Kelly Amber Reads: Ready Player One

I finally finished Ready Player One by Ernest Cline the other day. Dad has been begging me to read Ready Player One for forever and well, sometimes people telling me to read something makes me less willing to read it—especially now that I don’t go through books as fast as I used to (I know, I know, that’s on me but TV is just so much easier) and I want to save the time I do spend reading on books that I’ve chosen. But with Ready Player One making its way to the big screen this year I finally caved.

For those who are unfamiliar with this title, Ready Player One is set in a dystopian future where the global economy and environment have completely collapsed due to severe overpopulation. The only escape people have from this horrible reality is the OASIS—a vast virtual reality online game with literal universes full of things to do. When James Halliday—the creator of the OASIS—dies he leaves behind a video will stating that his vast wealth as well as complete control over the OASIS are to be given to the first person to complete a massive virtual scavenger hunt by following the clues Halliday left scattered throughout the OASIS. Eighteen-year-old Wade Watts, known in the OASIS as Parzival, is the first person to solve the first clue and successfully claim the copper key in the five years since Halliday’s death. Now, it’s a race to finish the quest and in the midst of it all Wade finds himself targeted by an evil multi-billion dollar corporation bent on winning the quest and destroying everything that makes the OASIS the last safe haven in a dying world.

I haven’t seen the movie yet so I’m not sure how well it turned out, but my main thought about this book is that it would make a better movie than it does a book. Of course, there’s the fact that today’s special effects should make all of Cline’s amazing world-building in regards to the OASIS really come to life on the big screen, but the main reason I think it would make a better movie than book is that the book is so exposition heavy. Yes, most of the exposition is necessary stuff like world-building, background on Halliday, etc. but there’s just so much of it—the first six chapters especially were a pain and a half to get through—that it bogs down the plot and it sometimes felt like Cline sacrificed the action in favor of explaining every single little 80’s reference in great detail. Movies don’t really have this problem. With movies, any necessary exposition has to happen through dialogue or events happening in the background of a scene or through cinematography so it’s a lot harder to get bogged down by all the details. Plus, the overwhelming plethora of 80’s references that fill the novel would all just be fun Easter eggs throughout the movie rather than things that stop the plot every time they appear so that the author/narrator can make sure the audience understands just how cool something is. Don’t get me wrong; Ready Player One was overall an enjoyable read I just think that its fun action-filled plot would benefit from a medium that allows that action-filled plot to shine instead of burying it under all of the other details that the novel seemed to get distracted by. But I guess I’ll just have to wait till the movie comes out on iTunes to see if I’m right.

Town Line Tuesday: Daphne Pendragon Part 2 (Continued)

Hey guys, for this week’s Town Line Tuesday I’ll be continuing to answer the Character Questions I started a couple of weeks ago. The questions are all from this tumblr post by @lanqu-e. If you missed the first part you can check it out here.

Part 2: Miscellany (Continued)

 

16. What kind of job does your character want/not want? What is their dream job? What do they think of their current job? Daphne’s dream job would be any job where she can help people, and in that way, her current job as an agent for AEGIS–a secret vigilante organization bent on keeping the peace between humans and Supernaturals–is perfect for her. However, when we meet Daphne at the start of the novel, she’s had her faith in the organization seriously shaken and the novel will deal in part with her struggle to make peace between her love for the job and the unshakable feeling that maybe the cause she devoted her life to isn’t as noble as she believed it to be.

17. What are your character’s greatest fears? Weaknesses? Strengths? Daphne’s greatest fears would be being unable to save people she loves and becoming the monster so many people have accused her of being. Her greatest weakness is maybe relying too heavily on her gift–when you have such a strong innate gift it’s hard not to rely on it but it rarely shows Daphne the whole picture and relying on half a picture of a situation has and will continue to cost her. Her greatest strength is seeing all the horrible dark parts of humanity (and inhumanity) and still being able to see the good in it. 

