A Dark Chest of Wonders

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Month: March, 2014

101 Drafts: What are Drafts?

Listening to: Kimbra, Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey, and Ceasers (Thank you DDRSuperNova)
In order to help you estimate how long it should take you to read this, I will now start including word counts on my posts. This posts word count is: 5895 words

Enjoy!

Today’s post is going to be about a writers entire career, for the most part: drafts. An amateur writer will probably go through one or two drafts, the second draft only a slight modification of the first. The Modest Writer will go through about two or three drafts, the third being slightly better than the second one, a brief polish still litered with weak metaphors and a couple of mistakes, plot holes even, but well enough written to be sent off to someone and published (self published of course, the major publishing industry has become such a drag lately, wouldn’t you say?). But the Experienced Writer will go through somewhere around five, six, seven…one hundred drafts before they get it right. Now, before you start shouting at your walls that such a thing can’t be true, you’re being too literal, at least as far as the Experienced Writer is concerned. So, let’s begin.

What is a draft?

A draft, as defined by the interwebs, is: a preliminary version of a piece of writing.
Yes, very much so, but what is it really? Your third grade English teacher taught you best, or at least eh basics of what you need to know: there are three kinds of drafts, on teh surface of it all. There is of course the rough draft, the first draft that starts it all, where you simply throw whatever comes into your head onto the page as quickly and messily as possible with no coherence whatsoever (and if there is coherence within it, it’s not a lot). Then there is the edited draft, this is when you and a partner pair up and you swap stories, you critique and edit each others work, you get it back, erase most of what they’ve put, have a shouting match with them because you’ve called them too stupid to understand your incredible prose, and they shout at you for marking out that entire section of a characters back story, that you justify by saying it was boring, and they are of course hurt, and then you’re both at a stalemate; this is the point when you turn away from each other, begin marking our own edits, realize that your partner was actually right about a lot of those things, and you turn around, shyly say sorry, and then exchange again, and finally you’ve got something to work with, as the both of you are now proposing and spitting out ideas to add into the story, and then you’re talking about a sequel, but calm down, it’s only a third grade writing assignment, you’re not the next George R.R. Martin or Rick Riordan just yet, cool your jets, dude. Finally, there is of course, the grandiose and incredibly sought after, Final Draft. This is when you write incredibly neat, taking ten painstaking minutes to write every a, I, and the just perfectly because one mistake results in you crumpling up the entire page and tossing it into the rubbish bin to be burned and it’s ashes burned over again until there is nothing left by markings at the bottom of the bin where the flames burnt it. The Final Draft is also where you implement the things from the rough draft and the edited draft, as now it’s time to make sure that the story is perfect, it’s time to make sure that all your verbs agree and all your punctuation is right, and that you’re even using the correct punctuation and tense in the first place. And at last, just as the bell rings, you have finished your masterpiece. Your beautiful, third grade level masterpiece. Magnifico!

Well, now, sorry to tell you all, but it doesn’t work as easily as that in the rough and tough playground of a writers world. In truth, yes, these are the basic levels of a draft, but so much more goes into the drafts than these simple steps, for you didn’t even ask questions in the edited draft phase, and what of killing your darlings? Making it some thousand or two words shorter (for a short piece of fiction, for larger pieces of fiction somewhere along the size of the average Stephen King or George R.R. Martin novel, I would recommend cutting down at least ten or fifteen thousand words, I promise, the reader can do without them…yes, I’m looking at you Mr. Martin)? What about going crazy because you don’t know how to go on? What about completely rewriting the story six or seven times before you finally get it right? Oh, what agony!

In truth, as a writer, you should never go through a single draft and expect someone to pick it up and really, really like it, and I mean in the sense that they wouldn’t mind publishing it. I’m sorry, bur very, very few writers are so talented, and even they will likely be forced to rework some of their stories because there must be some effort, for what would be the fun of writing if there was no work involved? Anyhow, what I would like everyone reading this to understand is that, each draft is absolutely vital to the process of writing. While working with me on The Place Beyond the Courtyard, my latest dystopian horror story, my English teacher brought up an excellent point: throw away none of your drafts, ever. It is sin to do so, and those who sin are condemned to Hell, damned in the eternal fire; a pen and paper just out of reach as you are forced to completely think out a story, but never write it down! You should never throw out a single draft of your work, even when it is finished, because you never know when you may delete something in one draft, but decide to b ring it back in another, or what is more, you may delete it from this story, but you may decide that this section that you deleted is far better fitted for another story that you are writing, and you may want to place it there, and you find that you are able to rework the meaning of it, while also reflecting on how it weighed itself in the original story and why it didn’t work there, but it will here. Keep. Every. Draft.

Drafts are also the many, many hoops that you as a writer will have to jump through before you finally get to the final draft. In order to get from point A to B and then the C, traditionally, at A you’re going to have to make a lot of detours onto A1, A2, A3 and so on before you hit the main road again. I remember when I first started writing, even now sometimes actually, I could not start a story for the life of me. It would take me some ten or fifteen times before I finally got the first paragraph of the story done. I recommend this to a tee. I think that is is helpful to write several beginnings just as you should write several drafts because any of these first paragraph drafts could be the difference between your stories success and failure.

The Rough Draft 

Now that we know what a draft actually is, let’s talk about the preliminary drafts specifically. The Rough Draft goes by many names: the first draft, the crap draft, the slush-pile draft, the monstrosity, the ‘Most-terrible-thing-I-have-ever-written-that-will-cause-me-to-stop-writing-because-I-decided-not-to-go-on-to-the-next-draft’ draft; it’s all the same by the bare bones. The rough draft is the draft where you can literally do whatever the fuck you want. You could have your main character kill him or herself and come back to life, kill the villain, feel bad about this, kill himself again, before coming back a final time to resurrect the villain and battle him one last time and then make the villain and himself immortal so that they can fight forever, a eternal struggle between good and evil to keep the balance. And within that story, you could have a whole bunch of just random shit, quite literally, you could have shit everywhere, you could replace every ‘the’ with ‘shit’ and every ‘a’ with ‘fuck’, and still be golden. It’s only the rough draft, right?

Still, even though I have mostly joked about what can go into the first draft, to be more serious about it, know that yes, you can write whatever your heart desires in the first draft, but you need to make sure that as you’re writing this draft you are planning on writing another rough draft, which means, while there can be complete shit in the rough draft, you need to have a basic story, something to pick up when you begin writing that second first draft, or in simplest terms, giving yourself something to work with. Give yourself something to work with, but don’t think about work as far as the first draft goes because the work will come later, just have fun with it. Do you think that half of the books published now would be successful if the writer didn’t have fun writing them? God, every Martin story would be such a drag if the guy was really getting bored with the story.

When writing a first draft, though, be fearless. This is your story, so don’t be afraid to go deep, go dark, go hard, or get complicated because if you’re fearless, then there will be a lot for you work with, and you will have a lot of fun. If I wasn’t fearless in my writing, I don’t think I would enjoy it as much, as my stories are full of obscenity, gore, darkness, and heavy metaphors which I will not censor to save the precious children who cannot bear to hear such things–if you know one of those parents, please, give them a stiff finger and tell them to pleasurably fuck off, they can go take their black permanent marker elsewhere while the rest of us read what’s truly on the page and not what should be on the page.

