Fanfiction Wednesday: 9 to 5
zuko, dietotaku
awritingblog

It’s What Fanfiction Taught Me Wednesday again! Today, I’d like to talk about “9 to 5” by Goldylokz. (Full disclosure: this is A) one of my favorite fanfics of all time and B) I started beta-ing for Goldylokz waaaay back in the day. I don’t even remember now, but it’s probably been at least six years. C) I haven’t read the whole thing in a long, long time. I keep meaning to and getting distracted.)


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Tolkien Tuesdays: FotR, Ch. 1
zuko, dietotaku
awritingblog

I got back to LOTR sooner than I thought, so it’s time for Tolkien Tuesday again! Instead of picking a general aspect, I’m going to go through the trilogy chapter by chapter and pick out certain things to talk about. I’ve been wanting to reread LOTR for a while (thanks to the wonder of The Hobbit trailer), but I’d like to get a little more than pleasure out of it. Tolkien’s a grandmaster, after all, and most fantasy can be traced back to him and his techniques. I’d like to learn, basically, and I hope you’ll be interested in learning with me.

So. Fellowship of the Ring. Chapter One: A Long-Expected Party.


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M.A. Reviews: Khaos Komix
zuko, dietotaku
awritingblog

It’s time for another M.A. Reviews Segment. Hopefully, this will be coherent, since I am so tired I can’t see straight.

Anyway, today I’d like to talk about Khaos Komix by Tab Kimpton. As I understand it, this webcomic is fairly famous in the right circles, probably because it’s been around so damn long. (I’ve been reading it since I was a sophomore in high school, and there was apparently a different version floating around on the internet before that.)


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Strong Women Weekends: Veralidaine Sarrasri
zuko, dietotaku
awritingblog

It’s Strong Woman Weekends once more! Again, I’d like to talk about a Tamora Pierce lady: my second-favorite, Veralidaine Sarrasri.


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Book #7: The God Delusion
zuko, dietotaku
awritingblog
My seventh book is The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Obviously, this one is about atheism. Like all of Dawkins' writing, it is precise and pointed. He does not mince words; reading it is like walking outside into a brisk wind. If you're a doubting Christian, this probably isn't the book to start with, because it's more like being pushed off the diving board than easing into the atheism pool. If, however, you're already a nonbeliever, Dawkins is excellent.

The Importance of Feminist/Whatever Criticism
zuko, dietotaku
awritingblog

I’ve been thinking a lot about criticism lately, probably because I’m in English-major-mode and can’t seem to turn off the critical part of my brain lately. Sometimes when I’m inspecting something, I find myself wondering, “Where does it stop? When do we let things be?” (This will be about feminism, because that’s what’s on my mind right now, but you can insert racism/homophobia/whatever. It all applies.)

For example, I was thinking about Disney Princess movies a while ago. I love them, but it’s a conflicted sort of love: I bask in the animation and the songs, but all the while a voice in the back of my head is complaining about the gender relations. (Except in Tangled. I don’t care about the damn marketing campaign; Tangled is beautiful.) Why is there no female-female cooperation? Why do the men get to have all the action scenes, even if the females get token badassery?

And then I’m like, “Why do I wonder about all of these things, anyway?” In some cases, the anti-feminist stuff was Disney’s choice, and sometimes it wasn’t. Sometimes, they are constrained by the original story, and changing it to make it less bothersome would just ruin the story they’re trying to tell.

Then I realized something. It would be very nice if we lived in a world where sexism doesn’t exist. (People try to pretend we don’t. Don’t believe them. That’s when they get you.) If we lived in that world, it really wouldn’t matter what kind of stories we told, because everything would be equal. There would be equal numbers of bad men and women, and criticism of movies would not need to go through a gendered lens, because we would not be inundated with films where women are sluts/can’t have serious relationships with each other/are undervalued, etc.

In a world where men’s and women’s strengths were viewed equally, we wouldn’t have to worry about the kind of stories we told, because the message sent would be balanced and fair. We would not have to step and show that the scale is always tipped toward the male end.

However, we don’t live in that world. We have to deal with sexism every day, and until true gender equality is reached, we have to keep pointing it out, so people take notice.

Note that I don’t think we should censor ourselves because of this. Tell the story you want to tell. We might not live in this perfect world yet, but I think we should try to act as though we do and paint a picture by example. 

