A Quick Update On My Second MAP {APADO #21}

(This is APADO yadda yadda yadda I’m sure y’all are as sick of this intro as I am. Haha.)

(And since I’m running short on time, this will be an extremely quick post. Better content tomorrow, I swear.)

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After finishing my first MAP part, I decided to jump right in on a second. I haven’t been working very faithfully on it, but it’s coming along nonetheless.

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I decided to do a horse this time, just because I haven’t done one before. My part has two sections – one that’s slow (purple) and one that’s faster (yellow). I’ve decided to go for a walk cycle with creative backgrounds for the first section and a gallop cycle for the second, and hopefully it’ll be inventive enough to look good.

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I’ve been using Richard William’s Animator’s Survival Kit. I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s scathing in places, but has so much useful knowledge.

That’s pretty much what I have so far. I’m hoping to try and wrap up the keyframes before Nanowrimo starts – honestly, the fact that it begins in a week or so is terrifying me.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

Landscapey Stuff {APADO #20}

(How am I already 2/3 of the way through APADO? It seems like it’s gone by pretty quickly. Who knew that posting once a day would be so much fun?)
(Also I apologize for yesterday’s sorry excuse for a post. I was in a hurry. In fact I didn’t even go through that twice. And I’m really, REALLY regretting that. Hehe.)

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I don’t think it’d be fair to say that I “do” photography. Do I like taking pictures? Yes. Do I think about taking photos all the time? No.

Really, the reason I take photos is to create a visual trigger for something I could describe in more detail. Be that a place I really love, or good times with friends and family, that’s the extent of my “love” of photography.

(And then I turn around and take photos for my blog and that has nothing to do with visual triggers. I hate it when I can’t make a reason for something absolute.)

I’ve got a folder called “Lanscapey stuff”. (To say that my file naming system is bizarre is an understatement.) In addition to myriads of blurry photos I can’t decide if I should delete or not, it’s got a lot of my visual triggers in it. Today, I’ve decided to pull ten of those out of the vault and see if I can jar my memory.


Back before I knew how to use a camera, I went to the Grand Canyon and had the opportunity to take the photos of a lifetime.

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Unfortunately, hardly any of my pictures turned out to be any good. However, there were a few good shots, like this one.

But do photos really do this place justice? In real life, this place was bigger than any frame. All I could see from one side of the horizon to the other was the canyon, the striped rocks descending down toward the river. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so small.


Icy trees look pretty cool.

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I froze my fingers off trying to capture how cool it was. My hot breath hanging in the air, my hands trembling, but a triumphant smile spreading across my red face as I got a shot that looked alright. That was an interesting afternoon.


I took a camping/hiking trip to Caprock Canyons State Park – a ton of my “good” photos are from that trip. The area is really arid, but we heard that there was a cave where a bunch of ferns grew naturally, thanks to a spring and some irrigating rocks. So we hiked to the unimaginatively named Fern Cave.

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I was not disappointed.

It was at least ten degrees cooler on the enormous rock I was sitting on – just the thing to cheer up a group of hot, dusty hikers. The constant drip of the water off the edges of the ferns echoed off the sides of the little alcove where they hung, swinging in the breeze, growing despite the desert around them.

And I saw a wild frog for the first time. That was pretty neat.


During that same trip, we got so hot in the afternoon that we decided to go drive around in the car for some relief and some wind through our hair. We wandered down a bunch of country roads and by several farms and ended up finding this relaxing tunnel of scraggly oak trees:

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It was so quiet here, I could here my own thoughts.


We also found a dirt road that led out to the middle of nowhere that was sort of anticlimatic but very pictreusque.

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I think the most wonderful thing about this photo is that there are absolutely no power lines – just the ribbon of caliche stretching for a good mile and the tawny brush swaying as the wind tickled the top of it.


But to be honest, God’s beautiful creation is everywhere.

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Like this gorgeous sunset that painted the sky back home one night. Not even the power lines can spoil this one.


I guess all my good landscapey stuff photos are taken while hiking and camping. Go figure. Needle Rock is a neat natural monument on a Boy Scout ranch in Fort Davis.

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Unlike the Grand Canyon, pictures do this one visual justice. But they don’t show the feeling of passing under this spire of twisted rock, the shadow that falls over you as you stare up at it in awe, the sun sparkling from behind it…


Yeah, I swear all my good photos are hiking photos.

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My brother had wandered ahead of us when I took this photo. I didn’t realize until I went back through all these photos that he makes this photo eighty times better. A man, walking all alone in the desert while stormclouds loom over him…

…I promise no more camping photos. Hehe.


Sometimes, a new angle changes everything.

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These icicles look really neat from the underside. Kind of like teeth, I imagine. What’s even cooler is how the ones on the right are bent from the winter wind blowing them as they melt.


And finally, oleander flowers.

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They’re some of the prettiest things out there, and they come from the strangest source. Who would’ve thought that these big, green, lumpy bushes would have nice flowers?


I can’t decide if this was a photography post or a writing post. Maybe it was both.

I suppose I need to start taking my camera more places. Who knows what I’ll find that’ll a visual trigger?

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

A Quick Chat About Flawed Characters {APADO #19}

(is-thay is pado-ay, y-may og-blay eries-say at-thay i’m ired-tay of troducing-inay. one ost-pay ery-evay ay-day or-fay the tire-enay onth-may of ober-octay.)
(I’m going to pretend like I actually know what I’m talking about today okay? Okay.)

