Is There Such a Thing as “Too Much” Story?

Hi everybody! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted anything. I keep meaning to post more book reviews but I always feel the need to read multiple books at once and I just end up slowing myself down. You all know how it is.
Today, though, I wanted to talk about something I’ve noticed other book nerds and authors talking about which is: when should a story truly end? This whole conversation has been spurred on by the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald, which is the much anticipated (and slightly controversial) sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I haven’t seen the movie yet so I can’t give my opinion on it but it got me thinking about franchises and if there really is such a thing as ending a story, especially when it is incredibly popular. (Note: I’m mostly going to be focusing on mediums like books, movies, and television. I’m not going to be talking about anime or video games as I don’t know much about those mediums and they would warrant their own discussion.) 

Let’s start with examples of franchises who have done a great job with universe expansion. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is the first one that comes to mind. First off, the franchise has lasted for a decade now with some of the most successful trilogies and crossovers in the history of film. Regardless of whether you are in this fandom or not, you have to admit that the MCU has done an incredible job with story telling. They took the usual superhero story formula and found ways to twist it and shape into nuanced and interesting stories. They’ve introduced characters and remade characters that were, at one point, laughable. While MCU hasn’t “ended” certain characters’ stories, they have realized that other characters deserve a spotlight. Audiences are still getting answers about the original characters as well as the new characters. These have even spawned successful tv series. When they decide to “end” certain characters’ stories, audiences will still have other characters to follow. That is what will keep a franchise going. (Granted, MCU does have a vast collection of source material to choose from.) Comic book based franchises have always tended to do the best. The DC tv shows have been some of my favorites in the past couple of years because they took notes from MCU. These franchises know how to  keep audiences looking for more at the end of each episode or movie, just as the original source material did. 

Other franchises, however, have done this without a printed source material. The Star Wars franchise is a really good example of this. The newest trilogy has done a great job introducing compelling new characters and reviving the lore that fans want to learn more about. This is also what Fantastic Beasts has done and I truly enjoyed the first movie. What all of these franchises have in common is they know how to revive stories instead of just redoing the same old thing or trying to do too much with newer things that fans don’t care about. Taking it back to the printed word, authors often can’t help but  continue world building. JK Rowling is constantly dropping little tidbits about the Harry Potter series and, while I do love it, it can also be exhausting sometimes.  There are authors like James Patterson who are just constantly releasing books in every genre and it’s hard to get excited about these books anymore because you just can’t keep up with these series. It is really hard to get audiences excited when they have a market that is so saturated with extended franchises. That is why the actual world building process has to be carefully though out, like the MCU. The Harry Potter series has a really rich history and has characters like Newt Scamander, who have their own adventures. Authors, writers, and directors who genuinely care about their creative properties are going to have the most success in having a long lasting series. 

Let’s get to the franchises that flop. The biggest reason for this is because of money. Horror movie series are the biggest offenders of this. Over the summer, I saw the newest Jurassic Park movie and you could tell they tried really hard to make it fresh and new. At the end of the day, though, dinosaurs ate people and no one learned anything. JK Rowling is going to be mentioned in this section as well for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The play fell victim to its own hype. The lore got muddled in the process. The new characters fell flat while the older characters didn’t get any proper development. It shouldn’t feel like the writers are reaching for substance. I’m also fully aware that finances plays a part in why some of these franchises feel the need to keep going but, I’m not going to focus on that too much. The lack of involvement of the original authors has also caused problems. Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series, has spoken about how he regrets not being involved in the movie adaptation process. You can’t just cobble together a franchise because one particular part worked out nicely. 

In conclusion, franchises can be kept alive if it is a well thought-out effort on everyone’s part. It is perfectly fine to end a franchise, even if fans will be sad about it. It is better to have a fulfilling ending than an empty sequel. There really is no such thing as “too much story” when the story is written in a dynamic and thorough way. 

Thanks for sticking around if you made it this far. I really appreciate it. Let me know your opinions about franchises and extended universes. 

