Literary Persuasion–The Hunger Games

In an age where easy-to-watch films are everywhere, what makes us continue to dedicate our time to reading books?

I was kindly invited to guest post on the blog Propaganda for Change. I tried my hand at a more scientific post that talks about the persuasive content hidden in the pages of our papery friends, using the impressive Hunger Games Trilogy as an example.

If you’re reading this, then chances are you like to read. And you almost certainly like stories.
 
From an evolutionary viewpoint, the reason for loving stories is clear; prehistoric man could listen to his friend talking about a close encounter with a wolf in a cave and then he could use that knowledge to stay alive on his search for food. Stories were sugar coated pills of important information. They were also a way of creating beauty to bond with other humans and increase one’s survival (1). Even today, it’s a well-known fact that we tend to enjoy things that lengthen our lifespans–mother nature is funny that way.
 

Granted, the ‘don’t eat those red berries, because…’ story is extremely different from the modern fictional sagas, but we’re captivated by them just the same.
However, this still doesn’t explain our love of books in particular. These days, most books have been turned into films, which require little effort or time to watch. Reading a 700-page book is an entirely different form of crazy. It requires days, and sometimes weeks, of dedicated page flipping. Why do we do this?
 
One simple answer could be ‘the book is better than the film’. But why would we say this? What powerful force would make us struggle through not just one book, but a whole series because it’s ‘better’ than anything on the screen?
 
I believe the answer is ‘persuasion’. The writer is trying, and often succeeding, to convince you that those 100,000 words are worth your time. Essentially, a book is a never-ending stream of propaganda that tells you to read more propaganda. 

Current WIP 2: Marsip

One of my current WIPs is Marsip, the sequel to the novel Aza that I self-published in 2014 (I’m also working on a dystopian novel called Two Kinds of Darkness).

Marsip is set several years after Aza and hopefully tells the story of how Marsip discovers who he is and what he truly wants. In true fantasy style, these questions happen during a battle for power, waged by the Teransellens–a tribe from the mountains. And let’s not forget Elaine, the stubborn lord’s daughter who unintentionally causes a handful of problems, most of which affect Marsip. Continue reading

Current WIP 1: Two Kinds of Darkness

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Very early sketch of the city’s  two halves.

My excitement with this novel has yet to wear off. I’m currently editing the fifth draft, preparing it for my test-readers.

Two Kinds of Darkness began as a tiny idea that struck me two and a half years ago. It was a question that came to me while sitting on a sofa during a young writers’ group and staring at a blue wall. The question was this: “What if someone could only see the color blue?” Continue reading

Midwinter = Celebration?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn some sense, winter doesn’t seem like a good time to have a big celebration. It’s cold, hard to travel (if one lives in a place with snow), and every other person is ill.

But there’s Christmas and Chanukka. And there used to be Saturnalia and Yule. And what about all those fantasy novels with solstice celebrations?

Apparently, winter festivals are common.

They’re also fun to create. Partly because weird behavior gets pardoned if it occurs during a festival. Continue reading

Writing Junk is Important

I’m confident that nearly every writing book out there has this piece of advice in various forms:

“In order to write well, you have to write a lot of garbage.”

But what is this garbage we’re all talking about? On which ‘level’ of writing does this junk appear?

Well, just as there are numerous different words for unwanted items (junk, garbage, rubbish, trash, 废物, etc.), there are many ways to think about our literary waste. Continue reading

Fantastical Creatures

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Electoad– the electricity producer

Some writers have a specific genre or style that they love to use. For me, it really depends on what I’m writing. I love experimenting– I’m like a crazy artist playing with mediums. But some genres don’t appear to like me. For instance, if it’s modern realism, anything longer than a flash piece sort of… well… morphs into fantasy.

Fantasy ≠ modern realism. Yeah.

I have several theories as to why my unconscious writer-mind appears to be smitten with fantasy: it could be the ability to bring in flying carpets or sea monsters when things ‘go bad’, or maybe it’s the free pass to ignore the laws of physics, but most likely it’s the ability to create my own creatures. Continue reading

5 Reasons Why NaNoWriMo is Awesome

If you are a writer, then you should be participating in NaNoWriMo.

I know, it’s a lot to ask. 50,000 words in a month is a big goal. Not everyone has the time, not everyone wants to, not everyone even thinks it’s worthwhile. Plus, November’s already started– it’s too late, right? The list goes on.

But hear me out. In my opinion, even if you file yourself under one of the above reasons not to, it doesn’t matter. Do it anyway. Here are my reasons why the benefits of participating in NaNoWriMo outweigh the negatives. Continue reading

How to Write a Unique Story

You can’t.

Okay, the title of this post is misleading, but bear with me.

The issue of creating a unique story used to constantly plague me while I was writing Aza. I could see so many connections to my favorite books at the time– the tribes came from Warriors by Erin Hunter, the camouflaged cloaks were from Ranger’s Apprentice (even though I came up with the idea before I read that series) by John Flannagan… the list goes on. There were times when I considered giving up just because of Aza’s lack of uniqueness.

Luckily I didn’t, and now I realize something: no one can write a truly unique story. Here are the reasons why: Continue reading