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As I’m sure you’ve heard a million times, a complex character is a good character. One of the ways that authors flesh out characters is by giving them flaws. But I’ve seen time and time again where a character’s flaws aren’t actually flaws. I’m hoping to shed some light on the subject of flawed characters with some examples and a lot of satire.

But are your characters’ flaws actual flaws?

For it to be a flaw, it has to actually have an effect. If your character has anger issues, they have to actually hurt friendships and make things difficult. Because is it really a flaw if it has no impact?

If you say that your character’s flaw is clumsiness, but all their clumsiness does is make them endearing, is that really a flaw? What about dropping the important object and breaking it? Tripping over a sleeping guard’s foot?

When you give your character flaws, make sure they actually have an impact.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

 

My “Torc” {APADO #18}

(thubis ubis ubapubadubo, my lubittle blubog suberubies thubat ubi’m subo tubired ubof ubintrubodubucubing. subo ubi dubecubidubed tubo dubo ubit ubin ububbubi dububbubi.)

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Brandy wears a braided chain / made of the finest silver from the north of Spain…

…or a piece of steel stock from an engineering workshop.

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restraunts, swimming, in the car, photobombing at my sister’s wedding…

I’ve worn my necklace every day since I got it, and I’m still not sure why.

Maybe it’s because I’ve tied the leather cord it’s hanging from so tight that I can’t get it off. I have to pull it off the hitch ring every time I go through a metal detector.

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penny for scale

For awhile, I was calling it my torc. I forgot what it means. It’s something in Russian, because when I got it, I was obsessed with a race of Russian wolves I was trying to come up with for my infamous dogstory.

I got it from a professor at our local university who really took a fancy to our family after he met my older sister. He made it out of some scrap steel and told me, “I dunno what you’re supposed to do with it, but it sure looks cool.”

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oh yeah, this was the journal where I was pretending I had a twin brother.

I wanted the torc to mean something. Maybe a reminder, or a symbol.

So I found a shoelace in one of my drawers and worked up a necklace. Somehow, the shoelace lasted for way longer than it should have, but when it got nasty, I kidnapped a leather strip from a Moleskine notebook and I think it looks alright.

It’s been a year and a half, and I still have no idea what it’s supposed to stand for.

Any ideas?

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

Taking A Casual Saturday Stroll On A Wednesday {APADO #17}

(It has come to my attention that some of the individuals who have not subscribed to this weblog are unfamiliar with the series depicted by the above acronym. Each letter in the acronym is the initial letter of a word in the phrase “A Post A Day – October”, combined in sequence to create the nonsensical word “APADO”.)
(that was unnecessarily verbose)

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I like to take walks – on Saturdays. When it’s sunny and people are home to walk with.

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But today was a Wednesday, I was on my own, and it’s been forty degrees and drizzling all week. Which is great when you’re watching from behind glass and worth complaining over when you’re out in it with no gloves.

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^ raw enthusiasm.

I had big plans. I was going to attempt some aesthetic photography and selfies, just to see if I could. And possibly for the vain reason that I wanted a good picture of myself.

And as far as I could see, it wasn’t going to be too difficult.

Hehe.

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Three days of drizzle means beautiful water beads on the grass.

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Which is great until you walk through that grass and soak your shoes that are not meant for this kind of weather. And then the West Texas Wind™ kicked in and thoroughly refrigerated my feet.

I was not ready to give up yet.

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With things all nice and overcast, it was time to try for those shots.

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Nope. I just look like I’m wondering if it’ll rain. Which it is raining.

Maybe I can get some walking shots.

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Eh. Um. I think the gravel is filling the frame and ruining my composition.

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Is it just me or do I look like an android trying to imitate a human?

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After this little gem of a photo, I decided to pull the plug on my whole aesthetic photography thing. What’s the point?

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So I just played around on the cold, stiff playground equipment and froze my fingers off.

Which was definitely a lot more fun than trying to be someone I know I’m not.

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I found this tiny pine tree and played around with the self timer on my camera and ended up looking like Godzilla, roaring over a towering pine tree…

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The minute I let go of this ideal that photos of me should look a certain way, the minute I stopped noticing the cold and the fact that I was alone.

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^ actually enjoying myself

My feet were still frigid. Oh well.

On the way home, I took some cool pictures of the largest river in my hometown.

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I was so worried that I’d plunk my camera in it, though.

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Fortunately, it survived.

I stood in the middle of the street and took pictures of this puddle because why not.

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I almost felt…like a photographer. Like I was having fun taking photos. Maybe I finally understand why y’all like cameras so much.

Before my fingers were completely done for, I ran over my camera.

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And somehow it looks cool?

I found this key on the sidewalk just before I went back inside to sit on my hands and laugh my head off at my failed aesthetic photography.

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I like to think it’s symbolic.

Because I may have unlocked a big secret that many people are too embarrassed to share.

The harder I try to make myself look good, the worse I feel about myself.

But the minute I throw all the aesthetic-Pintrest goals out the window and just have some fun, I end up with photos I like?

It’s a weird paradox, isn’t it?

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

Today I Found Out… {APADO #16}

(*insert spiel about APADO here*)

(and we’re back to inspirational stuff. honestly i now know why people don’t try to post every day.)