The Edited Draft

Or the draft in which you take a red (blue, black, highlighter, sparkle, pink, whatever color you use) pen and start striking and breaking things down. This is where you start to take that 1,000 page/pound story and you start to work it out on the treadmill, hard. I mean, with hardcore music and Mortal Kombat like action, you take a belt, a ruler, or something and you start to whip that bitch into shape, you insult it and yell at it, shouting such things as, “YOU ARE NOTHING! THIS PART MAKES NO SENSE, WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN? YOU CALL THAT A METAPHOR? YOU CALL THAT A SIMILE? YOU CALL THAT A PLOT TWIST, I’VE SEEN BARNEY DO BETTER!”  And you make that draft cry, make it feel like it is nothing, because if you don’t tear that puppy down, it’s going to tear you down, and you are the boss of our story, and not the other way around. In the rough draft, yeah, maybe you’re a bit of a push over because you’re a new parent, and you only want to make your baby happy. Well, now you’ve been hit with common sense and it’s time for you to start getting things together.

It is in this draft, and the many drafts around the base draft, that you fix such things as your literary devices, your grammatical errors, your plot holes, and things of the sort. This is not, though, where you start another draft all together, while it’s okay to regress, it’ better not to, it’s better to fix what you can before you think about starting over. Anyhow, it is also in the Edited Draft that you start to expand and trim, which are opposites, but you have to understand that yuo trim the fat, and you expand the muscle. The muscle being that one metaphor that you want to make really, really strong but you can’t because you don’t have space due to the excessive flab of your novel or story.

I don't know why I chose this picture, I could have sworn I searched 'whale'...oh.

I don’t know where this picture came from, I could have sworn I searched ‘whale’…oh.

Fat includes:

  • Drivel-When you simply go on and on and on…and on still in no particular direction, it’s simply talking because you can and not because what you have to say matters, avoid this at all costs, and cut it out of your stories diet, because not even a little bit of this stuff is good for your story at all.
  • Over-description-Describing every stone long the path, how the bark on a tree twisted this way, while another twisted, and not because you’re trying to be deep or meaningful, but just because you really don’t have faith in your reader to imagine these things without your assistance. This is something that you should allow your story to eat in modesty, but even then, you have to be careful to catch yourself when you go overboard.
  • Lengthy inner monologues-This is an either or thing. In one house, inner dialogue can be a strong device to move the story along, to set up an atmosphere, explain, expand or even strengthen the ideas that you may be trying to portray in your story because you are giving insight onto something that you really believe, and you want to say this is the most decadent and personal way possible, so what better way than an inner dialogue/monologue? Here is an example from The Place Beyond the Courtyard that I believe speaks to this:
    What is death to a man who tried to runaway beyond the homeland? Death is being trapped here. Death is being forced to live in exile, within exile, for that is the loneliest and darkest place of them all. Death is solitude within the confines of the solitude of men, forced to be with those who had also been condemned and born in exile and forced to listen to their silence. For there is more silence in the world than there is food, water, power, or even life itself; silence is the almighty force, the God of the Universe, though not may of us to choose to believe in him because he is silent.’ Of course, it could also go very bad. Inner monologue could turn into drivel as you could have a situation in which your character is depressed, and instead of being ‘deep’ and transcribing depression as something more than just the medical term, turning it into a very vital part of who your character is, you end up going on and on and on and on about how much your character hates him or herself, how they feel sorry for themselves, and it becomes very annoying. I know what a depressed person sounds like as I was once seriously depressed, and of course it wasn’t until I came out of it and found that some of my other friends had it that I couldn’t have been much better. I’m not saying that people who suffer from Depression are horrible, annoying people, it’s just the voice would come of as annoying in a book, and a writer must strive to transform this voice into something ‘beautiful’. While none of us are going to write Hamlet’s Character, you could learn a thing or two about turning the voice into something more than just that depressed voice of every teenager or adult, make it mean something more than just ‘Siiiiiiiiiiigggggggghhhhhhh alllllllll the time, for I am a depressed boy, I am suicidal, ooooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOoooo woe is me!’ Get a life kid.
  • Lengthy unnecessary dialogues-This,I feel, is much harder to do than any of these, as dialogue is already tricky, and to have an excessive amount of it is even trickier. Even the worst writers spend little time on dialogue because it is so hard to create an authentic voice and narrative that agrees with it in order to make the dialogue good. It seems I am lucky, for in my book The Farm I have often been praised for my natural, flowing dialogue, but you have to understand that, this is because I was able to immerse myself in my world that I had created, I knew how they would talk, I knew the terms and jargon they would use, and I truly felt like these were people and characters I knew, rather than just names and words on a page. I will talk about dialogue in a later post, but as a note now, dialogue is all about making it natural, making it flowing, making sure that it’s natural for the story; dialogue shouldn’t feel like someone who normally talks very ‘ghetto’ suddenly speaking properly to an authority figure, dialogue should match both the characters who speak them and the narrative for which they have been placed in.
  • Too much tell and not enough show- I am guilty of this! I have often been known to tell more than I show, but this problem is easily fixed by the question, ‘How can I show them that someone is depressed, instead of telling them?’. Today, again, while working on The Place Beyond the Courtyard, my English teacher pointed out a line that told instead of showed:
    “…and the song of sorrow is always played in the dining hall for our perpetual depression.”
    The story takes place in a prison, I spent the previous paragraph describe the harsh environment they lived in. And again, they are in prison. I don’t think I need to tell you that they are depressed.
MUSCLE POWER! WORK IT HARD!

MUSCLE POWER! WORK IT HARD!

Now that we know what fat looks like, let’s talk about muscle. Firstly, there are far more muscles in writing than there is fat, which contradicts what you may have once believed some earlier period in your life. Muscles, as you all know, take time to grow and become bigger, better, and stronger, it doesn’t happen over night. These muscles, though, are not often toned by the majority of us who, though we dream of having an arm like the guy above or having that nice hourglass shape, never get to tone them. Still, I have personal belief that every person should carry more muscle than fat, and this is just as so in writing. In writing, too much fat results in Jabba the Hutt, whereas muscle results in an affect like that of the Hulk or Arnold Schwarzenegger. And if possible, try and get your story down to 1% fat, meaning, yes, you can have a few moments of over-description or a little bad dialogue (H.P. Lovecraft knew how to write a wonderful narrative, but his dialogue sucked) and maybe some weak metaphors, but for the most part your story needs to be a built or lean, muscled machine that looks to take down any and all who come in it’s way.  So let’s look at what muscle in a story looks like:

