GENESIS: Bk1 of The Kingdom Come Series Reviews

GENESIS: Book One of The Kingdom Come Series (All Reviews)

 Ok, Now they're all in one place: Amazon, B&N and Goodreads :) Amazon Customer September 29, 2016 5/5 A great read wit...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Be Honest—Darth Maul: Love to Hate and Hate to Love.

Who didn't want to see Star Wars Phantom Menace simply cause of Maul? That's right, everyone. HE was the guy! THE MAN! You wanted him to kick ass and take names and leave a swath of dead Jedi in his path. He was so cool. So bad ass. His tattoos. His horns. All in black. COME ON! You loved it. You loved him. He was the most popular character in the new movie(s). The most popular toy. The most popular costume. Everything his image was put on was GOLD.

Then the day came and you saw it. Sure he didn't talk alot. Sure he really wasn't the main bad guy—Darth Sidious/Palpataine kinda made him into more of a henchmen, assassin instead of being the #1 Sith in-charge, but ya know what, you didn't care. Why? HE was awesome! A Duel Light Saber! HE had a huge two-on-one duel with Obi Wan Kenobi and Qui Gon Jinn, who he finally killed after having earlier fought him in the movie. That was the "Lets Get to Know Each Other" round. :)

Then it happened. :(
You were hoping somehow he'd live, make it into the next movie. Hell, maybe he'd be around for all three. You could even see the plot unfolding...but no, he died. But you were ok with it because of how he died. How final it was. G.L even said so:

George Lucas: I didn't really have anything for Maul to do after The Phantom Menace. I needed a Jedi vs. Sith showdown at the end of The Phantom Menace and I wanted the battle to have significant consequences, which is why Qui-Gon Jinn dies and Darth Maul is cut in half. Darth Sidious needed Count Dooku to lead the Separatist droid military. Dooku was a military genius while Maul was not.

BOOM! There you have it.
Maul's dead and though you wished he'd lived, you're were ok with it. 

Fast Forward nearly a DECADE.
A D!E!C!A!D!E without word or approved rumor or w/e in any form of media besides things that didn't effect the overall plot of the story or were otherwise considered non-canon. Remember, you can't write-in/effect/change the "Expanded Universe" without Lucas' OK. Issue #17: The "thing" Luke destroys, isn't Maul, but a solid hologram (whatever that b.s is) Issue #19, a young Darth Vader fights/kills Maul, which is a clone recreated by a cult—both "maul's" don't alter/f-up the main plot, which up-until now, was that Maul DIED. It's why the story in Dark Horse with the robot legs wasn't considered canon; that idea really changed things.

So it's Late 2011/Early 2012:

“I found it funny in The Phantom Menace when Darth Maul got cut in half,” Clone Wars supervising director Dave Filoni says. “I thought George was definitively saying to the fans, ‘There’s no way this character is coming back. This is not a Boba Fett/Sarlacc Pit situation where, because of fan love, Boba gets out of that thing any number of ways.’ Fast-forward ten-years, and I’m the one to bring Maul back.”

WTF????
This most certainly was another Boba moment.
1) They booth were the coolest looking characters.
2) They died too quick, Boba Fett dying like a newbie and Maul coming back to later die like a punk.

So, what Filoni had to overcome:
A) Fans cursing “No way!” 
B) Then, “First of all, how does he survive getting cut in half?” says Filoni.“Plus, he fell!" And not only that, he was abandoned...

Oh, but she had some good'ol Star Wars B.S to work her magic with:
The Dark Side of the Force is the pathway to many abilities some consider to be…unnatural,” Darth Sidious says in Revenge of the Sith. 
Vader did it, so"...Couldn’t Maul have picked up on some of that too? Said Filoni, “He’s suffered through a lot to keep himself alive and implemented the training of his master to do so.”

This is the magic way to fix any horrible mistake in the Star Wars Universe.
Like an Etch-a-Sketch "POOF" it never happened.  

Filoni acknowledged the order came from George Lucas himself, who became more interested in his Phantom Menace creation while developing Savage Opress for the last season of The Clone Wars. Awesome as Maul was in the movie, he barely got to do anything before the old chop-chop. When asked if Maul’s return is motivated by the feeling that he was underutilized in The Phantom Menace, Filoni said, “I think in part.”

How do you make such a horrible choice? Then repeat with this deus ex machina move?
So what was the other part of that equation? I'll tell you: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

You can look all this up online in the same places where I found many of these quotes or interviews, sites sadly I'm too lazy to source out, sorry: How popular was/is Maul vs every other character in the Star Wars Universe; How popular/profitable was/is everything with his face on it; How all the non-canon comics and books sold simply because they gave just barely more information into a character that really had almost no background at the time of his first death? Which opened up another huge can of WTF: if you do your research into Maul's photocopy of a backstory, there are tons of webpages filled with fans fighting over the specifics, all the changes, which is canon, which isn't, why and how and every other question. 

If you got over the plausibility—Yes I know it's Fantasy/Scifi, but as writers/readers we're only willing to accept certain things as they pertain to that universe, meaning, if Jedi just suddenly start FLYING like Superman, fans might take issue—what’s left could be fun. So hoped Filoni and Lucas.

I'll admit too, it looked good. All the Light Saber fights that season were awesome, but like a movie with tons of CG, if the story doesn't pan out...what did you really end up with?

"To go through all the trouble and believability [a labyrinth which only the blind might escape, or so I've heard] to bring this character back, it would be a shame if it was once again a short-lived thing," Filoni sayid. "A lot of effort went into the resurrection of Darth Maul, and I'm going to make it worthwhile for the fans, that's for sure."

OK, so have you seen the show since Maul came back and hooked up with his previously non-existent Bro? Let me recap and you should note the timely reductions in power/skill at key moments so the story goes on and on and on:
1) Savage fought both Anakin and Obi and held his own pretty well; a little too well given future events.
2) Dooku is drugged, ambushed by Ventress and 2 Night Sisters and beats them all, some overlooked coup de grâce time.
3) Savage fought with Ventress against Dooku then later it was a three-way-dance and held his own pretty well; again, a little too well given future events.
4) Maul returns as a wacked-out spider? Yep.
5) Maul gets legs, though not "human-like" and beats Savage to become Top Dog.
6) Obi gets jumped by both Maul and Savage and gets handed his hat but isn't killed despite plenty of time for a coup de grâce. He's eventually allied with Ventress (left alone long enough to recover Obi) and they fight off both Maul and Savage though Obi's actual lines in the episode were "We're out matched."
7) Obi eventually faced off against both Maul and Savage again and though this time alone, he fights them off, wounding Savage in the process.
8) Maul (finally with "human" legs) and Savage are finally confronted by the Emperor. Who, I'll note, rarely Force Chokes anyone if he's not breaking their neck, suffocating them or repeatedly smashing them into nothing, unlike all the other baddies who could simply kill Jedi that way, but instead throw them around for effect. Anyway, it doesn't take long before Savage is killed and Maul reduced to a sniveling punk. "Have mercy" he says, then cries, "PLEASE!" What a punk.