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First thing this morning, I found out that humans need sleep. Or perhaps they don’t, and are just weak enough to crave it.

While studying genetics today, I found out that I’m probably heterozygous for blue eyes. Meaning if I have kids, there’s a good chance one of them will be blue-eyed, thanks to our recessive gene buddies.

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closeup of my eye (feat. heterochromia)

That’s comforting. I’ve always wanted blue eyes, even though I like my hazel/central heterochromia iridium.

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In my government course, of all places, I found out that the CIA and the US Postal Service are on the same legal level – independent agencies working for the Executive Branch.

(Also I discovered that taking a photo of sunglasses that doesn’t have a weird reflection is impossible.)

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At the barn today, I found out that you really should break a flake of hay in half to feed it to two horses. They will chase eachother around over it. Aren’t we all possessive over food?

Maybe I already knew it. But I also discovered something else today.

Staying curious is staying positive and connected to this world. Asking questions, choosing to be interested in what you’re learning, and making mistakes go a long way to making life exciting.

Even if it’s just over genetics.

Today, I found out that not everybody is curious.

But maybe tomorrow, I’ll find people realizing that they’re a lot more curious than they think.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

A Brief Rant-Review Of Great Expectations {APADO #15}

(this post marks the halfway mark of apado – the only blog series that I know of that involves posting once a day for the entire month of october and chocolate-covered cactus fruit.)
(okay tess, let’s not rant about this little booger of a book. focus on the calming piano music. the sun’s getting real low.)
(with that in mind, we’re going to keep this brief)

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Since I apparently have a knack for triggering people with my thoughts on critically acclaimed works, let’s talk about Great Expectations and everything I dislike about it everything it has taught me about storytelling.

If you like this book, I don’t mean you any offense. You’re totally allowed to like what you like and no one’s stopping you. In fact, I’d like to hear what it was that made this book worth it for you.

But for me?

I was done with it after about chapter four, but for some strange reason, I read the entire thing. Maybe it was a willpower issue.

At the end of everything, I thumped it closed, took a deep breath and said aloud – “I hated everyone and everything in that book and I’m so glad it’s over.” Of course, hate is a very strong word and I try to avoid overusing it…but this was not an overstatement.

Reading the first stage of Pip's Expectations
a little gif i animated during this nightmare of a reading process

There are a few reasons why I was so frustrated with it.

  • For starters, it’s very verbose. This is the least of its problems, but I kept on losing track of what I was reading because I was distracted by one of his incredibly long sentences. I read that the story was originally published in serial format – a little each week, paid by the word. It shows. The interruptions and rambling made me focus less on the actual story and more on his unorthodox way of saying things.
  • It also feels kind of creepy. In my opinion, the synopsis on the jacket doesn’t merit the spooky, crumbling-to-pieces setting and tone the book has. Everything is disturbed, off-kilter and missing the spark of vivacity and brightness that most classics have. I don’t like this feeling for the same reason that I don’t like Tim Burton – it creeps me out.

(Can we also talk about how Pip has this huge crush on Estella even though she treats him like a doormat and he knows it? I don’t think that’s flirtatious banter anymore, buddy. I think that’s abuse.)

Romance advice aside, though, the characters were the biggest problem in this story. I had to ponder as to why I was so indifferent toward them, seeing as one of the only good things about this book was the diverse cast. After a while, I finally cracked it.

  • I hated everything about this book because I didn’t care about any of the characters. Their goals, their ambitions, their expectations…all of it was lost on me because I couldn’t get over their whiny attitudes, intense revenge plots, and so on. There were barely any people in the book that I felt like I could stand behind, and this made everyone’s goals seem pointless.

I guess the thing with Great Expectations is (for me) that the cast fails to complete the goal of every character: to build a connection with the reader and get them hooked into the story. If no one cares about a character, they’re not going to care about their goals, the plot, or the point the novel is trying to make.

This is a really important point that I want to emphasize before I talk any more about character creation. The only way to keep a reader’s interest is to maintain that connection from the page to the real world.

Nothing is as important in storytelling as this.

tl;dr: I have to like your characters to care about your book.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

 

300,000 Words {APADO #14}

(i’m now two weeks into APADO – a freaky-awesome blog series that has me posting something every single day. it’s been fun. and panic-inducing. and fun.)

(golden rule of blogging: when you’re stuck, go back and look at something you haven’t touched in at least a year. you will have inspiration.)

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I guess I had never realized just how much I written until, back in March, I decided to make a cohesive list of everything I’d ever written. It was not a simple task. Instead of just listing my Nanowrimo novels, I dug through my old notebooks and found even the scraps of stories I’d started and abandoned.

Really, I’ve already spoiled how many words that adds up to, but now I have to prove it. Right?

Let’s get into it.

Nanowrimo

2015’s YWP sorry excuse for a novel was A Falcon of Gold. Also known as the most horrible piece of garbage to grace my writerapp. Somehow 40k words long.

2016’s novel, A Charger In Command, was the equally trashy, but at least not stereotyped. And it was the first Nanowrimo I actually won. 50k words.

I got busy in 2017, starting in April’s camp event with the 15k words of ridiculously confusing narrative entitled The Taiso Senshu. It’s so inchoerent it’s not worth anything, but it was good practice.