  • Literary Devices-Strong literary devices are key and essential to any good story telling. In your Edited Draft, you should strengthen, upgrade, and pump up those metaphors which are like the triceps of your story, literary devices not just metaphors I mean. The literary devices in your story are the parts that you are going to probably flex the most aside from it’s partner muscle the bicep, which would be the next piece of good writing on this list.
  • Good Description-The bicep of your draft is Good Description. Earlier, I told you that H.P. Lovecraft sucked a dialogue, but boy he had hellagood description, which helped to outweigh his bad dialogue, along with his first person inner monologues. Believe it or not, you could have a story with literally no dialogue whatsoever, at the same time, there would be plenty of dialogue, because the best description says something, it is dialogue on it’s own, dialogue because it is communicating something and it speaking to the reader, getting them to believe something and hear something in their mind, in fact, description (writing in general) is probably the closest thing to telepathy, for not only am I speaking to you with my words, but I’m projecting images into your mind, I’m conjuring emotions within, and finally you’re evoking a response for the reader, all of these things make your writing look nice, and just as when you train your biceps, your arms look better, because who doesn’t want nice arms? Of course, know that you have to be able to train in literary devices, because in truth,k they say that the triceps is the largest muscle in the arm, and in order to have good biceps and arms in general, you have to train them the most.
  • Immersion- This is something that comes along with the previous bullets. Immersion is likely the metal part of the work out, it’s the toning up of your mind, because without metal strength, you will have no physical strength, therefore, you need to work on being able to immerse your reader and yourself (for are you not a reader?) in the story if you ever want to really make it work. Immersion happens when you feel the cold of the wind in some Siberian tundra, immersion happens when you don’t question why something is the way it is because you’re so entangled in the story that you it just clicks, immersion happens when you and your reader feel like you’ve known this character or other characters aside from your main, for years, old friends that you’re only just coming back to. Included in the latest of the immersion pieces, characters are a key part of writing, and a thing that I will also talk about in a later post, and I mean, a really big post because characters drive the story, and not just the human or animal characters, I’m talking about the characters of setting and literary devices.
  • Showing, not telling- The complete opposite of it’s fat counterpart, showing instead of telling does wonders to your story. As I said before, imagine that you have a depressed characters (I am using a depressed character because they are often the most complex characters, and the ones that are the hardest to write an get right as you write them because if you have not experienced it first had, you only know what’s going on the outside instead of the inside, but some of you might dare to ask, ‘But doesn’t that refute this bullet?’ No, because what’s going on inside is the inner monologue that I talked about) and instead of always telling us that he was sad or incredibly suicidal on this particular day, show us by going through his actions and his inner monologue. Believe it or not, yes, inner monologue is showing, to a point. Inner monologue is likely often filled with those beautiful literary devices we talked about, and in these literary devices, your inner monologue will likely show us and make comparisons to really make even you as a reader feel depressed. This bullet is likely most akin to your abs, as who doesn’t want to show off their abs to the ladies? Right? Right? That means being able to pull out all that fatty telling, because yes, we all have abs under there somewhere, it’s just a matter of burning all that fat in the fire and making them pop out and say ‘hello world’.
  • World-Building- This bullet is most akin to your thigh muscles, as world building is what’s going to keep your book standing, for the most part. World building is often a major and immense part of your novel, and just as you want big, muscular thighs, you want big and muscular world building. World building is not always easy, but it usually just depends on the genre that you write. Take Urban Fantasy for an example. Urban Fantasy takes a city, like New York most often, and then adds fantasy elements to it, but you see, there are two parts to this world building: firstly, the writer needs to be able to build a new kind of New York, not the stereotypical New York that we all know and life, rather, they need to create a whole new rendition of it, because the Statue of Liberty could mean one thing for someone, but another for someone else, and yet another thing still for some other Joe. Secondly, the writer has to be able to create a convincing fantasy world that not only makes sense in this New York that they have created, but also just makes sense. You can’t say on one page that trolls were the cousins of goblins, but then call goblins the brothers of trolls; you cannot have one spell do this and another spell do the exact same thing, because then it becomes redundant and maybe one spell works better than the other, but unless your book happens to use something like cards or something, there is no such thing as a stronger version of the spell, stick with the magic is only stronger if you strengthen yourself and your abilities. But, if the writer fails to do both or one of these things, then he or she will fail in writing that book. You have to pump up your world building, know what good world building is versus bad. Fantasy writers have the best world building skills because they don’t have any other choice but to invent a whole new world, magical rules, law systems, and the like (and those are the good writers who actually go into that much detail to make sure that their world works, such as J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, Tolkien, and others). Usually, contemporary or more modern novelists have the worst world building skills because their worlds likely include less fantastical, exciting, or extravagant elements that you might find in a zombie novel, Middle-Earth, or Panem. But the thing that you need to know about world building is that, world building is not always about becoming a fantasy writer, rather it’s about using your immersive skills to help create a specific atmosphere, tone, and voice for your world, it’s about putting in the small details: how every house on this one street had this kind of door, or how every tree in this town always had this kind of slant, or how autumn was a whole hell of a lot different in this town than it is in your town. You get what I’m saying, so get to the gym and start doing some squats!
  • Word Choice and Usage-Ah the glorious pectorals, for which every man dreams of being able to bounce, having a great, broad chest that pushing against their shirt, and on occasion makes them look like a woman. Still, most of us guys dream of having nice pecs because pecs, abs, and arms will have the ladies swooning at the beach, so we need to work on that. Word choice and usage includes such things as how a word is used, how many times you use it, and why you use it, how it fits here in this story, and things of the like. If you don’t know how to choose and use words then your story will fall flat because it will be so out of place and disjointed that your reader will give up and eventually never come back, because there are better authors with better word choice and usage. This is not to say that someone is going to burn your book in fire because you had poor word choice, but if someone is sampling your book at Barnes and Noble (I imagine every writer imagines having his or her book on the New Releases and Bestseller shelf in like every genre section because it’s just that good) and it’s one of those bestsellers, you need to make sure that it’s bestseller worthy because, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve closed a book because words just didn’t the way the were supposed to, or the words that were used were above the average populous of modern readers, and this is not to say that we modern readers are stupid, it’s just, save your good word bullets for later on when you’ve already caught the reader; you want to first immerse your reader before you do anything crazy, you don’t want your reader constantly looking up a word, pulling and out of the story because they don’t understand this word and that word, how they fit together or why you even put it in there in the first place. So, start cramming definitions (your ‘good’ carbs) and reading a lot of fiction from your favorite authors and see how come the words they choose work when they work, how they work and the like. Do this all while doing push ups!
  • Grammar- Gotta work them GLUTES! Well, and the rest of your body. Grammar, I believe, is the true toning up of the Edited Draft phase of your work. Grammar is truly where you take things apart, you fix any small mistakes that may cause confusion to the reader, you work hard to make sure that all your syntax is correct, and over all, you try and please the Grammar Nazis to the best of your abilities.
  • Great Dialogue- Finally, you have your shoulder and neck muscles. Great Dialogue is one of the more essential parts of your work out routine. Some people would like to challenge that, you either know how to write good dialogue or you don’t. To a certain degree, I agree. Good dialogue comes from being able to talk to people, knowing how a conversation goes, knowing communion, and eavesdropping (one of the more pleasurable parts of being a writer is that, you can literally sit in Starbucks, pretend to be working on your computer, eavesdrop, and probably even barge into the conversation, with the only justification being that you are an author and you’re studying everyday dialogue. No one will ever question your authoritah again, as Cartman would say). Good Dialogue, though, also comes, again, from being able to immerse yourself in your world and being able to know how these people are going to talk, what they’re going on about, and things of the like. Dialogue falls flat when it’s either a) trying to hard or b) when it’s just unnatural. Some things to note about dialogue is that, all dialogue is a reflection of reality, how real people talk, and exaggerated sometimes for the writers sake. Good dialogue takes a little bit of dialogue from every place: the Starbucks, the neighborhood, the water cooler, wherever you hear people talking, which is most everywhere. Good dialogue then takes those conversations, twists them up to fit the voice of the story and then makes it normal, makes it feel just right, it makes you feel like you could talk to these guys. Bad dialogue is forced, flat, and correct. There are few people in everyday life who talk with perfect grammar. The majority of us were raised being told to say ‘may’ instead of ‘can’, yet we still use ‘can’ even though it’s asking ‘Do you have the ability to do this?’ rather than ‘Am I allowed to’, and yes, they are pretty much the same thing, it’s still proper to say ‘May’ instead of ‘can’, but that’s another matter. So, if you’re writing from a teenage girls perspective, don’t use ‘may I?’ use ‘Can I?’, because unless your character is either in the medieval era, raised by some auspicious family in Britain, or is just a proper bitch, don’t be proper; be natural. Good Dialogue also rolls off the tongue real easy, imagine if someone were to recite your lines in a play, how would their emotions and voice flow? Good dialogue is able to evoke emotion and it’s able to speak while speaking, and even without. Good dialogue means that, you shouldn’t have to go into great detail about how someone said something, their saying something should say enough about how it was said. Have great dialogue. It doesn’t get more simple than that guys.

