Pandragon Dan

Pandragon Dan

Author/Reviewer/Blogger

Does Young Adult ALWAYS have to have Young Adult protagonists?

Phew! Well I’m back guys – and yes it is me this time! The Man in Shadow’s plan to take over my blog failed miserably as everyone saw through his lies! I’m kinda embarrassed that he let me get the drop on me to be honest. Turns out that he, one of my characters, had become self aware and he had become more powerful than I imagined! He was the one that had been trolling me for the last few days.

 

Thankfully, Zarracka stopped him and rescued me. I did have a whole fight scene planned but... well, I don’t have a Michael Bay budget. Basically, this is how the fight went!

 

 

 
 

Yeah... kinda anticlimactic I know. Oh well.

 

Anyhoo, moving on. Today’s post is something that I wanted to talk about because of something that happened recently – which got me thinking.

 

About a week or so ago, I completed a new Young Adult novel, and I found a publisher that I thought would be pretty good for it (I never published through a publisher before so I thought, why not?). Also, as this book had a Disney/Pixar influence, I hoped that would catch their attention. It did and they agreed to read the manuscript. A few days back, I got some feedback from them, saying that they didn’t consider it a Young Adult novel as the main protagonist was in her twenties.

 

My first initial reaction was – really? Ok, that’s not a bad comment at all, but it was a little strange. See, I may be totally showing my ignorance here, but I always thought that Young Adult (as well as New Adult, Adult, etc) was simply there to differentiate the age range of your target audience and the age of your protagonist shouldn’t determine that.

 

Well, after putting it across on Facebook to my friends, a few of which are authors themselves, the general consensus is that Young Adult novels are stories that have a protagonist that is between 13-18 years of age. This is apparently something that publishers adhere to quite strictly from what I hear (if anyone can confirm or deny this, please leave a comment below) and I suppose it makes sense. After all, if you have a target audience in mind, you obviously want to put a character in there that your audience can latch onto and follow the story. This is probably why Harry Potter was so popular as a character – not just that he did magic, but because he grew up like a real human with each passing story. So I don’t entirely blame the publishers for that.

 

However, to quote a conflicting argument from a FB friend – isn’t this “Somewhat flawed logic”, and mentioned a book called Room, which is apparently told from the POV of a 5 year old boy. By that logic, it could be considered a children’s book – but from what I’ve read of it, it’s anything but. Again, please correct me if I’m wrong on this. But I completely see his point on this, why does a Young Adult novel HAVE to have a Young Adult protagonist? What’s wrong with maybe have a slightly older protagonist that represents the values and morals that Young Adult is supposed to teach? You could argue that comics are aimed at a Young Adult market (although there are some mature storylines out there) and the superheroes/heroines in that are mostly adults, or aliens, or robots or mutants, or furries... um... I’ll stop there. My point is that these heroes may not be kids, but they do represent a moral and ethical code that they want their readers to follow – although there ARE teenage superheroes as well (Static Shock, Kid Flash and Speedy to name a few).

 

Another point raised by my friend was that isn’t it “rather patronising to the target audience that they'll only relate to characters of their own age”. Again, I totally agree with this statement. Although I don’t think that is the intent at all, but I do believe what he says. Again I refer to the above statement with the superheroes – what is so wrong about having an adult protagonist? Look at Doctor Who for instance – the main character in that isn’t a child (though he acts like one some of the time) and his companions are usually twenty something women (at least in the later series), but people of all ages – even children – can related to the characters and enjoy the stories. So why shouldn’t the same apply for novels?

 

Here is my view on Young Adult. I feel that a Young Adult novel doesn’t HAVE to include a Young Adult protagonist. It just needs to teach the target market a moral lesson, whether it be friendship, love, bravery – etc. Now that doesn’t mean that it CAN’T have a teenage hero (and if it does that’s cool), I just don’t think it needs to follow that convention. Especially if you look at Manga, where their Young Adult (Shonen) Mangas often have more adult characters rather than teenagers – although their demographics tend to be a little different to ours – so I’ve probably shot myself in the foot saying that! XD

 

But you know what, I’m probably just making a mountain out of a molehill. If my novel is classed as more New Adult than Young Adult, fair play. I just was somewhat surprised by this statement and wanted to put another opinion across.

 

What do you guys think? Please leave a comment below and let me know!

 

Thanks for reading guys!

 

 

 
 

What? You again?

 

Man in Shadow: Ha! You may have foiled my attempts to ruin you before. But I’ll be back. You haven’t seen the last of me! I’ll come back and troll your blog even more than I did before! You’ll never be rid of me! I’ll haunt your nightmares, disturb your every waking moment. I will make you suffer, I will burn you, I will...

 

Oh, piss off, Man in Shadow! No one cares what you think!

 

Man in Shadow: What? (sniff) How can you be so mean? That’s it! I’m gonna, I’m gonna... I’m gonna gather an army of the most evil minds in fiction and... I’m gonna come back and totally crush you!