Of course, the Emperor didn't kill him.
Why would he? There's no profit for Lucas or Cartoon Network/Disney otherwise.
So what happened? Pass to Marvel (owned by Disney)

In the aftermath of the events of The Lawless Darth Maul has been captured by Darth Sidious, his former master, and imprisoned in the Spire, a Sepratists prison on Stygeon Prime. Sidious is followed by Gar Saxon and Rook Kast, two of Maul's Death Watch followers, on orders for Mandalorian Prime Minister Almec to free Maul from imprisonment. Once freed, Maul and the warriors are to rendezvous with Death Watch forces on Zanbar.
Sidious speaks to Maul in the Spire and reveals that he still has use for his former apprentice, before the two are interrupted by Count Dooku. The arrival of Sidious' new apprentice angers Maul, who views Dooku as a Sith pretender and unworthy of the title of Sith Lord. Sidious and Dooku leave to confer with one another, as Sidious explains that he imprisoned Maul to draw out Mother Talzin, leader of the Nightsisters, so she can be destroyed as a potential threat to the eventual Sith rule of the galaxy. Sidious also reveals that he has a history with Talzin, from whom he received Maul when Maul was a child. Sidious orders Dooku to find out more information about Maul's Shadow Collective, as Maul will end up believing that the Sith want to destroy his arm, and seek out Mother Talzin for help.
After Dooku briefly interrogates Maul, Kast and Saxon mount their rescue. The two Mandalorians reach their captive leader and free him from his restraints, before blasting out a wall of the interrogation cell. Maul and the Mandalorians make their way down the mountain, via zipline, that the Spire sits upon and escape aboard a Gauntlet fighter. Separatist forces, led by General Grievous, pursue the ship, while Dooku makes it clear that Maul is not to be killed, only weakened. That way, he can seek out Mother Talzin for help. With Separatist forces in pursuit, Maul and the Mandalorians reach Zanbar. Once again in command of his army, Maul reclaims his Darksaber, the weapon that belonged to the previous Death Watch leader, Pre Vizsla, and tells the Mandalorians that war is at hand.
The Separatists arrive on the moon and launch all of their forces against Maul. Death Watch is overwhelmed by the droid soldiers, while Maul faces Grievous in single-combat. Maul's army is left badly damaged, but Maul orders his fighters to bomb the area, taking out many Separatist forces as well. Maul escapes in the chaos and orders his surviving forces to retreat. After the battle ends, Grievous informs Dooku of what happened, leaving Dooku satisfied that Maul will seek to find Mother Talzin.

In retreat from Zanbar, Maul contacts Mother Talzin for guidance, just as Sidious and Dooku intended. Talzin uses Nightsister magick to speak to Maul from afar, and anticipates that the Sith want to lure her into a trap. Refusing to play along, Talzin sends Maul to Ord Mantell without her, where he is to regroup with his Black Sun allies and prepare for another battle with the Separatists—one where Maul can capture Count Dooku and General Grievous. Once on Ord Mantell, Maul confers with his allies and informs them of the impending battle. Meanwhile, Dooku and Grievous prepare their own strategy en route to the planet.
Maul and his allies plan to lure the Separatists into a specific point in Ord Mantell City, where the Mandalorians, Black Sun, and Pyke Syndicate will engage in an attack against the invading droid army. A team of Nightbrothers, led by Brother Viscus, arrives on orders from Mother Talzin to reinforce Maul's army. As Maul greets the Nightbrothers, the Separatists begin their attack, using their fleet to bombard Ord Mantell City. The Shadow Collective begins carrying out their defense, while the Separatists deploy their droid forces on the surface. Once there, they are met in battle by the limited but powerful number of Shadow Collective troops—Mandalorian, Pyke, and Black Sun alike. Meanwhile, Count Dooku arrives with a number of droid guards, while Maul leaves the surface and makes his way to the Separatist fleet. He and his ships attack the Separatist command vessel, while Grievous realizes the Separatists have been lured into a trap. On the surface, Dooku is confronted by the Nightbrothers, and a duel ensues between the Sith Lord and the Dathomirian warriors.
The droid army advances on the Shadow Collective and takes Maul's forces into custody, while the renegade Sith Lord himself continues his space assault. He and Mandalorian warriors board the Separatist command ship and take General Grievous into custody, and they force the Kaleesh cyborg to disable all battle droids on the surface. The disabling of the droids allows the Shadow Collective forces to regroup and capture Count Dooku. Maul contacts Mother Talzin to tell her what has happened, and she promises that, with Dooku and Grievous in custody, Sidious will soon be captured and they will fulfill their quest for vengeance against the Dark Lord

