Challenge: Complete {APADO #31}

(I’m not even gonna bother with my APADO intro because this post is so meta it doesn’t deserve it. Hehe.)

(Also: all the gifs are from when I ran outside to celebrate getting to this momentous occasion. Enjoy.)

APADO 31

All I can say at this point is wow.

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To be honest, I expected myself to fail this challenge. When I went into this, I thought I would end up with about seventeen APADO posts before falling off and being done with the challenge. And I thought I’d have to look at them for the rest of my meager existence. Seventeen reminders that I can’t keep my promises.

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I can’t tell if it’s better to have low expectations and knock it out of the park or have high expectations and fail, but we’re going with the happy medium. I had bad expectations, but I ended up with something pretty awesome (if I can say so myself).

This past month, I posted once a day, every day, on weekends and holidays and all throughout May October.

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To be clear: to me, the day was not over until I went to bed. I used the backlog feature to get the date right on the posts I published after midnight (which was almost all of them, hehe.)

Though words can’t describe how good this feels, a gif or two might do the trick.

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GUYS, I DID IT.

Ahem.

Let’s do a quick recap of everything that went down this month.

This month…

(none of these stats are counting this post)

…I wrote 30 posts, adding up to an estimated total of 22,159 words.

I took 98 new photos (not reuploads of old stuff or things I already had photos of).

And made 11 gifs (not counting ones I lifted from youtube videos):

I broke 100 posts:

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And this blog got 823 views, 175 visitors, 414 likes, and 228 comments.

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I would say I’m speechless, but I’m a bit too talkative for that.

My thoughts on APADO:

I now see why clickbait content farms are the only ones who post once a day. It’s tiring. Just like a marathon, I started to stumble around day (mile?) 13. It’s like my motivation started to slide downhill until I took that glorious Wednesday walk.

Yet, I enjoyed pushing myself. I love the feeling of having a ton of cool posts for people to read. And most importantly, I found my fervor to blog again. I’ve built good habits. And I’m now motivated to post more often, although not every day.

I’m not about to say that every post was perfect, though. In fact, quite a few of them were sub-par.

My (Personal) Bottom Three Posts:

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300,000 Words {APADO #14}

Sin number one: it had almost no pictures. Sin number two: nothing is more self-centered than low-key bragging about how many words you’ve written. C’mon, Tess. You’re better than that…

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A Brief Rant-Review Of Great Expectations {APADO #15}

I don’t think Steeplechase posts get more negative than this one. Wow, I had a ton of roasts to scald this poor novel with. And again, no pictures! Readers like pictures, Tess. They really do.

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A Quick Chat About Flawed Characters {APADO #19}

Oh, I wish I’d put more time and effort into this post! I didn’t say nearly everything I have to say about this topic. Perhaps, in future, we’ll have to have a longer chat about flawed characters.

But – there were several posts that I really, really liked.

My (Personal) Top Three Posts:

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Roller Coasters {APADO #6}

Inspirational message? Heart-pumping roller coaster gifs? Yes, please. AND THE FEATURED IMAGE IS SO FLEEK.

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Taking A Casual Saturday Stroll On A Wednesday {APADO #17}

Not only was this post a ton of fun to make, I ended up discovering something about myself that has changed my view about the world. It’s comforting.

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A Random Letter For A Random Person {APADO #29}

This completely spontaneous idea turned out so neat! Just an update: I’ve been given permission to mail the letter. Once I hunt up a stamp, it’s off to Washington!

The Crowd Favorite:

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Conversations With 13-Year-Old Me {APADO #4}

Maybe it was the past-self-depreciating jokes. Or maybe it was that jamestic gif at the beginning. For some reason, this post got 41 views. As a reference, my record is 91 views (for that interactive birthday adventure which will likely return).

The Unsung Hero:

Scouty {APADO #9}

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Somehow puppy photos weren’t tantalizing enough. Was it because Scouty had already written a post on The Pawsome Press? Still, it has more views than half the posts I’ve written – a respectful 12.