 

(He disappears in a puff of smoke)

 

Pffff. Good luck with that!

 

 

 

--------------------------

PANDRAGON

 

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Top Five Indie Novels That Should Be Made Into Films/TV Shows

A lot of people like to say how they want their favourite book to be turned into a film and/or a TV series. Which I think is pretty cool – I mean, what can be better than your favourite story being shown on the big screen? However, you don’t see a lot of people talking about how they want their favourite indie book being put onto the big screen. So that’s the subject of today’s Top Five blog.

 

Now, for myself, I would LOVE it if my books were turned into an Anime series or film, done by either Bones animation studio (who did Full Metal Alchemist) or Production I.G – but this isn’t about me. This is about five indie novels that I’ve read that I think would benefit from having a film or TV show made of their story. For any indie authors reading this, if I didn’t name your book I’m sorry in advance. That doesn’t mean I think your book sucks, I just am only limited to just five!

 

Also bear in mind this is based on books I’ve read only. So here we go, in no particular order.

 

 

 

1. A Ranger’s Tale by Mysti Parker

 

(Note: This book has had a different cover since this blog, but I don't have the new front cover, so I'm posting the old one)

 

The book series that helped me appreciate Romance novels a lot more and made Mysti Parker one of my favourite authors. A Ranger’s Tale is the first book in the Tallenmere series and a brilliant Fantasy Romance. It tells the story of Caliphany (a great character), stuck between her own desires and the wills of her abusive father. She’s also stuck between a romance between Galadin and Jayden and has to make some tough choices along the way.

 

A Ranger’s Tale has such wonderfully crafted characters and a great story (that actually wouldn’t feel out of place if set in modern times) that I think it deserves to be made into a film so that others can be introduced to this great series. Also, given the rise in popularity of Game of Thrones, I think now would be a great time to introduce a Fantasy story that isn’t necessarily about epic quests and slaying monsters, but personal struggles as well.

 

Who could we get to direct this film? How about Sofia Coppola of Lost in Translation fame? I think she would do a great job with this film, given that there is a lot of great room for character development in this story. She could direct the film from the point of view of the characters (just like the book) so that we get the individual thoughts and feelings of the main heroes – leading it to an open ended story whereby we can let the viewer decide which of the characters they’d like to support. I think it would also be great for Sofia to show off her skills, taking on a high budget idea like this one.

 

Naturally, I think all of the Tallenmere series could make great films. But why not start with this one and see how it goes from there?

 

 

 

2. A Stiff Kiss by Avery Olive

 

This novel I think would make a VERY powerful drama. Seeing as it deals with the feeling of loss and regret (and in some ways, forbidden love), A Stiff Kiss is almost begging for a film adaptation of it. It’s a great teen drama that also has a lot of mature elements to it, making it a great coming of age story. If that doesn’t make for a great film then I don’t know what does.

 

Now, the obvious choice for a director, giving A Stiff Kiss is a supernatural teen drama, this would probably be Catherine Hardwicke, director of Twilight and Red Riding Hood, amongst others. However (and at the risk of upsetting some people) I have to say that I do NOT consider her a great director and her films (at least the ones I’ve seen) are just terrible! Red Riding Hood in particular I just couldn’t finish because it was so bland and uninspired. But, of course, that’s just my opinion.

 

No, I think a better choice would be Joss Whedon. I know he’s mainly known for doing comic book movies (and of course Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Firefly), but Joss Whedon is able to direct the characters in his movies with humanity and wit, so that even if they are super powered heroes, we never forget that they had emotions at heart. Also, he did direct a movie adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing in 2012, so he CAN do other things than superhero stuff. Also, he’s a great writer and director and I think he will have a lot of fun adapting this story.

 

Sorry if I upset any fans of Catherine Hardwicke with my earlier rant. I’m sure she’s a nice person, I just don’t personally rate her as a director. I also feel that A Stiff Kiss is such an emotional story that it deserves a director that will be able to bring out the emotional content in a way that it deserves.

 

 

3. The Plaza by Guillermo Paxton

 

Never have I been so moved by a novel than this one. The Plaza is a gritty, no holds barred story telling of how the city of Juarez, Mexico has been destroyed by the drug barons. It is a city where the drug lords rule and crime is rampant. Even the police, the ones dedicated to protecting the public interest are just as corrupt as the criminals they are supposed to capture. I even said at the time when I reviewed it that this show deserves to be made into a film or TV show if only to bring awareness to the problem.

 

I can think of no other writer/director that would have the job of bringing this story to life then David Simon, creator of The Wire and co-creator of Treme. Giving that The Wire alone shows have been praised for their gritty realism and honest portrayal of a city in peril, who better than to bring the harsh reality of Juarez onto the screen. It would be a very bleak series and not one that everyone could stomach – but you can’t really tip-toe around this subject and, personally, I think this would be one of those situations where the more violent and disturbing it is, the more people will come to appreciate the dangers that the people have to suffer.

