The Hobbit Movie Review


The Hobbit Movie Review

by Adam Huddleston

A few days ago, my son and I watched the first of the recent Hobbit movies, “An Unexpected Journey”.  I was extremely proud of him for finishing the book and excited to begin viewing the films with him.  I had seen the movies when they first came out, but that was admittedly several years ago.  

My first observation of the film is that the writers attempted to include much of the exact dialogue from the novel.  A lot of our favorite lines made the movie and that is always enjoyable.  Another thing I noticed is that the film makers did a fairly decent job of making Bilbo the main character.  However, it did irk me that they really pushed the character of Thorin Oakenshild.  I understand that he is important to the tale, but it seemed that the movie focuses a bit too much on him.

Another failure of the film is it’s overabundance of CGI special effects.  When done correctly, computer-generated images blend in perfectly with the scene and are not noticeable.  When not, they stand out like a sore thumb.  For example, the groups’ escape from the goblins near the end of the film is so scattered and cluttered, I had a difficult time distinguishing what was happening.  

Overall, the film is a good effort at capturing Tolkien’s tale in live-action, however, it could have been done much cleaner.  Still, if you are a fan of the story and/or fantasy films, I would recommend giving “An Unexpected Journey” a once over.  

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“The Dark Tower” Movie Review


“The Dark Tower” Movie Review

by Adam Huddleston

So, I attended the premiere of “The Dark Tower” last night, and I wanted to throw my two cents in about the movie.  Due to the fact that there are many who have not read the source material, and I absolutely loathe folks who spoil the story for others, I will do my best not to ruin the plot for you.

Ok, after months and months (years actually) of speculation and chatting on Reddit about the movie, I went in cautiously optimistic.  If you read online reviews of the film, you will see a myriad of responses; some constructive, most destructive.  My overall impression was this: it was mediocre.

I understand that, when trying to appeal to a wide audience (most of whom have never read the novels), you have to make the story interesting without overwhelming people with exposition.  The filmmakers included a good mix of several of the books and most of the performances were great.  I felt that Matthew McConaughey’s portrayal of the Man in Black was sufficiently menacing.  Isris Elba and Tom Taylor did a respectable job as Roland and Jake, respectively.  

The action was probably the best part of the film, even if it did border on absurd a few times.  The dialogue was hit and miss, mostly miss (it seemed like sometimes they were just throwing in phrases from the books to try to make the “Constant Reader” happy).  I’m hoping that the movie will make enough to allow them to proceed with a television series.  According to the filmmakers, the series would be closer to the canon of the novels.

Anyway, whether or not you are a fan of Stephen King or have read the novels, I suggest you at least give the film one viewing.  You just might like it!

Favorite Works of Fiction- Book Review


Favorite Works of Fiction

by Adam Huddleston

For our book review month, I wanted to bring back an old blog of mine concerning my favorite works of fiction.  They aren’t necessarily detailed book reviews, but rather an insight into the types of works that I enjoy.

A couple of weeks ago I published a blog concerning my favorite non-fiction books for writers.  This week, I would like to list a few of my favorite works of fiction (in no particular order).  As you can imagine, me being a life-long reader of fantasy and horror, the list is full of selections from those genres.

Stephen King has always been a “fave” of mine.  He has a plethora of thrillers and chillers.  Some works seek to get you at the “gross-out” level.  Others are more intimate examinations of the inner-self.  My favorite novel of his belongs to the latter; “The Long Walk.”  Reminiscent of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, this story follows a young man as he participates in a horrific annual tradition.  The book is eerie and very well written.

Shifting to fantasy, you can’t find many works better than those of J.R.R. Tolkien.  In a world where new writers are shoveling their wares in both bookstores and electronically, this legendary author’s work stands the test of time and his “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy is, to me at least, at the top.  It is the definition of an epic fantasy with a huge cast of characters, a sprawling world, and an entire language created by the author.

The late Michael Crichton penned a ton of great science-fiction stories, many of which were adapted into motion pictures.  My favorite work of his is “Jurassic Park.”  The movie, once it gets going, travels at a break-neck pace.  Guess what?  The novel does as well.  The author even goes into great detail concerning how they manipulated the DNA to create the stories antagonists.  

The last piece I’ll mention is one by Richard Adams.  One of my earliest cinematic memories is watching “Watership Down” on a VHS player in my parent’s bedroom.  When I was older, I discovered that it was based on a novel of the same name.  The book does a great job of personifying the characters, mostly rabbits with a black-headed gull thrown in for good measure, and bringing their adventures to life.  Like Tolkien, Richard Adams gives us a healthy dose of backstory, native language, and even a form of lupine religion.  

Whatever your favorite genre might be, these novels are worth looking into.  They will give insight into proper world building, plot, dialogue, and character development.

Happy writing; and reading!

