The Simple Advice

I’ve been writing stories since I was in the third grade, I think. I started with horror stories and the following year I ventured to my first fantasy story, which was a bland ripoff of some science-fantasy anime I used to watch.

Anime and film had been my inspirations. Books were never a thing for me until I was much older. So in my younger years, I basically skipped the basics, and did a bunch of experiments I thought at that time were brilliant.

In the end, there were not at all that great. Fast forward a few years later, my first books were Harry Potter one to the “Order of the Phoenix.” I had, at that time, also read “A Game of Thrones” and “The Gunslinger.” And I thought I’ve learned a lot from those.

The first ever epic I’ve written was called “Dragon Wars,” I was in my third year high school, and I’ve gone halfway through it before deciding to show chapters to some friends and to my grandma. Of course my friends liked it, of course they did. Grandma liked it too, so, of course she would give me a pat on the back. However, she added, “You should explore more on writing simpler sentences.”

I refused. I wanted to be eloquent and dramatic! I was thinking, she didn’t get it. She hadn’t read the books I’ve read, which were, what exactly? Harry Potter, Thrones, and Gunslinger. Nah. I wanted to write shit sentences like, “The susurrus of thousands of leaves rustling in the cold and violent night allowed him to see through the prestidigitation and blahblah.”

In short, I was a thesaurus whore, thinking the more complicated words I used, the more lyrical and more poetic my words would sound. I only realized I’d look like an asshole. I looked at Rowling’s books and King’s, and found that all they ever used in their stories were simple words. Words that paint images as soon as you read them. George RR Martin’s prose is just as easy to read, he never used words that would make you flip through a dictionary, or make you pause to wonder what the fuck did that word mean.

As my readings expanded, I learned that most authors just use words so simple, the story moves on in a fluid and comprehensive pace. And it’s a wonderful experience to go through that phase. The problem is this, it’s how you construct the sentences, how you piece together these simple words to bring out readers’ imaginations.

Later I started reading a bunch of books about writing. There’s a lot of useful advice out there that can inspire writers. But I found that “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White to be the best source for writers, because they teach you the most basic form of writing from which you can build upon your own voice.

It’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way as works I’ve been so proud of were crushed or dismantled by beta readers and critics. It’s an experience worth going through and I like to think that my voice has grown over the years. But I’ll never forget that aspect, where you need to write with simple words to build a story that every reader can understand.

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Rayman Legends to make a big Switch

I love platformers. I grew up with Mario, Sonic, and a bit of Mega Man. Rayman was the first PlayStation game I have ever played. I loved it back then and I love it now.And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that “Rayman Legends” isn’t one of the most intense and best platformers we’ve had in a long, long time. 

Ubisoft appears to be milking the Legends title some more instead of making a proper sequel. It has been a number years already and I’ve met people who had double dipped on this from PS3 to PS4, and some even willing to triple dip when it comes out for the Nintendo Switch.

In any case, posting a press release sent to me by one of my pals from Ubisoft.

Press release follows:

RAYMAN LEGENDS: DEFINITIVE EDITION LAUNCHES SEPTEMBER 12 ON NINTENDO SWITCH

Ubisoft announced that “Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition” is coming to Nintendo Switch on September 12, 2017.


Rayman, named platformer of the year and winner of multiple artistic and musical achievements, is coming to the Nintendo Switch for the first time with “Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition.” It allows up to four players and offers an exclusive wireless local multiplayer experience in Kung Foot mode. With the Nintendo Switch device undocked, players can use the touch screen to take out enemies, manipulate platforms, cut ropes and much more, anywhere, anytime, in both solo and multiplayer. Additionally, players will experience a new and exclusive tournament feature in an updated Kung Foot.

Set in the enchanted world of Rayman, “Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition” follows Rayman and his colorful band of friends as they discover a mysterious tent filled with a series of captivating paintings. The gang must run, jump, and fight their way through each world to save the day and discover the secrets of every legendary painting.

Grim Company

I just finished reading Luke Scull’s “Grim Company” 2am last night. I ended up waking up real late and having to explain to my boss about my tardiness, especially on a day when important stuff was about to happen.

In any case, it was worth it. I spent about three days reading through the book, with about a total of seven hours. Not a record breaker or anything, except on day three, when I started reading at around 9pm.

I enjoyed the background. Magelords risen up to gods, the corpses strewn on the land, where magic is harnessed and all the other cool shit happening. It was a massive thrill ride from start to finish. The characters were interesting and full of so many flaws, so many you can’t help but actually appreciate them for it. One of the main character, Davarus Cole, well, let’s just say he’s a dick, but he always meant well, despite himself. And, even someone like him actually becomes a fun character to follow around.

I really have no idea what else to say about it. It’s fun, full of action, there’s an amazing background, the characters are awesome, and there’s so much more happening behind-the-scenes. No, not another game of politics, this one swings the action and doesn’t let up. There are looming threats that we’re all familiar with.