A team of Jedi arrives on Ord Mantell to investigate the aftermath of the battle, and recognizes the connection between Darth Maul and the Mandalorians once they recover a Death Watch helmet. Jedi Master Mace Windu contacts Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, who is secretly Darth Sidious, to inform him that Maul was behind the battle. Windu hopes to use this information to capture Maul and Dooku, and to use their captures to end the Clone Wars. Windu then speaks to fellow Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi, Tiplee, and Aayla Secura, and together they surmise that Maul may have headed to a Mandalorian asteroid outpost. Fearing that Mandalore could fall to the Separatists, Kenobi volunteers himself, along with Tiplee, to investigate the outpost.
Meanwhile, on the Mandalorian outpost, Maul contacts Darth Sidious and informs the Dark Lord that Dooku and Grievous have been captured. Sidious tells Maul to kill them, for he has no use for what he sees as failures. Maul instead orders Grievous to be taken into custody. As he does so, the Jedi begin their approach towards the outpost, and Tiplee fears that Kenobi will be unable to keep his emotions under control; Maul killed Satine Kryze, the Duchess of Mandalore and a close personal friend of Kenobi's. Kenobi assures his fellow Jedi that he will not fail. As the Republic approaches, Maul offers Dooku a choice: become an ally or die. Mother Talzin appears in a cloud of magic smoke and reveals that she too was once betrayed by Darth Sidious—and that Darth Maul is her son. As Talzin explains, Sidious is even now working to find a new apprentice.
The Republic assault on the outpost begins, and the Republic ships make their way through Gauntlet fighter fire towards the base. Grievous uses the chaos to make it to an escape pod, while Dooku agrees to join Maul and fight against Kenobi's boarding party. The Jedi arrive on the outpost, where Kenobi and Tiplee are confronted by Maul and Dooku. They engage in a lightsaber duel, which is joined by Windu and Secura. Dooku kills Tiplee, while the Mandalorians shoot a small missile towards the Jedi, incapacitating them. This gives Maul and Dooku time to escape. In the aftermath of the battle, Windu contacts Palpatine and informs him of what happened. The Jedi Master also speculates that the battle proves Dooku is the Sith Master, an incorrect assessment that Palpatine, the true Dark Lord, allows the Jedi to believe.
In the aftermath of the Galactic Republic and Jedi assault against the Shadow Collective on the Mandalorian asteroid outpost, Darth Maul races towards Dathomir with his Death Watch allies—as well as Count Dooku, who had claimed to join Maul's vendetta against Darth Sidious. While en route to Dathomir, Maul is contacted by Ziton Moj of Black Sun and a member of the Pyke Syndicate. Having lost the moon of Zanbar and the planet Ord Mantell—as well as the supply outpost—in their fights against the Sith, the two allies have become worried that Maul's plan is failing and that the fight has become the former Sith Lord's personal vendetta against his old master. Maul assures them that they will be paid, and that, once Darth Sidious is dead, the galaxy will belong to the Shadow Collective. Maul then orders Gar Saxon, a Mandalorian, to keep the Pykes and Black Sun in line. Meanwhile, Maul tells Dooku that he knows the Sith Lord is not truly an ally, and that Dooku has been told by Sidious to play Maul's game. Maul then has Dooku taken into custody by Rook Kast.
Once on Dathomir, Maul speaks to Brother Viscus, who survived his encounter with Count Dooku during the battle on Ord Mantell, and Viscus tells Maul that the preparations had been made for the next phase of their plan. The Nightbrothers take Dooku before Mother Talzin, who appears in a cloud of smoke and begins to unleash a magick attack against the Sith Lord.
Meanwhile, a Sith Infiltrator arrives in orbit, carrying both General Grievous and Darth Sidious, after tracking Dooku's location to Dathomir. Sidious orders Grievous to jam the Dathomirian communications and cloak the ship, allowing them to arrive on Dathomir undetected. Maul and the Nightbrothers do not see the ship coming and continue with their plan, as Talzin uses her magic to draw the life force from Dooku so she can use it to physically manifest herself again. As Maul explains, Talzin's physical return requires a great sacrifice, and they had chosen Dooku to make that sacrifice.
As the process continues, an explosion rips through the area, and Grievous and Sidious appear before Maul to confront him. Sidious reminds his former apprentice that there is only one plan that matters: the plan of Darth Sidious to rule the galaxy. As they speak, Moj and Pykes contacts Kast, informing her that the Separatist armies have begun attacking them. The Shadow Collective allies demand to know where Maul is, but Kast says that his not their concern and that they are to fight the Separatists.
On Dathomir, Mother Talzin takes control of Dooku's body, and she and Maul engage in combat against Sidious and Grievous. Talzin fights the Dark Lord of the Sith while Maul attacks Grievous. Sidious quickly gains the upper-hand against Talzin, demanding that she release his apprentice. Sidious bombards Dooku's body with Force lightning before Talzin releases Dooku and appears in physical form once again. Kast, meanwhile, continues speaking with Black Sun and the Pykes, who inform her that they are pulling out of the Shadow Collective, leaving Maul on his own as a Separatist fleet emerges from hyperspace over Dathomir.
Maul continues his fight against Grievous, pushing him out of and away from the battle. Sidious once again unleashes lightning against Talzin, while Talzin herself sends a torrent of magical energy towards the Dark Lord. Maul pleads with Talzin to take his strength, but, as Dooku enters the fight with his own lightning attacks, Talzin tells her son to retreat without her, even if it means her own doom. Talzin uses her magic to telekinetically throw Maul from the fray, and he is pulled away by Kast and another Mandalorian warrior—but watches as Grievous returns and uses two lightsabers to fatally stab Talzin through the chest.
With his Shadow Collective in tatters, Maul and Death Watch flee from Dathomir. Sidious, Dooku, and Grievous overlook Talzin's body, while Dooku regretfully says that Maul has once again escaped. Sidious is not concerned, however, as everything transpired as he had intended. Maul's future as a Sith rival has been destroyed, while the Sith have taken another step in securing their own future.

Then in Star Wars Rebels he reappears:

And finally...

Which WAS TOTALLY LAME!!!!!!!!!!

And no defense of it makes any sense: Old People are Bad Asses

But here's the gist—

IGN: Why do you think their fight is so brief? Is it that Obi-Wan is just at that point so much stronger than Maul, that Maul has lost his edge, or is it that Maul doesn’t truly want to win? Or is it a weird combo of all that?

Witwer (Maul Voice Actor): There are so many different ways of looking at that. Everything you said is valid. It could all be absolutely true. One thing I think is interesting is the Jedi in the prequels are supposed to be peacekeepers, and certainly had a very artful way of making war. They had an artful way of defending themselves and inciting violence, really. You find that the Jedi who survived all of that had a much more simpler way of going about things. Obi-Wan, for example, in the bar when Ponda Baba and Dr. Evazan pick a fight with Luke, Obi-Wan closes down that fight as fast as it begins. He doesn’t do anything flashy. He just dispatches the problem as fast as he possibly can. I think that’s what you see here. If this fight had happened maybe twenty years earlier, you would have seen a dashing display of lightsaber wickedness. I think there is something else going on in the classic trilogy, which is where we are now finding ourselves. Obi-Wan is no longer interested in expending any more energy than is absolutely necessary. If he can end a fight quickly, he’s going to end it quickly. The line between intention and results is finally a straight line. It wasn’t quite a straight line and he had powers and you have to imagine by indulging in those powers and becoming better and better at those things, administrating a war, by participating in those things they are giving in to a measure of the dark side of the Force. However, a Jedi who only fights in self defense and draws his lightsaber only to defend the innocent or to strike down his foe as quickly and painlessly as possible, that’s what the lightsaber is for. That’s what a Jedi is supposed to be. That’s how it’s supposed to go down. It’s not supposed to be pretty or flashy. It’s simply a necessary move. And that’s it. Only the most necessary moves survive into the original trilogy. 