THE FINAL DRAFT

So, here we are the end of the post, or close to it, with the final draft. The final draft is the competition, is where you are doing your final rehearsal before showing it to the world, it’s where you maybe trim just a little bit more fat off of your now lean and strong athlete, who despite popular belief, is just as nervous as you to be put on the shelf or be criticized by the public. The Final Draft is the draft that you prep by taking it out of whatever funky font you had it in the first place and put in MLA Manuscript format, which means Courier New or Times New Roman (TNR is my favorite font, so that’s good for me), 12pt, one inch margins all around, or whatever specifications your future agent or publisher requires you to have along with your story. The Final Draft is the draft that has your heart pumping and has you waiting and anticipating, pacing up and down your room as you wait for the first review from your agent or ARC reader. There is not a lot to say about the final draft, as it’s self exclamatory, but know this: every final draft is an edited draft, but not every edited draft is a final draft, and not every rough draft will make it to the edited draft, just as every edited draft will not always regress back into a rough draft. These are the rules of the draft, and they should be heeded like a mother heeds a child to keep his hand from the stove if he dears getting burned (but if you do fancy getting a nice singe mark to show all your friends, then I call you an admirable soul for you fear nothing, but this may ultimately be your demise, un-thicken your skin and loosen your backbone some, for it may just save you from a bad, rash decision in the future).

CONCLUSION

So, one very,very long post later, here we are at the conclusion of this first post in a great series of them. Drafts are your bread and butter, they are what you work with, they are what you use in order to get that book published, they are what you use when you need a little inspiration, they are your fat, angel child that you need to turn into a tough warrior ready to take on the big, bad criticizing world before it. Burn the fat, tone up the muscle, and train some more until you’re ready to go to the big event where you get to show of your beautiful story in all it’s oil clad glory! So get writing, there are many drafts ahead, an you have no time to lose, for every draft not written, that is one story that will never be found.

Cheers!

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A Thing on Writing

Hey guys,

So I just wanted to write a really, really quick post about writing. As you all know, I am a writer, of course I would still be considered an aspiring writing as I haven’t had any veritable recognition or ‘fame’ as a writer (and in a second I’ll talk about my beliefs on such things as fame as a writer), but still, I’ve been writing for almost a decade (a decade in two years, 2016) so I consider myself on the threshold of at least being simply called a ‘writer’. Anyhow, I wanted to write this post because for the past week or so, I am very well under my word court, or at least, I haven’t once reached my daily word count of 2,500 words all week, and it’s had it’s toll as I see tonight. I am working on a story for a very prestigious contest, and I’m finding it incredibly hard to move the story, and what is more, as I write, there is a strange ‘static’-ness to it, I feel as though my brain is numb to the act of writing, and it’s not only this, for every time that I have had a moment to write a few words, I feel as though a spring or a screw is missing, and I don’t like that, it’s disheartening and very shaking, and I suddenly realized something that prompted me to write this post:

I was no longer seeing writing as enjoyment, rather, I was seeing it far too much as a job.

My mother had long feared this, in fact, she said she didn’t even see the ‘fire’ in my eyes that I once had, and I think I understand that now. For about a month or two, I have been working with my English teacher to try and get my name out there on the market, to really start picking up some pace to become the writer I have always dreamed of, and it wasn’t until tonight that I realized that it has become less of a hobby and more of a job, as the act of getting your name known and trying to get attention for your work is a very, very hard thing, and I think that in the midst of that, you forget why you started writing in the first place, and that was because you enjoyed it so much. Most of my recent stories have felt less like the stories that I want to write, and more like the stories that I need to write because we need material to put on the market, and this is damaging. No writer should ever come to the point where they are no longer writing what they really want to write, and they are writing because they need to write. Now, this is is not to say that you shouldn’t like honor deadlines or anything it’s just that, don’t get caught up in something other than why you write.

Writing is my passion. This week has been pure and utter hell for me because I haven’t had a chance to just sit down and write what I really want to write, I feel as though my muse was suddenly walked away and none of the words make sense any more. Most would say it’s time for a break, but I think that it’s time that I start focusing on what I want to do and not what I need to do, I think that it’s time to re-access and refine my writing and my writing skills because once I do that, I think that I will finally be able to head back up to the Writers Market and buy myself another pack of those good ol’ Creative Cigarettes, because I tell you, in February, I think I had the best creative high I’d had in a long time, and I want that so bad again. I want it like an athlete (for which I am not at all) who craves the adrenaline rush of running, lifting, or doing some other thing that get’s their blood pumping; I want my blood to pump, my heart to palpitate so hard in my chest that I fear it might burst right out, but I want to be so high on creativity and so high with happiness that I don’t even feel it, all I feel is the train picking up under my feet, faster and faster (and faster still) until it’s time to jump off and feel the air all around me, shifting and whooshing like some incredible force that is overtaking me, and I want to land on my feet and keep running, and jump from building to building like some hero. I don’t want to feel numb anymore, I want to feel like I’m running and running with a great fury.

That’s how every writer should feel about writing. You should never come to your computer or your notebook with something like dread or numbness, because that means you’ve lost the spirit or you’re on the brink of losing it. You should come with the fury, you should sick two or three of those Creative Cigarettes between your lips, light them up with words, and watch them smoke, and behind that thin veil of smoke, you should see the world, you should see your characters and your friends come to life on the page, and you should be able to sit back and just enjoy yourself, get a bowl of popcorn and watch that puppy unfold before your eyes like some beauteous spring rose.

Cheers!

Yet Another Comment on Divergent: BuzzFeed Edition!

So, here we are again. With yet another one of my long winded comments about Divergent. I can’t make any gaureentees that this will be my last comment on any website. I’m sorry for all the poor souls who dare to read my incredibly long comments. Here it is folks! ‘I personally have several things to say about Divergent. Firstly, Divergent gets a lot of hate, simply because a lot people who have either not read the book or seen the movie are angry about several things (That I don’t necessarily agree with, by the way!): 

  • How have they lived behind this Fence for so long? How come it always take this long for them to finally go beyond?
  • The book/movie is bloated
  • The writing is sloppy
  • The characters are weak and others. I would like to note a few things, though. -Roth wrote Divegrent over a Winter Break, which (I’m only in High School, I don’t know how long it is in college) is 2 weeks. So, there’s that to think about. Honestly, no ‘amazing’ books ever come out of that much time writing. -I’m holding to the idea that Roth was somewhat forced by her professor who read it to publish it. I mean, I know she had been looking for an agent, but it seemed like he was the one who really pushed her.
  • It’s a YA novel that takes on a whole new idea of a dystopian world, and for a writer like Roth (as far as I know), it’s pretty daunting to have to try and make this world as real, thrilling, and great as possible when a)you are writing this story from a first person perspective and b)you’re having to handle this very ‘cliche’ idea that this character is the ‘I’m different’ character (which turns out to be a total fluke by the final book, and that was one of my biggest problems about Allegiant as it was a total anticlimax of the greatest kind) while adding something exciting and new to the story. This has always been the challenge when you write books (I would know, it is a challenge I’m facing with my own dystopian, in fact, the character is completely normal, he just happened to be very, very unlucky; I could have chosen any other of the people in the book. I think that’s always a better story, when your character just happens to be that unlucky soul, by chance, not by genetics or a God, just unlucky, it’s much more believable in my opinion) 

Anyhow, now that I have that out of the way, let me go on. Divergent had a lot of cool ideas and a lot of things going for it. Roth’s original intention, I assume, was to play with the psychological aspects of this future where we are very dependent on serums and simulations (though, I must admit, she went way overboard with it in the finale), of course, this did not come off very well in the way that she wrote it, as she was very focused on the action aspects of it all, but one thing that bothered me was that, I felt that she had the potential to go deeper, but she didn’t. A lot of Tris’s inner thoughts are condensed to one sentence, and are very limited. I don’t believe that YA novels should be condensed and limited like this, I think that YA novels can be just a brainy and deep as any other novel (we only separate them because of their characters, which is stupid to me), but she failed to it. Where she could have delved into the true meaning of fear, the morality of serums and experiments (like this whole trilogy was, writing wise, no spoilers I hope), she did not tread.