Prose is great! Though I’ll be a little direct here. Scull isn’t on the level of George RR Martin or Steven Erikson, when it comes to piecing words together in the most stylish and thought-provocative way. But Scull delivers full clarity, with images bursting into your mind as you read through the pages. It’s glorious writing when you lose yourself in the words and just find yourself sitting in the middle of the entire book like you were just watching an IMAX film.

Wrapping this up, “Grim Company” is one of the best damn books I’ve ever read in recent years. And I’m eager to get started with book two “Sword of the North” as soon as possible.

 

The riot in my head

I am an avid Hayley Williams fan. Not Paramore. Hayley Williams. Though I love their music, despite the recent genre shift with “After Laughter.” 

And I just want to say, this more recent photo of her, just stole my heart and wisked it across the fucking universe.


It just toppled my former fave look of her from the 2014 iTunes Festival, where it appeared Hayley just came out of a fucking Tim Burton film.

I had a better photo but it’s lost somewhere😭


Now third place is the Wango Tango. The green hair is absolute dope. Gets me every damn time.


As a bonus, her outfit during the iHeart Radio is just so freaking adorable.


And of course, just looking plain and simple without putting too much makeup while wearing glasses is. The. Bomb.


I believe I have embarassed myself too much now while bearing high stalky vibes. Still though. Hayley Williams rock and her varying outfits – especially the Time Burton one, has a strong influence over some certain characters in distant books I’ve partially written. Really looking forward to get to that.

Anyway I’m done babbling. Time to write.

Innards #14: The Vault


A new and big idea has decided to settle in my head. This intrusive idea arrived this morning, knocking politely in my hollowed skull, and what did I do? I let it in. I entertained it. I gave it a glass of water, fed it, and before I knew, I had accidentally nurtured it. 

Oh Cthulu… 

It’s something to be proud of and yet, something you shouldn’t. Oh wow, you got a fun new idea, neato! Yes, it is neat. But what’s not neat is me unable to finish a single manuscript.

This new idea is a reminder that I’m dragging behind while all the cool stuff is piling up. And quite frankly, the more I hold off those ideas the more they become stale. And I do not want stale bread and I certainly do not want my cheese all moldy. 

I forgot how many “Projects” I already have out there. “Ashes” and “Dark” are definitely going after Red Whale. Then there’s the matter of “Tunnel Crow Town” and Project Ghosts, which is going to be really big. There’s also Project Sherlock that needs to be written after “Ashes” and between “Dark” because the latter two are so damn depressing. Oh, there’s also Project Hunter, my planned YA books, and then well, there’s the new idea that happens to be YA. Oh, I’m not done yet. There are multiple horror anthologies being written and then Project Starkiller, which is as big as Ghosts. Oh, I forgot my 2010 baby, “The Conductor” and my 2005 sweetheart, Shards. 

There’s a few more, like projects Apples and Valentine, and my nose is itchy to write a classic High Fantasy with a bit of twist. Then ther are a bunch of novellas. So yeah. In short, I’m screwed. I need to catch up or else the world will roll all over me.

A friend of mine said I may have writing ADHD and from exhausting all my projects like that, I can see why. 

In the meantime, the Red Whale is cruising along, almost done but with a lot of holes that need more than a few patches to fix.

Now I stop this and onwards to writing!

The profound evolution of “Dad of War”


Evolution is such a subjective word these days.

In a prime example, bands Paramore and Linkin Park have stirred chaos with their latest albums, After Laughter and One More Light, respectively, which had nothing to do with rock or nu-metal sounds. The new sounds have divided fans like the Red Sea. One side are on denial of the change, and the other side of fandom, the ones who love the band as they are and not for their sound, have defended this as “mature” and an “evolution.” It’s funny how these things were considered “mature” but that’s a different matter. But, as an evolution, that’s a little tricky. When you say “evolution” it’s supposed to mean they have transformed into something better, picking up old set pieces that worked and amplifying it with something newer that would turn it to gold.

Evolution is, when Agumon turns into Greymon to MetalGreymon and then WarGreymon. It’s the same procedure for Charmander reaching its final stages as Charizard, with a Mega Form as an epic encore. 

Then again, the tyrannosaurus rex is believed to be the ancient form of a chicken, and has evolved into humans’ happy meals in order to accommodate its own shrinking food supplies. Evolution is an adaptation to the environment, and if we look at it this way, no one can deny the commercial success of pop music, and so does that mean both Paramore and Linkin Park are… sellouts?

In any regard, the newest God of War happens to be the videogame equivalent of Paramore and Linkin Park, because the change of style and gameplay has been so drastic, it’s cleaving people from head to groin. 

When God of War was first released in 2005, it was the height of fast-paced and aggressive hack-and-slash trend jettisoned by Devil May Cry in 2001. It was gritty and violent. It gave you a simple story, Kratos, the game’s anti-hero, is pissed at the god of war, Ares, and so sets out for revenge. Instead of wild exploration – and exploration, we mean backtracking ten billion times like in DMC – God of War gave you puzzles, which served as breathers between the carnage sessions. It gave you amazing sceneries and epic moments delivered through Quick Time Events. I will always remember in God of War II where you had to swing between a series crumbling pillars. Try swinging through that Nathan Drake! 

