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Apollo 18 [2011] Review

October 6, 2011 Leave a comment

On December 17, 1972, NASA launched the Apollo 17 shuttle. According to records, this was the last manned mission to the moon. In 2011, we have found footage from the secretly launched Apollo 18 mission funded by U.S. Department of Defense in December of 1974.

The film follows three astronauts who are sent to the moon to place transmitters that monitor Soviet signals. The team splits, leaving one astronaut aboard the orbiting shuttle, as Capt. Benjamin Anderson (Warren Cristie) and Cdr. Nathan Walker (Lloyd Owen) explore the dry dunes of the moon’s surface. Their search soon becomes diverted as creatures buried within the shadows of a deep crater forces them to retreat to their pod. After contacting Earth, the two astronauts realize the U.S. government never planned to bring them home. As stated by the movie synopsis, this footage signifies why humans never returned to the moon.

This isn’t the first science fiction movie to be adapted to the low budget form of found footage films. Take a look at Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity 1&2. If you are akin to these films, then you’ll recognize why Spanish film director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego chose to allow his audience to walk on the moon alongside the astronauts. This buddy-buddy viewpoint allows for some adjoining shots that we could never witness unless the astronauts were filming themselves.

I give the writers, Brian Miller and Cory Goodman, credit for the premise even though a lot of what the film had to offer was widely expected. Though the mystery behind the alien creatures was never truly revealed, being left out created loads of emotional tension. The best I could figure out was that they were some sort of troglobites, roaming from the shadows whenever they sensed food.

The film managed to rack in around 17.5 million to date. My advice, see the film if you want a trip to the moon. I sure got one.


Thor [2011] Review

September 29, 2011 1 comment

Okay, so this by far, is my favorite super hero of all time. Though, it could just be my interest in Greek folklore, or level of knowledge in their gods. Who knows. This films was a must see for me.

I tried to disregard all familiarity with the character’s back story, and watch the film with a fresh conscience. Something we ALL have to learn to do when watching super hero flicks. This lowers the heartbreak when you see that the director and writers have destroyed the history and plot. (Holding chest)

While director Kenneth Bragnah adapted this film for 3-D viewing, he shot the movie in 2-D. I don’t know why there’s such a high demand for 3-D films, especially when you’re not preparing the script for these types of conversions. I guess the films transformation was sheer marketing. Obviously it worked. The movie racked up over 150 million at the box office. (Thumbs Up)

Like other superhero films, the writers managed to chop the original 1960’s back story to accommodate for time. The only real connection I seen from the comics, is when Thor is ready to become king of Asgard. The plot takes a large turn afterwards and during this time, The Frost Giants invade Asgard. Thor disregards Odin’s orders, and attacks the Frost Giants’ realm. The attack leads to a dispute between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), and as punishment, lands the god of thunder in New Mexico on Earth. (In the comics, Thor wasn’t simply cast down to Earth. Odin placed him into the body of Donald Blake. It wasn’t until Donald found Thor’s Hammer that he was able to transform into the God of Thunder.)

Thor is found in the desert by three scientists, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard), and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), whom were researching occurrences of worm holes. Okay, so all is well until I realized that Thor retained all his memories of his life back on Asgard. It isn’t a real problem, but when the writers made this choice, it took away from Thor’s and Jane’s relationship, which is much more believable  in the Thor comics.

I won’t complain as much, because the casting choice was perfect. Chris Hemsworth couldn’t have been a better Thor. Natalie Portman’s role as Jane Foster would have been better if the writers made different choices, but overall she nailed the character alteration. Tom Hiddleston, the antagonist in the film, adapted well as the jealous, snide brother Loki. His acting ability gave me strikingly familiar feelings as I watched him betray Asgard.

Largely, the film scored high points with Thor’s natural ability to create action packed fight scenes. And for that reason, I’d recommend seeing this movies. Just don’t expect a close comic book adaptation.

Genre Fiction: The Word Count

September 23, 2011 1 comment

There are suggested word counts around the internet, but only through reading, will you learn that novel length vary. This is because word count is up to the book’s writer. I know it sounds bland, but I’ll tell you what I’m always told, write until the piece is finished, because really, any work over 50, 000 words could be called a novel.

J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter : The Order of The Pheonix, 260, 000 words

H. G. Wells, The War of the World, 60, 000 words.

Orson Scott Card, The Ender’s Game, 100, 000 words.



In the publishing world, some industry professionals prefer works to be at a certain length. This is due to marketability. If you wanna follow guideline, then here’s a list, but don’t let this take away from your story.


