The Expendable 100?

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The 100 is a show on the CW (formerly WB), into its second season and going strong. As a post-apocalyptic show, featuring a cast of mostly young adults, it’s no wonder that this show is a hit. I certainly have no quarrel with it, although I have noticed some plot holes here and there. Mostly I find the characters to be well-rounded and very humanized. Characters you start out hating end up showing surprising developments that make you love them and yet others take a drastic turn for the worse and you regret having loved them early on in the series. With this sort of approach to the series, I find that the series is less of the teen romance drama that everyone was certainly expecting, and more about survival and the politics, the growth of characters.

You follow the group of 100 teens who were chosen from their home on The Ark (a space station that holds thousands of occupants of different nationalities that managed to escape Earth’s toxic conditions) and sent down to Earth—somewhere no one has been for 97 years. Except they find out that they aren’t the only ones down there. While trying to figure out how to live on their own in the harsh environments that this new, post-apocalyptic Earth provides, they also have to deal with a war breaking out between themselves and the people who have managed to survive on the Earth throughout its transformation from what it was into what it is now.

The series definitely had a solid beginning and comes from an interesting idea. There are certain things about it that have fallen through: it was never explained how the indigenous people of Earth survived during the nuclear fallout; during the first couple of episodes the forest is revealed to glow brightly at night and yet it is never seen again; mutated creatures have been seen, and yet they are never a major plot point or have anything to do with the struggle to live on Earth. There are many subjects that were either dropped after a big scene about it, or just were never covered to begin with. While this doesn’t take away from the story itself, it does limit the viewer’s immersion into the world they have created. The audience should never have to ask questions about the setting, it should just be shown.

However, as these over looked subjects are really just me being nit-picky, I can easily wave them off and happily continue to watch the series. I give The 100 a solid 4.5/5 stars and recommend it to anyone who has a particular liking for the dystopian, post-apocalyptic genre. It’s well-written and definitely different from other shows out there.

Character Flaws: Everyone Has Them, Not Every Writer Writes Them

What makes up a character? Traits. What are traits? Good or bad points found in a character. Good character traits (meaning those that are positive), are easy to come by. We are taught from a young age to look at the perfections, the good in others. This includes our characters. Unfortunately this means that so often character flaws are left forgotten. Flaws are just as important as talents and perfections: they make the character much more human and easy to connect with.

What flaws are most commonly seen? Depression certainly is one, so is social ineptitude. Arrogance is seen here and there, as is trouble-making (see bad boys). These are by no means bad flaws, though they are seen often and can be seen as dull and cliche as opposed to finding something different: Superstitious, apathetic, overconfident characters are hardly ever seen. What if the character is paranoid? Overprotective? Illiterate? Every person has those traits that could stand for some improvement, whether they recognize it themselves or not. You can either go for flaws that make you think outside the box, or you can stick to known entities. The good part about sticking to the sometimes over-used traits (whether positive or negative), is that as a writer you have plenty of material to pull from. The flip-side is that you have to try to write it in a different light, or make it somehow original in your character (unless your story is about how your character is actually very average, which is one tactic you can use.

Flaws can be real or not real. A character can perceive a trait in themselves that isn’t actually there, or perhaps they just don’t see the positive of a trait (like practicality, which can be seen as a double-edged sword). These approaches to your characters can provide points to grow and develop from, which can create a great sub-plot. Never forget that flaws are fluid: they can either be tackled by the character knowingly or unknowingly, they don’t need to be resolved at all if you don’t want them to be.

New flaws can surface. After being incarcerated, for instance, perhaps your character becomes claustrophobic. Maybe they always scarf up their food because they don’t know if it will be taken away or not. Maybe they’re more outwardly violent now, or withdrawn. Any number of outcomes can come from a single plot point. Giving your character a reaction to the situations they have been put in means that they are human and easier to connect with.

Flaws can come in many forms. Physical, emotional, mental, etc. Phobias, mental illnesses, disabilities—these all count towards flaws. Your character doesn’t need to necessarily view them as flaws, they could see the silver lining in their predicament, if they’re even aware of the flaw. Flaws help to define and differentiate your characters. Diversify your characters and their flaws. Everyone copes differently, even if they have the same problem (depression, for instance). Write your characters with thought and consideration. They deserve it and so does your writing!

List of Mental Illnesses

Character Flaws

Selfie: A Satirical Take on Generation X

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Selfie is a Fall 2014 television series starring Karen Gillan and John Cho (read: Amy Pond and Sulu). With this star-studded ensemble there’s no wonder the show is a hit. Although Selfie is mostly a satire on my own generation and it’s self-obsession, I thoroughly enjoy the show and it’s comedic take on the topic.

With a hilarious take on those who are lost in their cell phones and their online reputations, along with stellar characters who become more self aware as the season goes on, this dramedy (drama-comedy) really hits big with the viewers. Even putting aside the two main characters of the series, you have a wonderful and diverse cast who bring heart and soul into the show. There are so many great points to this show including balance in your life, how to make and keep friends and take responsibility for yourself. So not only does this show touch on many real-world problems that people have (although they satire it be over-exaggerating), but this means that there are many aspects to the characters that you, as the audience, can connect with. For instance, Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan) tends to let the amount of followers and likes she’s receiving online effect her daily life—in my generation this certainly can be the case: girls document their daily outfits in order to gain approval and a sense of self-worth. Henry Higgs (John Cho), meanwhile, exemplifies the part of us that try to work hard for what we have, read books and live well. What both of these characters lack, however, is connections to others. They are so worried about their own lives that they have trouble forging connections outside of that which last.