 

Normally Simon does tend to film a lot of his stuff in real urban areas to get that realistic feel – but I don’t think he’d be able to do this in Juarez for real. The drug barons would probably not let that happen. But I do think that The Plaza does need to be made into a TV show to show everyone what a crisis the city is in. It may actually go some way to solving the problem. I hope.

 

 

 

4. Vaalbara: Visions and Shadows by Michelle Horst

 

I kinda gave this book a bit of a hard time in my review of it, considering that I was torn between the concepts and thought it was maybe a little too dark for a YA novel, given that it dealt with the destruction of humanity as we know it. But at the same time I also thought that it was a really good story, chronicling the rise of Alchera from a simple nobody, to the one responsible for saving some of the human race so that they can make way for a new perfect world. It kinda had mixed messages, but at its core it was a really great story and, again, another “coming of age” tale.

 

Needless to say, it would definitely make for an exciting, high budget action film that, as long as they keep the pathos and human spirit aspect, could end up being a great summer blockbuster. As such, my choices for bringing this film to life would either be Peter Jackson or Steven Spielberg. After all, when it comes to creating blockbusters that have heart, who better than those to? You only have to Google their names to see the list of classic films that they have done to know that they would be perfect for this choice. Admittedly, they would probably try to go for a less darker ending and maybe change the emphasis a little for the purpose of making it more of a “happy ending”, but for the most part I think they could do a good job.

 

I just really hope that Roland Emmerich doesn’t get his hands on this, as he’d just turn it into a high budget disaster movie for the sake of it with little storyline or anything. An adaptation of this deserves time and effort to make it into an enjoyable film that is both dramatic, yet poignant. But if done right, I think it will make an amazing film.

 

 

 

5. One Hundred Years of Vicissitude by Andrez Bergen

 

Being a huge fan of Studio Ghibli, I think this is one book that would make an amazing Anime film – especially if Hayao Miyazaki got his hands on it.

 

Why do I think that? Because One Hundred Years of Vicissitude is full of a lot of themes that Miyazaki is fond of. The story is full to the brim of Japanese mythology and history (which he often mixes in), but also intermixes it with the World War and Hiroshima bombings, and Miyazaki is strongly anti-war (so much so that, when Spirited Away won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, he refused to attend the ceremony because he "didn’t want to visit a country that was bombing Iraq") so I think he could do a lot with this.

 

Not only that, One Hundred Years of Vicissitude has a very strong and interesting female lead in the form of Kohana – and a lot of Miyazaki’s film’s have a strong female protagonist. But not only that, I think the dynamics between her and the character of Wolram would make for a lot of comedic effects.

 

But the main reason that I think this would work so well as a Miyazaki film is that One Hundred Years of Vicissitude is, for me, a story about personal growth – looking back over your life and learning from the mistakes. Even reading this book, the ending I imagined having music by Mamoru Fujisawa (who has worked on a LOT of Miyazaki films) play over the end to capture the raw emotion of the final scene. I always felt that Miyazaki's films have a lot of heart to them, so this would be perfect for him to direct.

 

Reading this, it’s almost like One Hundred Years of Vicissitude could have been specially written for Hayao Miyazaki. Therefore it makes sense that he could do a great job with this film.

 

 

Those are my choices for the Top Five indie books that could become films. What are your fav indie books that you would like to see as films? Please let me know by leaving a comment below.

 

Thanks for reading guys. Have a great day!

 

 

---------------------------

PANDRAGON

 

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Top Five Worst Heroes/Heroine in my opinion

Everyone loves a good hero. In fact, a hero is the basis of all great storytelling. Whether they are an underdog, a warrior, or just someone that wants to make something of their lives, a good hero/heroine will keep the audiences sympathies and keep them entertained throughout as they follow their journey from beginning to end, supporting them all the way.

 

But sometimes, just sometimes, you come across a hero or heroine that is just so unlikeable, you just want to punch them! Whether it’s because they are selfish, badly written, or just plan villainous in their actions, these are the type of characters who just want to make you sarcastically cry out “Our hero, ladies and gentlemen!” (apologies to Linkara)

 

And today, in this blog, I look at my personal Top Five of what I consider to be the worse heroes/heroines ever written. These are the Top Five characters that, for some reason or another, just p*** me off! And maybe they will to you to. So let’s get down to it.

 

A few things before I start, because I’ll probably open a hornets’ nest in this list. Firstly, I WILL mention some characters that are beloved by many, so please bear in mind that A) this is just MY opinion and B) this is not 100% serious and not intended to be taken entirely seriously. I will elaborate on why I think these characters are so unlikeable as heroes so as to justify their reason for being here. Hopefully I won’t get trolled too much for this!