Science Fiction and Fantasy: 80, 000-150, 000 words. (Includes Hard SF, Space Opera SF, Historical SF, Romance SF, & Urban SF.)

Paranormal Romance/Urban Romance/ Romance Fiction: 55, 000 -90, 000 words.

Mystery/Mystery Thriller/Crime Fiction: 60, 000-100, 000 words.

Commercial Fiction/ Chick Lit/ Short Story: 60, 000-100, 000 words. 

Good Vs. Evil Series: Naming the Hero

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment

There seems to be something odd happening when people read advice on naming main or minor characters. They take blog help and create names based on a character’s personality. That’s a number one “No, No!” Shame on you.

Here’s how it happens. Suddenly you feel inclined and “too” creative. Your fingers are wriggling, ready to attack your character’s profile page. You tap the pen first on your chin, then press it against that paper.

This is the name you’ve come up with:  Fawna Dreams.

While I had good nature and probably great ideas, let me tell you the reason I chose this name in the first place.

Fawna, is a steamy, middle-aged Asian woman who is hardworking and endures much of everything from marital struggles to life threatening health issues. As a protagonist, one of her obstacles happens to be breast cancer, in which she “dreams” to be relieved from.”

Image courtesy of ©2008-2011 ~so-hood-stock

If you still haven’t caught on yet.

FAWN, meaning to cower with difficulties or problems.

DREAM, meaning aspiration or goal. 

Don’t fret. It’s normal to work out ideas this way. Trust me, I do this all the time, but in the end it turns out cheesy and unrealistic. The character’s names are appearing as ones used in superhero comics, and this is , well, generic thinking. To avoid this, check out a baby name index like it has thousands of starting points.

The one thing I do wanna point is that the good guy should obviously have a less frightening name. Something pleasant perhaps. Think in the area between powder puffs and urban basketball. (Hmm, what?) Yes, something nice but a little rough around the edge gives your good guy some “oomph”.

Great first names like Angeni, Galia, Taigi, or Coralia for a female.

Even names like Conor, Jun, Otto, or Clemens for a male.

Whatever the case, be creative and less clingy towards all or many of the characters personality traits. Besides, some names already have clear meanings.

The Beginning Stages To Novel Writing: Three Act Structure

September 17, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m sure you want your manuscript to flow. Every novelist does. Some writers start with outlines, the standard idea of a “Three Act Structure”, and some, well, floor it. I think it’s a good decision to work your way from the beginning, then move the plot forward. (Agh, use the Three Act Structure. What the hay…)

With the “Three Act Structure”, you begin with the apex of the story, which ends at Point 1. What that does is allow you to first, introduce your reader to the main character, his or her conflict, and also the character’s focus. You’ll generate portions of the conflict here, and that propels your character/s into the realm of Juicy Stuff.  Point 1 leads you into the “middle”.

JUICY STUFF=Action, Suspense, high points, or whatever makes your story kick.

The middle, consists of obstacles or issues that leave your main character/s feeling unresolved. To me, it’s a good idea to have certain issues planned beforehand. The fluctuation of emotion and tension in this section continues to rise until, poof, the pot boils and the waters recede. That is what we writers call , the Climax or Point 2.

The ending is well, the end. You have many decisions here, but my advice, get out fast. Many readers, including myself, find it hard to stay interested if the ending stretches too long. Resolve your main conflict and then let the story fade until the plot is satisfied.

One more thing…

I know I mentioned planning, but never, I repeat, never, let this take away from the flow of you “spontaneous” writing. I love that word, spontaneousI think I’ll use that word often. Hehe.

Good Vs. Evil Series: Being the Better Man

September 17, 2011 Leave a comment

If you want the most out of your novel, take the time to understand and plan a strong protagonist, antagonist, and supporting cast. What this means, is have your character intents, motives, and development rates at the front of your mind. Doing this will open a lot of creative approach for you, and even reduce those grungy instances of writer’s block as you begin.

You’ve heard it over and over, but I’ll say it again. A character can formulate or it can deteriorate, everything. You can have a really strong plot idea, but throw in the wrong set of characters, and bam. You just wasted the first few months on crappy dialogue and character development. Well, back to page one you go. (Ugh, that hurt.) But don’t worry; I’m here to set you in the right direction.

Let’s begin with the protagonist/main character who drives the story all the way to the bittersweet end. This character can be good or bad, tall or short. The most important thing that needs to happen here is that our readers follow the story through his point of view.

