested in – something with stakes, high tension, and characters with legitimate flaws that I care about. No Team ______ vs. Team _______.

And nothing pisses me off more than when a love triangle is resolved with literally no repercussions for anyone – like, some miracle perfect fourth person shows up at the 11th hour to save the rejected person’s broken heart and everyone lives happily ever after. I love a good HEA, but it needs to be believable, and there has to be some pain along the way. I also don’t like when one of the characters dies for convenience, so the protagonist doesn’t need to make a choice or whatever.

I also love like, “secret identity” stories, if that makes sense. Especially involving royalty of some kind. Royals hiding their station from their friends in order to appear normal, or to protect themselves from danger, or royals who don’t know that they’re secretly a prince or princess or whatever, then struggle to accept their identity once the truth is discovered. But, again, it needs to be convincing. There needs to be real emotional crisis. And if there’s going to be an HEA, it better be realistic! This one isn’t “royal” related, but to put the “secret identity” idea into perspective, my favorite manga of all time is Hisaya Nakajo’s Hana-Kimi, which is about a girl named Mizuki who masquerades as a boy and enrolls into an all-boys school in order to meet her idol, high-jumper Izumi.

I am also a big fan of “magical girl” stories, to borrow a manga/anime genre term for comparison purposes. This might not be a standard overdone trope, but I love a good series in the same vein as Sailor Moon or Card Captor Sakura. I love a bit of fantastical whimsy combined with female badassery – but I don’t like all series like that. On the literary side, I am always drawn to stories with protagonists that have a unique gift – like Suze’s ability to communicate with ghosts in Meg Cabot’s Mediator series – which ultimately leads to them solving mysteries, conquering evil, or what have you. A “unique gift” can be an ingredient into making a protagonist – especially a female – into a Mary Sue. But if an author can avoid that, and balance out the character, I’m hooked. A “unique gift” needs to basically be a blessing and a curse, and cause genuine conflict, or else it will fall flat for me. This is actually one I used in my own writing, as Remiel in I’m With You has a “gift,” which she perceives as a curse, and it spurs a major conflict and assists in delivering a theme… or that’s what I was going for, anyway.

I’m sure there’s more, but these are all I can conjure up at the moment… But I’d love to know the favorite tropes of my fellow readers/writers!

Five Life-Changing Reads

Every avid reader has a favorite book or two… or seventy-six. But some of those notable or obscure titles can be life-changing. So, here’s a list of some of the books that have changed my life – not only as a reader, but as a person!

1.) Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie – Most folks probably think of the classic Disney movie when they hear the name ‘Peter Pan,’  but my first thought is always the book. This book was my first foray into a magical, multi-faceted fantasy world that explores joy and sorrow, light and shadow, happiness and fear. It captures both the wonder – and terror – of eternal childhood, of being terrified of losing something, and the bittersweet nature of fleeting youth against the inevitability of growing up. I realized, the first time reading this book, that the “never” in “Neverland” can be interpreted either as wondrous and whimsical, or grim and dour – or maybe a mix of both. I love a fairytale-esque story with a twist of something dark, and Peter Pan was the gateway book for me. The dual-nature of this book is encompassed in one of its most iconic lines, as said by the titular character himself: “To die would be an awfully big adventure.”

20190121_104043.jpg2.) Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman – I’ve never been a poetry person… rather, I wasn’t until I took a Major Authors course on Walt Whitman my second year of college. I immediately connected with his poems, especially the titular “Leaves of Grass,” “O Captain! My Captain!,” and “Great are the Myths.” Whitman’s poetry, though written in the mid-late 1800’s, has a universality to it, a timeless quality that can be applied to scenarios and events throughout history and around the world, not only those that occurred in his lifetime.. His poems and the themes he presents are personal and profound, passionate and playful, perceptive and piercing. His poems make me think and feel, to apply his words to my own experiences, and I could pore over this book for hours pondering the meanings of his poems and imagining what his life was like. I recently bought a beautiful copy of this collection (pictured) and it’s got a place of honor on my shelf.

3.) The Jungle by Upton Sinclair – I’ve mentioned this one before, but I’m going more in-depth this time around. This is the first book I ever read (followed a few years later by Native Son by Richard Wright) that made me realize why people were drawn to communism/socialism/unions during the Industrial Revolution in America. It was jarring to read about what conditions were like for workers, especially immigrant workers, in the meatpacking industry in the early 20th century, as researched by muckraker author Sinclair. If you have a rosy view of what America was like during that time, building itself up from fields to cities and growing into the capital giant we are today, prepare to have your image shattered by The Jungle. I was assigned to read it for a class and put it off until the last minute, then plowed through the whole thing in one sitting because I was so engrossed. This was my first real wake-up call that American History wasn’t always blue skies and valiant victories… there are plenty of dark clouds and shameful secrets that, though hard to acknowledge, are important to our nation’s identity.