 

Anyway, before we start, some honourable mentions.

 

 

Bella Swan from Twilight and Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars Prequels

 

Yeah, yeah, I know that EVERYONE and their mother has done blogs/videos about these characters and how they are so obnoxious, whinny and completely transparent (just to name a couple of examples, the Nostalgia Critic Listed Bella as number one in his Top 11 Dumbasses in Distress videos and the Distressed Watcher did a whole video on the Star Wars Prequels, listing how Anakin was a whinny little brat), and personally I don’t have anything more to add to that.

 

Besides, the examples I’m giving I fell are WORSE than Bella and Anakin put together! So let’s go on, shall we?

 

 

 

1. Duke Nukem of the Duke Nuken Games

 

Duke Nukem may have wow’d the video game world with his early games – but since Duke Nukem Forever he’s become somewhat of a pariah. Now I’ve played Duke Nukem Forever and it’s not really as bad as people say it is – but after about 12 years in development, you would have expected something a little better than this.

 

So, what don’t I like about Duke Nukem? Well, in many ways, he is pretty cool. His voice has a cool, Clint Eastwood type tone, he can kick alien ass while cracking jokes, and he just oozes machismo from everywhere – making him kinda like a cross between James Bond and Arnold Schwarzenegger. But honestly, I find him one of the most sexist characters in video game history.

 

Not that I’m trying to sound like a feminist, but I kinda have a problem with the fact that the only female characters in the game are scantily clad strippers, nude women who have been abducted, or just random chicks who want to get off with Duke. This isn’t the 40’s anymore, this kinda of attitude just doesn’t work in this day and age. Ok, so I may have written a few sexy females into my stories – but I do at least try and give them a personality to go along with it so that they aren’t just there for fan service.

 

Now, Duke Nukem does have a certain level of parody to it, so I wouldn’t really be worried about this too much – if not for the hive level in Duke Nukem Forever. In that level, he finds that women have been abducted and impregnated by aliens (there is even a scene where a couple of hookers from the beginning of the game explode with aliens from their belly and dying in a completely inappropriate way) and he has to kill them to stop the aliens coming forth. Does he show any remorse or sympathy for killing these poor women to save their pain? No, he just continues to crack jokes and doesn’t show any hint of sympathy for his actions. That is just despicable! And don’t even get me started on the “wall boobs” scene.

 

Overall, Duke’s type of humour just feels dated and few I think would actually find him funny. I get the odd chuckle from here there and now, but otherwise I just find Duke a really unlikeable hero – especially with his attitude towards women.

 

 

 

2. Light Yagami, AKA Kira from Death Note

 

Even thought I have an interest in Anime/Manga, Death Note is just one of those stories that I’m just not really into. Main reason – I think the main character is just a complete monster. Some people have praised the fact that Light (aka Kira) is a character that you can both love and hate, but honestly, I just can’t stand the guy. Even though I get his motivations, I just can’t support him.

 

For those who don’t know this series (adapted from a Manga and turned into an Anime and live action film), Death Note is about a boy that comes into possession of the Death Note, a book that kills anyone when someone’s name is written on it. Light uses this book to start killing the criminals of the world (along with a personification of Death), but eventually becomes corrupted by power and gains a god complex. The crux of the story features a team of investigators trying to track down Kira (as he has named himself), led by L – a highly intelligent young man determined to bring him down.

 

Now, I can understand Light’s motives to a certain level – he wants to bring justice in the world. But the problem I find is that he is willing to put innocent people – even members of his own family – in danger to do so! I’m sorry, but I can’t support anyone like that! If Light had some sort of redeeming qualities to his character (in the way that Tony Soprano did) then I would probably get behind him a little more. But because he is so focused on his goal and doesn’t care who he has to step on to do so, then I just wished he would get his comeuppance.

 

Luckily (SPOILERS AHEAD!) he does! Eventually he is caught and trapped. But Light, in his arrogance, summons the spirit of Death, telling him to write a name in the Death Note to show his power. Death writes in Light’s name, having grown tired of him, and finally Light gets a taste of his own medicine! Even though his death is kinda drawn out, it is satisfying to see the cocky little s*** beg for his life.

 

Light is quite possibly one of the worst heroes in Anime – possibly even in existence. I would say he is just as bad (if not worse than) King Joffery from A Game of Thrones, or A Song of Ice and Fire if you want to go by the book series. Sorry to any Death Note fans reading this, but I just really don’t like this character.

 

 

 

3. Napoleon Dynamite

 

I’m probably one of the few people that didn’t find Napoleon Dynamite the least bit funny – partly because I found the main character so unlikeable! How unlikeable?

 

Well, I’m gonna leave a link to a video by The Cinema Snob, from his The Worst Films of the Decade (done back in late 2009), in which he featured Napoleon Dynamite on there. Skip the video to around 14:32 and listen to what he says about the character of Napoleon Dynamite – because pretty much everything he says in that video is what I would say about the character and I would just be repeating him! (Contains some swearing).