What’s your opinion?

Everyone’s preferences are different. Want to let me know what you thought?

In conclusion:

I’m shocked at how much my blogging game has changed since the beginning of this challenge. I’m now proud to call myself a blogger. I’m happy with the posts I’ve made.

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I wish I could keep posting once a day, but I’m sure there would be a drop in the quality of my posts, knowing how much effort and how many late nights these ones took. And besides, there’s Nanowrimo, and that’s going to be taking up all my spare time.

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But this doesn’t mean I won’t be posting on Steeplechase next month! I’m going to try to do five Nano recaps (one every six days) with snippets, gifs, writer struggles and inspiration. Let’s hope they’re as fun as APADO has been.

Farewell, APADO. You were fun. See ya next year.

(Did I just make a rash promise again?)

Now let’s jump right into Nano.

Sheesh. Talk about out of the frying pan into the fire.

tl;dr: I finished APADO and ended up with some posts I liked and got practice for Nano, which starts TOMORROW guys I’m officially freaking out.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

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the last relaxation i’m gonna get before NANO

 

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What Makes A Good Character? (Tess’s Character Theory, part I) {APADO #13}

(you’re reading APADO, my wittle one-post-a-day-for-a-whole-month series that i somehow haven’t failed yet.)
(a bunch of disclaimers: i’m not a master author, in fact i legit just called myself a fauxthor™ and it’s true. however, i’ve received a lot of praise for the characters i come up with. i’m going to try to ride the line between hoarding the knowledge i have and puffing myself up bigger than a wacky arm-waving inflatable tubeman. let’s hope i don’t step into either too much.)
(and now i’m like “isn’t it a bad thing to doubt myself? but isn’t it also a bad idea to think you know more than you actually do?” hello anxiety, i haven’t missed you but here you are.)
(now let’s turn this into a series)

APADO 13

Characters are an integral part of fiction. Actually, they’re more than half of what storytellers worry about. They can make or break a story, and they often do – which is what we’re going to take a look at today.

Trigger warning: my preferences are weird. Even if you don’t agree with everything I say, please be nice about it.

I recently sat down and watched Interstellar.

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Let me first preface this by saying that I’m not a scientific person and only understood about 52% of this film’s dialogue. There was a lot of infodumping, which I’m not a fan of.

(quick, poorly-written plot rundown for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie: earth is dying and no one’s sure how to fix it. cooper, our main character, is alarmed that his daughter’s bedroom seems to be alive – there are morse code patterns in the dust in the floor, books falling off the shelf in morse code messages, etc. they say pretty much two things: a set of map coordinates and the word “stay”. visiting the map coordinates reveals the secret location of nasa’s last base and the main plot: earth is about to become really uninhabitable and cooper, due to his experience as a fighter pilot, will be needed to help execute one of the two plans. “plan a” is to relocate all of earth’s population to another planet. “plan b” is to leave the population to die and take 700 new embroyos to a new planet to start a new colony and save humanity. all the characters are on different sides of this ethical question. cooper and his team fly off into space to have a look at some planet prospects. long story short, nothing looks good and everything’s sad and we lose one of the crew members. they’re running out of fuel, too. in order to get to the last chance of a planet, cooper volunteers to go off into the black hole that’s messing with the time of everything and honestly i didn’t catch how all of this is working because infodumps. once in the blackhole (which somehow works as like a time sphere/way to communicate with the past and future?) cooper realizes that this was a horrible idea and he should never have come and tries to tell his past self to “stay” (books coming off the shelves and stuff). i have no idea what happened here. murph is grown up now and gets stuff going back on earth because he can also somehow communicate with her through this watch that he gave her. everyone evacuates, somehow they rescue cooper, cooper learns that his female friend went to start that embroyo colony on the last planet and that she’s all alone and vows to go rescue her. THE END.)

