These Broken Stars

by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Cover Beauty Score: 9 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 3 out of 5

Plot Blurb: This story follows the two protagonists - Tarver and Lilac - as they are stranded on an alien planet after their spaceship (think of a cruise liner in space) is torn from its hyperspace progression. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the galaxy, a man who also happened to own the spaceship that crash landed his daughter, while Tarver is a lowly war hero. Their paths cross only as a result of Tarver's recent shoot to fame, and it's nearly hate at first sight. Needless to say, being the last two humans alive on a planet and trying to survive and find a way to be rescued is only one of their issues.

My Reaction: I was so excited for this book. I really was! That cover is freaking gorgeous, despite the fact that I usually veer away from books with people on their covers (I think it detracts from my imagination of the characters). The premise seemed genius, and the reviews that existed were stellar!

And although I'm sure you're waiting for a scathing review, it really wasn't horrible. The writing was very well done, and that really is saying something. I think I'm a super picky judge when it comes to prose critiques, and these ladies did a fabulous job. There were moments in this book that were so eerie and creepy that tears came to my eyes... and that is excellent writing! I have never been really 'scared' by things happening in a book, and this was superbly creepy.

So as I sit here writing this review, I'm digesting my reaction and trying to figure out what didn't work for me. I really respect that these characters were very well thought out and they were certainly complex. But did they have a sufficient amount of chemistry? I don't think they really did, for me. I think the element where Lilac was only trying to protect Tarver by making him hate her struck a sour chord somewhere... it would have been much more satisfying had they truly hated each other at the beginning. We could have seen Lilac really change throughout her trials and tribulations. She certainly came to terms with her own strength, but her true element never changed. She was honorable in the beginning and she ended honorable.

Tarver, on the other hand, did make a big change. He went from being selfish (in the sense that he only thought of his own family and his wants and needs), to being willing to give up the things he holds dearest to be with Lilac.

And the whole aspect that she was a copy was too weird for me. I kept hoping beyond hope that she would have merged with her old self and brought that story line to a close, but it never happened. It just left things too unsettled for my tastes. How could he love something that was only a copy? I don't think that human nature would allow us to forget that. Props for making me think about some serious topics and digest that story line... but not what I was expecting at all, and certainly not what I wanted for the characters.

Ultimately, I picked up this book hoping for some awesome space adventures (which only about 15% of the book actually takes place in space - the rest is a basic survival deal) and funny bantering between a spoiled princess and a hardened soldier. That was most certainly not what I received.

This book left me feeling like I had just watched Prometheus... weirded out by the concept of thinking about what makes us human, a little sick from the constant suspense, and disappointed at the lack of humor. Read at your own risk!
read more »»»

7 Point Plot Structure

So I was introduced to a fabulous structure method this past week. It has been widely circulated by Dan Wells, a murder/mystery writer, and he has a fabulous youtube playlist where he outlines the general theory and gives plenty of examples - but I'm going to describe it as briefly as I can. And hopefully you'll get the gist and be able to refer to it. (And you can bet I'll pull this up when I get stuck.)

So the 7 Point Plot Structure is relatively simple for the overarching storyline of the story. It goes as follows:

Hook - this is where the story begins, it's what your characters start out as or the situation they're in or the actions that are happening at that moment
Plot Turn 1 - the part that forces the character or action to move forward
Pinch 1 - where something serious happens that really puts pressure on the character to fall irrevocably into the arch of the story
Midpoint - the point of no return, where the character makes that conscious decision to change or move forward on their own (this is where we transition from the Hook to the Resolution)
Pinch 2 - the point where the story really dips and something extreme happens (the mentor is lost, the friends disappear, the protag is left alone and in dire straights)
Plot Turn 2 - this is where the story reveals the tools or secrets needed to triumph (the power is in you!! the climax of the arc)
Resolution - the story has concluded and we find ourselves in an opposite state from the initial Hook

There. Simple enough for ya? Now hold onto your hats, folks, because this is where it gets a little bit awesome. You have to have many different plots in one story - all the best ones do! There are character development plots, action timeline plots, romance plots, betrayal plots, friendship plots... this list goes on and on! To REALLY make your story pop, you take all of these 7 points in each plot an weave them together into a complex tapestry of awesome novel.

I've been working on my new idea this way... and it's pretty awesome to have a grasp on it like that. I don't know how anyone could go about writing a novel without knowing, at least a little bit, where they intend to go. It's amazing to me that some authors actually do that.

Armed with my tools, I feel ready to conquer this fabulous idea that's been rolling around in my head for the past month or so! I am SO ready for NaNoWritMo... one book in a month? Bring it on!!
Oh, and if you want to watch Dan Wells' in depth presentation on the 7 points, you can watch it below! He does some great examples to really help you grasp it. From Harry Potter and Game of Thrones to The Matrix, Star Wars, and even Pride and Prejudice... he drives the theory home! And to make sure I really got the concept, I took a few other stories and movies myself and applied the 7 point structure (of course I threw in some Heroic Journey here and there). Enjoy!

read more »»»

Sticker Contest Success!

So I guess I can officially call myself a "Lunartic" now (the term used for those fans of the Lunar Chronicles). After finishing up the three books in that series, I was doing a little googling on the characters and the author, Marissa Meyer. This is something I regularly do when I find a fabulous author that I admire... I like to see what their story is and how they got around to doing so well!

Upon reading her most recent blog post, I saw she was hosting a graphic design "sticker contest" for the series... Well what would a graphic designer like me do in this situation? Of course I spent an hour putting together a little sticker option because, let's be honest, it was a fun idea! Now of course I realized I'd probably be competing with tweens and teenagers and that it would be pretty embarrassing if mine sucked. BUT! I DID IT ANYWAY!

And low and behold if I didn't place with the finalists, and received a nice email from Marissa Meyer herself complementing my design and letting me know I have a goodie bag coming my way soon. So all in all I think it was a pretty successful venture... :-) This was my sticker design to the right!

And admittedly I need to write more than I need to design stickers for other people's books... but this was just some good fun! You need that every once in a while... right?
read more »»»