Writing and Reading: a discussion.


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“Good” versus “Bad,” Making and Breaking Stories, and Workshops

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – what makes and breaks a story, for me.  Between blogging, engaging in literature-based discussions in my classes, and going through the Hell known as the writers’ workshop, well, it’s easy for me to begin thinking and then talking about these kinds of things.

Just earlier tonight I had a discussion with a friend about the misconception writers and readers may have about “good” and “bad” stories and “good” and “bad” writing. Both my friend and I feel that there are clear distinctions between the two. For instance, just because I don’t like the Hunger Games, it doesn’t mean I think it’s a “bad” book, or “bad” writing. I don’t like the Hunger Games because I have issues with the characters, dialogue and some plot points. Meaning, I have issue with how the story is conveyed to me, not its literal make-up.

In a workshop setting, I think this sometimes becomes misconstrued, or a little too black-and-white. In my workshop experiences, if the other writers did not like a particular piece, they dubbed it “bad” writing, or equated it to not being able to write well. But I don’t think this is always the case. To be a writer, you must also be a storyteller. And I think sometimes the roles of storyteller and writer become blurred together, though I feel that they’re separate. I think you can have a great story to tell, but, at the same time, be unable to convey it well. Likewise, I think you can construct a very eloquent piece of work, but have it lacking in its actual content, or story. Because of this, I don’t think you can simply label a book “good” or “bad.” There are too many factors – most of them based upon opinion.

When it comes down to it, what makes and breaks a story for me are the characters. If there’s any disconnect between me and the characters in a story (presumably a majority of them, depending on how many are involved), I begin to lack the will to continue reading. I want the character to be a person to me – as real as they can be, whether they’re admirable or despicable. If they simply seem like a cookie cutter (without that being their intention), or uninteresting (again, without that being their intention), then I don’t see the point in me learning about them.

Going along with that, I also place importance on dialogue. The characters may appear to be as real as real can get, but if a disbelieving or ridiculous or lacking or cliched line of dialogue is tied to them, I start to become wary. They can’t just seem real; I need them to sound real as well. What they’re saying has to matter to me, on some level. If it doesn’t, then I know I’m not very emotionally invested, and possibly even interested, in the story.

Characters are what hold my attention – they’re what I cling to when I read. This unfortunately means they can both make or break it for me.

What about you? What makes or breaks a story for you? How do you view “good” versus “bad” writing? What have your workshop experiences been like?

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Follow Friday (30)


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Follow Friday is now acknowledging and promoting the following of blogs through their RSS feeds! Because this site is proudly powered by WordPress, there’s no GFC (Google Friend Connect) option. BUT, you can follow TGR through my feed by clicking HERE or over to the right, in my sidebar. You can also subscribe through email!


Do you read one book at a time, or switch between multiple?

I read one book at a time. If I happen to start two books around the same time, I will not switch between them. I will finish reading one, and then the other. If I try to read more than one, I feel that I get lost between the stories. I prefer to have my full attention on one story.

This week at The Grammarian’s Reviews

The Hunger Games movie – What did you think?!

I dare you all to read this book – don’t judge a book by its cover!

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The Hunger Games movie: a re-cap.


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*There will be spoilers in this post regarding the Hunger Games movie. You’ve been warned! *

Do any of you remember THIS post?

If you don’t, that’s okay. It was my first time expressing my thoughts upon reading the Hunger Games trilogy.  And let me tell you right now that it was not positive. When I meet people who say they LOOOOOOOVE (yes, there usually are that many Os) the Hunger Games, I prep myself for their reaction to my reply, which is, and forever will be, I love to hate them.

Cue the gasps and pitchforks.

No, I did not buy into the hype. No, I do not like Peeta. Not at all, really. No, I do not like Katniss. If I could get together with Gale, Cinna, the Avox girl, Finnick and Annie, I’d be set; they’re my favorites.

But this post isn’t meant to discuss my likes and dislikes regarding the trilogy. Instead, it is to talk about the recently released movie. I finally had the opportunity to put aside some school work to go see it. And to be perfectly honest, I liked it. Although, to clarify, I liked it as a movie. Naturally, as we’ve seen with our other beloved series, Harry Potter, there are differences from book to movie adaptations.  Did I mind the differences? Not much. But here were a few that got to me:

Madge does not give Katniss the mockingjay pin. In fact, Madge doesn’t even exist in the movie.

Um. What. I love Madge. I always have. It’s such a pivotal moment that she and Katniss share, for both obvious and obscure reasons. I don’t think it would have hurt or detracted focus from the rest of the main focuses of the movie. The mockingjay, although given emphasis in the movie, is given an entirely different sort of emphasis than it receives in the book(s). It was one of those short, but powerful, moments I would have liked to see.

Uh, is Katniss really falling for Peeta?

I know how it all ends up, but regardless, Katniss did not initially return Peeta’s feelings. In fact, their romance was somewhat faked and staged for the Games. Aside from a short, comedic note from Haymitch, there was no indication that the romance was a ruse in the movie. Although this probably irked me more than anyone since I’m anti Katniss and Peeta.