I was extremely disappointed at the end of it. I was expecting this movie to be amazing – it’s Christopher Nolan, for crying out loud. Though I will give it props for its amazing visual effects, terrific music, and interesting take on the “end-of-the-world” idea, it commits a sin that makes me never want to see it again: blank, thin characters.

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Now, I understand that I am not the target audience for this film (it’s very popular in the nerdy, scientific circles) but this is a problem that could have been fixed with just a little more time and a little less word salad.

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Yes, they have a few motivations and remotely memorable personalities, but they don’t seem to do anything. Things are happening all around them, and they react to them, but their reactions are the only thing they’re giving to the movie. The black hole, the space travel, the time discrepancies and the emergencies push out the characters and take over the plot.

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And we never answer the big ethical question this movie asks (save the living or start over?) because the characters don’t have enough screentime or enough depth to make a choice. They’re weak, passive, and almost forgettable.

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I could have loved this movie if the characters had been given more time of day. It was visually beautiful, sported terrific world-building, had a larger-than-life stake, and would have made an amazing point if they had gotten around to answering their ethical question. They didn’t answer the question because the characters were too weak to form a good opinion.

Interstellar was a frustrating movie because the characters weren’t allowed to lead the plot.

Now, an example of a horrible plot with terrific characters: Thor: The Dark World.

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(Please lower your stones.)

This is a hated movie. This is a weird movie. This is one of the “worst” Marvel movies in the entire franchise, and yet I enjoyed it way more than I should have. Its merit is with one thing and one thing only: the characters.

(quick plot rundown: there’s this creepy alien liquid virus called the aether, unleashed in some ancient battle, and it’s super gimmicky and the sole reason why this movie is weird. after the events of everything in all the movies leading up to this in the MCU, loki’s being imprisoned for invading earth, thor is trying to make peace in what’s going to be his new kingdom, and jane foster, his girlfriend, is really wishing he were around more often. there’s going to be a cool cosmic convergence thing happening, which will make people be able to travel between the nine realms and meet eachother, yay. a portal has already appeared in a warehouse. although jane and darcy don’t know where it leads to, it definitely takes things places. jane, without realizing it, follows a similar portal and gets infected with the aforementioned space virus, the aether…and it really doesn’t make sense. meanwhile, back on asgard, heimdall, everyone’s favorite gatekeeper/living nest camera tells thor that he can’t see where jane is anymore, prompting him to go to earth to find her. he finds her, she’s full of aether juice, and it’s not good. we learn that the aether is connected to this creepy pale dude named malekith who plans to take over the nine realms…or something. he wants the aether cuz it’s apparently able to be weaponized. he attacks asgard looking for it, because thor brought jane there, and frigga, thor’s mother, dies protecting her. malekith and his dudes are barely repulsed. thor has a plan, and it’s a hairbrained scheme, really, but it just might work and it’s all they can do. with the help of loki (who thor convinces to help him based on frigga’s death), the warriors three, sif (who’s causing tension because she’s romantically interested in thor), and jane, thor goes to try to find and stop malekith. which he sort of does. thor and loki trick him into getting the aether out of jane, but they fail to destroy it and loki dies (well, he doesn’t really, but we don’t know that yet). the aether isn’t in jane anymore (?) but it’s now roosting in malekith. the convergence is imminent. the warehouse portal apparently led to the place where they were, so thor and jane (minus loki and everyone else) go to earth to try to beat malekith, who’s planning to unleash the aether while the convergence thing is going on and so destroy all the worlds. they have a big fight, thor beats him up, he gets crushed by his own ship and dies, the aether is contained in an infinity stone and stashed away, problems have been solved and yay life is good until the next thor adventure, which i didn’t like but oh well. THE END.)

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Yes, we have a similar weird space-themed plot with confusing element (what exactly does the Aether do again?) and word salad. Yes, we have a movie almost devoid of anything good. It’s the exact opposite of Interstellar: the plot is horribly paced and confusing, yet… I liked it. And I certainly wasn’t the only one.

