Societal Acceptance of Bronies???

Well… I guess being a fantasy writer, this was going to come up eventually. As someone who goes to comic con almost every year, I’m no stranger to seeing grown men carrying MLP stuff around, or perusing MLP artwork tables. Being someone who TRIES not to judge people, I assumed they were buying the items for their daughters and shrugged them off.

However, over time, I noticed more and more that the people around the MLP tables were grown men or young men that likely didn’t have kids. It was at this point that one of my friends informed me that they were most likely bronies… ‘What the heck are bronies?’ I asked.

That’s when I found out that there was a male demographic that loved the MLP mythos. Being a guy fresh out of college, my mind jumped to the most perverse conclusion. Honestly, it sent chills down my spine. Well… come to find out from a friend… who knew a rather suspicious amount about the subject that there was another term for those guys, known as ‘clompers.’ DISCLAIMER: IF YOU GOOGLE THAT TERM, IT’S YOUR OWN DAMN FAULT!!!

Still… grown men watching a show intended for little girls. I had to admit that it just didn’t compute. However, as time passed, I started learning more and more about them… and apparently they are the largest demographic for the damn show!

Wigged out yet? Well… don’t be. As a father of two, I’ve been introduced to many a new show that I could have lived happily without watching; Wiggles, Cailou, Daniel Tiger’s (Ripoff of Mr. Rogers) Neighborhood, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, etc.

Then my wife introduces them to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Now I have a little sister, so I still have bad memories of the campyness of the dated 80’s show. So I sat down with my kids and watched the modern equivalent with them, fully expecting the same thing with updated animation…
Honestly, as far as kids shows go, it wasn’t bad. The voice actors are recognizable from other shows/video games, the stories while all centered around the idea that ‘Friendship will solve all of your problems’ range from harmless to engaging enough to keep you entertained. The characters… except for Rainbow Dash… are all very like-able and actually quite funny when they have their meltdowns. The situations are actually quite mature and respectful of their audiences. So all in all, it wasn’t a bad show at all.

My one complaint really is a character by the name of Discord.
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Essentially, he’s an omnipotent, mischievous, God-like creature that loves chaos and mayhem. Portrayed by John de Lancie, he appears every once in a while to shake things up and teach the main characters a moral in his own twisted way…

GEE, DOES THAT SOUND LIKE ANYONE ELSE WE KNOW????

Yeah, beyond blatant…

But I digress, as time passed, I saw that there are actually social groups for these people, the term has become socially acceptable… and there are even parades in some place for people to congregate who enjoy the show. So yes, it does appear that being a brony has become a lot more acceptable.

So honestly, I admit that despite my best efforts, I had my preconceived notions about people like this, and I can honestly say that I was wrong. Sure there are people out there who like these characters for… unsavory reasons, but having seen the show with my kids and having it be one of the few shows they love that doesn’t make me want to pull my hair out, I can honestly say that I believe that there is a much larger group of people who enjoy the show because of the beautiful animation, engaging worlds, and decent stories. I can admit when I’m wrong.

I wouldn’t consider myself a brony, having only gotten into the show because of my kids, but as long as people are watching the show for those reasons… all power to you guys, go ahead and enjoy it.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

You can also add me on Twitter!

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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No Permanent Death in Fantasy

This is something that has been irking me for some time now. It’s a recurrent theme in most fantasy fiction, in stories, comics, and in movies. No matter what happens in a fantasy universe, there is always a way to bring a character back. No matter what. If the character is popular, there will always be an incantation, or special portal, or some sort of God creature that can resurrect a dearly departed member of your cast.

This has been done over and over again. In Marvel, Jean Grey aka Phoenix, aka Marvel Girl has died multiple times, and multiple times been brought back by the Phoenix force. Superman’s death has been emulated and repeated many times, and even in other stories, characters die off only to be brought back a few stories later. Probably the most glaring example is Spock being brought back from his intense radiation burns in Star Trek 3.

People… please don’t do this. This is a trend that needs to stop. Why? Honestly because it takes all the weight out of death. In the first Dark Phoenix Saga, Jean Grey sacrifices herself to save her friends. It’s powerful, it causes ripples in the Marvel Universe, and was considered one of the best and most powerful stories in Marvel History…

Yeah… too bad it was completely undone a few years later by retconning the whole incident saying that Jean in fact had not been killed. It was the Phoenix in her form. The result of this was a previously well-liked superhero, Cyclops, having to suffer an extreme character assassination when he leaves his wife and baby to find Jean, it turns said wife who was also a well-liked character into a bad guy… and it left one hell of a mess on Marvel that has never been fully cleaned up. Perhaps the biggest crime here is that it took all the weight out of her original death and has continued to be diluted more and more with each time she’s resurrected.