“The Way of Kings”


“The Way of Kings”

Review

by Adam Huddleston

I realize most book reviews are written after a reader has finished the work, but I wanted to let you know a little bit about the novel that I am currently reading.  

“The Way of Kings”, by Brandon Sanderson, is an epic fantasy novel.  It is the first in his “Stormlight Archive” series.  At the moment, I am only a quarter or so of the way through, but I can tell that this is going to be a massive story.  The overall plot is told through the experiences of a multitude of main characters, each with their own motivations and colorful back-stories.  The book includes several maps of the fantasy world as well as artwork created by one of the main characters.  

If you are a fan of epic fantasy, or of Brandon Sanderson (whose works include the last few “The Wheel of Time” books and the “Mistborn” series), I highly recommend “The Way of Kings”.  I can’t wait to see where the story goes!

“The Long Walk” Review


“The Long Walk” Review

by Adam Huddleston

As many of you probably know, Stephen King is one of my favorite authors.  Although he has written a multitude of top-selling books, my best-loved is “The Long Walk”.  

Written under his pseudonym, Richard Bauchman, “The Long Walk” is a tale set in a not-too-distant dystopian future.  Told in first-person point of view, the main character is a teenager who competes in a deadly marathon where those who fall behind are killed along the way.  King does an excellent job of moving the plot along while developing the main characters.  

If you are a fan of horror, or even dark thrillers, I highly recommend “The Long Walk.”

Narratives


Narratives

by Adam Huddleston

Sometimes we take for granted our readers’ understanding of literary terms.  This week, I wanted to quickly define the main types of narrative.

First-person narrative: The story is told from the narrator’s point of view.  Pronouns seen are typically I and me.  If the plot is in past tense, the reader knows that the narrator will survive whatever dangers they face.  If it is in present tense, the suspense is still there.

Second-person narrative: The story is told from the reader’s point of view.  You are actively participating in the plot.  A well-known example of this is the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books.

Third-person narrative: The story is told from a narrator outside of the story.  They may either be omniscient or remain in the “heads” of one or more of the characters.  This is the most commonly seen type of narrative.  

The Unreliable Narrator


The Unreliable Narrator

by Adam Huddleston

In literature, films, etc, an unreliable narrator is one which is not completely credible.  The story that they are telling you is either false or exaggerated.  What’s often interesting is that this may or may not be apparent to the narrator.  They could consciously be telling tall tales, or be affected by mental illness or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  

Examples of an unreliable narrator include: Pi Patel in both the novel and film versions of The Life of Pi and the main characters in Forrest Gump, Big Fish, and The Usual Suspects, Fight Club.  One of my favorite parts of reading a story or watching a movie with an unreliable narrator is seeing if the tale contains a twist ending.  These endings often show us what the true situation with the narrator was and are quite enjoyable.  

Author Intrusion


Author Intrusion

by Adam Huddleston

This was a blog submission from 9-22-16.  I hope it helps you in your writing in some small way.

This week’s literary term is: author intrusion.  Another similar phrase you may have heard is: breaking the fourth wall.  It is a device where the author/narrator speaks directly to the reader/audience.  This can be used to give the reader extra information that might be difficult or time-consuming to acquire.  For example, in a stage-play, a character may step aside and speak to the viewers about what other characters in the story are thinking or doing.  Famous films that have used author intrusion are: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Fight Club, and Blazing Saddles.

Snowflake Method (Summarized)


Snowflake Method (Summarized)

by Adam Huddleston

For my last blog concerning plots, I wanted to summarize the Snowflake method created by Randy Ingermanson.  

1.  Write a one-line summary of your entire story

2.  Expand your one-line summary into a paragraph

3.  Write a one-page summary for each major character

4.  Expand each sentence of your one-line summary into a full paragraph (about one page)

5.  Expand your one-page plot summary into a four-page synopsis

6.  Continue expanding major and minor character descriptions

7.  Continue expanding your synopsis by creating individual scenes (a program such as Excel will help)

I hope this helps in your writing!

Pantser or Plotter?


Pantser or Plotter?

By Adam Huddleston

Here’s a repost of a blog from 2015

So the questions come up when new writers look to begin their first work: How do you write a story?  Do you begin at the first and then just plug away?  Do you organize all of your scenes first and then write it?  What’s the best way?

Guess what folks.  It really depends on the writer and their preferences.  I will say that there are pros and cons to each. Let’s examine the two prevailing methods.

  1. The “pantser” writes by the seat of his/her pants.  They start from word one and let it fly. The plot unfolds as they write.  This can be a very exciting and creative method, but it can also lead to quite a bit of editing later on. 
  2. The “plotter” plans out each scene and plot twist before they begin to write anything.  This allows the process to be more streamlined and decreases editing. 

Most writers probably use a little of both and what works best for you is simply that; what works best for you.  I prefer to write and edit the “major” scenes that I know I want in the story then piece them together with “minor” scenes. 

Try out both methods and see which you prefer.  Happy writing!