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Monday, December 29, 2014

Resources for Writers, 2014

Last week I posted about the best books I found this year. Today, I'm listing all of the valuable resources I've found for writers this year. But first, I have a small announcement--I finally have an online alias! I've been wanting one for ages, but couldn't decide on a name I liked. So, it's now September C. Fawkes. I'll be switching the name of my blog over to it too. I'm switching the name on my Tumblr and Facebook. I had to get a new Twitter account, you can follow it here (I'll try to be more active on it than my old one, but no promises.) I've kept my profile picture the same to help with the transition.

Okay, here are this year's resources:

References for the Creative Process

Writers Helping Writers Thesaurus Collections

Last year I praised the Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, a thesaurus that lists all kind of moods, and ways to show them in writing. It's totally brilliant, and I still use it several times a week.

Well, on their website, Angela and Becca have plenty of other writing thesauri in-progress that you can access for free:

Need help describing your character's physical attributes? Don't worry, the Physical Attribute Thesaurus lists basically every physical attribute:

Monday, December 22, 2014

Best Books/Shows of the Year, 2014

I know people who read more than me. I know people I read way more than. Same goes for shows and movies. Whatever relationship I have with you in that regard, here are my top discoveries for the year. Please note that these aren't necessarily books and shows that came out this year, just books and shows I read or watched this year.

Top Reads

(In no particular order. With each of these books, I was thinking about them when I wasn't reading them, always a good sign)

Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

Hero of Ages is the last book in the Mistborn trilogy, so I'd rather not give you a synopsis that spoils the other two books. All I want to say is that this is one of the most epic conclusions I've ever read ever. I don't think I've seen a conclusion to a series that was this epic since Lord of the Rings. Given, if you read more than me, you might disagree. Hero of Ages was fresh with surprises but with an ending that still ties everything together. The characters, world, history, and abilities are awesome. Definitely recommend this series for the high fantasy reader. The second book was just okay. The first was great, and the third was amazing. Read my review of the first book Mistborn here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Writer's Take on Trigun: Live Through (Writing Tip) + Conclusion

We’re coming to the end of my “A Writer’s Take on Trigun” post series. Thank you for all of the awesome comments and feedback. They mean a lot to me.

Here is one plotting technique to really get the feels of your readers. Figure out the absolute worst thing for your character, and make him live through it. I'm not talking about just physically the worst thing, but an event that rocks his identity, his emotions, and puts him through heck. For Vash, it's killing Legato. He can't live with himself with having done that.

The only reason, though, that it hits us in the guts is because of the all the work done in the set-up. Prior to that event, Vash spends the entire series protecting life, preaching to others the importance of saving everyone, and we see him go to great lengths to save criminals, innocents, bounty hunters, and enemies alike, because he believes no one has the right to kill another. He tries to save everyone.
So what is the worst thing that can happen to him?

Him killing someone.

How can he live with himself after that? Well, he can't really. He's tormented by it.

So think about the worst thing you can put your character through, and make sure to set it up appropriately for the strongest effect.

What I love about the example in Trigun, what I think kicks this technique up a notch, is that Vash's absolute torment comes from something he did, not something that was done to him. His worst suffering comes from his own actions. Really though, Vash killing someone? Genius.

It sounds like a simple technique, but it's a powerful one.

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Writer's Take on Trigun: Knives, Part 2

So last time I mentioned that the Trigun series really revolves around a war of values and ideas. Knives' logic of survival and killing for self-preservation vs. Vash's morals of saving and caring for everyone.

Get this: Everything Knives does to Vash in the series is used to not only cause Vash suffering, but ultimately for Knives to prove his point: that you can't save everyone. If he can break down Vash's values, he can beat Vash. So we see all the situations Knives forces on Vash, putting him in circumstances that hit at Vash's morals hardest. Here are some:
  • Knives creates situations where Vash must risk injury and his own life to save people, like in the third-to-last episode, "Sin," when Midvalley is attacking humans, and Vash goes out of his way to block them, receiving personal injury.
  • Knives shows that even those Vash saves end up dead. He does this by killing those Vash cares for, and by even killing the Gung-ho Guns Vash spares, like Dominique and Monev. 
  • Knives mocks Vash's inability to save people by having characters like Caine and Midvalley commit suicide right before Vash's eyes. I mean, there is literally nothing Vash could have said to stop Caine or Midvalley. And because saving others is so important to Vash, he takes the death on as if it was his fault and mistake. He feels like a failure because he couldn't save Caine. And Knives wants Vash to believe that if Vash had died, these other people wouldn't have. (You can't save everyone.)
  • Knives plans to show how even Vash's friends will kill those closest to them. He does this by assigning Wolfwood to kill Vash. I really don't think Knives expected Wolfwood to succeed in beating Vash, but it would have added to Vash's torment to have Wolfwood try.
  • And finally, the closing act is to prove to Vash that even he has to kill to save others, and Knives does this through Legato. For Knives, it was imperative that Vash shoot Legato dead himself. It wouldn't have had the same effect if Legato had made him do it. Knives scores a goal in this because Vash does shoot Legato and he does it to save Meryl and Milly, driving home that "you can't save the butterflies without killing the spider" mindset.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Writer's Take on Trigun: Knives (Analysis and Themes)

(Knives--This character analysis is crazy.)


It's interesting how Vash and Knives grew up as twins in the same environment and how they turned out so differently. Where does Knives veer off course? I think most fans would say it happens when he kills a spider to save a butterfly--that's the first real manifestation of it--but honestly, it starts before that.

It starts when Commander Joey of the SEEDS ships explains why they were sent to find a new planet. Not only does he reveal the faults of the human race, but also their drive to survive, and he explains that they use logic to "make the smallest sacrifice they can think of at the time."

This wisdom sticks with Knives, we see, because he repeats the advice to Vash when Vash is crying. Steve told Vash "he's not human" (an insult Vash himself uses on Knives later). And when talking about the humans, Knives says, "Remember what Joey said? We have to make the smallest sacrifice we can think of at the time."

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Writer's Take on Trigun: The Moriarty Method (Writing Tip)


"The Moriarty Method" comes from the Sherlock Holmes stories. In them, we see that Sherlock is a genius sociopath who has super human capabilities when it comes to solving crimes. He's cool precisely because he's so exceptionally gifted. At the starting of his story, we get to see him solve case after case, but then someone shows up who is equal to or better than Sherlock: Moriarty.

His appearance takes the story to the next level.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Writer's Take on Trigun: Milly Thompson (Character Analysis)

Milly doesn't have the character growth the other main characters have, because Milly already has a good and stable head on her shoulders and a firm identity. But as the series progresses, we do get to see other aspects of her character. Honestly, Milly seems the most stable out of everyone. She never doubts herself. She's completely authentic,

One thing I love about Milly is how intuitive she is. We get another (surprise!) great contradiction with her character--she often gives the impression that she doesn't know exactly what's going on, but more often than not, she understands better than anyone, whether she realizes it or not.