The same can be said for Superman’s death or any other character in these universes. Any time in fantasy we see someone die, it never effects me anymore… not even in Game of Thrones. I just wait and see because it seems like very few deaths in Fantasy are ever permanent.

I’ve seen this attitude surrounding death in most fantasy worlds from readers and viewers alike. They don’t take it seriously and it has no lasting impact. Good story-writing makes you feel something for a character, it’s supposed to bring out emotions and make you react.

dark-disciple-cover-collage
Example (SPOILER ALERT!!!): in Christie Golden’s fantastic novel; Star Wars Dark Disciple, she writes about a character that I truly love; Asajj Ventress. I’ve watched her go from a ruthless killing Sith Apprentice to an honorable loner bounty hunter, and in this story, though she still flirts with the dark side, she’s as close to a Jedi as she ever gets. I can honestly say that when she dies, it’s unexpected… and yes, my eye surrendered a tear.

That is what is supposed to happen and it doesn’t anymore, which is too bad. These deaths are met with indifference.

Why does this happen?

Honestly, often it’s poor story writing where the writer has backed themselves into a corner or fan outcry over the character’s death.

(SPOILER ALERT!!)
But wait, YOU DID THIS! You brought Lia’na back in your novel, Gravestalker!!
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Yes I did… I admit it. However, her death was never intended to be permanent. I killed her off so that one of my other characters would attempt to bring her back using ancient magic that he shouldn’t even be attempting and inadvertently triggers a zombie apocalypse as a result. I want to make this clear, her death was NEVER meant to be permanent. Even so, a part of me has regretted doing this.

So then isn’t it possible that a lot of these are doing the same thing?

In some cases, yes. I will acknowledge that a fake-out death is a good plot device if used properly. That’s not what I have a problem with. My problem is with characters that were clearly meant to remain dead, and even admitted so by their writers (Phoenix, Darth Maul), and those who continuously use the fake-out deaths to keep their stories going… even HISHE touched on this in their Captain America review:

Honestly, it’s just weak story-telling and really needs to stop. But that’s my opinion. Am I way off or dead on? Let me know below!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

You can also add me on Twitter!

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Soul Siphon Update!

Ugh! It’s so difficult to keep up on my blog while working on my book. I’m not even kidding!

That said… we do have an update! First off, I’d like to give a special shout out to a truly skilled writer that has taken on the dubious task of editing my book, you all know him as Eric, or Eric79. Eric has been a great help and, though we’re an Ocean apart, I’ve come to call him friend. So thanks for all your help Eric, your edits have turned a good story (your critique) into something that I’m hoping my readers will find great.

Another piece of good news on the development front is that we’ve found and hired a new illustrator to take on the cover, Jabari Weathers. Some of his dark imagery caught my eye and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with. He has been both understanding a very professional.

The book is slated for an April 2nd release date, but we’ll see if we can keep to that.

Synopsis reminder:
“A starved child, an assassinated soviet soldier, a woman abandoned on the streets of Hong Kong, a victim of history’s most mysterious killer, and a young man who never asked to be thrown into the middle of a spiritual war.

They reside in the shadows and other dark places, waiting for those who would inflict pain and suffering on the innocent. An unlikely group, with one thing in common; death. Each with powers that reflect the way they died. Corban found himself thrust into the fray with this group of anti-heroes.

Cursed with unstable powers stemming from a fatal demonic possession, Corban must unravel the mystery behind his death. As more information comes to light, Corban begins to realize that nothing in his life was what it appeared to be and the price of victory may be his own soul.”


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Cinderella 2015

So… my wife rented this last night and then fell asleep. So I continued watching it alone. I don’t usually do movie reviews, but since this is a fairly recent fantasy film that has gotten a lot of praise… and I mean a LOT, I thought I’d give my take on it.

I tend to shy away from remakes, which let’s face it, that’s what this is. When a studio makes a second version of a movie they’ve already made, its a remake, plain and simple. I don’t care if it’s a different style or medium, it’s a remake.