The reason that this is no Hunger Games (I have never compared it, but I will now based on it’s genre and success), is because it does not express these ideas fully or go deeper into these problems as she should have.  The reason Suzanne Collins’s books were more widely read are for a couple of reasons, though: a) Collins was already an established author by the time the fist Hunger Games book came out, with her Gregor the Overlander series (it’s even read in schools, widely, today, so that always is a factor in an authors future success) b) Scholastic, I don’t know how they do it honestly, is incredibly well at selling and marketing their books c) The Hunger Games was one of the early dystopian books in this little era of YA dystopia that really set things off, and it caught on like fire, and finally d) the only other factor in Collins’s success is that she is a very good author. If a writer can write well, then their books will sell. But, know that I’m not calling Veronica Roth a bad writer, but these are her Freshman novels, she has plenty of more novels to write, and by the time she writes her next one, she’ll have refined her skill and likely her next series will be a great improvement on the Divergent Series. 

Anyhow, what Collins’s books have also brought to the table is that they took on very broad issues in a very entertaining way. Where Roth focus’s on a small population (yes, teenagers do make up a great population, but there is a population within that that would have read Divergent) of: The New Kids, those kids who suffer from anxiety as she had, those who don’t know their place, etc. This is all became very obvious to me after having seen the movie, as it was never so obvious that Tris and her initiate friends were quite literally the new kids at the school who had no where to sit in the cafeteria; in fact, Divergent does a very good job of using that as a metaphor: the training that takes up a great majority of the book (too large of a majority for my liking) is something like a metaphor for you beating the odds, beating the bullies, or becoming part of this population of people who have only just met. The mental part of the training was a metaphor for facing your fears, doubts, and anxiety that comes with being the new fish (This is a big one in Tris’s first simulation scene where she attacked by the crows: the crows are the Dauntless, or all the factions maybe, who are pecking and picking at her, attacking her and taking her down; she is afraid of being beaten and not accepted, torn apart by those around her, which is also a way Roth explains her own fears in life, which is a very common thing for writers to do as it’s the only thing we can do to explain and make peace with our lives as they were and are). Most of all though, most blatantly, the first book is primarily about the titles namesake and really being Divergent, for Veronica Roth is really trying to get people to understand that, you can’t fit into one place: you cannot simply be a jock (Dauntless), a popular (I’m not totally sure with this one, I’d assume that it would be Amity or Candor), a nerd (Erudite), a ‘normal’ person (Abnegation); you can be more than one thing or all of those things, because no one is simply one thing, we are far to diverse to be classified that way (in some ways like we classify each other by our skin color, or a dog by its origin or fur color, etc.).  One other thing, that I have mentioned before in another comment on another site, is that Veronic Roth is likely speaking out against authority, as what teenager doesn’t hate authority at some point or another? Divergence is dangerous is a common phrase that is thrown at you throughout the movie and the book, and this is to say that if you cannot conform you’re going to be eaten alive by that big bad world (which could also be true for high school, as if you don’t fit into one place specifically, you’ll be sort of lost because there would be almost nowhere for you to turn, and you’ll be Factionless). 

Still, back to Suzanne Collins, Collins focuses on broader issues such as the worlds obsession with television (many people say they don’t watch television in the conventional way, but you are still watching TV on something whether it be Netflix, Hulu, HBO, or some other service, ‘The world will be watching’ always; she also focuses on war, as even today it’s still a big issue (which is really, really sad, but it’s in our nature to fight as demonstrated in both books) which many of us can relate to (the only downside to Collins’s war comment she speaks through her books is that, she seems to be obsessed with war in all of her books, and it gets tedious to always know that she was often worried about her father (Katniss’s father died in the coal mines, which is a metaphor for how Collins lost her father in the war, at least I think she did, my memory is spotty as I write this); she also talks about class divisions (this is talked about in both books, but Collins’s is stronger, Roth’s falls apart somewhere between Insurgent and Allegiant) and our obsession with material things; she also goes on to talk about our other obsession with violence. If you haven’t noticed yet, humans are very obsessive, greedy, horrible creatures, who at the same time can be selfless, caring, and ultimately beautiful (which is part of our own beauty, because we are just that complex). 

As I draw to a close, a comment about dystopia. Dystopia is not about ruined buildings, how horrible you can make that ficitious world, or showing us where our technology will go, in the end, Dystopia is truthfully about making a commentary on our world, because Dystopia is showing us what happens when our goal for a Utopia ultimately fails because of our flaws in human nature and our flaws that we fail to see in the mirror that is so cracked, it’s clear to us now. Dystopia is about trying to really show people the negative aspects of our society and how it can be our great demise or how one thing will affect another thing, for it is the greatest example and tool for cause and effect. It is also a way to show us how history can repeat itself or how valuable history is. Dystopian writing was founded on this, it was founded on this idea that if we can say something about an issue, then we can say it and make it as impactful and important as we want. 

So now, my conclusion. Divergent is a hit, but yes, it is no Hunger Games, and it will never be. I personally don’t care how much a movie or a book makes, if it’s on a bestseller list, or some other superfluous thing; it’s about the impact it makes on society, maybe not always in the long run, but in some way, it has an impact on society or at least one person. Hunger Games has had the chance to do that and it took that chance, it has impacted a lot of people, and based on where it has come to, people really care. Divergent has left it’s mark on me, honestly, without Roth I would have never realized how generalized and limited our world view could be, I would have never realized that there are truly basic morals that we all live by (No matter your religion or belief), but while there is no such thing as a new story (this is obvious in thatThe Hunger Games has been accused of cheating Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale, and even that accused of cheating Lord of the Flies), rather it’s how it’s told, Roth’s story is not the strongest way this story could have been told, and there for it’s success reflects this. I do look forward to Insurgent, I hope that they tweak Allegiant, and I can’t wait to see Mockingjay later this year.  Cheers!’

Divergent Discussion/Analysis: Introduction

Listening To: Divergent Soundtrack compiled by Veronica Roth, Hellogoodbye, Breaking Benjamin

One Choice Will Transform You
One Choice Can Destroy you
One Choice Will Define You

_____

What Makes You Different Makes you Dangerous

*I promise I am not some Government Nazi, it’s just one of the many things I feel Veronica Roth is speaking about in her Divergent Trilogy, and if you don’t take the government as it’s literal term, I’m really speaking about people in general–cheers!

It was the winter of 2012 when I first set eyes on Divergent. It was in a Wal-Mart just behind my house. It had been hardcover, on the top shelf above City of Fallen Angels and several of the Harry Potter books, along with it’s predecessor Insurgent. Upon first sight, I believed the book to be not about a girl in a dystopian world where they were split into factions based on personality attributes, but rather, about a girl who could transform into a dragon in modern times. I was really into urban fantasy at the time as I was finishing up Cassandra Clare’s City of Glass, and of course, I had set my eyes on City of Fallen Angels. Anyhow, for a couple of months I rejected it, for at the time, it was noted as the last thing that you want on your book: “The next Hunger Games”. The reason you don’t want this is because you actually get sick with Hunger Games syndrome, as most every book at the time was being called the next Hunger Games (even that awful sounding book called Starters, which has yet to surface again on any charts I have seen), and this would bring up comparisons to the Hunger Games, just as The Hunger Games was compared to Koushun Takami’s novel Battle Royale (and that is one war still being fought, though it has been less in the news lately for the new war between Divergent and The Hunger Games; I suppose that it is in The Hunger Games’s nature to get into wars as the entire trilogy is about war), which I will save for another post at another time. Still, I rejected it for several months, but it wasn’t until the summer that I decided I would give it a try, for by then I actually knew what the book was about, and it was beginning to pick up steam of Veronica Roth slowly gained a fandom, before long the train was rolling and I was lucky enough to be one of the early ones to catch on to it without a hand to help.