I can hardly find anything bad to say about this show, as I love the characters, the premise and the ridiculous situations they get themselves into. It’s a good laugh and certainly an excellent show to watch in the evenings. I highly recommend this show to anyone and everyone. It’s just started this year, so catching up is easy and brings some levity to your lives. A 4.5/5 stars for Selfie from Parkyr’s Perspective.

Apologies Due

My blog took an unscheduled sort of hiatus during November and the first part of December. Why?

Because I focused on NaNoWriMo and was able to win because of my focus! So thank you for giving me time to finish that project before I came back with more posts. I plan to continue my blog with Mondays in Review, Trying to Write on Wednesdays and Friday is Game Time.

In addition to finishing NaNoWriMo successfully, I have also started up an Etsy shop here, where I am selling facial/body scrubs and knitted fashions. At the moment I have two listings, but I plan to raise that number in the coming weeks. I hope you’ll take a look and keep my shop in mind for future gifts!

Big Hero 6, Great Movie and More

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Big Hero 6 is a relatively new film, based on a Marvel comic and rated PG, this is a well-rounded story that is very cute and grounded. With Ryan Potter voicing the main character, Hiro, you won’t be disappointed. Even more stellar of a performance was that of Scott Adsit, playing the voice of Baymax—your personal health care companion: it’s hard to have inflection and emotion come through a robot voice, but they made it happen just enough that it truly touches you.

There were a lot of great aspects to Big Hero 6, including the character development which is one of the main story arcs, as well as helping others. Among the sub-themes was family, friendship and justice vs. revenge. All of these themes were wound together, showing a beautiful story of love and loss: how blaming others for a tragic death is not healthy and doesn’t help to bring the deceased back. How even though people tell you that the deceased isn’t really gone due to the love in your heart and memories you carry with you, it still hurts to not see them smiling at you when you expect to see just that. That’s a difficult pill to swallow and rarely covered with children’s films, who often have characters who are seemingly unbothered by the death of a close friend or who cannot get over it. It was refreshing and, though a bit sad, it was well-grounded through these themes.

However, this story wasn’t all sadness and depression. There were plenty of adorable scenes, such as any scene with Aunt Cass, who was much needed comic relief and positivity. A more prominent character that gave that as well was Honey Lemon, though she was much quieter and tended more towards the positivity with Fred, another prominent character, providing the comic relief. Even Baymax earned quite a few laughs at the theater, getting into situations that were a little ridiculous (getting stuck in a window).

Overall I would give Big Hero 6 a 5/5 stars and definitely recommend this film to anybody. Yes, it’s a bit serious and sad in some parts, but it teaches a great lesson to those willing to hear it. Way to go, Disney, for adapting this comic into something suitable for all ages!

Let’s Play: Dishonored

For those who like a hint of steampunk in their Victorian Era, Dishonored is a game for you. You play Corveaux, who seems to be a skilled assassin as well as a diplomat, and unravel an uprising slowly. I imagine there is more to the game than even this, but for the first bit I played, I enjoyed the story as well as the game play.

In a time where there isn’t much in the way of plot for most video games, I found Dishonored to be a gem. Though it’s not the best it could be, it by far outshines many games. The game play is smooth, there are puzzles, good use of devices and interesting combat.

Many say it’s practically the same game as Assassin’s Creed, and it’s very similar in many aspects, but I would say the difference of setting and story is enough to keep any gamer interested in this game. Assassin’s Creed and the rest of the franchise doesn’t have badly made games, after all, that’s why they are so popular. So if you enjoy that genre of game or want to see what all the fuss is about, definitely pick it up.

Below is a 40+ minute video of my early game game-play. Enjoy!

The Usefulness of Character Sketches

Character sketches and character profiles are often confused for one another. The best way to tell the two of them apart is to see the profile as more like a questionnaire that has been filled out by the character about themselves. A sketch, on the other hand, is more like a scene revolving around the character: how they view the world, how they view themselves, how they believe the world views them. This sounds rather complicated for a single scene, doesn’t it? Let me break it down.

Focus on one world issue. Sexism, racism, ageism, etc are all issues that are current and good to start with. But perhaps you are set in a different time or in a fantasy or science fiction world. Do these issues still apply or is there some other point of contention that has your characters split? In that case go with whatever applies to your world and your characters. If you don’t have all of that sorted out, then go with something current. Trying to find something that your character is opinionated about—or strangely not—can be a difficult task, but once you have a controversial issue to write about, the character sketch comes rather easily.

The next aspect you need to take a look at is the setting of the character sketch. Remember, you’re actually writing a scene here, so where they are is key. Don’t spend all your time worldbuilding, as that would be a waste (unless you really need to flesh out the world your character lives in). Right now you’re concentrating on your character and their point of view. You can choose action—your character is running from something or someone, you can choose dialogue—talking to someone they have a conflict with is a great way to represent your character’s view, you can choose to have a benign scene where they watch something happen to someone else as well. The sky is the limits as far as setting is concerned, but make sure it counts for something.

This can be in answer to a challenge: using a specific word in your sketch, writing a certain amount of words, etc. Explore your character through this one scene, see what it is about your character that you might not know. Like whether or not they are brave, whether they keep a level head in stressful situations, if they think ahead. All of these can be pulled from many situations and can be shown multiple ways. Don’t be afraid to write something out of the box!

Filling out questionnaires about your character may fulfill the same need, but in order to do that you need to ask the right questions. This can be insightful, certainly, but sketches are like taking an adventure in someone else’s shoes.