How I Pick My Novels

Hi everyone! I’m both glad (and not so glad) to be back home. I had spend this past weekend in New Jersey and New York. One of my college graduation presents was tickets to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway so I was beyond excited. I also got to visit Sleepy Hollow. Overall, it was a very exciting weekend. Now that I’m back, I decided to do a blog inspired by a author/Youtuber I follow, Jenna Moreci. Some of you may have heard of her as she has recently released her debut novel, The Savior’s Champion. She is very funny so I definitely recommend you look up her channel. She recently did a video called “How I Choose My Novels.” Naturally, I’m copying her. All credit goes to Jenna Moreci for this.

Genre: Like the rest of you, I have preferred genres. All of them fall under the fiction category. Within that, I like to see which genre I haven’t read recently so I can mix it up. I also like to see novels that break genre. I want to give myself a variety, as well as you who read my blogs.

Author: Normally, I don’t concern myself with authors too much but, obviously, I do gravitate towards my favorite author. I also like to know which authors are up-and-coming so I can hop on a bandwagon. I like being a part of fandom, as do a lot of you.

Reviews: There are many books I’ve picked up solely because I heard many people enjoyed it. Reviews really do have an impact on which books I choose. In fact, your reviews have helped me pick books. I prefer to read book by average readers rather than professional critics. I feel like professional critics can be “too” judgmental at times. I just want to know if a book was good or not. I don’t want an analysis.

Book Length: As much as I would love to read super long books, I don’t always have the time or the patience. I tend to have a short attention span so I’ll avoid thicker books. I would love to buckle down and read something like Les Miserables or War and Peace but, let’s be real, my last three brain cells wouldn’t be able to handle that.

The Blurb: Ah yes, the might blurb! I must read the blurb of every book in the store before I make a decision. A vague blurb isn’t going to interest me and a long blurb is going to lose my attention. I need a nice sized-blurb with just enough detail. The blurb is what’s going to sell your book.

The Cover: Unlike the popular phrase, I do judge books by their cover. I even did a post where I talked about book covers. A nice, eye-catching cover is the first thing that makes me pick up a book. I’m not going to gravitate toward something with a bland cover or a cover with too much happening. I will most definitely avoid a book with a movie poster as the cover. (I think it’s tacky but that’s just me.) We do judge books by their covers and we can all admit it.

 

How I Learned To Love My Writing (And You Can Learn Too)

Hi everyone! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted anything. I keep telling myself I’m going to finish my TBR pile soon but then I just want to watch Avengers: Infinity War on repeat until Loki is alive again (spoiler). Also, let’s face it, part of the writing process is just opening your Word document and then your just end up watching YouTube videos for five hours straight. Don’t act like you’re not guilty of doing that. Anyways, I wanted to talk to you about how I learned to eventually learned to love what I write. I made a previous post about my crappy writing habits and I mentioned how I don’t always like what I write. While that is true, I’ve learned more about how to appreciate what I write. I’ve decided to share with you all some of the things that keep me loving being a writer.

  • Accept that it’s not going to be perfect the first time around. We all wish that we could have a brilliant idea during the first draft. That, however, is not true. Chances are that you aren’t going to like how your plot sounds on paper. As someone who has studied editing and publishing, I can tell you that the process to “perfect” a book takes a very long time. The writing process itself may take along time and it may not be perfect even then. As long as you have the commitment and patience, you can accomplish it.
  • Don’t write hoping to impress others. In my sophomore year of college, I decided to start to pursue a minor in Writing. This made sense since I was (and still am) and English major. Once I got into the classes, however, I realized I was trying way too hard to impress my professors and classmates. It got to the point where I would spend way too long even thinking about the story then I would end up writing at the last minute. Most of those stories didn’t turn out great. Don’t forget that your writing is for yourself, first and foremost. Enjoy the solitude that comes with the writing process because plenty of people will come along to go over every detail of your work. Make yourself proud by just fulfilling your accomplishment.
  • Let your imagination run wild. It’s easy to get caught up in the genres. We all want to fit into one specific genre because we love certain authors so much. This, however, shouldn’t limit you. Your ideas are going to sound silly sometimes. Your worlds and characters are going to raise eyebrows but that’s perfectly fine. Get weird with it. Don’t settle for ordinary, regardless of your preferred genre. Let loose once in a while and that might be how you strike gold.
  • Tap into your emotional side. The best stories are the ones that move us emotionally. It’s hard to communicate your emotions. I still have a hard time with it. Don’t let this hold you back, though. Make your story sad. Make your story angry. Make your story joyful. Don’t be afraid to put a healthy dose of “the feels” into your writing. I’ve learned I feel more in tune with my emotions once I put them on paper.
  • Congratulate yourself every so often. If you’re a person with a day job, like me, then you can have a hard time finding time to sit down and just write. You might be too tired or just not in the mood. When you do find the time, make sure to give yourself a nice little pat on the back. It doesn’t matter if you get one page or ten pages done, you still made progress. So give yourself a round of applause for hitting your goals because you deserve it.