That being said, I’ve recently revised that policy after seeing Angelina Jolie’s performance as Maleficent. When I first heard about this movie and listened to Jolie sing ‘Once Upon a Dream,’ I rolled my eyes. Maleficent is the best of the Disney villains and no way could Jolie do her credit. Having Jolie stand in for Eleanor Audley could NOT go well. I’m happy to say that I was 100% wrong. Jolie could not replace Audley’s dignified voice and performance, but she shouldn’t be expected to. This was a different take a on a time-honored character that told a story from her perspective. It was done incredibly well and I was so pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it, that I’ve added this movie to my collection. (Just cover your ears during the end credits).

Back on topic. So I spent last night watching this movie. What were my initial impressions? Well… it was a beautiful looking movie. The sets were breath-taking and clearly someone spent a lot of time on them, the outfits were beautiful and appropriate and the cast… I think that would be my biggest compliment to the movie. This was a cast where I didn’t recognize a single person. Making this a cast of fresh faces, which you don’t see much in Hollywood anymore. Usually there is at least one big name to give a movie some street cred.

The soundtrack was beautifully done, both the singing parts and the instrumentals. I especially liked the homages to the original animated film that were passively added in. Movies often try to make a big deal out of things like that to show it’s attachment. This movie seemed like it was trying really hard to keep itself separate… did it do that successfully? Well, we’ll get to that.

So with all that said, did I enjoy this movie? Actually, yes, but not as much as you might think. As I said, it was a beautiful looking movie with great costumes and scenery, but other than that… it really didn’t bring anything new to the table. For all it’s efforts, it really didn’t break away from the classic animated film . It did explain a few plot points, like what happened to Cinderella’s real family, and why she put up with everything from her step sisters, but other than that, there really weren’t any profound changes.

It really didn’t bring anything major to the table. The how and why of the villain really wasn’t explained and the evil step mother was played as just that, a straight villain. The movie had a real opportunity here to explain the Lady Tremane better, especially when Cinderella outright asked her, but that fell flat on it’s face.

The other thing that did kind of bug me is the ‘Love at first sight’ set up. Disney, amid much criticism, has tried to shy away from that type of theme. One has to wonder why so many of their movies that do successfully get away from it fail so badly, yet a movie like this that reinforces it does so well. It almost kind of seems like we as the audience need to be careful what we wish for. Perhaps that fantasy element to story-telling should remain intact? Or perhaps new strides need to be made on the story-telling side of things.
I really don’t know, I’m not a princess story or fairy tale writer, so I’m not qualified to speak to that.

Moving on…

My other criticism is that the step-sisters were extremely under-played. They’re supposed to be over the top and I grant you that they were snobbish and mean, but that was really it. In the original, they were downright abusive, not only of Cinderella, but also of each other to an almost comical point.

Another point that was extremely underplayed in this version compared to the original was the dress destruction. In this one, it was a few tears. In the original… I think the Cinema Snob said it best when he said that it was the closest thing Disney has gotten to a rape scene in its classic films. Now I’m usually against that type of thing in movies… especially kids movies, but in this case, the way Disney did it, yes it was violent, but it gave the movie an edge that made it stand out in the endless flow of animated films.
In this movie… as with so many other things that made the original what it was, was really underplayed.

Compare the two scenes:

vs.

Now ask yourself, which are you more likely to remember?

All right… so with all that said, here is my overall take on the movie…

This movie was a remake, not a re-imagining like with the a fore mentioned Maleficent. A very well-made remake, but a remake none-the-less. It really didn’t bring anything new to the table. There was no twist, no behind the scenes story to explain why certain things happened the way that they did, and no real twist on the original characters.

Other takes on Cinderella like Ever After and (to a lesser extent) Into the Woods did this rather nicely. They added new dynamics to the story and in the case of Ever After, they even had the Queen tell the Brother’s Grimm that they got it wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a good movie and I highly recommend seeing it, the problem is that we’ve already seen this movie. Unfortunately it failed to break out of the shadow of the Disney Classic, which is really too bad given how much effort was clearly put into the film. Again, if you like the story, please DO see this movie. It is a beautiful remake that was surprisingly well done. You just need to curb your expectations in that you’re really not going to be seeing anything new.

 

Anyway, that’s my take on it. If you don’t agree, no problem. We are all entitled to opinions and I’m perfectly open to someone having a different view from mine.

(Even if you are completely wrong.) 🙂

Thanks friends, catch you on the flip-side!
-Jim

The Disney Effect…

You know… I’m starting to understand the gripe everyone has with Disney’s… bastardization of children’s literature. Initially, whenever someone griped over the princesses or the cheesy love at first sight stories, I kind of just rolled my eyes. Come on, they were harmless children’s stories, right?