This presumes all the Jedi and Sith in the prequels were just...showboating? Seriously? 
They weren't also/equally trying to win every encounter as quickly as possible? Really? 
Ok, by this logic, why didn't Count Dooku kill Obi and Anakin in their first fight, or their second? Why didn't he kill Ventress or Maul's brother when they fought, hell, why didn't he also kill Maul? Why did it take the Emperor so long to fight off Mace? Or, why did it take the Emperor so long to kill Maul's brother and then best Maul? But wait, why didn't Qui Gon easily handle Maul way back when? Wait, so why didn't Vader and Obi's fight in "New Hope" end just as quickly as Maul and Obi's did in "Rebels" ? Or, why didn't Vader just kill Luke, why did he take so long in just removing his hand? Finally, how did Vader finally lose to Luke, given how Elder Jedi/Sith just, ya know, cut to the chase vs their younger/prequel counterparts, who tend to rely on flash and gimmicks?
 
This is stupid.
No, the truth is: In the Orig three, the action wasn't that good for a dozen of reasons—technology, choreography, actor ability to actually sword-fight and so on. 
So, in the prequels, through to the cartoons and even the games, the designers and story-tellers wanted to make the Jedi and Sith as they should've always been—Crazy Awesome Space Samurai with super powers. And that's what we got.

That's the difference. 

Also, the producer agrees: They simply wanted to just tie that knot off—
“If there’s a character like Maul running around during one of the old films, he’s such a big-time player you think there would have been an echo of that somewhere,” Filoni said. “So it was just the right time to tell the story and bring that thread to an end.”

She adds: “It was a much-discussed thing on how that was gonna go down,” Filoni said. “The instinct would be, and probably, I admit, the expectation, is for some kind of prolonged lightsaber battle. But I’ve done a lot of prolonged lightsaber battles over the years and I think what’s most important about any kind of confrontation is what’s riding on it. What’s the tension going into it? It starts to matter less and less how you swing a sword or how creatively you do it if there’s not a lot riding on it.”

This is both an answer: "We were tired of this story-line," and a copout—implying any previous fight that was "showy" likely didn't define as strictly how much was riding on the actual fight.....seriously, WTF?

Anyway, I'll admit, the END END where Maul is cradled by Obi is good.
How they got there though......

So the whole thing is this:
When Lucas killed off Maul, everyone knew it was a horrible idea for a ton of reasons, but you have to stick to your choices as a writer. Oh well. Time passed. Maul's popularity continued. SO screw keeping to your plot, time to CASH IN—Lucas Arts spit-up Maul's brother and back-story as a way to correct things. That wasn't good enough. So he went full "AHAHA, bet you didn't see this shit coming did you: MAUL'S ALIVE!" and everyone was like WTF? Of course we didn't see it coming. And after a long extended stay, after showing all sorts of power and strength...he's taken out, once again...by the same guy who killed him so many many many years ago. :( It's no poetic, it's tired, considering the Dark Horse Comic this encounter is based off, which started the whole push to bring back Maul, was WAY BETTER than this 3second showdown. :(

In closing, Maul was once awesome. Then, following a horrible choice, he was later brought back for $. Then reduced to a Joke disguised as Eastern/Samurai poetry...
How far the Sith have fallen.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Kingdom Come: WORLD MAP!

The Great Angela R. Sasser is doing another round of amazing work for me.
This is just the beginning. :)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Defending Man of Steel.

1
The movie was great, so I'm going to skip any minor thoughts or opinions I have about specific moments or sequences I thought could've been done differently. 
 
I'm just going to jump right in.
 
 
I'm over the perfect Superman. The bedtime Superman, who, no matter what, always makes lemonade from a bag of horrible, rotten lemons. 
 
I like this new interpretation of Superman's beginning. A Superman, who, with all his powers, is, at times, unable to put the world back together...'cause ya know what, sometimes horrible things happen and you can't save everyone; especially while you're trying to save your own life, because you're the only one who can stop the utter destruction of the world. 
 
Question: Ever watch the old Superman/JL(U) cartoons; ever read comics? 
*@!% gets blown up all the time. Buildings fall. Explosions happen. There's a ton of destruction spread for miles. We just "assume" the people live. Why? 'Cause for the most part, their deaths (all those untold innocent people) aren't captured on the page or in the animation or we somehow magically believe the buildings, streets, cars, subways are empty. The very same thing happened in this movie. However, somehow people are calling it a dishonor to Superman. Are you kidding me? Did those same fans get mad during the Avengers' alien invasion?
 
This was the War Superman. 
This was the School of Hard Knocks Superman. 
This Superman, was, in effect, the "I live by the skin of my teeth" Superman. His first run on the world's stage and he had to deal with this! WE (the humans in that world) got lucky he was able to take the beating he did. Everyone outmatched or over powered him. From birth, they were all warriors bred with the knowledge, skill and force of will to do what needed to be done to win the day. These are real enemies. Real conquerors who only value Kryptonian life. These aren't Dragon Ball Z baddies. They wouldn't follow Superman away from the innocent population so they could fight where it's safe; nor would they be kept from civilian populations even if Superman managed to do so for a short period of time: such an idea or plot scheme has always been ridiculous to me. 
 
Also keep in mind, this Superman isn't the Superman you know. 1) He isn't a master of his powers, which drastically effects his effectiveness in battle and 2) Most importantly, he didn't grow up with a love for his fellow Man. Very early on and for most of his life, he was taught/lived to fear Humans—in relation to them being able to accept him. He was an outcast, with no attachments to anyone but his parents and later Lois.
 
Finally, Superman is made out to be "The Man of Steel" but this only applies to things lesser than himself. Once met with equal or threatening force: Zod's ship (where he bleeds) and later when fighting Zod's followers; later Zod himself...yep, that's one helluva wake up call for someone who'd spent his entire life thus far not appreciating what fear or pain was. 

That leads me to the scene that freaked everyone out...
Considering the context of the story, the unstoppable, unshakable enemy that's a threat to Superman and the world in such an absolute way, I'm 100% OK with the moment that made me situp and gasp with the rest of the audience. To me, after thinking about it, it made sense and truly—not figuratively from some never tested moral high ground—gives Superman the reason and drive he needs to never find himself in that position ever again.
 
Which is why, from here on out, fans will get the Superman they know.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

5th Amazon review!

Thanks Erin Keahey 
 
"Wonderful world you can sink your teeth into. Story telling executed in a fantastic style that makes you want to keep reading. The characters jump off the page and make you believe in their journey. Good till the end. When is the next one?"

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Twitter!

