Saturday, November 19

Screenwriting Tips, You Hack by Xander Bennett

Want to be a screenwriter?  Yeah?  Have you sold anything yet?  Yes?  No?  Regardless, you’re a hack.  Just ask Xander Bennett, author of one of my favorite blogs, Screenwriting Tips You Hack (yes the book and the blog share the same name).  

 I’ve been reading Xander’s blog for about a year now and it’s by far one of my favorite blogs (ranking up there with Scriptshadow).  Each day Xander posts a new tip.  They’re usually only a few sentences long, but they’re quite useful, such as, “‘Wise beyond his years’ is a character description cliché – and not a very useful or informative one.”  Xander is able to infuse humor into his short tips, and reading his blog may quickly deflate the ego of any amateur writer before proceeding to provide practical advice.

Thursday, November 17

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

After many long years, Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle finally closes. I was in eighth grade when I read Eragon and loved it. I’ve loved fantasy stories since grade school, when my parents read me Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. Though it many have criticized the series for following nearly every fantasy cliché in the book, I still enjoyed it and when Eldest came out shortly afterward I jumped right back in. By time Brisingr released I had started college, and though I still enjoyed Eragon and Eldest, I was sorely disappointed at the lack of story progression and the overwhelming amount of filler material.

How does Inheritance stack up? In short: Better than Brisingr, but it lacked many elements needed to make it a solid ending to the series.

Sunday, November 6

Decision Points by George W. Bush

Memoirs often seem to follow similar patterns.  They usually follow someone’s life in chronological order, lingering on the events that they are either most known for (in the case of celebrities or politicians) or which they think are the most important events in their life.  Wisely forgoing that, former President George W. Bush instead focuses each chapter on events which found to be  large decision points in his life.  Chapters range from “Stem Cells,” “Day of Fire” (9/11), “Iraq,” “Katrina,” to “Financial Crises.”  Each chapter tends to flow chronologically and he recounts his thoughts and feelings, and explains his rationale for the decision he told.

Tuesday, November 1

The Orthodox Heretic by Peter Rollins

Aside from its small size (smaller than most paperback books, though it is a hardcover), the first thing that caught my eye was the back cover.  In the upper corner are the words, “Shelve under: Christ-Following.”  Now, I’m used to seeing the genre of a book by the bar-code, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen one so direct.  I even found it a bit funny.  I’ve never seen a shelf in Barnes and Noble labeled, “Christ-Following.”

In The Orthodox Heretic, Peter Rollins has assembled many short tales  - parables if you will.  Much like the parables Jesus told, they serve to illustrate an idea, a theme, or even a way of life.  Some may shock, others may provoke though.  Even parable is followed by some commentary by Rollins.  He may explain where his idea came from, or he may expound upon it if he thinks there is a chance the reader may become confused.