So, last weekend, my sister and I went to see "Rango" the new animated Johnny Depp movie. It's getting decent reviews out there in critic-world and I love LOVE LOVE animation. I guess I'm still a kid though I'm way beyond kid years. I have a milestone birthday coming up in September... I think I get better with age, but I'm no kid. Still, my love for animation will never die. Case and point: "How to Train Your Dragon" is one of my all time favorite animation movies. It's just so cute. I could list more, but let me dedicate a few minutes to "Rango." I didn't realize that this was rated "PG" until one of the characters, a big scary rattle snake yells "Sign the damn paper woman!" Rango is a lizard (chameleon) who was once a pet but ends up in the Nevada desert. He moseys into a small, rough, cowboy town called "Dirt" and becomes the sheriff using his keen acting skills. Overall the movie was cute, but a bit slow in some sections (shocking for a animation in my point), and funny. And this movie was filmed differently than other animation movies. Check it out:
My rating: B. My recommendation: Maybe wait for it to come out on video.
I'm currently reading "The Lost Hero" by Rick Riordan, who wrote the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. This new book is a spin-off to the Percy franchise. (Did anyone see the movie? It was pretty good, but I was irritated that they aged the characters by a few years to put them in high school.) These books are classified as "middle grade" young adult (I believe that means 7-12?) although the main characters are 15 years old. "The Lost Hero" is a straight-up action/adventure story set around the ancient Greek/Roman gods. I find myself really drawn into the books and the characters. Riordan is a great writer and puts a lot of research into his stories. I like them because I remember nothing from having to read "Mythology" by Edith Hamilton in high school and feel like I'm learning something when I read (too bad I fail to remember anything). Riordan has hit upon a gold mine in a way. The books are original in there aren't many other books focusing on the Greek gods when the first Percy Jackson came out (there were a few other authors who came out with things after, I believe). I'm reminded of what J.K. Rowling did with Harry Potter. She is the queen of magical kids right now and nothing will probably ever beat out HP. I'm not saying that Riordan is at J.K.'s level of fame or anything like that, but he plugged into a niche and is very successful.
It makes me wonder what else out there hasn't been done (or done well)? Angel/Demon stories have been very popular lately. There are a lot out good stories out there, but how can an author make the genre his/her own? This is something I thought about a lot when I wrote "Surrender": How do I make mine different from the rest? I feel like I have a very original idea (and an untapped villain). As writers, we should all struggle with this. To find a unique ideas and try to be successful with it before anyone else. It's so hard though. I remember reading one fallen angel novel recently and became so upset because the author had given the angels lavender eyes, an idea that I had come up with. It forced me to change the eye color because I didn't want to be perceived as copying someone's idea. But I do feel like I was forced to think out of the box to find a new and memorable eye color.... Hopefully this new detail will remain mine, but who knows. That's the crazy thing about being artistic or being a writer--how often our ideas overlap with other authors. I almost feel like all writers are connected at some deep cellular level and we tap into one another through ESP. Crazy? Probably.
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Side Note: I love Barbara Kingsolver's writing and just received an email from a writing company (I guess that's what it's called) that included three tips on writing by Kingsolver. One really stood out to me as something I need to remember when writing and I wanted to share it here:
Question: What is the most valuable advice you received as a young writer?
Answer: "Your first sentence should make a promise that the rest of the story will keep." - Francine Prose (another good writer).