4.) Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid – I read this book for my senior seminar class in college, which focused on Caribbean literature. The entire class was an eye-opening experience, but I had to do a presentation on this novel, so I got to dive a bit deeper into it than the others we read. This book was my first time reading a coming-of-age novel about a girl from a background/life/place so completely different from my own. Growing up on Antigua is nothing like growing up in a rural town in Pennsylvania. And yet, it’s still possible to find universal threads woven into the unique, deftly-told narrative. At times, my heart swelled for Annie – and, at times, my heart shattered for her. Themes of depression, separation, mother/daughter relationships, growing up, and colonization are all expressed in a timeless and powerful fashion, centered around Annie, a complex and beautiful character. If you’ve never read a book like this, I HIGHLY recommend it.

5.) The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – I mean… this book/series has probably changed every fantasy writer’s life, right? It’s THE pinnacle of high fantasy, and will never be topped. It’s just so, so… brilliant. Sure, the language and descriptions can be burdensome, at times… but it’s worth the journey, all the way from Bilbo’s first fateful meeting with Gollum in the bowels of the Misty Mountain to Galdalf’s epic “You cannot pass,” to Sam’s final line of “Well, I’m back,” as he greets his daughter and wife. LotR is the reason I want to write fantasy, and so, it has changed my life for the better.

Writing Techniques: Querying

This isn’t technically a “techniques” post, because, admittedly, I have very limited experience with this. So, instead, I’m just going to babble a bit about how my process with querying has been going thus far, so it will be a bit more personal.

I never attempted to traditionally publish I’m With You, though, in hindsight, I wish I had given it a shot. My confidence was festering in the gutter after my college graduation, and hearing about the horrendous odds of landing an agent as a fledgling writer didn’t boost my spirits. So when I heard about an indie publishing contest, I submitted I’m With You on a whim. Never queried an agent or anything.

But it’s over and done, and I’m attempting to query agents for my latest MS – a YA/Fantasy currently called Otherworlder about a girl named Evie teaming up with a pair of quirky talking animals in order to save her little sister from peril in a world full of magic. It took me a long time to get to this phase… not only because I’ve been working with editors, getting feedback, revising the MS over, and over, and over, and spending a lot of time tweaking my query materials and researching potential agents. But because I am a wuss.

Well… that’s not totally accurate. But I do, like many others, suffer from anxiety, which has prevented me from taking steps in my writing career and beyond. I used to be crushed by any and all criticism, and paralyzed with fear over the idea of rejection. It took me a long time to seek help for these issues (until I started developing ritualistic behaviors, which is a bit of a red flag) but I recently did so, and I’ve gotten a lot better in regards to handing my writing and general life stuff. Getting a proper diagnosis and learning how to handle it has done wonders – I’m not saying that as a sympathy grab, it’s just the truth. I still have bad days, but I’m improving.

Thus, I’ve drawn all the deep breaths I can manage and have at last begun to send out my queries. Of the 20ish I’ve sent out so far, I have gotten a rejection. It’s no great shock, but a few months ago, that would have destroyed me. I probably would have thrown in the towel immediately, even though I know virtually every author has been rejected at least once, if not multiple times. I literally used to have confidence as thin as a delicate, porcelain elephant figurine sitting on the mantle of an eighty-year-old woman named Ethel. Fortunately, I am now in a better mental state to handle rejection rationally. It’s going to happen, and I know that – but I need to take it, absorb it, use it as inspiration to do better, and move ahead. Keep going, and keep writing. Be Winston Churchill, and never surrender!

Send me all the positive vibes you can, fellow writers! And please feel free to message me with your own querying stories and suggestions! I’m working on my next MS in the meantime, but I’ll take all the support I can get, as I really want to share all of Evie’s fantastical escapades in Otherworlder with you.

 

Writing Rewind #12: Wings of Fate Chapter 8 Part 1

I’ll straight up admit that I’ve been putting this next installment off on purpose, because it includes the storyline I’ve been dreading. The romance subplot. My reasons for hating it will become more prevalent next time, but this is the set up to it…

Now that I’m older, I’ve actually done a total 180 on my stance regarding the main “romance” of this story, so revisiting will be difficult because I basically want to erase the entire thing and pretend it never happened. But I’m going to do my best to dissect all the issues without imploding from the massive cringe-fest that is about to unfold.