Yep, it's true. I now have a cell phone.
This is always the face people give me when they learn the terrible truth about my past. :)
Well, now I do and it's a pretty nice one; though I've no idea how to use most of it's functions and when I recently tried to use the Navigation App I quickly found myself wanting to throw THE DAMN THING OUT THE %^&*?@# WINDOW!
Anyway *going to my happy place* you can now follow me on @WadeJGarret

Thanks

Saturday, November 30, 2013

More Movies


It was good. Not great. But good. I feel much of the book's impact was lost, given the adjustment to Ender's age and the few more violent/psychological scenes which were clearly down-played; though I understand their reason. I don't agree, but I understand. What also didn't help was the fact Harrison Ford seemed to phone-in his performance for much of the movie. Perhaps it would've gone better simply to limit his role in the first place, give more time to the cadets? The climax, when THE MOMENT happens, is worth it though. All-in-all, B- is about how I feel about it.


Alright, so I just (like the weekend it came out, sorry for posting so late) saw this and contrary to a friend's opinion, Malekith, in my humble opinion, is nowhere near the worst Marvel Villain ever. Still, by far, is the horror that was the deconstructed Mandarin. Anyway, the movie and Malekith were great. Lots of fun. It wasn't AMAZING. I think they missed out on a few moments here and there that could've put it into the AMAZING realm, but I don't want to spoil it for those who've not seen it yet. All-in-all, I give it somewhere between B+ and A-.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

4th Amazon review!

Thanks NGreen:

"I am not usually one for reading the longer Sci-Fi novels, but Genesis was definitely worth time. Garret really does a great job providing the physical and social landscape of this world. Fantastic imagination went into the different classes of people, especially of the Arete. The characters and relationships in this book are another great strength. I give the book 4 stars because Garret has created a compelling and complex story that will leave you wanting more, but there are some editorial issues that keep it from perfect. I am certainly waiting for the next book in this series."

3rd Amazon review!

Thank you E.W:

"Ok so I have to say I'm not a huge science-fiction/fantasy person, but this book definitely has made me think twice about my reading list. One of the best books I've read in a long time! It took me some time to get thru it because I'm not use to the flow of a fantasy story but I loved the overall story. This writer has a way of making the reader feel very invested in the characters. The heroes you will absolutely love and find yourself shouting out loud when they come upon misfortune and the villains you will love as well with their extreme complexity nothing is quite what it seems. A very involved and in-depth story from start to finish, I was so sad when I reached the end but I'm so excited for the second book to come out. I can't wait to see where this story goes. Not a book for the faint of heart, but I have no doubt that most geeks out there will love this book. I have been converted, so glad I picked this one up!!! Happy reading!"

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ink Master: Finale!


So who is the next INK MASTER?
And what did he win with? 

If you didn't watch the final episode, you missed out on one helluva bitch-fest from alot of the failed contestants. Bunch of whiners. Grow Up! Aside from that, I'm glad Baby didn't win, nothing against her and I'm glad Kyle will be coming back next season, which I hope for the final doesn't have as many Jerry Springer-Moments as this one did...although it was fun to see Oliver and Nunez knock them down. :)

FACE OFF: Final Five!



So it's been awhile since I've said anything about Face OFF, so I'll jump right in and catch up:

1) Those Gone

Eddie: Well, once he started with the ghostly baseball player I knew where he was going with it and knew it was going to get him kicked off for it. Wasn't scary. Goofy yes, Cartoon-like, yes. Too bad.

Frank: Awesome this season and very talented, but by doing the gluttonous fat guy, something he was suggested not to do, it cost him. Honestly too, had he maybe worked out the head some more he might've slipped by cause the paint was great. 

RJ: Buddy, sorry, it was just bad; cute idea—not in a good way, because it didn't play to the judges and he should've known that.

Scott: Yea, everyone got the concept behind your art after learning about your father, but it could've been done better so the narration came through the makeup. 

Alana: SHOULD STILL BE ON THE SHOW!

2) Who Will WIN?

I really think it's either Tate or Laura's to win. If they both drop the ball, my next thought would be Miranda, unless Roy just makes something that blows everyone out of the water. I like Laney alot, but I don't think she has enough range to beat the others, but who knows.

Check out Face OFF Dark Magic to see who's the next to fall off.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Comics!


Yep, you've guessed it, despite my almost reading ban on all things Super Hero, I'm reading Marvel's InFiNiTy. It's Awesome!!!! but a word to the wise, if you're a little weak on your Marvel History, you might want to bone-up. :) There's a lot going on in this and plenty of breezed over info-dumps that can easily get you lost—think Hard SciFi. My advice, read it, but take it slow; it's worth it. I mean, damn ***SPOILER*** THANOS has a kid?????

 So I love everything Batman and a close runner-up is Superman, but anything artist Jae Lee touches, yeah, well, it cries out to me. I just can't get over his amazing depiction of these (and other) legendary characters—they need to be in museums.

Then there's the Manhattan Project, which is only getting better and better. 
I'm so glad I came across this gem and every issue is sweeter than the last. :)

Finally, there's Saga, which as "Book Of The Year" implies—if you're not reading it, I don't know what you're doing...except if you're reading my book, but after you should pickup Saga. :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Funny...all over a cup of coffee :)

As an author, I find it very interesting how other writers formulate their ideas. I think I've tried everything: jot-list, flow-charts, recording myself, just writing and seeing what happens, which is often how I start; also why sometimes before I know it I'm lost in my own world...but I've never had this happen.

The other day I was out with my wife and after about 20min sitting at a local coffee shop, yep, you guessed it, I plotted out nearly the entire outline for Book Two of the Kingdom Come Series.

Insane, right?

For weeks I've been going over Part II of Faces in Shadow and Shadows with Faces (fringe stories/characters within my series that will each be woven into the whole after a time) while also cleaning up/working-out chapters I already know have to be in the sequel and then suddenly...BAM! The outline wrote itself.

I'll go ahead and say it, this book is going to be different in structure.

Book One, for the most part, was linear: all the characters moved as one, picking up new plots/characters along the way. The end gets a bit busy: what can I say, a Battle Zone is Hell; by that point though, you're very familiar with everyone so it's easy to flow back and forth.

This one is going to be broken up into three parts/sections—main characters, as funny as it happened, are nearly dived up equally. Of course, the three stories interconnect at various points, two perhaps joining into one near the end. Maybe they're subdivided again? :)?

To make it easier for those maybe scratching their heads, think of the LOTR: Two Towers, even Return of the King. Remember how groups of characters (I think 4 at one point) went their separate ways...YEP, that's what's happening here and for those of you who've already finished Genesis, perhaps you can already guess what the groups will be. 

Alright, back to work.

Wade

Thursday, September 19, 2013

2nd review on Amazon!

 rhondap-

"This is his first book published? I am impressed! A lot of action and an entire list characters that bring emotion to a fantastic and dark plot. Looking forward to more from Jak and company."

Thanks rhondap,

Wade

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

1st review on Amazon!

*Disclaimer
Have/will not pay for reviews, of any kinda, in any fashion.

