Word Count Per Day

Posted: February 1, 2011 in writing
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If you’ve ever thought of becoming a writer, and felt inspired enough to read into it, you might’ve noticed many writers try to set you a quota, a certain number of words you have to write, if else you are doomed to fail. Stephen King’s magical number is 2000, NaNoWriMo actually expects us to churn out 50k a month which averages to 1.667 words per day, any many websites actually offer tips for writing more than a thousand words a day. I myself aim to get 500 words down a day, which is not all that hard. The average word count in this blog (without factoring in posts like yesterday’s) should be about 450-500. All in all it takes about an hour with every distraction possible, so if you’ve got time to spare, it shouldn’t be hard, right? Wrong.

The actual reason behind setting a word quota for one day is continuity. Which I absolutely suck at. If you are not working on a novel and simply aim to get x words done by evening purely for self-satisfaction, be my guest. Posting in a blog is easy, you just have to speak your thoughts about something for x words and you’re done. If you’re a novelist, 500 words suddenly become a daunting task. You have to follow a certain plot (or at least, a plot), have to deal with characters, setting, and whatever else comes to your mind (none come to mine at the moment). And no matter how much you have written, you are never done with it, not until you put down the last word of the novel and call it a day. Which simply never comes. Between the time you start your first draft and you, the first time novelist, get published, years pass. The tension is not good for your brain. Writing kills (which is cool enough to be a blog title, and has left me wondering why I haven’t thought about it before).

So if you are demotivated enough now, lets talk about my take on this word per day business. I am trying to write a novel, but haven’t worked on it for months. This post was actually meant to motivate myself into writing, but it’s already out of the question. I now aim to finish a scene in one sitting, without bothering with the word count of that scene. Since some days I can only find time to scribble a sentence or two at most, I simply don’t write those days. I regularly get two free days that I can sit and write a scene in a week, and I try for 3 scenes per week. Scenes are to me the smallest coherent parts of a novel, and you should ideally finish getting them across before you go to sleep. Works fine with smaller scenes (your main character visiting his grandfather), but if you’re in for a climactic showdown between the evil king and the forces good, you have to divide it up further still. The evil king boasting his invulnerability could be one, you protagonist activating the super secret power of love another, and the “No! You cannot win!” speech of the evil king as he dies would be the third. Of course if you’re writing a fast paced action novel you would have to write more than a few scenes per week, but fantasy authors can leisurely write 3 scenes a week and still have something to show at the end of the year.

In the end you just have to continue writing. It’s fine if you have to take a break for a week since you’ve got finals the next week, but don’t turn it to a month-long holiday. Don’t leave your novel hanging until you forget why you started it in the first place. Just like listening to music does improve your drumming skills, reading a good book also improves your writing prowess. But if you don’t write, even if you are a world-renowned writer, you will accomplish nothing. Practise is supposed to make perfect. Make it happen.

What Has Been Taking My Time…

Posted: January 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

Actual (and completely unrelated) post coming sometime tomorrow.

HELLOWEEN – 7 Sinners

Posted: January 28, 2011 in music, review
Tags: , , ,

The album has been out for quite some time, but I must say I don’t follow the news as often as I should. As a result, seeing this album on the shelf was a pleasant surprise for me. It has not been long since I started listening to HELLOWEEN, but already I’m loving the precious seconds I spend listening to them.

After the classy silvery artwork, 7 Sinners shows that it was worth waiting 3 years for. As it may be expected, the lyrical theme is about the 7 Deadly Sins. The production values are top-notch, and the songs themselves generally manage to be memorable. It is heavy, with only 1 track providing relief, though that is not especially a bad thing. There are a plethora of exceptionally good riffs, and while I put the place of the solo in relation to the track above the actual guitar prowess shown in the solo, both are pretty good. The solos are not much memorable, but that may change in following listenings to the album.

In a quick run down of the tracks; Where the Sinners Go proves us the album will be nothing short of epic. From the first second we face a song that screams heavy metal. Oh wait, that’s the second song. Are You Metal? is the kind to become a fan favorite, though its tad bit cheesy. If the video and the lyrics are any indication, it might just be a subtle satire. My favorite track is, hands down, Who is Mr. Madman? Although the first track gets pretty close, it cannot match the bombastic sound of the third. The next track, World of Fantasy, lacks flair. It seems too generic. The chorus of Long Live the King is, however, bloody amazing. I can shout it all they long and still not get bored. Impossible not to headbang. The Smile of the Sun is, while not a particularly strong track, a welcome change of pace from the rest of the album. You Stupid Mankind might make more sense when listened to with lyrics, though I didn’t find it important enough to search for lyrics. If A Mountain Could Talk is just mediocre. The Sage the Fool the Sinner ranks little above the previous track, but I rather like the solo. My Sacrifice isn’t an instant hit, but has potential if I can get around listening to it for two-three times. Not Yet Today is… well, whatever. And Far in the Future manages to be an excellent closing track.