 

http://thecinemasnob.com/2009/12/29/the-worst-films-of-the-decade.aspx

 

Ok, that was a short one – moving on!

 

 

 

4. Benjamin Spooner Briggs from Limbo of the Lost

 

This one not many of you will probably know about – and for good reason. Limbo of the Lost is a point and click adventure that was released around 2008 for the PC – but was quickly halted and pulled from sale. Why? Because it was discovered that the backgrounds were ripped off from other games, Elder Scrolls, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Thief – even the opening sequence is directed ripped off from a scene in the Spawn movie! And that’s just SOME of the things they plagiarised. Nowadays, copies of the game are kinda hard to find and are somewhat of a collector’s item – but as a game it is just horrible! The animation is poor, the story makes no sense and the acting is just terrible!

 

But anyway, onto the character of Benjamin Spooner Briggs (who has a perfect English accent in this game, even though I’m pretty sure the original Captain Briggs was American – please correct me if I’m wrong). After the sailing of the Marie Celeste, Briggs was taken by two supernatural beings and forced into the land of Limbo, where he must try and find a way of escape and overcome his fears.

 

Pretty basic story, but the way Briggs has to do this usually revolves around people getting hurt in some way, shape or form. And does he show any remorse to it? Not a bit! He walks across a wooden board, causing dust to fall into someone eyes, causing them to be eaten by a wood insect – barely bats an eyelid. He has to look at a paper to get some information, so rather than just asking if he could have a look, he blinds the poor fellow! Not only that, but when he’s investigating several mysterious deaths by a mad cult, resulting in many more people dying in the process, does he show even the slightly hint of remorse? Nope! Not at all.

 

Ok, so compared to others on the list, he isn’t that bad a character – but he doesn’t seem to show any real emotion to the things going around him – nor does he really make any attempt to understand the characters around him and their plight. But mainly, he’s just a dull character and you can’t really get behind him because he has no personality.

 

But there is one thing I WILL show you – the ending to Limbo of the Lost. It is one of the most bat**** crazy things I’ve ever seen in my life! Normally I would give a spoiler warning, but because this game is so bad, and has no real story, I think I can get away with this.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URcvdDtnM_0

 

Ok, now onto number 5. Boy and I about to open Pandora’s Box on this one!

 

 

 

5. Padme Amidala from Star Wars Prequels

 

Remember how I said at the beginning that there were worse characters than Anakin Skywalker and Bella Swan? Well, here she is! Padme Amidala! Possibly the worst heroine in the history of Star Wars - and even fiction itself!

 

Now, I’ll admit, at first I found this character just mildly annoying. She was bland, didn’t do anything and her relationship with Anakin was just plain awkward and the dynamics between the two characters was non existant. Which is a shame as I think Natalie Portman is a fantastic actress (her roles in Leon and Black Swan were just amazing), so she was wasted here. But after reading a blog that appeared in my Triberr stream, going onto explain why Padme is one of the worst characters ever (I can’t remember the name of the blogger, nor remember the link, but if that person is reading this, then thank you for opening my eyes) I now have to say I totally 100% agree with everything she said and can’t believe that I missed it the first time.

 

Like I said, at first I thought Padme was just a bland character that served little than a plot device – but there are two instances which highlight her as both an unlikeable heroine and an idiot. Spoilers follow.

 

The first is from Attack of the Clones when Anakin admits to her that he slaughtered an entire village of Sand People, the ones who took his mother. He even admits to killing women and children and saying how much he hated them. How does Padme react to this? “Being angry is to be human!”

 

 

Ok, two things. Firstly, in The Phantom Menace, Yoda explained that anger is one of the powers of the Dark Side of the Force. So you do NOT say this to a Jedi – and being around Jedi’s for so long she should know this. Secondly, he just admitted that he committed mass genocide and her reaction was just “Meh, s*** happens.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Maybe Padme just has a thing for murdering maniacs – she and Kratos from God of War should hook up!

 

But the second thing, which is what the other blogger mentioned, is what cements her as the worst heroine ever. In Revenge of the Sith, after she is choked by Anakin, she is taken to a medical bay. The doctor says that she is dying, even though she is medically fine – she has just lost the will to live. Not only that, she is pregnant with twins (who we know will be Luke and Leia). But all she can think about is Anakin, the guy that tried to kill her.

 

So, let me get this straight – she’s about to die, about to leave her two children motherless, and all because she can’t stop thinking about a guy who tried to kill her. WHAT A COW!!! I mean seriously! How dumb is this b****?

