Month: April 2019

Revisit, Rewatch, Review – Avengers: Endgame (Spoiler Edition)

Revisit, Rewatch, Review – Avengers: Endgame (Spoiler Edition)

Yes, we now have a spoiler review up. I’m now going to write some text so that we don’t get a spoiler in the blurb. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris laoreet eros eu velit feugiat condimentum. Quisque commodo vitae urna vitae […]

Revisit, Rewatch, Review – Avengers: Endgame

Revisit, Rewatch, Review – Avengers: Endgame

First off, this is going to be a spoiler free review, you are safe. Tomorrow will not be, so be warned. Avengers: Endgame, what to say about it. It’s the movie event that I’ve been working towards since Iron Man came out in 2008. It’s […]

Concepts – Overwriting

Concepts – Overwriting

This is something that has come up recently for me, the idea of overwriting in a book. It’s probably been noticeable because I’ve been reading LitRPG books, which can often be self published or are very often done by younger writers. It’s been something that I’ve been thinking about, and it’s something that probably has two different ways it can be used.

The first is by duplicating description in the same sentence. or using too much description.

The second is by using large words for the sake of large words.

A couple of examples form books that I started reading and then quit, and one that I am actually continuing.

“The trials are our exegesis…” – A Warriors Path by Davis Ashura

“While thinking internally to myself…” – Ascend Online by Luke Chmilenko

Let’s talk about why these are poor. First, using “exegesis” in a sentence, and I shared this with a co-worker who reads a lot, is not a common word that people know. Learning new words isn’t bad, but there weren’t context clues to provide the answer to what it means. So someone would have to stop reading your book to look it up if they don’t know the meaning. And why weren’t there context clues, because this was sentence number one in the book.

I know what “exegesis” means, and because it was the first sentence, I immediately stopped listening to the book. What the first sentence tells me about the book is that it’s going to be using a lot of big words for the sake of using big words. And it’s supposed to be an epic fantasy book, premise seemed interesting, but if, in one sentence, it feels like the writer is shooting for showing off their knowledge of the English language, it isn’t ideal.

The second example is really about that first one, giving too much description. “Thinking internally” is a redundant statement. Besides that, the Ascend Online book, which isn’t bad thus far, spends too much time going through the fine details of the RPG aspect of a LitRPG. That can be done at the start, but then needs to fade to the background and that’s another way it is overwritten. It doesn’t just imply some things that the writer knows are happening in the background, but instead spells them out in great detail. This is something that happened in the Arcane Ascension series, where the writer would spend too much time explaining something that the characters already know for the sake of the reader.

So how can you avoid overwriting a story?

I think the biggest thing you can do is be a harsh critic of your own work. Not of yourself, but taking a step back from the work, look at it and ask yourself, is this part needed, or is this from a different story that I just haven’t written yet. Just because you’re cutting something, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good, it just might not be for this story.

Along with that, ask yourself if you need to spell that out for the reader or how easily the reader can understand it. If you feel like a reader can infer what is being written about, for example, when leveling up in a LitRPG, if you’re in a video game, like Ascend Online is, have there be a noise, like a ding, when a skill levels up. As a reader, I’ll know that whatever skill was used immediately prior to the “ding” leveled up, the author doesn’t need to tell me that metal working leveled up when you were just working with metal, that should be obvious to any reader, and if the reader missed if, they know from the “ding” to look back at the previous action to see what it was. Doing something as simple as that will make the story flow better.

Ask yourself, is all this backstory/world building needed at the beginning? That’s another piece of overwriting that I see very often. It falls into the camp of too much description, but ask yourself where and when you need the backstory and world building. Too much of it is front loaded, instead, put it in when it is needed. I suspect what you’ll find, even if you had it front loaded before, is that when you reach the end of the story, there will be world details that still haven’t been put into the story, and that’s awesome. That means you’ve found the parts that were overwritten and don’t matter to your story. Also, by interweaving the backstory and world building into the main body of the story, I, as a reader, am more apt to remember them as if they are all at the beginning, I might just skim over them to get to the action.