In short, it was a violent action game done right. But the times have changed. Devil May Cry is nothing more today than a distant echo of the past just like all the classics we yearn to return some day. And God of War: Ascension had been a valiant effort to keep on milking the franchise, but after six games of encountering the same exact gameplay with the same exact length with some whatever excuse to strip Kratos off his powers and equipment, things do get stale a little. The game has an 80% Metacritic score, the lowest ever in the franchise, despite having being a really cool game that basically did everything what the first five games did.

Developers needed to consider other options. Today that seems to be two things: Combat and exploration. The latest trend that many developers love copying is Dark Souls, first released in 2011. And every since that game blew way out of its head, tiny shreds of Dark Souls DNA has been scattered throughout various games: Nioh, Lords of the Fallen, Salt and Sanctuary, and even The Legend of Zelda: Breathe of the Wild are primary examples.

As seen in the trailers the new God of War has a different combat mechanic. Instead of an angled top-down view, we get a full 360-degree camera controlled view. We see Kratos having his axe ready in one arm and a raised shield in the other. This lets us know combat mechanics will cater some similarities to Dark Souls, in a more, thread carefully approach. And yet, we see in the same trailer how Kratos takes on multiple enemies, swinging his axe like a rabid mountain man and doing cool stuff with it. What does this mean? We’re playing the same aggressive hack-and-slash game, only with actually new weapons with new tricks that encourage a more tactical approach. It’s old school God of War with the addition of newer, cooler stuff to turn it gold. Or at least, hopes to turn it gold.

In 2005 God of War was deemed mature because of its high-level of violence, gore, and the mini-game that required you to knock a vase off the table. Today, the new game is being considered mature for its sophistication and dad elements, where Kratos now looks after a young boy. Kratos now stands among the “Sad Dads,” next to Joel, Booker, and Logan. And there’s usually one way how the dad makes it out in the end.

But it’s so much more than that. The possible tactical approach in combat is the developers telling everyone how the games have gone “mature” and how it has evolved in the times today after six games since all the way from 2005. Let’s also chuck in that scene in the trailer, where the World Serpent appears, and Kratos, instead of going full berserk mode, asks, “What is it saying?” Kratos has aged and has gained wisdom, learning to speak first before cracking skulls. Well, maybe not exactly, we’ll find out next year.

It has also confirmed that the controversial mini-games—you know, the ones where you need to topple a vase, make a peeing statue pee harder, and, well, bang a goddess of sex—will not return to the game. The developers are letting people know that this game is no longer a game for bros who are into bloody action and boobs, especially with the height of gender roles in games, films, and in the community, are being scrutinized and criticized. If you want to check out boobs, there’s Google for that, and if you want the same bloody action again, there are six other God of War games out there.

Wonder Woman


I’ll keep this brief: “Wonder Woman” is the most amazing superhero film I’ve seen yet.

It isn’t something built on hype. If anything, Warner and DC didn’t put as much marketing effort as it had with “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and still “Woman Woman” was an explosive powerhouse of great action and great storytelling.

I say great storytelling because “Wonder Woman” tells more than one. It’s a coming-of-age tale where Diana comes to understand her purpose, it’s a heroes’ journey, it’s a story about World War I, it’s a love story, it’s a story about gods and mortals, and most of all, it’s a superhero story.

I look back in previous superhero films and not one of them came close to actually being a superhero. In 2008 with “Iron Man,” Tony Stark developed his suit first to escape captivity, and then again, to destroy the weapons manufactured by his own company on enemy hands. “Thor” was just a spoiled battle hungry god who got a time out from his dad and was just making penance. And good ole “Captain America” was a weapon of the United States to punch the hell out of HYDRA. 

I’m not bashing Marvel here. I love their films but you’ve got to admit, the first fight scene with Diana coming out as Woman Woman for the first time, where she went out of her way to help people in desperate need, that’s a superhero moment there. She was willing to abandon her mission and her own safety to save lives. Literally save lives – civilian lives – out of immediate danger between the trenches of World War I.

That moment where Diana rose up that ladder: It was glorious. Of course the music helped stirred my emotions but it was no less the most epic thing I’ve seen in a superhero film. I had to dig way back in the attic of my mind to find something similar, and what came out was Sam Raimi’s own “Spider-Man 2” where our friendly wall-crawler stopped an overspeeding train.

The heroics doesn’t stop there. At some point every supporting character had done something heroic and things continue to build up to the final closing scenes.

“Wonder Woman” is an excellent example that DC and Warner can produce excellent superhero films within their Extended Universe. It tells a clear and comprehensive story with just the right amount of humor and excellent action. That’s why “Woman Woman” succeeded. It’s going to be a tough act to follow up but here’s to the future of “Wonder Woman.” 

Now let’s see if “Justice League” is on par with “Wonder Woman.”