 

Now some Star Wars fans have defended Padme, saying that she believes that she can turn him back to the side of good and be a pure source for him. Sadly, I don’t buy that for one second. I find it hard to believe that ANY woman, no matter how much she cared for a man, would want to associate herself with a murdering, needy freak like Anakin, unless she herself was not right in the head. To me, the whole Padme/Anakin thing seems to glorify abusive relationships and tell the audience that it’s ok to be in one. And that is just horrible!

 

It’s a shame, because Padme is really the only female character in the series (aside from a few female Jedi and some other minor characters), so the series is lacking a good, strong heroine. And the heroine that is in it is little more than a dumbass in distress. I never thought I’d say this, but Padme is so bad, she even makes Jar-Jar Binks tolerable!

 

 

Ok, so that’s my list. Hope you enjoyed it and please leave a comment below. Do you agree or disagree with me? Is there a hero/heroine that I missed out? Please let me know as I would love to hear it.

 

And just to finish off, Happy St Patricks Day everyone! Go out and, as Father Jack from Father Ted would say – DRINK!

 

 

 

----------------------------

PANDRAGON

 

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Deux Ex Machina - Hackneyed plot device or underrated story saviour?

Chances are, many of you would have heard the expression Deux Ex Machina (pronounced Day-oo Ex Mack-in-na) at some point, however, some of you maybe never knew what it meant before. Indeed, I only learned the meaning of Deus Ex Machina myself less than a couple of years ago, reading a Spider-Man comic of all things!

 

To explain what it means, here is a quick example:

 

Our hero (or heroine) has been tied up in an abandoned building with a bomb set to explode. They are tied up pretty tight and have no way of escape, their only fate is to wait until the bomb explodes. Then suddenly, a rat comes along, chews through their rope and helps them get away in time.

 

To basically sum up, it’s when the protagonist is stuck in a seemingly inescapable situation, and then something comes along (whether it be a person, creature, object or whatever) and helps the protagonist win the day. No doubt you’ve seen this many times before – whether in films, books, comics, TV, etc. It’s a pretty common trope, but one that has mixed reaction from writers and watchers alike.

 

The term Deux Ex Machina was first coined during the old days of Greek Theatre – the phrase being Latin for “God From the Machine”. In the old days, an actor, playing a god, was lowered down by a primitive crane (a machine) onto the stage to save the hero from death or a similar problem. This was used by the writers/poets of the time to resolve a plot that they could otherwise not resolve – using “cheap” writing to help get the hero out of a situation.

 

 

As a plot device, writers tend to have mixed feelings about the Deux Ex Machina. Some consider it “hackneyed” and even “lazy writing”. There is a school of thought that believes that Deux Ex Machinas ruin the tension and drama of a piece if a hero is stuck in a hopeless situation, and then is saved by a convoluted and utterly implausible solution. Some consider it a lack of creativity on the part of the author and a cheap way to end the story. Believe it or not, J.K Rowling has often been criticised for her overuse of Deux Ex Machinas in Harry Potter. Mainly in Harry conveniently learning to use a new spell when he was previously unable to before, but when the situation calls for it, it saved his ass!

 

Myself, I actually don’t have a problem with Deux Ex Machinas. Whilst I can understand why people don’t like them, I’m of the school of thought that believes that if it helps resolve the plot satisfactorily, then do it. After all, the general rule of thumb in writing is that the protagonist must overcome all obstacles and end up saving the day – so if a Deux Ex Machina helps save the day, why not use it. We can’t all be GRRM and kill off our main characters all the time.

 

Hell, I myself have been guilty in using a Deux Ex Machina in my books, because I genuinely could not think of any other way to end it. To be fair, Fantasy and Sci-Fi by it’s very nature has tons of Deux Ex Machinas, usually involving a new spell or something like that. So really it would make me a hypocrite to say that I don’t like this plot device.

 

Having said that, if you are going to use a Deux Ex Machina, it MUST be plausible and still fit in within the context of the story. It can’t just be shoehorned in for the sake of it. The worst kind of Deux Ex Machinas are ones that appear from out of nowhere and just feel rushed. Remember, a story must still work within the concept of Suspension of Disbelief and if you throw something in that is too implausible and outside the context of what you have set up in your world, then that could be considered lazy and stupid.

 

 

Here’s what I mean. Let’s say we have a story set during a zombie apocalypse. The main characters are trapped all sides by zombies and about to be eaten – then Deux Ex Machina enters. A good way to do this would to have the military come in suddenly and blast them to pieces. That would still be considered realistic within the context of the story as it stands to reason that the military would be mobilised during this kind of event. However if, say, the Justice League (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc) came down to save the heroes, this would be utterly ridiculous and beyond the Suspension of Disbelief (unless it was a story set in that Universe, but for the sake of my example, let’s say it isn’t).

 

Ok, maybe a better example would be to give a good and bad version of a Deux Ex Machina. Let’s start with a good one. (Minor Spoilers follow).