MaryAnn-

Garret's characters are memorable and compelling, and his creativity and originality within the fantasy genre makes him a remarkable storyteller. This one is a keeper. Wade Garret delivers the key elements of great science fiction: an authentic and detailed future-world; realistic, relatable characters to live in it; and a taut, thoughtful story. Garret's supple, muscular writing is the icing on the cake.

The scene setting and storytelling are so detailed that I felt like I woke up after dreaming in the beginning of the story and walked alongside the characters. I love how the story unfolds like an elaborate piece of origami. If you are looking for a story you can really get lost in with characters you feel like you know then buy this book now. You won't be sorry.

The "supple, muscular writing" coupled with "unfolds like an elaborate piece of origami" yea...kinda made me blush.


How nice is that.

Thank's MaryAnn,

Wade

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Movies!


Of course Elysium is at the top of my recent list. It was great, just as as I'd thought it 'd be. It was gritty and dark and brutal in ways that made it feel real, which is soooo important to me. Besides Matt's character and Jodie's limited screen time (I wish the movie was longer to give me more history/setting of her character :) ) my next favorite character perhaps isn't who you'd expect. Yes, it was awesome to see Sharito Copley play the bad ass instead of the goofy hero, but the character who really captured my unexpected attention was Jose Cantillo: The guy who in the preview is asking for the Bone Saw; he was just so cool looking, his concept—my mind raced with ideas about his back story.

Go see it. It was great.


Then there was this big pile of steamy let-down crap. 
Did anyone see this movie and like it? 
It was somewhere in the first 20min I accepted I'd hate it. 
One of it's few best reviews was something like "Riddick" A bit of B-Movie Heaven, now, is that what you go to the movies for...B-Movies? 

At the start, Riddick is made to look like a chump. I understand their intent, but it was just poorly done—more as a way to get Riddick out from the vast Empire he'd perhaps thoughtlessly inherited from the last movie, more than a way to re-ground him with fans. 
It took WAYYYYYYY too long to do, what essentially was, climb a stairway. I was kinda dying inside while watching this pointless process which only made the movie longer than it needed to be, the only thing that made me feel better was how this related to a moment I had years ago. 

Anyone play Final Fantasy VII? Ok, then you might remember the first time you're supposed to get a Chocobo. If you don't remember, the reason for getting it is to cross a big desert that's blocking a mountain pass, because if you don't, there's a HUGE SNAKE that will stomp you into the ground every time you try and walk across. 
I didn't realize this, so what did I do, did I research the right thing to do—did I take my time and talk to every character in town to learn the correct information needed to easily move through the game...HELL NO. I trained my characters to the point that I STOMPED that freaking HUGE SNAKE (which you weren't supposed to fight) only then to finally talk to the right person in the town outside the desert about renting a Chocobo. 
My bad :). So, since I'd gained all the levels needed to kill that HUGE SNAKE...I blew through the next huge chunk of the story without a problem.

And how does this relate to Riddick? Well, yeah, you guessed it, it took him FOREVER [movie time] to get through this pass blocked by a monster, only then to blow through the rest of the movie as if it didn't really matter.

I could go on about this movie, the lame humor, the senseless nudity, but I won't. Plz take my word for it, if you'd like to see it, wait till it's at Red Box or shows up years from now on your TV.

Finally, you know what's the worst part...I wanted to really like this movie. I wanted to love it. :(



Friday, August 30, 2013

Face OFF3




So here we go again with another exciting episode of Face OFF.
Rule #1 for this episode: Knowing what the word whimsical means, which, to be honest, I kinda felt like the Judges didn't have a unified understanding of it. I don't blame them though 'cause if any of the contestants looked at any art related to Mother Goose, they would've know what they should and shouldn't do.

Whimsical:
1: full of, actuated by, or exhibiting whims (see whim))
2a : resulting from or characterized by whim or caprice; especially : lightly fanciful <whimsical decorations>b : subject to erratic behavior or unpredictable change.
Also: spontaneously fanciful or playful; given to whims; capricious, quaint, unusual, or fantastic.
The Crooked Man
Was turned into a monster; nothing whimsical about it...which is why both artists failed the challenge.
The Spider
Was cute, he kinda had a smile and I liked the rose. I think he could've been more whimsy, but you could at least seen their intention.
The Cat and the Fiddle
Was great. Clearly they knew the subject matter very well and did a nice take on it.
Man in the Moon
Was turned into the Woman in the Moon and though I agree she looked more like an asteroid than the surface of the moon, she felt whimsy given her clothing.
Humpty Dumpty
Again, turned into a Woman, but a little too serious/runway-ish (which isn't whimsical) but either way a very good and cool take on the character. 
Pumpkin
More Horror than anything and it's very clear the only reason they stayed was because of how good it was, 'cause on the whimsy mark...I mean, are you kidding? It was scary. Remember what McKenzie said when she first saw it?

That's it for now.
Watch Face OFF

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ink Master2!


So this last episode was great. The focus was detail. Here's the run-down:
1) Baby's wasn't bad, but her lion got ripped on. I didn't think it was horrible, bad yes, but not horrible and kinda fit with her composition. Yes, it did kinda look like a stuffed animal. 
2) Jamie got pissed cause his client didn't want New School. Sorry, not everyone is into cartoons being permanent on their body; I know I don't. 
3) Josh did an ass-crack tattoo. It wasn't terrible, but it was voted the worst of the day and most likely cause of placement and the weird water/claws/fingers for the background.
4) Craig: Well, his was nice, but the background tripped him up. Less is more. 
5) Jason: Bad Dragon. People think you can get away with bending and swirling as long as it's bright and colorful and the head and claws as clearly defined...not this time; not with judges who know their shit and this just happens to be what two of them are experts in. 
6) Jakie...Her tiger had ripples in it. It's shoulder had a three-pack and it had more stripes than a zebra; and again the background was a mistake. 
7) ES...another tiger and again, like the dragon, it got twisted into an odd shape that didn't make sense: just cause your client thinks it's "cool" doesn't make it good and worse, sooner or later someone will show them the issues and they'll be pissed. 

There was NO tattoo of the day. That was a burn! 
At the end, a few tattooers were bitching about how tough they've had it. Just sad. Honestly, I don't understand it. It's called INK MASTER.

Finally, Made Rich...
During his critique he was talking shit about the subject matter. 
Now, I don't know about you, but if I open myself to someone's judgement: conceding either their greater mastery or at least respecting their opinion on the topic—which is what it means to go on any of these skill-challenge shows. I'm not going to then to excuse my b.s by saying I don't like what I was challenged to do: it was "too simple" so I had to "dumb it down" nor am I going to make condescending faces when they're calling me out on it at the end. 
So yes, you've guessed it: 
Made was MADE to go and without a fortune cookie to ease his wounded pride. 
 