Though only a few songs capture my immediate attention, that is a result better than most. Deris’ vocals fit perfectly with the songs, and while I do miss the insanely high pitch screams, it is a reasonable trade-off. The guitars and the bass are above average, with several nice riffs, and actually audible bass lines. The drumming is great on most of the songs, though the rest sound like generic power metal drum lines. Understandable, but it would be nicer to have smoother adjustments to the varying tensions of the songs.

Overall the album doesn’t disappoint the fans and manages to be a genuine piece of art. It is neither best nor their worst work, and settles itself in a comfortable middle ground. I’m hoping, one of those who get better with each listen. Click the video below for a sample.

I’ll try to make this as spoiler-free as I can, but there is so much awesomeness in this book that I want to share that may unfortunately be spoilers for some. Nevertheless, I have to put these emotions on to paper, or else I’ll never be fully satisfied.

The penultimate installment on the Wheel of Time series bestows a huge amount of responsibility on Brandon Sanderson’s shoulders. We don’t know how much of the book had been written before Robert Jordan passed away, but it’s likely Jordan was more interested in getting the beginning and the ending done than trying to pull off the middle part. As it stands, the novel tries to tie in many of the plot threads that have been plagueing the series since book 6 due to the need of getting too many things done, slowing down the series considerably. Sanderson manages to minimize the damage, though not without some shortcomings.

After passing through an intro that introduces yet another bunch of plot lines to cover before the series is over, we are faced with the post-12th-book Rand, who is, when tried to put into words, bloody awesometastic. Yes, that’s the closest I could come to describe the new Rand. That is the guy we have been waiting for the past 20 something years. And he’s barely in the book.

OK, I assume we can cut some slack on Sanderson, since after 12th book there isn’t any need for character growth for Rand until the end. It’s just a showcase of his personality now that he is ready to rock the Dark One out of the world. Every time he appears, he is there to show his awesome and solve the backlog of problems he has unleashed unto the world. I like that in a book, where his actions do lead to some worse consequences. Could’ve been handled better, but with the amount of screentime he’ll probably be getting in the last book, it can be excused. Practical solutions work best when you have only a month to re-unite the world. There’s much more character development to be had on Perrin’s and other characters’ side.

Speaking of character development, there is a lot to be had in Perrin’s side in this book. He should’ve been out of his wimpy “I’m no lord” self long time ago, but hey, at least he accepts it in the end. The whole Two Rivers bit with Elayne was solved rather easily for Wheel of Time standards, but at least gave me satisfaction in the way it was solved. I simply wish there wasn’t this much Perrin in the book. Going straight into his transformation to a more confident guy would’ve been enough. And it would save us from reading all those things again. It was good to see Elayne getting her ass handed to her, while Mat finally (hopefully?) got rid of that gholam, in a rather anticlimactic way. Egwene also gets her ass handed to her by Perrin and Rand, though she does get rid of a Forsaken.

What differs most from the previous installment of the series is the lighter tone of this book. After Rand’s emotional turmoil in the last book, there are many relaxing moments in this book, reminiscing for the last time before the Last Battle comes. Reunion of Mat, Perrin and Thom manages to be a pleasant change of pace. And also, badger.

Overall, the book does what it aims to do: tie off enough plot threads to keep the last book from becoming a 2500-pager. The execution is a bit iffy at times, but I still love Sanderson’s writing style, and he does justice to Robert Jordan’s legacy. Finally, after years of build up, the end is within sight. Despite its shortcomings, it is easily one of the best fantasy titles of 2010. A must read continuation to a must read series.

And again, badger.

Gundam 00 Movie Review

Posted: January 25, 2011 in anime, review
Tags: , , , ,

What? Two updates in two days? Really? Is the world coming to an end? It’s not even 2012 yet!

I had been a Gundam virgin until just two years ago, having never watched any of the older series. Seeing the PVs for Gundam 00, I was hooked. The action was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. And now, 2 years later, I can finally end my 00 experience the way it was intended: with an action packed movie. Only basic spoilers ahead.

It was a dangerous gamble on Sunrise’s side to include aliens as the source of conflict in this movie. For a series most renowned for its human vs. human politics, it gave us a light in how a united humanity would face aliens if worst came to worst. Of course, this whole scheme is under a layer of symbolism of Gainax variety, if aliens being formless and only communicated through mutual understanding is any indication. You can substitute those aliens for anything or anyone alien to you or to your country and all that bullshit, but you can draw these connections yourself after watching it anyway.

Still don't know what the trailblazer is...