The other thing that is often forgotten in LitRPG or with self published writing, is use an editor and copy-editor. The copy-editor is going to cut down on grammar and spelling issues, so not as important for overwriting, but the editor is the person who is going to track down those overwritten bits, question why there is so much detail or why you are using a word. They are going to be harsher on your writing than you will be able to ever be. With that, it’s important that, even if you have a friend who likes to read and is good with English, don’t use them as your editor. They aren’t going to be able to be as harsh on the work as it might need to be, because they know you. I feel like I’ve read several books where they had some editing work done, but the author either refused to trust their editor, or the editor was a friend. So there’s another thing, the editor wants you book to succeed, even if you don’t know them, because they want more work from you. When they suggest cutting something that you really liked, it isn’t because they hate you or what you wrote, it’s because they genuinely should care about helping you make the best book. So find an editor that you can trust who isn’t your friend.

Image Credit: Amazon

Obviously, there is more that you can do, but let’s spend a little bit of time looking at some books that I really do like.

The Dresden Files – I don’t think these are overwritten. My reasoning for that is because Jim Butcher gives you enough detail but not too much and he doesn’t spend any time at the start of any books explaining something about his world that is going to show up later. There are points where as a reader, I feel like between books he’s repeating himself, but if someone was reading them once and as they came out, they probably would need that reminder. Since I’m reading them after the fact and in a row, I wish it wasn’t there, but it is smart that it is there.

Lord of the Rings – Tom Bombadil. That’s all that I need to say, JRR Tolkien had some stuff that he wanted to get into the book and added to the book that is most certainly not needed. Tom Bombadil was cut from the movies for a reason, and probably should have been cut from the book. I’ll give him some slack for the time frame, but Tolkien does overwrite, and when you think about The Silmarillion, you can see how much he cut and had in backstory that he decided to publish separately, thankfully.

Chronicles of Narnia – I think that this is another example of something that isn’t overwritten. CS Lewis does a good job keeping his series short and to the point in each book. There are a few bits that haven’t always aged the best, but that isn’t an overwriting problem, so not an issue for here. From The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, through The Last Battle, you get the information you need when you need it and the stories are on point. You could argue that The Magician’s Nephew is simply a book of backstory, but it is fairly important backstory for the world, and the book reads as a novel onto itself with plenty of action and interesting moments versus just an explanation of how the world works.

What are some book series that you think are overwritten? Are there some sentences that are really poorly written, if so, share them below, please, I love weird stuff like that.

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Dungeons and Dragons Character Races – Half-Orc

Dungeons and Dragons Character Races – Half-Orc

Back into Dungeons and Dragons character races, here is one of the two half races, along with Half-Elf. The basic ideas is that it’s a half human and half orc, but there’s no real reason, other than that they are statted in a way that […]

Book’em Nerdo – Arcane Ascension Series

Book’em Nerdo – Arcane Ascension Series

It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review, that’s mainly because I’ve been reading a ton of Dresden Files recently. However, at work, I’ve been listening to the Arcane Ascension series which thus far has two books Sufficiently Advanced Magic and On the […]

TelevisionTalks: Ultraman

TelevisionTalks: Ultraman

I first heard about the original Ultraman when Kristen and I were listening to Ready Player One, at least that I remember. There’s a cool moment with Ultraman and how he works that is talked about in that book. I was surprised when I saw that Netflix had released a new Ultraman show.

Ultraman, the Netflix show, is based off of the same character as the 1966-1967 show from Japan. The original show revolves around aliens attacking earth and until Ultraman shows up, the Science Patrol (yes, it’s called the Science Patrol), are unable to drive back the aliens. Now, it’s the next generation of Ultraman. The Science patrol is still around, but the alien threat is now from aliens who are living on earth. When an alien shows up that was last seen 12 years ago when a plane crashed killing everyone on board, the Science Patrol kicks it up a notch.