Face OFF2


And another bites the dust. 
I re-post this pic simply because I find it odd that they're sitting beside each other. Odd.

Anyway, if you saw the episode I'm so late talking about you know that Samantha Allen is gone. 
Was it her fault? Yes and No.
Yes = 'Cause she didn't speak up about the horrible idea her team went with but also because her makeup wasn't really that great—we'll expand upon this in a moment.
No = 'Cause even if she did, I don't think Miranda Jordy would've listened (which will likely end up biting her later) and I don't think co-rookie Eddie Holecko would've backed her up: I don't have the video at hand, but I'm almost positive he didn't really say anything or question Jordy's idea. 

Now, to my overall issue with this latest makeup 

Honestly, how many makeups felt like Frankenstein? 
Or do all reanimated corpses + bride always =                                        

I don't think they do or that they should.

I can only go so far as saying they were—the best—more Frankenstein-ish than the others and I don't feel I'm being harsh when I suggest this. And my reason for this non-apparent issue was exposed when Kevin Grevioux blatantly called out the Borg-look to the team's makeup. 
If something is sooooooo recognizable as one thing instead of another—and that wasn't the point—than that's a failure and that's before including the makeup issues with the hands, forgetting to put tubing in both places.

The only other failure had to do with Lyma Millot's body painting. 
Lucky for her she didn't go home for it, and I think her team might've said something to her or mentioned it while working—she should've listened, because at the end of the day it's a contest and she'll have to get better if she wants to stay. 

Keep watching Face Off



 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ben as the Bat

Ok, so he's the next Batman...
That's not really my concern. He's got the acting chops to do it and I'm sure when they go to work on his physique and his knowledge of all things Batman, he'll be ready. No, I don't want to hear about Daredevil or any other bad movie he's ever done—if we thought like that, most great movies wouldn't get made for fear of what any actor did once upon a time.

So let's look at my concerns for this movie.

1)
This Batman won't be what we get this go'round—Bat fans know what I'm talking about. I loved Bale, I loved this Trilogy; I love Nolan's world/version of Batman...but like a different comic series, though this new take on the Caped Crusader will have a variety of the same themes and plot points, it'll be something else. Bigger. It has to be, specifically because the Boy Scout is involved. If people can't scrub what Bale/Nolan did from their minds, it's going to really hurt the movie.

2)
So who is the Batman we need?
  • Genius-level intellect: speaks a dozen or more languages, holds degrees in a variety of fields and disciplines 
  • Peak physical (Olympic/Professional level) conditioning: Requires 2-4hrs sleep
  • Master martial artist: 127 styles of martial arts including Muay Thai, Escrima, Krav Maga, Capoeira, Savate, Yawyan, Taekwondo, Judo, Jujitsu, Ninjitsu, Kendo, Fencing, Kenjitsu, Kali, Bojutsu, Francombat, Boxing, Kickboxing, Hapkido, Wing Chun, Parkour, Shorin Ryu, Silat, Chin Na, Hokuto Shinken, Kyudo, Aikido, Varma Adi, Jeet Kune Do, Shaolin, Ba Gua, Hung Gar, Tai Chi, Kung Fu, Kenpo, and Karate
  • Master detective: + or - Sherlock Holmes; equipped with the Bat Cave's infamous Bat Computer, which is linked into everything 
  • Master escapologist
  • Master strategist
  • Master tactician
  • Master marksman
  • Highly proficient with almost any high-tech (Secret Gov/Private Wayne Tec/Alien) equipment, weapons, armors, gadgets, programs, systems, etc.
  • Master of stealth
  • Exceptional pilot and driver  
  • Master of disguise and interrogation: his presence and ability to intimidate are second to none
  • His willpower is only superseded by Hal Jordan's
  • Access to vast, nearly unquantifiable wealth spread over the global economy.  
  • Photographic memory  
This is the Batman We Need. This is the Perfect Batman. The Justice Leauge Batman.
If we don't get it, what's the point? What's his purpose?
  http://batmanfeats.blogspot.com

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ink Master!


What can I say, I love this show.
I'm still a novice with tattoos: I have 5 small ones and a big back piece that's unfinished; but this show has taught me to really make sure I get what I pay for. Also, to realize what I'm paying for is worth it—I don't want to be around my family or friends with busted tattoos.

This season has started off great. Let's do the Need-To-Knows:
1) Everyone is glad M.M (can't say his name without laughing) is gone; his mouth killed me, but Chris Nunez shot him down when he tried to defend his tattoo. Don't remember the line and couldn't find it online, but it was great. Go back and watch the episode and you'll see what I'm talking about.
2) James "Danger" Harvey got a raw deal; his client was a pain and sent him packing. 
3) Everyone needs to gun for Craig Foster. He's the one to watch right now.

The rest of the cast kinda rides the middle, some highs, some lows...no one is shining every week; don't get me wrong though, lots of their tattoos look good, but when you deep-dive into them is where you see who can(t) be the next Ink Master.

This has been a very tough season of Ink Master so far, the judges are bringing it to them hard.
I love it!!!!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Guess what just went live on BBS!!!!

http://downwarden.com/blackbedsheetstore/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=81_133

Face OFF!!!!!


So glad it's back!!!!!!!

I hope the newbies can keep up with the Vets—I'll be honest, I'm not sure all the Vets should be there.

Anyway, just watched the first episode today. 
Here's the run-down in no particular order:
1) Adolfo B. Rivera got lucky with his dwarf pig-man. You can tell he's only going to push harder.
2) It wasn't a good day for Ogers...too bad too.
3) The Fawns were my favorite and though I loved Laney Parkhurst's facial hair choices, I liked Roy Wooley's horns and nose more.
4) Both Pixies were well done.
5) Though I liked the Vets team concept—yep, often choose the team with the Dark Fantasy Theme, go figure—I hated the fingers on the back of Laura Tyler's Witch, which was otherwise very good. And yes, maybe it looked cool (to some) or was kinda a new/cool idea; to me, if it doesn't make sense, if its real purpose is clear outside visuals, I don't care for it.
6) Finally, Steve Tolin: got to learn to take the heat and keep moving.

That's it for now,
Enjoy the new season of Face OFF!!!!
http://www.syfy.com/faceoff


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Beta-readers Essay

Since I've just finished my edits, I got to thinking about another crucial part of the process, which reminded me of an essay a friend sent to me years ago:

BETA-READERS AND YOU

Ahh, beta-readers—that elusive yet oh-so-critical component of any piece of literature hoping to grow up into something more. As authors, we hear about them all the time and why we should have an entourage of them at our disposal. But what is a beta-reader? Is one as good as the next? How do they differ from an editor? And how exactly do we go about getting one?