July 2017’s camp project was the first one I was actually somewhat proud of, even though it’s just as confusing as the others. The secret is the characters. Brother Robin weighs in at 50k words.

For the actual event in 2017, I wrote up Project Orion, which has promise but is a mess. It’s still on the brain, though, and I may rewrite its not-so-abhorrent 50k words.

I didn’t do any actual writing for this year’s April camp, but in July I wrote a 50k word novel called The Sentinel…which is still missing a scene or two, and honestly I need to fix that.

Short Stories

I competed in Zielle’s AAWC competition, which churned out some pretty decent short stories earlier this year. These are:

Ettiquette (somewhat of a crowd favorite!) – 2.5k words
House of Ghosts (my personal favorite) – 2.5k words
Syre’s Comic Stand Fling (this title is just awful!) – 2k words
The New City (ambitious but somewhat disappointing) – 7k words.

Abandoned Stories

A Genius In Paradise/Egg Pie: I tried to rip off Counting By 7s, got about 3k words in, and quit. I have it somewhere in my files, but I can’t find where.

The Journeyman is a world-building venture involving anthropomorphic dogs and four books worth of information? I haven’t gotten past 9k words with it – mostly because though it would make a beautiful movie, it makes a horrible book.

Random Stories

These are all the little random stories I’ve ever created. I’m not even going to try to explain them. I’d average that each one is about a thousand words long.

Runaway
“Crimple”
The Daweseseses
Gurks
Yearbooks
Cierra Leone
Detective McPheean
Autumn & The Chair (oh this story was weird!)
Phreedom Phor Phinn
Sonata Island
Penney & Mr. Dawson
Island-Group-Wreck
Grandma’s Tuition
Riiin & Rory – The Basement
Wild Horses
Army Horses
Westwood
That Tablecloth Skirt
RfR Substory

This adds up like so:

255k words from Nanowrimo + 14k words from short stories + 12k words from abandoned stories + ~19k words from little snippet stories in notebooks =

All-time estimate: an even 300,000 words!

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I almost can’t believe it. And I’m going to add 50,000 more words to this count next month.

I hope this didn’t come off as bragadocious. Regular posting resumes tomorrow.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

 

What Makes A Good Character? (Tess’s Character Theory, part I) {APADO #13}

(you’re reading APADO, my wittle one-post-a-day-for-a-whole-month series that i somehow haven’t failed yet.)
(a bunch of disclaimers: i’m not a master author, in fact i legit just called myself a fauxthor™ and it’s true. however, i’ve received a lot of praise for the characters i come up with. i’m going to try to ride the line between hoarding the knowledge i have and puffing myself up bigger than a wacky arm-waving inflatable tubeman. let’s hope i don’t step into either too much.)
(and now i’m like “isn’t it a bad thing to doubt myself? but isn’t it also a bad idea to think you know more than you actually do?” hello anxiety, i haven’t missed you but here you are.)
(now let’s turn this into a series)

APADO 13

Characters are an integral part of fiction. Actually, they’re more than half of what storytellers worry about. They can make or break a story, and they often do – which is what we’re going to take a look at today.

Trigger warning: my preferences are weird. Even if you don’t agree with everything I say, please be nice about it.

I recently sat down and watched Interstellar.

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Let me first preface this by saying that I’m not a scientific person and only understood about 52% of this film’s dialogue. There was a lot of infodumping, which I’m not a fan of.

(quick, poorly-written plot rundown for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie: earth is dying and no one’s sure how to fix it. cooper, our main character, is alarmed that his daughter’s bedroom seems to be alive – there are morse code patterns in the dust in the floor, books falling off the shelf in morse code messages, etc. they say pretty much two things: a set of map coordinates and the word “stay”. visiting the map coordinates reveals the secret location of nasa’s last base and the main plot: earth is about to become really uninhabitable and cooper, due to his experience as a fighter pilot, will be needed to help execute one of the two plans. “plan a” is to relocate all of earth’s population to another planet. “plan b” is to leave the population to die and take 700 new embroyos to a new planet to start a new colony and save humanity. all the characters are on different sides of this ethical question. cooper and his team fly off into space to have a look at some planet prospects. long story short, nothing looks good and everything’s sad and we lose one of the crew members. they’re running out of fuel, too. in order to get to the last chance of a planet, cooper volunteers to go off into the black hole that’s messing with the time of everything and honestly i didn’t catch how all of this is working because infodumps. once in the blackhole (which somehow works as like a time sphere/way to communicate with the past and future?) cooper realizes that this was a horrible idea and he should never have come and tries to tell his past self to “stay” (books coming off the shelves and stuff). i have no idea what happened here. murph is grown up now and gets stuff going back on earth because he can also somehow communicate with her through this watch that he gave her. everyone evacuates, somehow they rescue cooper, cooper learns that his female friend went to start that embroyo colony on the last planet and that she’s all alone and vows to go rescue her. THE END.)

I was extremely disappointed at the end of it. I was expecting this movie to be amazing – it’s Christopher Nolan, for crying out loud. Though I will give it props for its amazing visual effects, terrific music, and interesting take on the “end-of-the-world” idea, it commits a sin that makes me never want to see it again: blank, thin characters.

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Now, I understand that I am not the target audience for this film (it’s very popular in the nerdy, scientific circles) but this is a problem that could have been fixed with just a little more time and a little less word salad.