So those are the ways I have learned to love my writing. Let me know about how you learned to love your writing as well. I can’t wait to hear from you all.

The Best (and Worst) Books I Read in High School

Hello everyone! While I would prefer to have a book review by now, I feel like I just haven’t had the time or energy to continue reading. Closing shifts are the worst. Anyone who has worked retail can relate to how I feel. I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to do something like this. I thought about making this about my required reading in grade school but I really don’t remember much of what I read back then. I do, however, have very distinct memories of my Honors English classes in high school. I had some very interesting teachers who had some interesting teaching methods. I can get more into that in another post if you want. (Note: I’m also going to be including plays I read on this list).

The best books I read:

  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (Sophomore Year)
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Junior Year)
  • Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare (Sophomore Year)
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (Junior Year)
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker (Senior Year)
  • The Color of Water by James McBride (Sophomore Year)
  • The Crucible by Arthur Miller (Freshman Year)
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding (Senior Year)
  • Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (Freshman Year)
  • Fences by August Wilson (Junior Year)

The worst books I read (with explanations):

  • Anthem by Ayn Rand: I know a lot of people of Rand but I just couldn’t bring myself to enjoy her writing. This book, in particular, is very confusing as it is written without singular pronouns. That is an important aspect of the book as it is a dystopian novel but it doesn’t make it any less confusing.
  • Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom: I just found this book to be way too sappy for my tastes. I understand the sentiment behind the story but it was just too depressing, even for me.
  • Black Boy by Richard Wright: It always sounds bad when I tell people I didn’t like this book but it’s not because of the subject matter. This book is his autobiography and the first half of the book is incredibly interesting. The second half of the book, however, is all about Communism and it just gets super preachy. The end just felt like a let down.
  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros: I’m not a huge fan of poetry but I can always appreciate. This book, however, was too abstract for my tastes. Again, I understand the subject matter but I just thought it was so vague.
  • Seven Events that Made America America by Larry Scheikwart: This book was so bad that my teacher decided to not have us even finish it. It’s written from a very Conservative standpoint and also the events weren’t even that important. The entire book is just this guy ranting about the “liberal media.” It was not something that I cared for in high school and not something I care for now.

Let me know if you read any of these books in high school or tell me your favorites or least favorites. I had some odd experiences in high school English so my experience is probably very different that yours. I’d love to hear about it though.

 

Current Favorites: Music Edition (aka What’s On My Writing Playlist?)

Hello everyone! I’m really glad a lot of you enjoyed my review of Children of Blood and Bone. I’m actually still in the process of finishing it and, once I’m done, I’m going to work on reading V.E. Schwab’s Vicious. In between all of that, I’m also working on my writing. I’ve finally settled on an idea and committed to it. I’m feeling pretty confident so I might give you all updated in the future. In the meanwhile, I decided to do another Current Favorites but about some of my favorite musical artists. My taste in music has a pretty large range but I do mostly stick to indie and alt-rock. I have to have music playing while I’m writing in order to focus. I’ll leave links to some of my favorite songs by these artists if you are interested.

I’m going to stop my list there before I just end up giving you all my entire Spotify playlist. I hope that you check out some of this music. I always appreciate when you all take an interest in my opinions. Feel free to leave me some suggestions in the comments.

 

So I’ve Graduated! Now What?

Hello everyone! I know its been taking me forever but I finally found time to write here. It’s been taking me forever to finish what I’m reading but I’ll get there soon enough. In the meantime, I wanted to reflect on college graduation and get the conversation going. I officially graduated from Kent State University on May 12th. It was a wonderful ceremony. Also, it was actually the first college graduation I’ve ever been to. The iconic Michael Keaton was our main speaker and he was hilarious and inspirational. The weather was nice except, because I’m so pasty, of course I left with a beet red face. Now, I have returned home with little to no idea of what the future holds. Because I like making lists, I’m going to do a pros and cons list of being an official graduate.