Try not to be so stereotypical with his appearance. There are no rules that state, the hero must be dashing, or excessively handsome. Give him some grunge, a bit of less-than-average feel. You’ll still have a winner. In this approach, you’re character stands out among other designs, and that will help you get a feel for your creative ability. On the plus side, your main character will be like nothing anyone has seen before, right?

A few questions to ask yourself:

What does my hero have that makes him “grand”?

This doesn’t necessarily have to be special abilities, but whatever the attribute, it should give him a descent upper hand. Think of it this way. All heroes have undeniable will power, courage, and love. Use that and take it a step above and out of the norm. Maybe give him a massive intellect or a duel personality. Remember, this will make him unique to the other characters, and opposing force to the bad guy.

Is he writable and if so will my readers enjoy him?

You should consider this above all other questions you may have when designing your protagonist, because the reader has to coexist with them through to the end. A likable protagonist is one who will be relate-able, lovable, and allow for an emotional connection.

Does he fit well with the setting and story?

Sometimes a character becomes out of place. He might be gallant, but a knight in a science laboratory seems far-fetched, right? Even if, make sure his elements mesh with the world around him. The reason the knight is in the lab might be understood with back story.

There are lots of examples and places to find research. Don’t always create story parts that can be better off more realistic. Enjoy yourself and be spontaneous. Designing this character is important, but should always be fun.

Quick Steps To Developing Rich, Dynamic Characters

September 17, 2011 Leave a comment

A lot of writers search the internet. They seek tons upon tons of books that seemly give the same advice. Writers even turn to blogs like this one hoping they come across the holy grail of writing knowledge. Truth is, and I hate to break your heart, there is no right approach to developing characters. And I’ll say it again. There is not a single approach that’s better than the other. As an emerging writer, I’ve tried them all.

Here are a few different approaches:

Designing a character by starting with a biography and profile.

This provides you with lots of background information, so jot down everything you can think of. I mean everything. Start a bible. You’ll need hair color, their birth date, tolerances, and so forth. Your character will have multi-dimensions well beyond the start of the story. Why they eat certain foods, where they were born. Write down their most remembered experiences, because these types of moments make up our personalities.

This technique gives you a deeper meaning for your character and their behavioral approaches. The one setback I’ve had with this is that a lot of times a character’s profile information shifts as it becomes necessary for the story, so don’t be too nit-picky at first. Remember all writing requires revision.

Developing a character as the story progresses.

It is not always important to have those critical details if you understand a little about how the human mind works. Emotions are universal, and general reactions are common among humans. But if you take that knowledge, implement it, and make it as unparalleled as possible, than you’ll have designed a personality for your character.

When I use this approach, I let my character reveal their personality on-the-go. I favor this technique, because it’s more creative, spontaneous. With few details like character emotional history, strengths, and weaknesses, I can trust my subconscious abilities to work out other dynamics like dialogue and event reactions.

If you’re a perfectionist, than go with the profile approach, but if you like the realm of the unknown, shoot away.

Using real life examples.

If you design your character based on real people, be sure to get their legal consent. You can then interview them, and find out what they would do in certain situations.

There really is no real creative work here, unless you do some minor tweaks. You’ll simply center your character’s personality and appearance around your subject through observance.

Designing through research.

The way they adapt, switch emotions throughout the day. If you aren’t good at connecting with people, then now is the perfect time to go out and talk. Yes, talk. Meet someone new and pay close attention to what they say, how they react. These are all aspects of a person’s character. That’s what we need here, right? Good. Now, notice the way their lips move, the way they blink, how their cheeks become rose colored from embarrassment. Watch their hands. A person will react using hand gestures more than you’ll notice.

Pick up the aspects of love, lust, fear, and insecurities. Combine this with the techniques from above and use this within your own characters and their personalities. Try talking to your brothers, sisters, or other relatives. People have different ways of thinking, phrasing words. Learning these human qualities from life are far more realistic than doing so from movies or books. You have to remember, those writers did their own creative work and research to develop those characters. Who wants hundreds of duplicate character designs?

When you bring them to life, they should come across as unique. Reveal them through interactions with other characters. Let them grow through experience. Don’t worry. I’m sure you heard the saying, “Everything comes with time”.  Well, this is true with character design. The funny thing is, you’ve already spent a lot of moments learning your own body, and what triggers certain emotions. Unless you’re completely void of happiness, sadness, or pain, that is. Now you just have to figure out how that relates to making a character as distinctive as you.

After finding the technique that works best for you, fine tune it until it becomes easiest to utilize. Don’t expect to be a perfect character designer at first. It takes hours to become a skilled writer.