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Yes, they have a few motivations and remotely memorable personalities, but they don’t seem to do anything. Things are happening all around them, and they react to them, but their reactions are the only thing they’re giving to the movie. The black hole, the space travel, the time discrepancies and the emergencies push out the characters and take over the plot.

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And we never answer the big ethical question this movie asks (save the living or start over?) because the characters don’t have enough screentime or enough depth to make a choice. They’re weak, passive, and almost forgettable.

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I could have loved this movie if the characters had been given more time of day. It was visually beautiful, sported terrific world-building, had a larger-than-life stake, and would have made an amazing point if they had gotten around to answering their ethical question. They didn’t answer the question because the characters were too weak to form a good opinion.

Interstellar was a frustrating movie because the characters weren’t allowed to lead the plot.

Now, an example of a horrible plot with terrific characters: Thor: The Dark World.

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(Please lower your stones.)

This is a hated movie. This is a weird movie. This is one of the “worst” Marvel movies in the entire franchise, and yet I enjoyed it way more than I should have. Its merit is with one thing and one thing only: the characters.

(quick plot rundown: there’s this creepy alien liquid virus called the aether, unleashed in some ancient battle, and it’s super gimmicky and the sole reason why this movie is weird. after the events of everything in all the movies leading up to this in the MCU, loki’s being imprisoned for invading earth, thor is trying to make peace in what’s going to be his new kingdom, and jane foster, his girlfriend, is really wishing he were around more often. there’s going to be a cool cosmic convergence thing happening, which will make people be able to travel between the nine realms and meet eachother, yay. a portal has already appeared in a warehouse. although jane and darcy don’t know where it leads to, it definitely takes things places. jane, without realizing it, follows a similar portal and gets infected with the aforementioned space virus, the aether…and it really doesn’t make sense. meanwhile, back on asgard, heimdall, everyone’s favorite gatekeeper/living nest camera tells thor that he can’t see where jane is anymore, prompting him to go to earth to find her. he finds her, she’s full of aether juice, and it’s not good. we learn that the aether is connected to this creepy pale dude named malekith who plans to take over the nine realms…or something. he wants the aether cuz it’s apparently able to be weaponized. he attacks asgard looking for it, because thor brought jane there, and frigga, thor’s mother, dies protecting her. malekith and his dudes are barely repulsed. thor has a plan, and it’s a hairbrained scheme, really, but it just might work and it’s all they can do. with the help of loki (who thor convinces to help him based on frigga’s death), the warriors three, sif (who’s causing tension because she’s romantically interested in thor), and jane, thor goes to try to find and stop malekith. which he sort of does. thor and loki trick him into getting the aether out of jane, but they fail to destroy it and loki dies (well, he doesn’t really, but we don’t know that yet). the aether isn’t in jane anymore (?) but it’s now roosting in malekith. the convergence is imminent. the warehouse portal apparently led to the place where they were, so thor and jane (minus loki and everyone else) go to earth to try to beat malekith, who’s planning to unleash the aether while the convergence thing is going on and so destroy all the worlds. they have a big fight, thor beats him up, he gets crushed by his own ship and dies, the aether is contained in an infinity stone and stashed away, problems have been solved and yay life is good until the next thor adventure, which i didn’t like but oh well. THE END.)

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Yes, we have a similar weird space-themed plot with confusing element (what exactly does the Aether do again?) and word salad. Yes, we have a movie almost devoid of anything good. It’s the exact opposite of Interstellar: the plot is horribly paced and confusing, yet… I liked it. And I certainly wasn’t the only one.

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It’s obvious now that the main difference between Interstellar and Thor: The Dark World lies in the characters. In T:TDW, the characters are actively driving the story, despite the Convergence-thing being out of their control. They’re going after the cosmic liquid space virus. They’re reluctantly teaming up.

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In fact, most of the conflict is character-centered, despite this movie’s overly-massive stakes. This doesn’t make it any less confusing, but it makes it infinitely more likable.

If the characters had been reactive, this movie would be utter trash. It still kind of is. But the characters bring it from a -70 to a 5/10.

The point:

yes, I just praised Thor: The Dark World and trashed Interstellar:

If your characters are flat, uncompelling, and make no choices of their own, they can take your A+ amazing plot and turn it into something without a soul.

If your characters are well-rounded, decisive, and bounce well off eachother, you can take something confusing and weird and make it mostly enjoyable (even if it’s still confusing and weird.)

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A story is only as good as the people who are making it happen. As an author, the very worst thing you can do is just make them react to what’s going on.

tl;dr: Good characters are proactive.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

(what have i done?)

 

 

 

Everyday Miracles {APADO #12}

(APADO = a post a day, october = nerve-wracking heart-attacking self-inflicted blog challenge i should be regretting but i’m not)

(this is going to be a short post, seeing how yesterday’s was as long as four cvs receipts)

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I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it, but I really love to roller skate. I’ve been doing it off and on for years, but I get the same thrill every time I pull a pair of skates on.

But life’s been busy recently, and I haven’t had a chance to get to the rink. It doesn’t help that I outgrew my skates (which were hand-me-downs from one of my sisters). They were a good little pair of quads…before I got gargantuan feet.