So I began reading it. And once you begin reading it, you cannot stop reading it. It was a thrill ride from the moment that Dauntless ran from the Choosing Ceremony, when they jumped onto the train, into the net that lead into the Dauntless compound, to throwing knives and beating each other up, while the stakes were high not to be thrown out of Initiation; for people were hung over the Chasm and stabbed in the eye. Not to mention the fact that Beatrice/Tris was forced to hide the greatest secret of all: her Divergence. The story was an instant favorite and I knew that it was destined for success, and I knew that it was going to rival my love for the Hunger Games, which was slightly diminished by Mockingjay. Within a couple of days, I was reading Insurgent, and by the afternoon of the day after I’d purchased Insurgent, I’d finished and was staring out of my bedroom window with my jaw unhinged and my hands still gripping the book because of that ending (tho). And so the wait began for Allegiant, which at the time hadn’t even been named, which would supposedly be the heart-pounding, action packed finale to the Divergent Trilogy. I was wrong. But that is besides the point, we’re here to talk about Divergent. And we have. Now it’s time to talk about the movie.

AN INTRODUCTION

Take this section as your very own Initiation from the Divergent World. If you don’t know what Divergent is and what it’s all about, I would recommend reading at least this first paragraph or so; if you are in the know, then skip ahead to the next few paragraphs where I just talk about Divergent as a whole a little bit before we actually get into the movie review and analysis. So, here we go:

 Divergent is set in a dystopian Chicago where society has been split into five factions: Amity the Peaceful, Abnegation the Selfless, Candor the Honest, Dauntless the Brave, and Erudite the Intelligent. Everyone in this society has been born into one of these factions, and when they turn sixteen they take what is known as an Aptitude Test to determine where they belong, which could be in their home faction or another faction. It is at the Choosing Ceremony that you ultimately decide where you would like to live the rest of your days. Of course, it is not that easy for Beatrice Prior who, when taking her Aptitude Test, is labeled Divergent, learns that being Divergent is Dangerous, and as the movie phrases it: what makes you different, makes your dangerous. Beatrice, though, leaves her home faction of Abnegation and transfers to Dauntless, which she soon learns may have been a grave mistake as the Dauntless, in their initiation, have two stages: one that is physical, and one that is mental, and it is when she goes through her Fear landscape that she learns she can control it. Dangerous. As she tries to hide this, others try and find her and tear her apart, namely the Erudite leader Jeanine Matthews who is hiding a dangerous secret about the Divergent and their danger from the world, and will stop at nothing to exterminate them…and her eyes are set closely on Tris. 

So, that is the gist of what Divergent is all about, now let me talk a little bit about it. Many people hate Divergent, because they find it to be very cliche, which is slightly true. The story is, at it’s heart, a story about what makes you different and about being different and why you should be yourself (well, this idea of being different and yourself is mostly amplified in the concluding book Allegiant). Of course, there is more to the metaphor of being Divergent. Veronica Roth it seems, added more to her metaphor because she commentates on our own society who seems to categorize us and forces us to believe that if we do not fit in one place we will never be successful, which is shown in the book and movie by the Factionless, those who could not make it through their Initiation. Roth also seems to use the Divergent world as a kind of playground for her very own High School years, this became obvious to me in the movie, as when Tris and her fellow Initiates first enter the Dauntless cafeteria, they are all huddled together and hold onto what they know instead of embracing their new identity, and that spoke out to me as a way for Veronica Roth to tell us what it is like to be ‘the New Kid’, to be the different one, to come from a place where you were known as one thing, only to come to another place and learn that you are nothing. This is especially true for most any faction that moves to Dauntless, as Dauntless is the greatest metaphor for the beast that is High School or any New School, for all the kids are rowdy, tough, and you don’t understand them, because you have never had the chance to look at your own past versus this new present in order to embrace it. Dauntless is also full of bullies, people who want to be with you, and also tough training which all comes along with being a new environment such as that of Dauntless.

Going on, Divergent is a great  way to see that, you cannot categorize yourself as one thing, ever. No one can be wholly Erudite, for though the Erudite blame ignorance for the worlds problems, they do not realize that they are going against their own beliefs in that:

“Ignorance is not defined as stupidity, but as a lack of knowledge; lack of knowledge inevitably leads to lack of understanding; lack of understanding leads to disconnect among people with differences; disconnection among people with differences leads to conflict; knowledge is the only logical solution to the problem of conflict.”

In that, they hide the truth about their war against the Divergence from people, and they even manipulate people using serums that are meant to better society and to help society function better, which is also stated in their manifesto:

“Intelligence is a gift, not a right. it must be wielded not as a weapon, but as a tool for the betterment of society.”

Yet they use their intelligence to destroy and to wreak havoc on those that they cannot control, when they are in fact the ones with the greatest power and the ones that will ultimately better society. It is with their manifesto’s ideology that, they should not seek to commit mass genocide on Divergents, but to understand them and why they are there in the first place as the final book, Allegiant, helps us realize. But, should we be so critical of the Erudite? Also stated in their Faction Manifesto is that, “Intelligence must be used for the benefit, and not the detriment, of society.” And what we find is that, with the intelligence of Divergence, it ultimately leads to the conflict that the Erudite fear ultimately lead to the war that destroyed their world. And this is where another great piece of commentary comes in on Veronica Roth’s part. Is Veronica Roth actually speaking out against the government in the idea that, they fear if they allow people to know the truth, that it will cause all out war amongst the people and the government? Or do they fear that if the people do know the truth that it will do nothing to benefit society? Either way, we all seem to lose, and maybe that is what Roth is trying to say, but what we also must understand is that, you cannot have Intelligence without Candor.

Candor, the Honest, use glass as their chosen symbol in the Choosing Ceremony. Why is this? Glass is clear, clear is clarity, and clarity is honesty. If Veronica Roth is actually speaking out against the government, then she has done well by including Candor and Erudite in this story, as from the Candor Manifesto, “What has become clear is that, lies are just a temporary solution to a permanent problem.” By this logic, the government would have to understand that, while intelligence might be dangerous and cause conflict, lies may create a permanent problem that can only become temporary by the truth. But what would it take for the government to unveil the truth about their lies? They would have to become dauntless, for as Tris says herself, “It must require bravery to be honest all the time.” (Roth, 2011, p.62)

The Dauntless blame cowardice for the worlds demise, and if this is true, is it really? Let’s look at a couple examples of what happens if we allow cowardice dictates our lies.

  • In The Wizard of Oz, we meat the Cowardly Lion who fears even the smallest of bugs and could not bear to harm any living creature. Even so, by the end of their journey through Oz, the Cowardly Lion finds that it is time for him to prove himself when a not so friendly spider tries to attack them, but he finally stands up for himself and defends Dorothy and this friends. But, what would have happened if the Lion had been far too afraid to stand up to that spider? What if no change at all had happened to him on their journey? The spider would have killed them all, and there would be no going back. Cowardice could have been their demise, but bravery was their savior.
  • Veronica Roth often cites Harry Potter for inspiration and she even notes that she probably will never be able to write one essay without making some reference or analogy concerning Harry Potter; essentially she is a Potterhead. So, in spirit of Mrs. Roth, let’s make a reference to Harry Potter. It is known that, Lily Potter gave her life in order to save Harry, for the most part, as if Harry had been hit with that Avadakadavra Curse head on, and not partly protected by his mother and love, he would have died and there would likely be no ‘Boy Who Lived’ at all, and Voldemort would have gone on his merry way rampaging all of Ireland and then England, and subsequently all of Europe as some Wizarding Napoleon or Hitler, as he would eradicate all Mud bloods and such.
  • In my own spirit, The Hunger Games, is one of my favorite books of all time, and it is the only book I have read more than once (I don’t know why, but it’s incredibly difficult for me to read a book once I’ve already read it; The Hunger Games, though was something unlike anything I’d read before, it was such an inspiration to me and an influence on my writing, along with the fact that it was just such an amazing story, that I had to read it more than once), I would like to make a reference to that as well. In The Hunger Games, probably one of the most courageous things Katniss did in the entire trilogy was that she volunteered as Tribute for her sister Prim. One of the most touching and intense moments I have never read, and a scene that was brought to such full fruition by the amazing Jennifer Lawrence (I will never forget how her voice cracked so naturally as she stepped to save Prim, it was so well done). All in all, in order to literally put your life in such jeopardy like this, especially when you are the most likely of all the tributes from the 12 districts to be killed, is incredibly honorable and brave, just like a Dauntless Warrior. Now, if Katniss had been too afraid of the Games to save her sister, likely Gale would have been too angry with her to even be friends with anymore, Prim would have been killed, as I doubt Peeta would have been so inclined to save Prim even if she was Katniss’s sister; though, Prim and Rue may have been partners, still, they both would ultimately have died; just as at the end of Mockingjay, Katniss would spill into horrible depression and that would be the book, and it wouldn’t have been the phenomenon that it is.