Last time on Writing Rewind, we found out what the mysterious mission is all about! It involves a floating land in the sky that was definitely not influenced by Castle in the Sky from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, no way no how. What adventures are in store for us this time as we vault into Wings of Fate Chapter 8: The Hated Day?

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Oh boy. It’s a Matthias-centric chapter. Brace yourselves for the avalanche of “cold” and “icy” character descriptions!

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That entire first paragraph is an abomination and deserves to DIE. I cannot fathom why I felt I needed to describe Matthias in vivid detail EVERY SINGLE TIME HE’S MENTIONED. He’s basically the Tin Man meets Mr. Freeze meets Frosty the Snowman, WE GET IT, GOOD GOD.

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There. Short, sweet, mostly to the point. And not a “cold” descriptor to be seen…

Next, after Robin spills the beans about the mission and gets Heiwa and Daisuke in trouble with their commanding officers, they are out on the deck with Shirotaka when a little accident happens, and our favorite mute magical girl falls overboard…

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She can fly, she can fly, she can flyyyyyyy!!!!!! And this portion’s not too bad, but it’s got too much fluff.

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I’ve noticed that Past Allie certainly leans toward repetition, or saying things in a roundabout way that could be explained in a much shorter fashion. I’m verbose, basically. And it ain’t cute. And I think it is definitely the worst it’s been in this chapter.

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Wow, look at that! The same revelation with much fewer words! It flows a lot better this way, without all the excess.

Next, Heiwa takes Shirotaka up to Dr. Black to tell him about her ability…

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Why, oh why, does Dr. Black feel the need to pontificate so often? Might as well stamp “I’M A SECRET VILLAIN!” on his forehead.

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I think Dr. Black needs to keep it subtle. Not be so… forthcoming. Like, Heiwa asked one question and he goes off on a rant, and it’s not necessary at all. Also, I think he’d be more upset by the lack of positive reception to the mission reveal than he lets on in this version, so him keeping his response short will work better. Gotta keep some element of suspense.

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There we go! Look how much better it is when all the babbling is chopped out!

Next, Matthias’s frigid ways continue…

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Uh, oh! Something’s up with Mattie! What could it be?

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The set up of Matthias’s hissy-fit and Tango’s musing can definitely be handled in a more… fluid way. Keep the mystery without beating the reader over the head with it. Matthias’s behavior is weird, but it can be shown and not told.

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Much better! Enough to show that Mattie is behaving like an asshat and Tango is perplexed by it without being too wordy. The theme of the week seems to be trimming the fluff, and I gotta say, seeing all the superfluous bits getting shaved away is making my hatred of this plot-line wane, just a bit.

After Matthias blows up in spectacularly unprofessional fashion at Pilot, the commanding officers begin to speculate about his pissy mood…

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So, Tango knows – or thinks she knows – why Mattie is behaving like this. That can be said in far fewer words, and the remaining words can be shuffled around and tweaked to make the passage flow better.

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Clearly, the romance being set up is between Tango and Matthias, so this portion is meant to set up the fact that Tango knows him better than the others and views him in a more positive light. And by cutting some parts out and reworking some others, that message will come across a bit clearer.

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Okay, so this part of Chapter 8 wasn’t quite as bad as I expected, but next time, the real cringe sets in. Will we find out why Matthias is acting like such a jerk to everyone? Will Tango be able to improve his mood, or will her intervention make things worse? Stay tuned, for the exploration of the most regrettable romantic subplot of my early writing career!

For some less regrettable writing, check out my YA novel, I’m With You! The ebook is only $1.99 or (£1.55) and paperback is $9.99 (£7.99) on Amazon Amazon UK.  Paperback is also $9.99 on BN.com.

Writing Rewind #5: Wings of Fate Chapter 3

When we last left off on Writing Rewind, Heiwa met a new friend named Daisuke and attended a “mysterious meeting,” which announced a year-long mission on an airship under the command of the cold, icy, frigid, glacial General Matthias von Schneider. However, Heiwa doesn’t believe he can go because of his obligations to his mother and grandmother, even though he technically shouldn’t have the ability to refuse because it should have been an order, not an optional offer. Will Daisuke be able to convince Heiwa that going on this mission is his destiny?

To set the scene for chapter 3, Daisuke and Heiwa have arrived at a fast-food establishment called Burger Village (my creativity at its peak) where Daisuke and Kato (their cab driver, who comes along for some reason) are going to attempt to convince Heiwa that he must not pass up this chance of a lifetime…

KEY/GUIDE:
Strikethrough = cut out
Highlight = rephrase/reword/awk
Blue highlight = minor additions
DANGER RED HIGHLIGHT= massive cringe

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I’m all for similies and metaphors, but sometimes they should just… not. They can be a bane instead of a boon, if you know what I mean. And in my early years as a writer, I over-relied on them to the extreme. You should see my old fanfiction, it’s even worse than this!