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from a go pro vid at the the skating rink (and feat. my older older brother mac)

It’s not as easy when you don’t own your own skates. I have to bring an extra dollar to rent a pair, and they really aren’t terrific. (I mean, if you consider the constant abuse they go through, they’re astonishingly good. But the wheels are really slippery. Maybe it’s a ploy by the management to get insurance money or something.)

Earlier this year, I was considering buying a pair of roller blades. But they’re expensive, and although I have some spending money, I can’t justify spending a hundred dollars like that.

That hasn’t stopped me from wanting a pair, though. They’ve been on the brain since the beginning of summer.

So let’s flash forward to today. My granddad was going to this giant fair-thrift-store-rummage-sale-thing, and being the spontaneous person I am, I came along.

(Now when I say “Granddad”, please imagine a 70-year-old man who looks like he’s 40, laughs like he’s 20, and gives advice like he’s 104. He’s the definition of hardcore awesomeness.)

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I give you – an ENFP paradise!

This place was awash with awesome stuff. I brought my camera, meaning to take lots of pictures, but honestly I was too busy looking at everything on the tables.

At least I got a shot of these baskets of records, though. Aren’t they minorly aesthetic?

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Anyways. I was having fun looking at everything, destressing from a very long week, forgetting about all the things I really should have been doing – when I saw them.

Rollerblades.

Beautiful rollerblades from the era where they had the joint for your ankle to flex correctly. In my size.

For – I could have sworn I was dreaming – $3. Three dollars.

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I still can’t get over how amazing God is. How I had almost given up on getting roller blades, and He dropped them in my lap when I was least expecting it. How He works in big, big ways – but still cares about little things like…rollerblades.

It’s been a really, really good day.

tl;dr: Little miracles happen every day. You’ll never know until you start looking for them.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

 

Making A Drawing (Step By Step) {APADO #11}

(i think i’m still damaged from yesterday)

(what’s this? it’s apado, my weird little blog series brainchild. so far it’s succeeded in making me post once a day for the entire month of october. which has been…less than two weeks. i’ve still got a long way to go.)

(disclaimer: i’m not a professional artist. or tutor. or anything. well, i’m a professional weirdo…but just be warned.)

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Making a drawing takes a lot of work.

As in, the drawing featured in this post took me at least an hour. For just this little drawing that literally takes up less space than an ice cream cake.

Honestly, I don’t know how I have the patience to sit down and draw, seeing as I usually have the attention span of a sugar-spiked monkey with ADHD. But there’s something unnerving about leaving a drawing unfinished. And there’s something fulfilling about actually finishing it.

It’s a long haul from the idea stage, but good things come to those who keep working and pouring blood, sweat, and tears down their pencils. Because who wants to just sit around waiting for good things to happen?

Let’s go through a sort-of step by step guide of the process.

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I’m not going to be a Sponsored Blogger With Sponsored Supplies™ and say that you have to have a certain brand of anything to draw. That’s ridiculous. Good art supplies are nice, but they’re not everything. Use what you have and let your determination carry you the rest of the way.

(However, most of my pencils are Prismacolor and I can’t recommend them enough.)

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Did someone say...lamp?

Moth memes aside, good lighting is definitely important. Even if it smells weird. Like mine. But to me, it was worth inhaling melty light bulb to be able to see what I was doing.

(This lamp is seriously whack though.)

Quick tip about lamps: if you’re right-handed, put the lamp on your left side so you don’t cast shadows onto your work. And if you’re left-handed, you’re probably used to reversing directions, so do the exact opposite of what I just said. As usual.

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Having sharp pencils makes your work look better. Somehow, I missed this vital piece of information until recently. Go figure. Actually, go sharpen!

But before my pencil touches the paper, I have to narrow my ideas down to one cohesive thought. Which is honestly the hardest part of the process. I have to constantly remind myself that it’s better to do one thing well than fifty things badly.

And write down everything else I wanted to draw. And inevidably forget about all of them. It’s to soothe the anxiety.

For this drawing, I wanted to draw a character of mine that I’d roleplayed with that day and got caught daydreaming about. So with her in my mind’s eye (and everything else shoved out), I moved right into the next phase – sketches. Some artists call them “studies”.

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I use my big sketchpad for this. He’s big enough to encourage me to try new things.

Don’t be afraid to find new angles. Who wants to get stuck drawing the same pose over and over again? Expand your horizons! Excite yourself!

(The more this post goes on, the more I sound like Bob Ross.)

When I’m doing studies, I draw small. Since small drawings always look amazing, it keeps me going in the stage when I’m most likely to quit.

I knew her basic character design and that I wanted her looking up, so I played around with that until I got an idea of what I wanted.

Richard Williams says that sketches are “seductive”. Meaning, they trick you into thinking they have more vivacity than they actually do. Something about line pressure and width, I think. Once stripped down, they don’t look nearly as lively as they did.

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I know what he means. I almost like this little sketch better than what I came out with. Ah well.

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It’s time to start sketching on my good paper! I like to use this sneaky little guy – a non-photo blue pencil. His lines won’t be picked up by scanners, so if I leave a trace of a weird-looking sketch, it won’t be there to haunt me later.

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Artists have to have imagination. Because how else is this supposed to look like a nice-looking lady? Right now it’s a weird lookin’ head. With a little oval mouth.

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Slowly, the details are filling in. I decided to try something new and draw a side braid from the front. Honestly, it was a lot easier than I thought. It’s…kind of like armor plating, if that doesn’t sound too weird.