So, this shows that, while you must be erudite in deciding what knowledge is right to pass out, if it all, and you must also decide when it’s the right time to be honest vs. lying, and being brave and secure in your decision. So, if the government or if someone is hiding something from you, and if that knowledge could potentially help you or even save you, what does that say about their courageous character? They surely aren’t ‘GRRRR-RATE!’ as Tony the Tiger often says.

In Divergent, Abnegation is accused of having the greatest Divergent population, and that is why they are targeted by the Erudite, as Abnegation contained two major contenders, which would be our leading roles of Tobias and Beatrice, who Jeanine sought to destroy because of their prominence in the Divergent War. I bring this up because, maybe the Erudite where always right in their suspesion against Erudite, for the Dauntless believe in ordinary acts of bravery, while the Abnegation believe:

“Therefore I chose to turn away/from my reflection/To not rely on myself/ but my brothers and sisters/ to project always outward/ until I disappear.”

And this little snippet from their manifesto begs us to ask the question: how far is selflessness from bravery? Must you not be brave in order to be selfless, and selfless in order to be brave? In The Wizard of Oz, the Cowardly Lion had be courageous and selfless enough to step before that spider and attack it, for he had ot be selfless in that he put his life in jeopardy for his friends, and brave in that he fought the spider and defeated his cowardice. So, are Abnegation and Dauntless really all that far apart? Are  abnegation and dauntless actually synonyms? In one of the discussion questions about Divergent, it asks the question, “Do you think that these factions represent every basic personality trait and fulfill all the basic needs of people?” I do believe that these factions represent the basic characteristics of people: everyone has the capability to be peaceful, selfless, honest, brave, and intelligent, and though in Divergent they separate these people, Divergence is normal (as we learn in Allegiant). But, what is more is that, you learn that there are striking parallels between these factions, specifically Abnegation and Dauntless. There may be a reason why many Abnegation either stay in Abnegation or move to Dauntless, or vice-versa (Tris to Dauntless, her mother from Dauntless). It requires great bravery to be selfless, to do for others before you do for yourself, to be brave enough to look away from yourself for months at a time, to preserve plentiful resources and live a less than simple life, if you can truly call it a life at all. And it must require great selflessness in order to become Dauntless, in order to not be afraid to finally put yourself first, to finally see that there is room for your in the world, and it must require a lot of bravery to take the place of a friend as knives fly at your head, or to kill someone you love, to face your fears and face the you that you have suppressed for so long. It is just as you cannot be Erudite without being Candor, and you cannot be Candor without being Erudite. The Erudite seek the truth, they seek the truth in knowledge, and the Candor speak only the truth, making them just as factual and intellectual as the Erudite, and the Erudite will refuse to speak lies or false facts that have not been proven, tested, or accepted by their community. Both Candor and Erudite use clarity as their symbols, Erudite with water and Candor with glass, both represent the transparency in honesty and truth, and how the world should be a truthful and honest place. But where to the Amity fit into all of this?

The Amity lie in order to keep peace, they use serums in order to make sure that everyone is happy, they speak with one another before confirming a decision, they do not work alone, but as a team; in simplest terms, the Amity seem to be the only faction of them all that hold most every personality trait. In order to have peace, you must lie but you must also know when to tell the truth , for the truth is a powerful beast of a thing and, “Like a wild animal, the truth is too powerful to be caged.” (From the Candor Manifesto). In order to have peace you must also have knowledge, but just as with superpowers, with great knowledge comes great responsibility, and just as with any fact, any truth could destroy and turn society to rubble, but you cannot have society without unsaid knowledge and hidden truths, which is why it is important to hold both erudite and candor qualities. The Amity, as already said, also do not do things as one and are highly conservative (“REMEMBER TO CONSERVE RESOURCES, SHOWERS RUN FOR ONLY FIVE MINUTES” (Roth, 2012, p.13)) which are traits of Abnegation, which of course sways them to a far more Abnegatious personality than the two prior of erudite and candor, but it is still a trait. Yet, where is their bravery? In truth, I have had a hard time to find such Bravery, but I think that their bravery is found in Insurgent, in Johanna Reyes’s actions to protect Tris and her friends as they hide from the Erudite, but also their knowing of other faction customs such as the Dauntless handshake. In Divergent, we learn that Tobias has tattoos of all the factions all down his back, which is a key indicator that he is in fact, Divergent, and that is dangerous. So, this knowing of customs makes the Amity dangerous because they accept all factions instead of sectionalizing themselves off to only Amity as most every other faction has done to themselves. It is this kind of bravery that completes Amity’s war for peace, as they carry all the factions with them and use them in their life, so that they can be peaceful as their name suggests. The Amity are the only ones, it seems, who isolated themselves from the Divergent War for as long as they could, until the finale in Allegiant, as we see the Amity wield guns, which is far from peaceful, but it shows beyond their colors that they have the blood of Dauntless running through their veins. So, would it have been so wrong for Jeanine to think that the Amity were really the ones with the largest Divergent population? No, but it’s just a matter of statistics I suppose.

So, I will conclude this introduction here, as I hope you now have a greater understand of how the great patchwork of the Divergent world works, and ho each faction is like another, how our world would be a terrible place if we lived in this faction system, and what will lead us through the path of the Divergent Trilogy (from the initial scene in Divergent to the final scene in Allegiant. In this series where I talk and analyse Divergent, I hope to share my love of this world with others who love this world, and really get down and dirty to discuss it’s many ups and downs pros and cons, and ultimately, talk a lot about Dystopian fiction!

A Comment about Dystopia, based upon The Hunger Games and Divergent

So, this is probably the first of a series of posts about the dystopian genre, which is probably my favorite genre to write, and I feel the need to share it, and since Slate.com has decided that it would like to have problems, I’m just going to post the comment here. Anyhow, note that, as crazy as it is, this is based on what was said about Veronica Roth’s Divergent Trilogy, which was that it was ‘gritty’, which it is not, and you will learn why I would say such a thing as you read the comment below! Hope that you can speak your own mind in the comment section below, and erm, yeah!