18. What kind of music do they listen to? Do they have a favorite song? Daphne mostly just listens to whatever local pop/rock/top 40 station comes over the radio. She likes music mostly for background noise not for the lyrics so she’d probably like Lindsey Stirling and similar artists/styles. 

19. If they came from their world to ours how would they react? What would they do? Daphne’s world is essentially the same world as ours except for the fact that in her world supernatural creatures such a ghosts, vampires, demons, and angels exist and live side-by-side (mostly) with humans. That being said, if she stumbled into our world somehow I imagine she would hate it because she would feel like even more of a freak and outcast than she does in her world. She would probably do everything she can to keep her head down and not attract attention to herself as she works to find a way home. (I also like to imagine that in her search for a way home she’d find me and although I’m pretty sure she’d cuss me out for the shit I put her through it’d probably be the best day ever).

20. What personal problems/issues do they have? Pet peeves? Umm this is way too vague I’m not sure how to answer it. Daphne has a ton of issues, I mean the poor girl has recurring nightmares nearly every night, she’s haunted by her past, and she sees her dead best friend everywhere she goes. To say she’s not the most emotionally stable person out there would be putting it lightly. As for pet peeves I’d say people not heeding her advice about their future (they never listen it’s beyond frustrating) also decaf coffee.

21. What kind of student were they in high school? For all that she never ended up going to college, for the longest time Daphne was convinced that college was the only chance she had of getting out of her hell hole of a hometown so she took her classes seriously. She was an A and B student for the most part despite her teachers’ blatant dislike of her. As for extracurriculars/social life… they were practically nonexistent. Spencer was her only friend and while he did his best to invite her into his social circle she kept to herself–both out of dislike for his popular friends and out of fear of dooming him to the same social outcast standing as her.

22. What is a random fact about your character? When she was four or five, Daphne wanted to be an angel when she grew up.

23. What is their outlook on life? What is their philosophy / what do they think in general about living? Daphne’s basic outlook on life is that there’s always something worth living for–that no matter how awful and bleak it can get sometimes (and she knows firsthand just how bad it can get) there’s still beauty and goodness in it too.

24. Who is the most important person in their life? Why? Who is the least important to them (who still has an impact) and why? Most important is Hannah–Daphne’s best friend, partner, and the reason Daphne joined AEGIS in the first place. Least important is Daphne’s father…he’s important in that he affected and continues to affect Daphne but he wasn’t a good father so he earns least important.

25. What kind of childhood did your character have? Well, it wasn’t a good one.

26. What kind of nervous habits do they have? Do they have any addictions? Daphne runs her hands through her hair a lot and, while it’s not necessarily what I’d call a nervous habit, she goes for runs when she’s stressed or scared. Closest thing to an addiction she has is an unhealthy love for supernaturally enhanced coffee.

27. If they could choose their epitaph for their grave, what would they choose? “The beauty of the soul revealed.”

28. Do they want to get married? Would they ever want kids? Daphne would love to get married to someone she loves. Kids are another matter–she’s not sure she would be a good mom–but with the right person she would consider it.

29. If they could have one thing in the world, what would it be? For her best friend back.

30. Would they ever kill someone? What would push them to kill someone? She has killed people before. It’s part of the job sometimes. Granted those people are usually monsters… What would push her to kill a human? Maybe killing someone she loves…but then that would make them monsters too right?

 

 

Town Line Tuesday: Context? What Context? #4

Hey guys, I was going to continue the character questions from last week for today’s Town Line Tuesday but I got caught up in other things so instead here’s another out of context line from page 7 line 1 and I’ll get back to the character questions next week.

“…the stuff’s practically my lifeblood now. If it was gonna kill me, I think it would’ve done so already.”