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After I was finished sketching out my details, I went over everything with a sharp 4B drawing pencil, just to make sure I liked the way it looked. The braid looked much better than I’d expected, and everything else was looking good, so…time for the nerve-wracking part.

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I like my art to have thick lines. Maybe because I’m not so adept at shading yet. But this step always scares me because one slip of the pen and I’ve wasted all my time.

Especially with a brush tip pen like this guy. I love the lines he makes, but he gives me anxiety.

Careful…

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Phew. Not looking too bad. The shoulders are a bit thick, but they’ll look all right once I go back over the rest.

Which will mean more anxiety.

Thanks, Brush Pen.

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Time for the fun, relaxing part – coloring! I love coloring. It doesn’t like me, but I love it.

Coloring is a really informal process of layering on a million colors all at once and working with several pencils at the same time. I can’t really say everything I did with the color, but I…made a gif so you can see the layers stack up?

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Some notes on the color:

  • Colors go from lightest to darkest. So, if you wanted to make green, you would put down yellow before blue. (I’m not really sure why. It’s just…what I’ve been taught.)
  • In past, I’ve used my black pencil to add the few shadows I know how to add. The more I do that, the more I realize it’s wrong. Using darker tones of the same colors often leads to better shadows – especially in skin.
  • I like to tint hair with my mauvey-red pencil. He gives it a really nice glow, no matter what color goes over it.
  • The gold colored pencil is very easy to overuse. Just a light coat of him is enough for most things (I mean, unless you want to deck something out.)

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I like to go back over the lines with my pen after I’m finished with the colored pencil, just to make them stand out a little better.

And to give myself a little more anxiety.

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Add my signature, a little color in the background, and we’re done! For now. Until I get tired of looking at the one thing I missed and go back and obsess over it.

Right now, that thing is the tendril of hair on the left side of her neck.

It looks like a curly fry.

tl;dr: This was an art post with some advice but probably not nearly enough.

But honestly, all the advice in the world couldn’t get you there on it’s own. Practice and time are big keys in getting good at anything.

I think I’m going to try to fix the curly fry.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

 

Fauxthors™: A Collab with Jo @ The Lens & The Hard Drive (feat. a special guest) {APADO #10}

(this is APADO, a series where I attempt to post once a day for the entire month of october. despite sickness. despite life. i’m not doing half bad so far.)
(Jo posted part one on her blog – you should go check it out!)
(ugh no one is going to like this)

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Okay so I’ve got this habit. Superpower. Thing. It’s like, whenever I’m just sitting reading a comic book or like anything and someone says my name, I’m like what? where did that come from?

And like, I just heard someone say my name.

It was something like “Bring Sasha next time!” Except it was echo…i…er.

So it was more like – bring bring bring Sasha Sasha Sasha next next next time time time.

AND I HEARD IT.

Like, it was pretty much a Bat-signal for ME.

So here I am! What are we doing? What’s going on? WHAT AM I NEEDED FOR?

Questions? Gotcha. I’m a question machine. I’ll answer questions like nothing you’ve ever seen before. I’ll answer as many questions as – oh.

Asking questions?

Well honestly I’m not as good at that but hey, I’m not horrible either, right?

I guess it would help if I read this paper thingie. Who’s even answering these questions?

Ohhhh….oh wow it’s her! IT’S THE ONE WHO SENT OUT THE SASHA-SIGNAL THIS IS SO AWESOME!

*clears throat* Ladies and gentlemen…

…but do any guys even read this thing? seriously though…

…it’s my honor…and duty…and privelege…

…I present to you…

Jo!

@ The Lens & The Hard Drive

Jo’s an awesome writer writing awesome stories like, all the time! But especially during Nanowrimo. Which is legit the craziest challenge ever.

But just like Tess – oh wow I am being so meta here, mentioning my creator and all – Jo writes for fun.

So like, her and Tess have these sessions where they just talk about writing like they know what they’re talking about and they really don’t and both of them know it and they still try to talk about it anyways.

Recently they started calling themselves Fauxthors™. It’s demeaning, but accurate I guess. Don’t forget the trademark!

I mean, I get it. I get doing something and not wanting to make a job out of it. I play baseball and I’m not half-shabby at it but I’m not signing up for the major leagues or anything.

Oh yeah, we were talking about writing. Fauxthors™. Nanowrimo.

And I was supposed to ask Jo these questions about Nanowrimo.

How did we get talking about baseball?

Anyways.

So, Jo. Nanowrimo novels. What’s got you up late at night this time around?

I’m worried it’ll be cliche, boring, and not very coherent. And that I’m copying from other stories. I sure hope not!

Oh gosh I hate that feeling. When you’re trying to be original and you feel like you might not be. Or maybe that trying to be original is unoriginal and you should just not try and be unoriginal and there’s no answer to the conundrum and I need to stop talking. How well do you know your MC?

I woulda scrapped my story if it hadn’t been for Gale. I knew her like a best friend- which she was in many cases. I probably would know what would happen if Gale came here. XD

Okay hands down, Gale is the best. She’s like seriously awesome. Can she come hang out with me sometime? We could watch cartoons and eat Cracker Jacks. OH MAN I LOVE CRACKER JACKS.

QUESTIONS. That’s right. So like, I know you call little baby ideas something…what is it…plot bunnies. What was the first plot bunny that brought about your current idea?