Well…

Yesterday, we put on Mickey and the Beanstalk for Gabe and… well let’s just say it’s a lot different from the version I grew up with.
In Jack and the Beanstalk, the one I remember, Jack was scammed out of his cow and his mother threw the beans out the window after smacking the crap out of him.
The beans grew where they landed and Jack climbed it to find the giant and his wife. The giant’s wife was hospitable, fed Jack and everything.
He repaid the kindness by stealing the harp (which cried out for it’s master) and then murdering the giant.
After of which, he took the giants treasures and forced the harp to play for him and his mother

Having become a fan of classical fantasy and folklore, and reading some of the stories that these movies are based off of… maybe these people have a point? Granted, I’ve never been a huge fan of the feminist argument against the classic princess, but then I look at what other plot points have been altered. In the original stories, there was always a sort of gruesomeness or dark reality to them that made us as children think… or at the very least get freaked out.

In Cinderella, her sisters cut away their heels. In Rapunzel, the Prince had his eyes slashed by thorns (I think). Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother had to be cut out of the stomach of the Wolf… the examples go on.

Kids for years have been handling these stories in their original forms. Why are we suddenly so scared of letting them hear these as they were meant to?


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

All Things Must End

“It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.”
Paulo Coelho, The Zahir

How long can you continue a story before it has to come to an end? It’s a tough question to answer. Some end their stories when they run out of steam and tire of writing while others end when the story has completely run its course.

Unfortunately, there are those who try to force the story to continue long after it has run its course. Either due to monetary gain or because they simply can’t let the characters go. We see this today, mainly in movies, but also in some literature as well.

Perhaps the most classic version of a forced sequel was the Aeneid. It was a second sequel to the Iliad that, at least in my opinion, did not need to be written. So why then did it happen? Well for starters, this wasn’t written by the same person. The Iliad was Homer’s work while the Aeneid was that of Virgil. It was written during a time of major reforms in the Roman Empire and the poem was meant to reflect that.

So we have several reasons now for forced sequels, and we’ve seen what bad can happen when characters are called back into action from their happily ever after. (See my post about Sequels for more info.)

So when do you let a story end? Well that really depends on what type of story it is, how many characters your plan on introducing, over how long do you plan on introducing these characters, and how much do you plan on putting them through?

Let’s explore each of these, shall we?

First off, the type of story…

If you’re writing a story that’s meant to take place over the span of a few days to a few weeks of time and not proceed outside of that, then it may be best to let it end at that point. It tends to be considered bad form to push it further by creating yet another obstacle at the last-minute when every other loose end has been tied up.

In another instance if this is a story that’s meant to span several years and perhaps different lifetimes, you’re probably not going to have much trouble keeping it going for quite a while.

So when do you end it? Well the answer is simply, when it feels right to you. Once you feel that you’ve tied up all the loose ends and everything is right (or wrong) with the world, then you should have no problem ending it.

I would caution going back after the fact, however. Once everything is complete and all is as it should be, going back with new plot lines that you just thought up can be ill-advised.

If you are tempted to do this, ask yourself this first… Is it necessary to drag out the old characters whose plot lines are complete? Is it necessary to violate relationships that two minutes ago were solid? Would it not be better to create new characters in new walks of life and new stories to unfold rather than taking the easy route?

If you can answer these questions to your satisfaction and keep the storyline going, then go for it. If not, it might be time to start anew.


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

Author’s Advice Pt. 11

Don’t be afraid to mix and merge.

So you have a fairly successful series going, but now you’re experiencing writers block. You have fragments of two or three sequels written, but don’t know where to take them. You’ve even considered starting on a third, but haven’t gotten anywhere with it. You really like the first two and would love to continue one of them, but each time you get a line in, you stall and don’t know where to go. You wind up stopping for a week, only to come back and repeat the cycle.

Well…

Why not take those fragments, as well as your ideas for a third story and combine them? Take the central themes of one, the characters from another, and the story line from the third idea you have, or any combination as such. It may work, it may not, but I’ve observed it working very well for people many times over.

A good example is my book, Magnifica: Gravestalker. I combined a few sequels to create this story as I had sort of written myself into a corner, and my audience was somewhat… upset… with the ending to Magnifica: Tears of the Fallen.

I knew that I had to do something, but I didn’t know what. Gravestalker was a product of the above formula.