 

Town Line Tuesday: Daphne Pendragon Part Two

When in doubt about what to write, go back to the basics right? Right. Ok so I stumbled upon this post on Tumblr that was 50 questions about your original character. It was meant to be an ask game where followers send the blogger that posted it a number corresponding to a question on the list for the blogger to answer. Well, no one’s asking but I think this could be a really fun exercise to help me with character development for Daphne. I’m not sure I can do all 50, but I guess I’ll just see how many I can get through in let’s say a couple of hours. I skimmed this post to make sure the questions were actually decent but I didn’t read every question so I’ll be doing this mostly on the fly. Should be fun. Credit for these questions goes to @lanqu-e on Tumblr.com. Check out the post here

Part 2: Miscellany

 

  1. What is your OC’s favorite color? Green. 
  2. Does your OC collect anything? What do they collect? I’ve got this idea that people imprint little pieces of themselves-of their souls-onto the things they own. I mean say what you will about it, we tend to get emotionally attached to our possessions. Daphne can sometimes get readings off of items because of this–never as complete a reading as she can get off a living person, but she can get little snippets this way. Things like favorite childhood toys or that necklace a character’s mother gave them that they wear every single day give stronger readings but less personal items like pieces of clothing or less emotionally significant jewelry works as well. Anyway, I’m not sure I’ll ever address it in the books but I think Daphne collects these odds and ends of significant people she meets in her travels as a way of feeling close to them even when apart. She’s sentimental like that.
  3. What kind of things is your OC allergic to? Daphne isn’t allergic to anything. She does sometimes get readings that cause adverse physical reactions. Like migraines, nausea, etc.
  4. What kind of clothing does your OC wearCasual clothing that is easy to move/fight in and can take a lot of wear and tear.
  5. What is your OC’s first memory? Ooh I don’t know that I can really get into this one without delving into some spoiler-y topics. Let’s just say her first memory is of the first time she got a soul-reading off of someone (or at least the first one she was old enough to remember) and the resulting confusion and fear and permanently damaged relationship with the person she got the reading from.
  6. What’s your OC’s favorite Animal? Least favorite? Daphne would never pass as a Disney Princess. Animals hate her, they seem to sense something not quite right with her. Frankly, the feeling is mutual. You only cry over so many cat scratches and dog bites as a child before you stop wanting to be friends with the furry little demons. She usually fares better with magical creatures. 
  7. What element would your OC be? Are we sticking with Avatar the Last Airbender four elements here or are we including the infrequently mentioned fifth element of spirit? Because obviously she would be spirit. But if we’re only including the main four, I guess she would probably be earth. Strong, dependable, stubborn and enduring. Plus I can’t help but think Toph’s way of “seeing” through vibrations in the earth is comparable to Daphne’s own gift.
  8. What is your OC’s theme song? I don’t really have a theme song for Daphne but a couple of the songs I have in a playlist that remind me of Daphne are “Control” by Halsey, “On the Inside” by Daughtry, “Broken Angel” by Boyce Avenue, and “I’ll be Good” by Jaymes Young.
  9. Do you have a faceclaim/ voiceclaim for your OC? (AKA who would play your OC in a show/movie) I don’t really have a particular actress in mind for Daphne but I will say that Gypsy on The Flash–played by Jessica Camacho–always makes me think of Daphne for some reason. 
  10. What deadly sin would best represent your OC? Pride. When you are omniscient-adjacent you can get a little arrogant at times. It happens. I just have to make sure she gets humbled from time to time.
  11. What are your OC’s hobbies? Running, Knife-throwing, hand-to-hand sparring…wait those are all job related you say? Um she tends to be a little work-obsessed but she enjoys TV as much as anyone, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a hobby per say but she spends a lot of downtime looking for answers about what, exactly, she is. 
  12. How patient is your OC? How hot-headed are they? Daphne is generally a very patient person. She doesn’t get angry often but you do not want to be the person on the receiving end of her wrath.
  13. What food does your OC like to eat? What are their least favorite foods? Daphne is a burger and fries kind of gal, but she’s not a picky eater and will try pretty much anything. That being said, get that vegan fake meat crap away from her.
  14. If your OC could have any pet, what would they choose? Why? Like I said before, animals + Daphne is a recipe for disaster. Better stick with pet rocks.
  15. What does your OC smell like? Hah! That’s a hilarious question. What’s the often laughed at fanfiction formula for personal scents? Two obscure scents plus the phrase “and something uniquely (character name)”? Following that, because why not, I’m going to go with motel soap, the forest just after its rained, and something sharp and clear and uniquely Daphne. 