President Snow.

I can’t say I minded him in the movie, but I also can’t say I was thrilled with his portrayal. While his deviousness becomes more apparent toward the end of the movie, I feel that Snow is so much creepier, horrific and evil in the book(s).

Those were the three big things that bugged me. Other minor things included the lack of bread sent from District 11, the lack of explanation or recognition that the dog hybrids had the eyes of the fallen tributes, and the destroying of the alliance’s goods (I’m sorry, but that bomb scene/explanation was much cooler and more difficult in the book).

Now for some positives! Since I did, in fact, enjoy the movie.

Caesar Flickerman.

My liking of Caesar partly has to do with Stanley Tucci’s portrayal of him. That SMILE, people! That SMILE. It got me every time. So hysterical. But seeing Caesar also put him into a different perspective for me. He’s a little devious, yet not. A little evil, yet not. It helped to see him come to life.

Rue. And her death.

To be honest, I never loved or hated Rue in the book. I liked her well enough, but was ultimately unaffected by her death while I was reading. But the scene in the movie is so heartbreaking and so well done, that I finally cared. I was finally affected. I applaud them for constructing it well and taking special care with it.

The arena.

No, not everything about the arena was as I imagined (bizarre Cornucopia, anyone?). But, overall, I thought it worked. The fire was much more terrifying than I ever pegged it to be, the cave was spot-on, and the gridded sky was unexpected but a nice touch (was I the only one thinking they projected a sky above them?).

Effie Trinket.

She was the most annoying woman in the book. Well, maybe not the MOST annoying, but she was up there on the list. And yet, in the movie, I fell in love. Granted, they made her more humorous than I remember her being, but that’s okay. I felt like I actually got to see several sides to her, and that was nice.


Never thought I’d say this, but I DID actually like Peeta in the movie. Maybe that’s because Josh Hutcherson makes him more likable. I don’t know for sure. All I know is that, while I’m not the character’s biggest fan by a long shot, I think he’s perfectly portrayed in the movie. You get a sense of who he is and what he stands for, and it’s just right.

Going behind-the-scenes.

I loved seeing that round room full of people controlling and monitoring the events in the arena, with Seneca Crane watching everything. It gave us, as the audience, something that we didn’t have with Katniss in the book(s): an outside, behind-the-scenes look. It really put the Games into the perspective that they’re equivalent to a reality TV show.


Now that you know how I feel about the movie, what about you? Did you like the Hunger Games movie? Dislike it? Why? What about the differences between the book and movie – did they bother you?

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The Hunger Games post.


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Well, I did it. I finally read The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

(The Hunger Games, Catching Fire & Mockingjay.)

And I must admit, I don’t understand the hype that revolves around them.  My friends all rave, I’ve read nothing but positive, joyful reviews by fellow bloggers and critics alike, and yet I could barely muster the energy to want to finish them. 

* This post is not at all a review. It’s merely my thoughts/questions/ramblings of all three books.


The Hunger Games is, if anything to me, entirely too repetitive and shallow.  Katniss barely evolves as a character, Gale is never mentioned beyond the beginning, and Peeta comes on too strongly for little to no reason (save for some bread incident when he was younger), which makes him beyond unbelievable and grossly sappy.  Intense love at first sight? I don’t think so. Everything is the same: Katniss is questioning herself and others, she’s afraid, she’s traveling, she’s questioning herself and others, she’s afraid, she’s traveling some more, etc. I don’t think Collins’ writing style helped my initial thoughts of the series, either; it’s so dry, so unemotional. 

The Game itself is drawn out. I appreciate that Katniss isn’t always the damsel in distress and can fend for herself, but until she genuinely interacts with the other contestants, the Game is boring.  It doesn’t help that Katniss seems to have some kind of invincibility preventing her from suffering much.

I never connected to Peeta.  He’s too nice. I don’t fall for the sickeningly sweet romance. I’ve yet to understand how it’s genuine at all.  Why does everyone fawn over him?

Catching Fire feels like a repeat of the first, of The Hunger Games.  That is all.

Mockingjay has more substance by a long shot.  Yet possibly too much, as if everything from the first two books must weave together into some semblance of a completed story.  It doesn’t quite drag along, but the character development takes a back seat until halfway through.  And that’s my one big, consistent problem.  I can’t help but feel as though the characters never grow – instead the action and descriptions take over the story. I would love to know more about Gale.  Even Finnick. Or Annie.  Even Haymitch.  Even President Snow.  Even Boggs. But instead we get glimpses of them; just when they’re about to progress, to grow as characters, we’re cut off from them and the story changes its course.

The epilogue is strange.  It’s quite a leap, and makes me think of settling, as if everything that’s happened results in one big settlement.  And that just has me wondering, Why? Why settle? What was all of this for?


If I had to pick one word to sum up the trilogy, it would be anticlimactic.

So what do you think? Did the epilogue feel like a settlement of sorts to anyone else? What about Peeta – why is he so likeable when he’s so unjustified in his actions?

And yes, before anyone asks, I am all for Team Gale.

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