 

In the film It’s a Wonderful Life, the main character is about to kill himself at Christmas due to the financial problems he is in – until an angel shows him what life would have been like if he never existed. Realising that he actually does have something worth living for, he returns to his family, only for all the townspeople to arrive at his house and donate him money to pay off his loans. This actually works because, if you think about it, the people are paying him back for all the good he’s done over the years. Also, this type of Deux Ex Machina helps bring the film to a happy ending – and considering the last hour or so has been really depressing, this is one of those feel good endings. So this works in my opinion.

 

However, a bad version of the Deux Ex Machina is the film American Psycho. For the most part, this is a pretty good film – and the killings are brutal and uncompromising. It ends in a brutal display where the main character goes on a killing spree and then decides to turn himself in. Only to discover that all the killings were in his head and they never actually happened. This, for me, was a cop out and I felt it made the film sorta redundant in a way as most of it didn’t actually happen. It’s still worth watching as a film and has some interesting insights into the human mind – but this ending spoils it for me and ruins an otherwise great movie. I think it would have been a lot better if he actually DID do all the killings and ended up being arrested. They way it ends just leaves me scratching my head and wondering what is going to happen next.

 

In conclusion, I say the Deux Ex Machina isn’t so bad really. So long as it fits in with your story, and isn’t just put in for the sake of it, why not use it? After all, there’s an old saying here – “when all else fails, send in a guy with guns blazing!”

 

Agree, disagree? Please leave your comments below.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Pandragon

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According to this author... all self-published/indie writers are lazy wannabes!

So I was all ready to just settle down and do some writing over this weekend – then I read this interview. Now, normally I enjoy reading author interviews, especially by big name authors , I love reading their insights into their inspirations behind their writing, their success and even advice into helping authors with their works.

 

But reading this interview with author Sue Grafton, author of the Kinsey Milhone series (which is a number of novels done in alphabetical order like  A Is for Alibi, B Is for Burglar, C Is for Corpse, all the way up to V Is for Vengeance)... well, let’s just say THIS was my reaction to it!

 

 

Ok, it will probably be best if you read the interview first to understand where I’m going from. Long story short, she seems to have this idea that self-publishing is a crime against publishing and any who do it are “lazy” and “wannabes”. Check out the link below first, then come back to this blog to understand why I’m so utterly amazed at how much of an epic fail this is.

 

 

http://louisvilleky.com/2012/08/louisville-author-spotlight-welcomes-sue-grafton/

 

 

Read it? Good. Moving on.

 

Now, if that is the way Mrs Grafton thinks about self-publishing – fair enough. That’s her opinion and she is entitled to it. I actually would not have a problem mentioning this as part of her interview in of itself. But what concerns me is that the question prior to all this was “Do you have any words of wisdom for young writers?” Therefore, she wasn’t actually giving this information as an opinion but rather ADVICE to all authors out there. This troubles me because someone of her statue should know better – considering that even authors like J.K Rowling don’t seem to have a problem with self-publishing.  And, as a supporter of self-published and indie authors (and being one myself), I feel that I just can’t let this go.

 

Now, this post had already been discussed by author Benjamin X Wretlind, which is how I found out about the interview (I’ll leave a link to his blog below), so I have asked him if I could also do my own blog on this, which he kindly agreed to. Whereas his blog was extremely impassioned  (and I respect him for speaking his mind), I’m going to take a more subjective view on this post and give my thoughts on this.

 

Before I start, I want to say that this is NOT a personal attack on Mrs Grafton, nor is it a personal attack against any of her fans or any published authors. I just disagree with many of the points she raised and feel I should express an alternate view. Additionally, I am not claiming to speak for all the self-published authors out there (I would not be so arrogant) and I am aware that many authors can speak their own mind, so the points I raised are purely based on my own opinion and life experiences. Please bare that in mind when reading this blog.

 

What I have done is taken a few segments of the interview that I think are particularly bad and put my thoughts underneath. Let’s get to it.

 

 

Don’t self-publish. That’s as good as admitting you’re too lazy to do the hard work

 

Sorry to pour water on your fire, but what you said here is utterly, completely WRONG! Being self-published means you HAVE to do all the hard work. You have to promote  your own work however you can, you can’t just sit back and wait for the monies to start rolling in – because they won’t. In fact, many authors get turned off by self publishing when they realise what hard work is involved. If anything, you need to be prepared to work twice as hard if you decide to self-publish.

 

By your argument, I could say that YOU are lazy getting your work published through an agent/publisher as they are the ones that do all the work for you and all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the royalties. But then again, that would be an ignorant statement wouldn’t it?

 

Perhaps you should try self-publishing before bitching it. You may actually prefer it. Just saying.

 

 

The indie success stories aren’t the rule. They’re the exception

 

Surely ANY success story from any author (self-published or otherwise) is good. Why should you say that indie author successes don’t matter? That would be like saying Tom Daley doesn’t deserve our respect because he only got a bronze medal in the London Olympics!