I don’t want to criticize Sunrise for including a moral message in their work, but doing it this blatantly is never the best way to give moral messages. Smearing it across your face, if anything, makes you apprehensive about actually agreeing with the results the movie gives us. The series was already about eradicating war from the planet; we get it already.

Even though the execution of said morals is rather sloppy, Sunrise does what it does best to win our hearts back: action. The CGI is outright amazing, and while trying to combine that CGI with 2D artwork does get a little awkward at times, it is easily overshadowed by the artistic prowess shown in the movie. The color palette at 720p and 1080p promises you a visual ecstasy, and the flower part at the end can only be called beautiful. Without giving too much away, Sunrise never fails to display their magnificent artisticity.. artistry.. artisanness? Whatever that is.

Previous sentence makes as much sense as this translation.

The plot falls short of good, if it is what you are looking forward to. Waging war against aliens have been done already, and too much time is spent on useless characters. Louise’s boyfriend gets so much screentime that you’d expect him to be useful at some point, but no, he is intent on fixing some things that nobody cares about. All the intriguing political aspects are left to “hey let’s attack the aliens and hope we win!” and counting on Celestal Being to do that. Reusing already established characters doesn’t need too much skill when all that happens is Setsuna achieving God-mode.

The BGM is virtually non-existant. The music are not memorable in any way, and the attempt at relieving the tension in mid-fight with a cheerful song is a sad at best. The ending song was also out-of-place, not in the mood of concluding at all. At least the characters still retain their voice actors, and all the gunshots and special effects make Sunrise justice.

If anything, the enjoyment you get while you sit back and relax is worth your time. It doesn’t involve you going on an intellectual journey to understand the movie or what it symbolizes. If you just sit back and enjoy the action scenes and the rather crappy ending, you will see that it isn’t half bad after all.

And subs. Go with gSS. Although the fabulous subs at the beginning sequence might scare you off, you can always turn to the “boring subtitles” by choosing it from Haali Media Splitter. I find it hilarious.

Being in Turkey does have its set of unlucky consequences. While it is a major cross-cultural hub, the music I believe is one of the lacking points of the country. Too much wrong westernization, and too little adaptation of said westernization. Just copying those styles from the US or Europe doesn’t work. Heavy metal is just one type of music so unappreciated by the general consensus that rarely did groups come and play here in Istanbul. One thing is sure, though, that it is getting better. So without further adieu, here are the major metal concerts currently announced to be playing here in the following months:

EPICA at Maçka Küçükçiftlik Park:

They had come last year to Izmir, and now they’re back in Istanbul. Supported by DRACONIAN and TRISTANIA, the Dutch symphonic metallers will play in Maçka Küçükçiftlik Park in March 27, Sunday. Personally, EPICA is one of the first metal bands I’ve ever listened to and actually liked, before I had begun listening to metal this much, and it’ll be a blessing to see them live. The regular tickets are priced at €22 for now, roughly 44TL. Available at Eventbrite.

CHILDREN OF BODOM at Maçka Küçükçiftlik Park:

Not exactly my cup of tea, but the pioneering Finnish metallers will be here in 18 April. I rather like some of their songs, though not enough to warrant an immediate need for a concert. The tickets are sold at €32 for now, also available at Eventbrite.

BLIND GUARDIAN at Refresh the Venue:

Recently pushed back to May 4th in order for the concert to better fit in with the rest of their tour, Blind Guardian is one of the groups I was already expecting this year. I have no doubt that the concert will be downright epic, and have already gotten my ticket from Biletix. I wait for the day I’ll be able to chant the Bard’s Song with thousands of others and feel at home.

SONISPHERE FESTIVALS:

The behemoth that rocked Istanbul last year out of its sleeping state, and the sole organization to have united the Big 4 of metal, will be coming again to Istanbul at a yet unannounced date, around the summer. The rumor has it that the heavy metal legends IRON MAIDEN will be playing this time around, but we’ll have to wait and see. While IRON MAIDEN may yet disappoint us, an event at this scope surely won’t. More info to come later.

UNIROCK OPEN AIR FESTIVAL IV:

This is a festival I’ve missed last year, and I aim to make it there this time around. Spanning three days (9-10-11 September), the festival aims to be the experience of the year for all the metalheads in the country. Currently announced are BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, OPETH, KATATONIA and ELUVEITIE, and these are just a friendly reminder that this festival is going to rock your world. For now, I’m especially interested in the latter three; OPETH has always been an enigma to me, KATATONIA a band I just haven’t got the chance to listen, and ELUVEITIE, the group that made me appreciate the brilliancy (that a word?) of folk metal. We’ll see what the future will bring. Tickets at Eventbrite.

Merry Belated Christmas

Posted: December 26, 2010 in real life
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Things have been extra busy lately, but merry Christmas people! Hopefully I’ll be back on track after new year. Towers of Midnight review coming soonish. Hope you enjoyed the year!