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It’s obvious now that the main difference between Interstellar and Thor: The Dark World lies in the characters. In T:TDW, the characters are actively driving the story, despite the Convergence-thing being out of their control. They’re going after the cosmic liquid space virus. They’re reluctantly teaming up.

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In fact, most of the conflict is character-centered, despite this movie’s overly-massive stakes. This doesn’t make it any less confusing, but it makes it infinitely more likable.

If the characters had been reactive, this movie would be utter trash. It still kind of is. But the characters bring it from a -70 to a 5/10.

The point:

yes, I just praised Thor: The Dark World and trashed Interstellar:

If your characters are flat, uncompelling, and make no choices of their own, they can take your A+ amazing plot and turn it into something without a soul.

If your characters are well-rounded, decisive, and bounce well off eachother, you can take something confusing and weird and make it mostly enjoyable (even if it’s still confusing and weird.)

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A story is only as good as the people who are making it happen. As an author, the very worst thing you can do is just make them react to what’s going on.

tl;dr: Good characters are proactive.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

(what have i done?)

 

 

 

Movie Review: Dunkirk (no spoilers!)

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Dunkirk is unlike any other film I’ve seen. Once you’re past the advertisements and the lights dim in the theater, you’re no longer sitting on your tush in the air conditioning. The room around you becomes frigid, you begin to breathe through your mouth, the adrenaline builds up within you, and you’re there, on that beach, for one of the most thought-provoking two hours of your life.

Disclaimer: All thoughts are my own and are not endorsed by anyone other than myself.

Directed by Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk is the story of, frankly, the British evacuation from the French beach of that name. With German bombers flying over to try and annihalate the 400,000 British and French soldiers on the beach and hundreds dying daily, the outlook for them is pretty bleak.

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The most interesting thing about this film is the lack of dialogue. I don’t think there are a hundred lines in the whole movie. Most of the experience is in what you see and what you hear.

My favourite film genre is war, so naturally I’ve seen a lot of the classic war films. This one definitely stands out in a couple of ways:

  1. The colors. Most war movies have a theme of brown, green and black (very warm colors). This one was a lot of grey and blue, which made it feel very cold. That and all the water on screen had me walking out of the theater freezing to death.
  2. The music. If you go and look up the soundtrack, you’ll find that there is a ticking noise in the background of every piece. This ticking noise did not cease for the entire film, giving a sense of urgency (time is running out).
  3. The characters. I only caught the names of two of the characters (Peter and George). In addition to these, there was the infantry soldier (I later found out that his name is Tommy – nice allusion to Tommy Atkins!), his friend, and two pilots. It was incredibly realistic in the way that you recognised them by face, not name.
  4. The kind of intensity. There was little to no blood or gore in this film (I only remember seeing blood once). Yet, it was as riveting as Band Of Brothers (a slightly more intense HBO series. Rated TV-M for a reason) without being as violent as that series is. I think the most deaths happen by drowning, which was true. More soldiers drowned trying to get away than those who were bombed on the beach.

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There are genuine Spitfire planes in it, not just CGI. Also, the music is by Hans Zimmer – also a reason to go and see it. And if you’re a One Direction fan, I believe Harry Styles plays a character in it. I’m not a 1D fan, so I didn’t catch that until I went and read the Wiki page did extensive research.

All in all, Dunkirk is one of the best films I think I’ve ever seen, and if you can watch it in IMAX, you should. That wall-to-wall screen just throws you into it.

For those who are a little more sensitive or under 13: You can find the full content advisory as to exactly what’s in it here – I highly suggest doing this. There aren’t any unwarned spoilers. Another thing I would advise is to not watch this movie alone or at night – I am over 13 and went with my brothers, my mum, and my granddad to a matinee.

Verdict: GO SEE NOW!