 

Yes, I will admit it is always a heart warming tale to hear of an author being accepted by a big name publisher and becoming a bestselling author – but surely it’s equally as amazing learning about an indie author becoming a bestselling novelist without the support of a major publisher. And it has happened! M.R Mathias, author of the The Wardstone Trilogy  is one of the best selling indie authors out there, for example as is author L.M Preston, who’s book Bandits was the number one best selling free ebook, alongside The Hunger Games, which was the number 1 purchased ebook. Surely that must count for something?

 

ANY success story deserves to be praised as far as I’m concerned, regardless of where it’s from. Discounting a book's success just because of the way it’s published is just stupid.

 

 

The self-published books I’ve read are often amateurish. I’ve got one sitting on my desk right now and I’ve received hundreds of them over the years. Sorry about that, but it’s the truth

 

That's actually a legitiment argument - at least to a certain extent. I have read some self-published works that are pretty bad and often put together very roughly or poorly – but at the same time I have also read a large number of self-published works that are beautifully put together, formatted and printed to a professional standard. So, to me, saying that self-published books are amateurish is as ignorant as saying all blondes are dumb (they aren’t by the way).

 

Also, what you said is YOUR truth, not THE truth – there is a difference.

 

Don’t forget that not every author is as lucky as you, we can’t all get a publishing deal – that’s why self-publishing is offered as an alternative. And with the release of the ebook, it’s now easier than ever for an author to get published themselves. But just because an author isn’t publishing through a major publisher doesn’t make them any less readable than a publisher author. Again, you’re making judgments without actually doing any research into it.

 

 

The hard work is taking the rejection, learning the lessons, and mastering the craft over a period of time

 

Surely self-published authors can do this WHILST they are putting their work out? I’ve learned more about my writing craft through self-publishing (from reviews and tips from other readers/authors) than any English class I ever went to. Writing is always a learning curve and authors are always learning as they go along. I find it very hard to believe that any published author gets it right first time – they still learn all throughout their lives and improve on things to be a better writer. Well, most of them anyway.

 

And again, why should they have to go through rejection from publishers/agents when they can just do all the work themselves? No, for me the hard work is learning to take criticism for their work and learning from the reviews of their books. I think so anyway.

 

 

To me, it seems disrespectful…that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research

 

Actually, most self-published authors DO research the world of publishing in their selected writing field – and many of them are readers as well. How else are they going to learn how to write and publish a book.

 

To me, it seems disrespectful...that an ‘author’ assumes that a ‘self-published’ writer doesn’t do their research or reads any books without actually doing some research themselves to make sure her point is justified. Just saying.

 

Oh, and one more point, many authors prefer to go down the route of self-publishing because they would rather have control of a project themselves. That was one of the reasons why I decided to self-publish. The major advantage of this is that indie authors write the story the way they want to write it and you often find that they go against many conventions to tell a unique story. Some of the most original books I’ve read have been self-published books.

 

 

Self-publishing is a short cut and I don’t believe in short cuts when it comes to the arts

 

No it isn’t. It’s an alternative. I’ve covered this before so don’t need to go over it.

 

 

I compare self-publishing to a student managing to conquer Five Easy Pieces on the piano and then wondering if s/he’s ready to be booked into Carnegie Hall

 

And I compare you, Mrs Grafton, to a troll! Someone who publishes comments on the internet without properly researching or having any logical thought to their comments and then expecting everyone to go along with them.

 

 

 

In all fairness, Mrs Grafton is entitled to her opinion and if that’s the way she feels then fair enough. However, the fact that she was trying to pass this off as actual advice to aspiring writers did actually make me cringe. Once again, I like to reiterate that I am not doing this post to discourage fans of Mrs Grafton, nor am I trying to give her a bad name. I just felt that her comments were (with all due respect) elitist and ignorant – and someone of her standard should know better. Don’t forget, despite what you may believe, indie authors are readers too – and based on the amount of negative comments on the interview post, I worry that you may have bitten the hand that feeds you. If you anger readers, you can see your sales drop pretty quickly.

 

Then again, I don’t know Mrs Grafton personally and I’m sure she’s a nice person at heart. Maybe she meant no harm in these comments, but she certainly should have phrased them better. Reading her comments, they just come across bitter and laced with jealousy that so many indie authors are topping the Amazon bestsellers lists (or at least doing very well). I would hope that she would look back at this interview and realise what a big mistake she had made, if she hasn’t done so already.

 

Perhaps the title of her next book should be W is for What the hell was I thinking?

 

Be sure to also check out Benjamin X Wretlind’s original post on his blog at http://bxwretlind.com/blog/2012/08/18/f-is-for-f-you-sue-grafton/ and please do follow his blog for some interesting insights on the writing world. Please also leave your comments about this post below to let you know her thoughts.

 

Thanks for reading guys! Until next time!

 

 

Pandragon

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