The show isn’t all that complex a show plot wise, it’s aliens do something, and the human who is Ultraman shows up and has a moral quandary about he’s doing. And it kind of repeats that trope throughout the show, but it does have some through lines in the show. Especially at the end of the season you get a through line in a few episodes. This isn’t a show that has a ton of major through lines though. You tend to just get two or three episodes that are somewhat tied together. But I think some of that simplicity is what makes the show work. They don’t try and confuse it too much with misdirection upon misdirection.

Image Source: Netflix

I think it also works because the style of animation on the show is an interesting 3D anime style animation. It wasn’t something that I thought I’d like, but they do a solid job with it. I do think that there are a few spots where it is rough around the edges, but in some ways, that’s some of the charm of the animation style. You get that billow of smoke that looks solid, but not as good as you thought it was going to be. And since it is based off of something in the 1960’s, not sure how faithfully, having that little bit of feel where it’s trying to do something on the cutting edge is fun. It kind of works with the premise of Ultraman, and you also end up with some 3D animations that are just amazing.

Anime shows often come down to how the voice acting is done, especially in watching a dub. Netflix didn’t really hold back on getting talent for this, which was great. You have Josh Hutcherson voicing the main character and Critical Role cast members Matt Mercer and Liam O’Brien voicing character as well. So you have solid voice acting, and there’s something fun about recognizing voices in an anime, especially when it isn’t just the main few voice actors that you get on many a Funimation dubbed show.

Overall, this is a very fun show. It doesn’t try to be too much and do too much. As Kristen said about it, there’s just something fun about it, and I think that is the best away to describe it. It’s definitely a show for teenagers and adults, but it doesn’t mean that it’s too heavy. And it doesn’t have sex in it really, there’s just alien blood and once in a while human blood and various gore that you see. Even that isn’t too bad compared to what it could have been. And it’s just nice to have that action show where the character is growing that doesn’t end up relying on violence of fan service. So don’t go into it expecting anything that profound or deep, but do expect a good time.

Have you watched Ultraman on Netflix? Did you like the show?

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Friday Night D&D – Burn it Down

Friday Night D&D – Burn it Down

Welcome back to another installment of Friday Night Dungeons and Dragons. The idea for this game came from my writing about Tieflings yesterday. I kind of did a light version of the story with the firefighter backstory that I created, however, I think that can […]

Dungeons and Dragons Character Race – Tiefling

Dungeons and Dragons Character Race – Tiefling

Now we’re getting towards the edges of the races you can play in Dungeons and Dragons from the main Players Handbook. There are additional races or race options in other books. I’m going to call out some Tiefling things are from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. […]

Spoilers Sweetie

Spoilers Sweetie

That title might not make a lot of sense, but it’s from Doctor Who. In Doctor Who, the Doctor keeps on crossing paths with River Song who is experiencing the Doctor’s life in a different order than the Doctor is, so she has a diary with information and she tries not to spoil what is coming in the future for him.

So besides the cute title, what am I getting at in an article about spoilers?

Part of me wants to try and define a set of rules for when something is still a spoiler or not. When has it been around long enough that it’s fair game and when should you talk in hushed tones about something.

Image Source: BBC

This comes up with Avengers: Endgame coming out in a week basically and people, for good reason, not wanting to be spoiled on what happens. It also comes up right now because there have been massive spoilers posted on Twitter, including leaked footage at this point time, and it’s still just over a week away.

I’ve defined a little bit of what a spoiler is, but let’s nail down a definition.


spoiler is an element of a disseminated summary or description of any piece of fiction that reveals any plot elements which threaten to give away important details. Typically, the details of the conclusion of the plot, including the climax and ending, are especially regarded as spoiler material. It can also be used to refer to any piece of information regarding any part of a given media that a potential consumer was not intended to know beforehand. Because enjoyment of fiction depends a great deal upon the suspense of revealing plot details through standard narrative progression, the prior revelation of how things will turn out can “spoil” the enjoyment that some consumers of the narrative would otherwise have experienced.