Pros:

  • Free from the general pressures that come with academia
  • Don’t have to deal with dorm living
  • Don’t have to deal with the hectic atmosphere of the college campus
  • Don’t have to pay for things like textbooks, parking, etc
  • Not having to go to any obligatory events like meetings in the dorms
  • Finally feeling like a truly independent adult (even though I still live at home)
  • Not having to travel back and forth two and half hours to get home
  • Being able to feel settled in my own space
  • Not having to go to lecture classes (I hated those especially)
  • Being able to partake in my own hobbies
  • Not being overwhelmed by classes
  • Finally having home cooked meals
  • Having a new found freedom

Cons:

  • Not having the convenience of a college campus
  • Not having my friends close by
  • Having to deal with “adult things”
  • Missing some of my favorite spots on campus
  • Not having my clubs
  • Not having a routine with classes
  • Not having my fun classes
  • Having roommates to talk to
  • Being able to go to events with free food
  • Free stuff, in general
  • Not feeling as productive as I used to be (working on changing that though)
  • Having a new found freedom

I’m sure I’m not alone in how I feel now. I certainly feel accomplished and I can’t wait to get my diploma in the mail. It is hard to not feel apprehensive but I know that I have a lot to look forward to. I’m excited for the future and I can’t wait to share what I experienced with all of you. While I’m at it, I’m going to post a picture of my Harry Potter-themed graduation cap below.

Just Some Updates

Hello everyone! It’s been a hot second since I have posted anything but I just wanted to do some life updates. If you don’t care, then I completely understand but I would appreciate if you stuck around to read this.

First thing I wanted to talk about was my lack of activity. I am about to graduate college the week after this (!!!) so I have obviously been super busy with that. The build has been chaotic but fun, nonetheless. I’m prepping for finals week so it hasn’t given me time to finish any books. I’m currently trying to finish book two of the Themis Files, Waking Gods and I know that the third book is going to be released tomorrow. I’m also reading Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone. That one is a bit longer but I’m very excited to share my thoughts on it. There are some new book releases I’m very excited for that I will be sure to share with you since I will have more time. In the meanwhile, please forgive my on-and-off social media presence. Speaking of that, I do have a twitter now so you can follow me @capt0bvious96 and I will follow you back, I promise.

Next thing I wanted to address was doing more requests. I really want to start engaging more with all of you and would love to start reviewing suggested books. I also really want to start doing movie reviews, if you are interested. I’m really glad you all like my Current Favorites articles so I will definitely do more. The next thing I want to talk about is my favorite tv shows. If you have any suggestions for me, though, feel free to leave them in my comments or now you can tweet at me if you so wish.

The last thing I will talk about is my writing. I’m starting to really get into the swing of this new story I’m writing. If you are at all interested, I would definitely like to do some writing challenges in order to keep myself on track. I’d like to know what writing challenges any of you have done in the past. I am trying to be more consistent with my writing schedules and I will have more time on my hands to do that.

Thanks for sticking around to read this whole thing. I truly appreciate. I know that realistically most of you aren’t too invested but, to those who are, I want to give you my biggest thanks ever. If you are reaching the end of your school year, then I wish you the best of luck on your finals.

 

Types of Literary Narrators I Hate

Hello everyone! I am currently catching up on the last new novel I got so, hopefully, I will be giving you a review of that soon. I’m coming up on spring break so I might wait till then. In the meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about certain story telling styles I don’t click with. These mostly apply to first person narrators but there are some things in third person stories that I can’t stand. There are certain things writers do when it comes to their narrators that just piss me off and make the story less enjoyable. Now, I’m going to share with you the kind of narrators that I am tired of reading about.