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The comment:

‘Firstly, let it be known that I enjoy both Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth’s works, but I favor Suzanne Collins’s works more. I also know that this article is about Divergent, it’s simply one little part really ticked me off to write this little post, as a little thought to keep in mind as you read this.
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Hold on, I have to say as a Dystopian-Horror writer myself, Divergent is far from ‘gritty’ or ‘grim’. Roth’s dystopian series is closer to a utopia than it is a dystopia; just because buildings are in shambles and there is a lifestyle that these people must live does not make it gritty nor grim. Collins’s Hunger Games is much closer to the vision of what dystopia is supposed to be than Roth’s. Collins’s world has much more meaningful, darker, and realistic undertones and ideas than Roth’s. Roth’s is purely a) experimental in that, the series is a good, quick read and beyond it’s surface idea, it has little to say and b) very action-ey, not that this is a bad thing, but it’s what a YA novel is on the most basic level, and Allegiant, the final book in the Divergent Series, proved this, and not because it was action-paced (because it wasn’t, most of it was mindless repetition of what the reader already knew and Roth trying to tie up the series which I don’t think she had a whole, big plan for in the first place as the revelation is a great big cop-out), but because it lacked the action of the first two novels, which ultimately contributed to the series’s success in the fist place.

Anyhow, Hunger Games really connects to many other meanings other than the brutal reality of reality television, but it emphasizes the class differences that are so predominant in our society that it drives us to have prejudice and hatred towards those from the lower class, it speaks out to the corruption of the government, it speaks out towards war–in Mockingjay, I believe it was (it wasn’t the most memorable final book for me, trilogies always end very offhanded in my opinion), Peeta says something about how war is pointless as at some point we’re just going to destroy the human race, and inevitably, there will be no human race at all–it speaks out towards a great wealth of other things, and what also contributed to making Collins’s story such a success was that before the final two books in the trilogy, really the great finale, romance was put on the back burner so that rebellion, war, and Katniss’s struggle could flourish and Collins could speak out against the things that are destroying our world.

Roth, on the other hand, is doing nothing more than following the generic formula of what made YA novels popular in the first place which is ‘I’m different’ theme of YA books, and we see how heavy handed this gets in the final book when the revelation that ‘Divergence’ is nothing more than a fluke. Roth, I understand, wants to speak about being yourself and that no one is one category, high school cliques and such things shouldn’t matter, but the story needs more backbone than that. What little backbone she could have added she did not emphasize. The only other thing that I think she did a very good job with was the idea of experimentation and serums, how in the future, we could likely be subject to an endless dependence on simulation and mind altering technology, of course such backbone that boils in the broth of it all, collapses under Roth’s un-plotted finale (I know that I keep making everything tie back to the finale, but in truth, even though I loved the books for what they were, the finale is the only one where the ideas and thoughts come to full fruition and in addition to this, it is the only one of the three books that gives us any legitimate answers for some of the things what happen, no matter how horribly derived or explained they may be) as she herself becomes far to dependent on this system of serums, which is sad because there was so much psychological war she could have touched down on in this final book, it would have really made the book much more bearable and acceptable as in truth, Allegiant has killed the series for me. But that is besides the point.

To talk about some other things, though, as many have mentioned: non-verbal communication has a great deal of importance in this series, and it is probably one of the redeeming aspects about it. This non-verbal communication plays with the subtle, and almost not there, psychological war between the characters. Four, in the first book, hid his emotions, but Roth works emotion into him by these little non-verbals and motions that Four does, in the second book, such non-verbal communication could mean the difference between life and death, and often times, words would only increase the tension; Roth also uses non-verbal communication in a way to often times describe the scene and give Tris time to relish in her thoughts and reflect, dialogue would weigh this crucial aspect of the series down by some great weight, as we would slog through deals of dialogue of arguments and thoughts that would stretch for pages when they could’ve been condensed into those little reflections. Non-verbal-ity is what Divergent is all about.

Finally, to head back into my main point, know the difference between dark, gritty, and grim. I may be more critical on what you call dark and grim because my work is highly dark and hopeless, simply because that is dystopia on a level, though another level suggests that dystopian fiction shows how making the world ‘good’ can make it worse than ever before while making it only better for those who decided that dystopian world was ‘better’; it is not about how the author describes the world on the outside, say a gray sky or broken buildings, but rather, it’s about the ideas that play subtly in the background of the stories. Collins plays with this idea far more than Roth, Collins shows what dystopia should be on a level, that dystopia is not about making the world look as shitty as you can possibly make it look, but rather, it’s about what caused it to be this way and how it’s getting worse. For The Capitol, in The Hunger Games, Panem is beautiful, for those who live in it, it is the ugliest place of all; in Divergent, though, what both strengthens the story and weakens is it is that these people have been brainwashed into thinking that this is society, society must be this way, this is how a normal human functions and they all see it as good, which plays upon the utopian aspect of it. While there is a lot of utopianism in Divergent, it still plays out into a dystopia, but know how that The Hunger Games, wears the dress better than Divergent. 

 This is all I have to say, I’m sorry this was a lot, and I’m sorry if some of the things that I say are highly biased or contradicting, but I’m writing this on the spot about what I believe and know about dystopia and how I feel about both series. Once again, I like both of these series, Hunger Games is simply the more well played of the two, and is the true down-dark-and-gritty future.

Cheers!’

ALSO! Here is a link to the original post from Slate.com!
http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/03/20/divergent_trilogy_by_veronica_roth_a_textual_analysis_comparing_it_to_the.html

Test Your Might!

So it’s spring break, I’m a lonely writer with a lot of work to get done, so what do you do? You make a blog, that’s what. I  have a 21,000 word story due Monday, and I have about 4,000 words of it done. Will I get it done? Will I flop? I don’t know, it’s not likely though, I might get most of it done…If I can milk out some more ideas, because I think I already wasted my free drivel card (if only I had bought more of them while I was out the store, of course, George R. R. Martin had already bought them all, a new shipments not coming until…well until The Winds of Winter comes out because Martin has to buy some more for A Dream of Spring, I really don’t like him sometimes; leave some for the rest of us why don’t you?) so I actually have to come up with some narrative. This should really be fun, me trying to figure out what happens next when I really don’t know. I mean, there’s going to be a pipe bomb involved, I know that much at this point, but I don’t know: do I want this story to reflect what’s going on in Crimea right now, or do I want a flat out prison story with some awful twists as my main protagonist tries to dig a hole with his bare hands.

Well, I’m sure you’re not very interested in my qualms as a writer trying to figure out what he needs to write next in his story, so why don’t we get to know each other, why don’t we? Hi, my name is Jonnah, it’s right there on the badge people, it should be very obvious. I write horror storeis, supernatural stories, or really any story that catches my fancy. Oh just saying that word makes me feel so fancyI’m currently working on the second draft of my most recent novella The Farm which is a dystopian horror tale, that I hope to find an agent for by the end of the year, and at some point, I can hopefully find a publisher for it so that everyone around the world can be grossed out and horrified by my MC’s hallucinations and descriptions. Here’s one such description:

“”Ya, I covered my eyes–dey had dem chickens angin’ upside-down on ‘lectric wires, live too,. They was squirmin’ and jerkin’; some of em’ was fried, and like da kind wit batta, I mean fried where dey was burt, they eyes had popped outta they heads, and they featha’s was ruffled so much dey was almost indistinguishable, and had it not been fo dey ‘hite featha’s–and bein’ da Chicken House an’ all–I wouldn’t have known dey was chickens in da first place.”

To be honest that was actually part of a narrative from another character, but you get the drift of the story I would hope. So, I think that’s all I want to say for now, hopefully some of you stick around because this was only an introduction, a little something to sweetin’ you up and get you to come back (till next time). On this blog, I should note, that I’ll be giving writing tips, talking about th writing life, updating my progress on any works in progress, etc. Hopefully you will enjoy this little ‘journey’ let’s call it as I go through it! If you would like to read the first draft of The Farm and help me write the second draft, go here: http://figment.com/books/655680.

You may or may not regret your decision by the time you finish the first chapter :D. So now to try and test my might (as I listen to the classic Mortal Kombat theme song and stave off hunger with a nice sandwhich and a water) and see how much I can get done of this 21,000 story before the days is out.

Cheers,
JZK