Wikipedia

That’s a pretty long definition from Wikipedia there, but I think it covers it really well. To cut that down, it is spoiling anything related to the plot that is shared with the consumer of the plot by an outside point prior to the consumer getting to that point of the plot. Generally, I think that does spoil the anticipation for something knowing information about it head of time.

By that definition, technically any time someone is consuming that plot for the first time, no matter when the plot was created, you can spoil it for the person. However, in order for people to be able to converse and discuss the book, movie, show, audio drama, whatever it might be, you can’t worry indefinitely about spoiling the plot for people. I think that is where the tricky point in setting up rules around spoilers is, because, the joke of Bruce Willis seeing dead people in The Sixth Sense is actually a spoiler for me, but I don’t care, and probably a spoiler for some others, but because of how long ago that movie came out, that has to be fair game at some point in time to discuss.

Let’s talk about two upcoming/ongoing things and what sort of time frame they have on spoilers. The two things are Avengers: Endgame and then Game of Thrones. Both of these have a massive focus in the public eye, and because of that there will be spoilers but more so, there will be a ton of people wanting to talk about them. So how do you handle talking about things like that?

Firstly, I would always ask if everyone is caught up on Game of Thrones (or any sort of show) or has seen the movie before diving into the discussion. And this is talking about the immediate time frame. Especially close to when the episode or movie has come out, because some people aren’t able to see it immediately, even if they do really care about the story. And then respect that if people haven’t seen it or read it yet.

Next, I would set aside space and time when you can talk about it. You won’t be able to talk about it with everyone, but create a time, with people who have seen it at a mainly private location to talk about it. There’s always the temptation to go out after watching a movie and grab drinks and talk about it, you will spoil something for someone one. It is important to discuss and talk about pieces of media, but be considerate of where you do that, even if everyone in your group is up for talking about it, those around you might not be, and in that short time frame, it’s very possible that you will spoil something for someone else.

This one is especially true in movie theaters. I haven’t had it happen, but I have heard of it happening. Someone coming in for the next showing has the end of the movie spoiled by someone leaving. Wait until you are in your car before talking about it. If you can’t contain your excitement with the movie, talk about it generally. “That was amazing.” or “That was underwhelming” are fine, but saying that Captain America kissed Wonder Woman as they flew the Millennium Falcon into at the Reaver ship and just escaped the explosion by hopping into the TARDIS and going to Vulcan, just a bit too detailed. However, if I heard someone saying that when leaving Avengers: Endgame, that would be hilarious.

Finally, do give it some time before talking about it freely. Something like Game of Thrones and Avengers: Endgame, I would say when the DVD/Blu-Ray’s come out for each of them respectively, then they are fair game to talk about. At that point in time, someone who couldn’t make it to the theater, for whatever reason, is going to have more options to watch it and less excuses for having not watched it. Even then, I would still be respectful and keep an eye out for people who might not have seen it yet, because there are plenty of reasons why someone might not have seen a movie yet.

What I didn’t talk about in here was social media and online. How do you deal with spoilers then? For social media, I’d say it’s simple, don’t post spoilers publicly for the movie/show until it’s after the DVD/Blu-Ray is out. There isn’t a good way to really tag them as spoilers so that people can avoid them. On forums, I know one that I’m on will have two threads. One for general thoughts on the movie, and another for spoiler filled thoughts. I even, in my review of Avengers: Infinity War, did a non-spoiler and spoiler review, and I’ll be doing the same for Avengers: Endgame. And one important thing will be for me to remember to put enough header section at the top so that in article blurbs, spoilers aren’t shown.

So how do you deal with spoilers? Do you have any additional rules that I haven’t talked about? Do you think you should always ask before spoiling something no matter how long ago it was?

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Is a Game Better if it Looks Better?

Is a Game Better if it Looks Better?

This was a topic that was brought up on the Dice Tower in one of their videos. Sam Healy made a statement that if a game looked better, he would enjoy it more and it was a better game. That got me thinking about games […]