And I think that’s a good place to stop for now. This was fun! I definitely want to do the rest of these questions at some point. For now, thanks for reading and I’ll try to post again later this week.

Town Line Tuesday: 100 Pages

Hey guys! Welcome to a very special Town Line Tuesday. As you may have guessed from the title, I’ve just hit the 100 page mark on the novel. In honor of this landmark I thought I’d share with you all the first page of The Demon of New Salem. Enjoy!

Continue reading

Town Line Tuesday: Creator of Worlds

Magic and technology, kingdoms and queendoms and distant planets, alternate universes and mysterious galaxies, magical creatures and alien races, to name but a few of all the little pieces that go into building elaborate fantasy and sci-fi worlds. World-building is a key part of writing fantasy and sci-fi, it’s a fun and creative process but also a necessary one—even magic worlds of make-believe need some sort of rules and structure, without them you’ve got nothing but chaos and your readers won’t be able to follow what’s going on let alone suspend disbelief the way they should. Still, while world-building is a lot of fun when it’s all in my head—seriously I could spend all day lost in imagining worlds of my own design—I’ve found that getting it onto the page is…less fun. The problem with putting the world-building on the page is that it, by very definition, needs to be done through exposition (the placement of often very wordy explanations of important background information into a story) and honestly, I don’t much like reading exposition let alone writing it. Don’t get me wrong, exposition, while annoying, is very important and I do actually find its contents interesting (most of the time anyway) it just has a way of completely bogging down the story.

 

I’m currently reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and let me tell you, the first six chapters were a pain to get through. The prologue explaining the contest was one thing, it set up the premise of the story nicely and it was all necessary information at that point in the narrative. The next six chapters however…well as interesting as I find the OASIS and I have to admit the background about Halliday is certainly necessary for Parzival’s solving of the puzzles but nothing happens in those six chapters. Parzival goes to school and does almost nothing there and the rest of the sixty-odd pages are nothing but exposition. Maybe it’s just me but personally I’d prefer the author trust the reader a little more to figure out what’s going on through context and small bits of exposition spaced out throughout the novel and interspersed with action rather than dumping everything on us all at once at the start of the story. Maybe you like your world-building all at once at the beginning of a book because when you’re finished, once you’ve earned the action after slogging through all the background muck, you at least know what’s going on and you can sit back and enjoy the ride. But I’ve got to say, I actually don’t mind being somewhat confused at the start of the book, I relish figuring things out on my own and the twists and turns in the plot that slowly reveal the secrets of the world I’m immersed in keep me coming back for more when pages upon pages of exposition exhaust me to the point of wanting to walk a way rather than keep trudging forward.

 

This reading preference really shows itself in my writing, I like to play things close to the vest, revealing things only when the plot demands it. Sometimes this dislike of heavy exposition and descriptive language works to my disadvantage as I sometimes struggle with making sure scenes are as descriptive as they need to be but it’s something I am constantly working on. As for world-building in The Demon of New Salem, since the novel takes place in our world—albeit our world with magic—the primary pieces I have to worry about building are my fictional town of New Salem, creating lore for the Supernaturals, and of course creating a system of magic and rules for how magic works and doesn’t work—which is what I am currently trying to work out during my writing sessions at my local coffee shop. It’s funny how given that magic is something that doesn’t exist, and can therefore theoretically operate any way I want it to, has me spending quite a bit of time researching… I’m sure my Google search history from my last writing session looks like that of a novice Wicca. Unfortunately, since magic isn’t real, it hasn’t been super helpful, but at least it helps to get some idea as to what plants and incantations supposedly do what so I have a place to jump off from when creating my system. Now to figure out how to put the pieces I have worked out to paper without falling into the trap of wordy and complicated exposition. It’s all about balance I suppose.