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Critique Phrasing
zuko, dietotaku
awritingblog

My editing and publishing class has me thinking a lot about critique, so I’d like to talk a bit about that here.

First, I’ll be honest. Good critique is really, really hard to give. Sometimes you get an excellent piece, and you don’t know what to say; sometimes, you get a horrible piece, and you don’t know where to start. Usually, though, what you’ll get to critique falls somewhere inbetween those extremes. There might be some obvious good points, and there might be some obvious bad. I’m going to assume that by this point, you already know how to find the good and bad points of a piece—if you don’t, go figure it out.

Instead, today I’d like to focus on how to phrase your critique, because that is probably the single most important aspect of it. (This is more directed toward critiques spoken aloud, but if you pay attention, you can apply it toward written critiques.)


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Fanfiction Wednesday: Destiny
zuko, dietotaku
awritingblog

It’s What Fanfiction Taught Me Wednesday! Today, I’d like to talk about “Destiny,” by Daughter of Atlas.

This is another Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic, because that’s the majority of what I read when I read fanfic. That and X-men, but I don’t have as many of those that I remember. Anyway, “Destiny” is a oneshot that focuses on the gAang after the war. Well, actually, it focuses on Sokka and Toph, because Aang and Katara are off doing exciting things, and Sokka and Toph have the clean-up to do. Needless to say, it’s Tokka, and it’s fantastic Tokka. This is a fanfic  I still read once in a while because it’s just so impressive.

“Destiny” is wonderful because of the writing. Daughter of Atlas simply writes some of the best fanfic I’ve ever read. I’m sure I read other fanfics before this one where the author experimented with fancy language, but this one is the one I remember, because it did it the best. The writing is imagery heavy and deep, and it reads sort of like a sophisticated storybook.

It also has a really interesting point of view. Fanfiction is a good place to experiment with point of view, because as I’ve said before, point of view isn’t just some arbitrary thing determined by the voice of your characters. It’s a tool, like everything else in writing, and you should learn to use it. But you probably shouldn’t mess around with it too much in a legit novel or a short story unless you’re trying to be post-modern. (Hint: don’t be post-modern.) In fanfic, though, experimenting with point of view is safe because, as usual, we already know the characters and are willing to put up with a little bit of weirdness.

Anyway, “Destiny” is written in  something between third-person objective and third-person limited: it is constrained to Toph’s point of view, but the author uses Toph’s perspective to comment on the nature of the show and the characters. She manages to make all these observations not only true, but sound like the way Toph would think about them, which is really, really hard. I’m still jealous when I reread this, because that is damn near impossible to pull off.

This fanfic also does a really good job of conveying emotion without really having any emotional content at all. Everything is stated as a fact, without  much inflection, but you still understand what’s going on in Toph’s head and why she and Sokka love each other. It’s fantastic, and you should read it.


Time Management
zuko, dietotaku
awritingblog

(Tolkien Tuesday is going to take a bit of a break until I have time to start the LOTR trilogy again. In the meantime, this will just be a random blog day.)


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M.A. Reviews: 2Cellos
zuko, dietotaku
awritingblog

It’s M.A. Reviews Monday again! Today, just a quick review because I find myself with very little time and a lot of homework.

So, uh, 2Cellos. You might have heard of them because they were on Glee, but they are so much better than that. Their album (self-titled, natch) consists entirely of covers, but they’re really good covers. Each of them takes something good about the song and twists it a little, like a good cover should.

For example, it took me a while to come around to the cover of “Hurt,” because, I mean, come on. Johnny Cash made that song. It was just some alt-rock whining, and then Johnny Cash made it into this incredibly emotional thing. But the 2Cellos cover really works. It doesn’t try to be the Johnny Cash version, which was very rhythm heavy. Instead, 2Cellos draw out the emotional notes, making it feel sort of sleepy and sad. It’s not epic, like the Johnny Cash version; it strikes a very different chord, if you’ll allow the pun.

The cover of “Resistance” is also fantastic. The beauty of the original version of “Resistance” is the overwrought emotion, and 2Cellos takes that and runs with it. It’s a little sped up from the Muse version, and even though it doesn’t have any of the lyrics, it doesn’t lose the feeling.

Also, I like very much that 2Cellos prove that cellos can be epic again. I was never all that impressed by Apocalyptica (except for their seminal cover of “Nothing Else Matters”), but 2Cellos really makes it work. The album is just addicting.

(It doesn’t hurt that the two cellists in question are ridiculously attractive.)


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