The first plot bunny I thought of was, “what if there was a girl who loved photography as much as I do?” Nothing big. “What if this girl did a stakeout, like I did?” Again, nothing big. So I kept it in my notebook. I was reading some books and watching some videos when the final bunny popped up. “What if this girl was taught by her dad who’s in the army?” And that’s started it all.

I’m like already feeling for your character! I do stakeouts, my dad taught me like a ton of everything I know, and I’m not really good at photography but I love pictures? Mine are always…blurry. For some reason. Huh.

But like how do you guys come up with these ideas? They’re seriously awesome. I know there’s something like pantsing, planning, something like that…which one did you pick? And why?

I just pantsed because it seemed like fun. Not knowing how or where or why and finding it out was exciting. The results of that led to a villain I was terrified of, so I didn’t touch it for a while. That’s when I switched to outlining, so I knew what was happening.

Outlining. My teachers tell me to outline my papers and I think it takes longer to outline them than to write them so I usually just skip it. I end up getting bad grades. But honestly I get bad grades no matter what I do. It’s like my curse.

All this must take like a bunch of time. How much time do you spend thinking about your nano?

My first NaNo, I gave it 10 minutes before I decided I wanted to it, not much time for thought. XD I just jumped into it, went in blind. Since then, it’s always on my mind! I’ll be doing something mundane, then go, “Dareine would do this”. It worries my family. 😛

If your family’s not worried, you’re not living, Jo.

Honestly, writers are like super-cool. I don’t understand how they work. But I don’t think Tess or Jo really understand either? Hey, it’s all cool. Let’s move on to these questions about writing and stuff.

So, back on you, Jo…who’s an author you look up to?

I could name 5 and that would be the tip of the iceberg. But one that I reaaaaally look up to is J.R.R. Tolkien, of course. Some say he spent too much time in worlds that don’t exist, but I think he made a haven for weirdos like me. 😛

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TOO MUCH TIME IN WORLDS THAT DON’T EXIST. EVER. Weirdo havens for the win.

But how do you keep going? What’s something that kept you going when you wanted to quit?

Enni. On the last day of camp, I’d been told that nobody asked me to join Camp NaNo, and that made me want to quit. My cabin promptly convinced me otherwise, with Enni very efficiently scolding me. XD I have the paragraphs to prove it!

AWWWWW THAT IS SO SWEET! Enni’s pretty awesome. Me and her characters get along great.

Gosh this is so meta.

Um.

So, like, that’s what keeps you going, but…what’s the reason you write?

Ultimately, I want to glorify God, and I want to tell stories. It actually started for stuff for me to read. Whole worlds I could call home, and characters I could call friends. Somewhere along the road I guess I figured maybe other people would want to see those worlds too.

WOW. That’s deep. That’s like. Wow. I can’t even. IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL. I’m wiping tears. Jo, you’re breaking me down.

So – just takin’ some notes here, cuz your novel-writing thing is actually really cool – how do you come up with your stories? Where do you look to for inspiration?

Someone once told me to write about life. So I did. That’s where I find it from. I find it from normal things like going to church late, getting migraines, and oak trees, kids talking. Other writers, books, music. Little normal things like that that nobody except me notices.

Maybe that’s where I’ve always gone wrong. I’ve always thought you had to have something amazing to write about. I think someone once said that the best inspiration is life. But I don’t remember who it was. Maybe it was my mom. Or me. Or some guy on TV. Honestly who cares, SOMEONE said it.

So like, it must be weird, though, when people find out that you write stuff. Even if you are a Fauxthor™. What’s been a memorable reaction when people eventually find out you write?

It had been the last days of April Camp NaNo, and I was talking to my cousins online, and they ask me what I’m up to. So I’m like, “do I tell them about Camp NaNo or not?” I decide to tell them, and when I’m done, my cousin Jon asks me, “have you joined a cult? !?” And my other cousin’s like, “ good luck with Camp No no!” Thanks guys. Thanks.

BUT YOU’VE GOT TO ADMIT THAT IT’S LIKE A CULT. YOU GUYS STAY UP TILL WHO KNOWS WHEN AND MAKE SACRIFICES OF WORDS AND COOKIES AND CHARACTERS. AND MAYBE CHANT INCANTATIONS OF SHIPPING AND SPOILERS.

But hey everything looks like a cult until you get to know what it is.

Even cults.

But aren’t cults really cults so duh they’re going to look like cults?

I don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore.

This has been like, so fun! I’m going to have to convince Tess to let me on here more often. I could talk for like, five hours! On anything! Everything! Just get me going and I –


I’m sorry. I had to cut that off. I couldn’t let her talk you guys until your graves. BECAUSE SHE WOULD.

Honestly, Sasha is a character could write for hours. I wasn’t originally planning to feature anyone, but then Jo made Gale give me my interview…and I couldn’t resist. Especially knowing how much some of you like Sasha. I’m looking at you, Madi.

I want to thank Jo sooooo much for collabing on this with me! Fauxthors™ for the win.

You can find Jo at her blog, The Lens & The Hard Drive. She’s super relatable and has goregous photos. Go ahead, drop by!

This post was a mess. I’m regretting everything.

tl;dr: I rambled way too long with Sasha and had Jo answer some questions and remembered why posts need to have structure.

Please forgive me.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}