Thursday, February 18, 2010

Book Review: The Child Thief

The Child Thief

By: Brom

Book Review by: K. Carson

Blurb: Peter is quick, daring, and full of mischief—and like all boys, he loves to play, though his games often end in blood. His eyes are sparkling gold, and when he graces you with his smile you are his friend for life. He appears to lonely, lost children—the broken, hopeless, and sexually abused—promising to take them to a secret place of great adventure, where magic is alive, and you never grow old. But his promised land is not Neverland. . . .

Characters: The characters in this book were stunning, and not because they were wonderfully crafted or held amazing talents or quirks, but because they were all so flawed. I can't count the amount of times that I've heard the interesting characters are the flawed ones, and that holds so true here. Reading it at the beginning, you get sucked into the narrator's world. You believe what they believe, but about half-way aroun the book, when other's views are brought in, you begin to question the narrators of this book. When looking at the characters and their views, they're so contrived that it's impossible to believe any of them. It forces you to create your own opinion of the situation, based on what these characters were giving you.

I decree: 4.5

Plot: The plot took a long time to really kick in, and I mean a long time. Which really isn't important, because what matters is holding the reader's attention. I was stunned half-way through when I was still reading. The book's pace is slow, VERY slow, while Brom takes he time to nurture every scenario, go into extreme detail and cover Peter's entire backstory. From birth to present. Brom doesn't exactly build tension, but he builds up this world and characters and then rushes in and knocks it all out from under you.

I decree: 3.5

Fundimentals: My encounter with this book was like an author's dream. I didn't even intend to buy the book, but the cover caught my eye-- can you blame me? The title came next. The blurb on the back immediately sucked me in and the writing sealed the deal. The writing makes this book amazing. Brom is skilled enough to carve this world of pure fantasy, not to mention he doesn't drown us with information and backstory but makes it interesting. His prose is brilliantly constructed to give a perfect veiw of the world without dragging it out. And the pictures are breathtaking, I must say. I love a novel with a few good images.

I decree: 5

Overall: This book is not for th faint of heart. Brom displays death quite vividly, and death isn't pretty. So if you don't want to read about entrails being strewn across the ground while on your lunchbreak, take a step back. I never once put the book down because the gore made me ache with sympathy pains, (unlike Stephen King's Misery) but... well, as Brom says, Death isn't noble or romantic. It's just death.

I decree: 13/15

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Directors, Take a Bow!

So, I was watching a movie recently, (Won't lie, it was Avatar) and I was watching the way the actors protray so much without saying anything. This is Show, Don't Tell at work. It's harder for directors to tell us how the character is feeling than have the actors show it.

A lot of writers have a hard time understanding the concept of Show, Don't Tell. I don't think a single writer has ever just "understood" the concept. We all have to learn it, and we all have to learn our boundaries. You can't completely show a piece of text, but you can't completely tell. Where is the limit?

So, for an excersize, we're going to watch this video clip. I want you to put it on mute, and watch it two or three times. Without music or dialogue, all we have is the visual to show us how the characters are feeling.

What can we say about this scene? How do we know Cole is upset? Well, he's gripping the blankets right up to his neck, there's a furrow in his brow. He has tears in his eyes when he speaks to Crowe.

How would an author represent this? Saying something like, "He was terrified. Cole sat and stared at Dr Crowe, wishing that the man would take away his fears. As he told the man his secret, relief settled in and he started to cry."

This is telling, and yet many authors do this all the time, seeing this as a perfectly reasonable way to handle the scene.

But, we see there's more than that. We do not, at all, have to explicitly say that Cole is upset.

"His hands were so tense they shook where they clutched at the blanket. He held Dr Crowe's gaze, the weight of his secret sitting in his chest like a pile of stones. The secret slipped past his lips, each word releasing him from its crushing hold over his life. Once all the words had tumbled free, Cole began to cry."

Easy way to add words to your MS, which is something that I desperately need. :P

I want you guys to try this. If you have trouble with showing, go onto youtube and flip on a scene, any scene, and take note of how the actor displays emotion. How do we know what this character is feeling based solely on body language? Write out a scene. Rinse and repeat until you feel comfortable enough to adapt this concept into your own writing.

By the way, what do you guys think of my new banner?



Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Writing As A Profession

I had to pimp out this video, because I adore Maureen Johnson's veiws on writing and publication. And from the pov of a YA writer.