The Skeptic: The is narrator mostly shows up in horror or science fiction. From the beginning of the story, they have to remind you that they don’t believe in the paranormal or supernatural. This narrator has to remind you every other sentence that they have always thought ghosts were stupid. You don’t have to remind me every five seconds that your are skeptical. This is when the “show, don’t tell,” rule should come in to play.

scully

The Philosopher: This narrator loves to ask sweeping, broad questions or statements in order to get the reader thinking about the meaning of life or something like that. When a story begins out with some line like, “since the dawn of time, there have aways been things hidden from humans…” then I start to roll my eyes. If you want to incorporate philosophy in your story, that’s fine but there’s a way to include without immediately boring the reader.

philosophy

The Romantic: This narrator has the biggest crush on another character in the story and they will stop everything to go on and on about the love of their life. Their crush breathes and the world stops turning. Their crush has the most amazing eyes in the whole entire universe and not a single other person’s eyes compare to it. Listen, I like romance as much as the next person but there’s a better way to convey a relationship between two characters.

romance

The Pessimist: Life sucks and this narrator won’t let you forget it. This narrator is hard to read because you start to feel depressed over fictional things. I want to enjoy a book to a degree and I can’t do that when the narrator won’t give me anything to enjoy. Believe it or not, there’s always some sort of “silver lining.” Don’t let this narrator get you down.

eeyore

The Narrator Who Is Not Like Other People: This narrator is just so unique and different. They are not like average people. They are so extraordinary because of whatever talents or features they have. You mostly find this narrator in YA novels because teens want to live vicariously through this super special character. The author takes great care to let you know how different their character is from the rest and it’s exhausting. Again, “show, don’t tell” is a good rule here.

special

The Hardened and Angsty Soul: This narrator is a step up from the pessimist. This narrator has seen some sh*t in their time and everything they do comes back to whatever traumatic even they experienced. They always refer vaguely and bitterly back to this event and all of the other characters tell them that they need to move on but they just can’t because angst. I’ve seen this one pop up in plenty of detective stories and it’s pretty common in action movies as well. You’ll probably know who I’m talking about.

angst

Note: This is not meant to shade any specific authors. These are just observations I have made while reading. Feel free to debate me or agree with me in the comments. I like to hear your feedback.

Thoughts I have had while re-reading Harry Potter

Hi everyone! I am still without a new book to read but I have filled that void with Harry Potter. I’m currently on book five and I’m about midway through. Even though I have read this series countless times, my thoughts have changed as I have gotten older. In this post, I’m just going to give you a list of thoughts I have had while re-reading this series.

  • Why did they leave baby Harry on a doorstop all night? Why couldn’t they have waited closer to morning before leaving him?
  • How can these two grown adults be so awful to their own nephew for things he doesn’t know yet?
  • Hagrid is actually the best character in these books.
  • Ron’s snarky comments are actually bits of foreshadowing.
  • Hermione is too nice. If my friends kept asking to copy off my homework, I would have snapped at them by now.
  • The Weasley twins threw snowballs straight at Voldemort like true legends.
  • Literally, how can anyone justify Snape’s behavior?
  • Everyone keeps punishing Harry for things he doesn’t even know about!!!
  • I’m sad Winky the house elf wasn’t in the movie.
  • Everyone keeps roasting Hufflepuff and it is hilarious. (No offense to the Hufflepuffs)
  • I’m convinced that Dumbledore hires the Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers mostly for his own amusement.
  • Does Draco have nothing better to do than to harass the Gryffindors?
  • McGonagall is a badass and I will fight whoever says otherwise.
  • Remember when Dumbledore calmly asked Harry if he put his name in the Goblet of Fire?
  • “We’ve done everything we can to make the TriWizard Tournament safer for the students!” *puts even more students in danger in the second task*
  • SIRIUS BLACK DESERVED BETTER!!!
  • All of this food sounds delicious. I would kill for a pumpkin pasty right now.
  • Oh shit, it’s Umbridge.
  • It’s comforting to know that even wizards have to put up with bullshit politics.
  • DOBBY DESERVED BETTER!!
  • Harry is an innocent soul who just wants to chat with snakes and play Quidditch.
  • The sass in these books is giving me life.
  • Voldemort is so dramatic. He just has to monologue.
  • I’m still sad Peeves wasn’t in the movies.
  • How about we give Neville a break?
  • Honestly, Harry and Ron making up nonsense for their homework is the most  realistic part of these books.
  • Hermione, do not get upset that exams are cancelled! Do you know how many people would kill for that?
  • They’re just kids, for god’s sake!!
  • These kids are in danger!! Let’s surround them with soul-sucking monsters!! – stupid adults
  • Yeah, I still want to go to Hogwarts.

I’ll keep you updated as I finish the series. Let me know what thoughts you have had about Harry Potter or if you agree with me.