My first scan yields this:

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Oh, look – familiar issues are cropping up again! Superfluous dialogue, awkward phrasing, needless detail… which means it’s time to fetch the trimmer! And there’s some tweaking to do, as well, to help eradicate the choppiness.

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The end result is a bit clearer, not so clunky, and doesn’t feature quite as many similies.

Next up…

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Good LORD, Heiwa could have probably said all of his opening dialogue bit in like… two sentences. That is over-explaining to the maximum, and it must be destroyed!!!!

My first round produces…

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It’s rare, but there are a couple of additions to be made (gasp!), along with the usual rephrasing and cutting. Also, I wish I could eliminate every single time Daisuke says “Dude,” because that was a definite mistake. I still might – it’s up in the air, at this point.

ch3second fixed

And there we have it; Heiwa’s blathering is sliced down to a far more manageable 3 sentences, and the awkward sentences have been reworked to improve clarity. A couple of sentences/snippets have also been swapped around, which I think flows better.

Next up, we have…

ch3third

For the life of me, I cannot fathom why everyone in this story is astonished that Heiwa would get to go on an actual airship during this (absurdly implausible) mission. He’s a member of the military branch that deals DIRECTLY WITH AIRSHIPS. It shouldn’t be such an uncommon thing, but apparently, this made sense to 15 year old me. So that needs to be phased out, obviously…

Other than that, it’s the same old, same old…

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That first sentence is complete cringe. There are many ways to convey surprise, and in this sentence, Ritsuko is displaying two, and “stunned disbelief” is somewhat oxymoronic. And I’m just plain moronic.

Other than that, this selection is a bit tame, actually! A few redundant thoughts to hack off, and a bit of tweaking, then we have…

ch3thirdfixed.PNG

Ritsuko is showing her surprise in only one way, as opposed to two. Some dialogue was rearranged, and other sentences were removed, and we still have a functional passage that isn’t completely awful!

For the penultimate selection, we’ve got…

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Whoooooo boy. This passage can only be described as DRAMATIC AND OVERLY-DRAMATIC. I mean, Heiwa is obviously conflicted about the decision he has to make, but damn… it should not take this many conversations and repetition and blabbing on, and on, AND ON, to come to a conclusion.

So the proposed changes include…

ch3fourthchanges.PNG

That red-highlighted sentence is flat-out ridiculous. I am now a firm believer that “orbs” should never be used to describe eyes, EVER. Or certain parts of female anatomy, but that’s just my opinion. Also, I thought garnet was green when I wrote this. It is not green. So… yeah. That’s gonna pop up a lot in the future, too.

Also, WAY, WAY TOO MUCH dialogue for Izumi. The heartfelt words kind of lose their impact when it’s stated repeatedly in various ways and in a massive chunk of as opposed to compacted into a concise version. THAT MUST CHANGE, STAT!

So basically, we need to chop, chop, chop, and polish, polish, polish!

ch3fourthfixed

Ahhh, look how slim and trim the fixed version is compared to the original! It’s so svelte.

So, their interaction is cut dramatically, but doesn’t really lose any meaning. Heiwa and his mom can profess their thoughts to one another and enforce their bond without PRATTLING ON FOREVER.

And last, but certainly not least, there’s this gem…

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Ohhhhhh my. This is just… no. No, no, no. I wish I could deny that I ever wrote this, but alas, it has my old trademarks all over it!

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The axe is going to have a lot to do in this one, because the sappy, melodramatic blabbering has GOT to go. It doesn’t need to be reworked, or preserved. It needs to be terminated.

So, with that as the strategy, our final version is…

ch3fifthfixed.PNG

The same ideas have been expressed in two sentences instead of 10+. It’s so simple. Even though there are a lot of words that CAN be said, and a lot of emotional gravitas to be conveyed, they don’t always need to BE said or included. Simple is good.

And there we have it! Chapter 3 is also completed in one fell swoop! If it isn’t obvious, Heiwa has decided to go on the mission after being persuaded by his mother, grandmother, new friend, and a random cab driver. Next time, the mission is underway and we might meet a couple of new characters! That might be chapter 5, though. I can’t remember; I’ve blocked it out of my memory…

Next time, Chapter 4: The Point of no Return … a chapter likely named after the Phantom of the Opera song of the same name. I went through a musical phase in high school, so… yeah…