Though I can’t promise a fail-proof guide to finding the perfect beta, I can offer some advice garnered mostly from personal opinion and experience. Hopefully this will help you in your search for that elusive critter of the literary world. But in order to teach you how to catch them, I first have to un-teach you, therefore we’ll start this little foray into the field of writing with some:

MISCONCEPTIONS

1. Beta-readers and editors are the same thing

Not necessarily. Opinions differ on the matter, I’m sure, but for the purpose of this essay we’ll run with my own: A beta-reader can be an editor, but an editor is not a beta-reader.

An editor examines an article or piece of work and skims it for corrections, usually absolute, that deal with grammar, spelling, punctuation, and blatant readability problems. Their job is, in essence, to make the article or story read the way they need it to read by taking into account the rules of literature and any previous experience they have with the market.

A beta-reader is simply that: a test reader. Though their job can entail making punctuation and other technical suggestions for improvement, their main purpose is to read a story either in rough or final form and offer their reactions to the author even though they may be biased, unfounded, and sometimes incorrect. In this lies their greatest advantage; they offer an honest glimpse into the mind of the average Joe skimming over your story.

If you can think of your story as you do your car, the editor is the mechanic, and the beta-reader is the enthusiast down the street.

2. You need experience in literature to be a beta-reader

Not true. In fact, I would argue that the more rules and regulations you know the more it hobbles your ability to effectively beta. The vast percentage of your audience won’t know diddly-poop about English and all the little rules that make it work. Who better to ask how your story’s coming across than one of them?  Just don’t consult them for grammar advice....

3. Only outstanding authors can be beta-readers

Again, not true. Most people who read for pleasure don’t or can’t write themselves, but their opinions are just as valid. If they read your story, then they are part of your audience—even the bad!fic authors whom even the best of us tend to look down upon. Just because they can’t write doesn’t mean they can’t notice things, and if you alienate them then you alienate their help as well.

4. You must have a beta-reader for everything you write.

No, there’s no law against it. If you are a serious writer attempting to break into the book business you are more than welcome to approach an editor with a piece of work only you have seen and read through. In addition, as a fanfiction author dabbling in the arts, you are free to post as many works as you want with only your own editing to suffice. The quality of your writing, however, will only improve with every set of eyes that go over it. It just depends on how thorough you want to be.

5. If you don’t rip a piece of writing to shreds, you’re not a good beta

Beta-reading (and editing in general) isn’t about cutting other authors down. It’s not about making yourself look smarter by correcting other peoples’ mistakes; it’s not about looking for an outlet for a little self pity. It’s not about guts or glory or any other morale-rousing things that begin with the letter ‘g.’ It’s about learning, plain and simple. However it works best for you is the way it’s supposed to work.

FINDING A BETA-READER

Great minds think alike

I have a saying that I’ve used in many discussions on this subject in the past: “Finding a good beta isn’t about finding someone who knows all the rules, it’s about finding someone who thinks like you.” The essence of the idea is that picking up the first beta you come across may not always be the best mode of choice. If, for example, you pair up with a beta who focuses mostly on spelling and your spelling is perfect, your story will probably come back less “fixed” than you’d hoped. This, in turn, can lead to frustration and that’s just a big mess that nobody wants.

The Specialty

The important thing to remember is that every beta-reader has a Specialty mixed in with several other editing talents. It’s not a self-proclaimed Specialty in most cases—I merely use the word to embody the idea that every writer and reader has a different personality, and that personality dictates what they notice and what they don’t when they read. To get the best experience you first have to find a beta-reader who will concentrate on the things you’re interested in fixing. A good place to start is your real-life or internet friends. I’d then move to your fandom, and only after that would I resort to a generic beta-reading community.

1. Real-life/internet friends

The biggest advantage here is that you know how these people think and vice versa. This will give you a better glimpse into what advice you should take and what you should leave. In addition, the friendship environment (should be) more respectful on both sides of the table and can lead to a better critiquing experience because of it. Friend betas can be found by:

Asking in person: “Would you like to proofread something I’ve written?”

Begging the question: “What have I been doing in my spare time? Oh, working on a story. What? You’d like to see it? Sure, I’ll show it to you.”

Advertising in a livejournal or message board you frequent often: “I’m looking for a couple beta-readers for an (Insert Fandom Here) story. Anyone interested?”

Or making friends with other authors by giving them quality feedback (reviews, comments, emails, IMs, etc) and either offering your services there or establishing yourself as a knowledgeable, competent writer that they will want to come to later. Personally, I think this method works the best. All of the author friends I have right now—and nearly all of my beta-readers—were found by exchanging reviews either on my part or theirs.

Be warned: Friends can also sugarcoat, especially if they feel their opinions will cause offense. You must be comfortable enough in your friendship to be able to say what needs to be said without tiptoeing around each other. If they tell you your plot needs work, you should be able to say “Thank you for pointing that out.” If you tell them you’re not going to take a suggestion, they should be able to say, “That’s fine, just throwing it out there.”

2. Fandom (Fanfiction or die-hard enthusiasts of any particular genre or sub-genre)

The fandom pool would be my next choice when fishing for a potential beta-reader. For one, there’s an established sense of camaraderie between everyone in sharing the same likes. And for two, your readers can offer a much deeper insight into how your fanfic fits with canon either through the plot, characters, dialogue, or action. Fandom betas can be found by advertising and reviewing as described above. There are also many communities out there that specialize in critiquing only for a particular fandom.

A warning here: Fandoms can also be very volatile and not everyone is open-minded about what they read. Be careful that the writer(s) you choose don’t try to force their agenda on you.

3. Generic beta-reading community

Of the three groups these betas will be the most estranged. Chances are they will be unfamiliar with the fandom you’re working in and only be able to offer the barest of beta-reading services such as help with language, flow, and the more mechanical nuisances of punctuation and spelling. In addition, since these beta-readers are, for the most part, anonymous they can also be braver and meaner because of it. If you find that a beta is going out of his or her way to make you feel inferior it’s probably best to stop going to them.

Other tips

Second opinion

In general I recommend having at least two or more betas look over each story you write before it’s released to the public. In the best case scenario this gives you a few different opinions to draw from, and in the worst case it gives you a backup if one (or more) of your betas is too busy to get back to you. I’ve heard it said before that you should never change a story on one opinion alone, and I agree, but everyone knows in the world of fanfiction that’s easier said than done. You just have to learn to beef up your self-awareness when it comes to your own writing and honestly admit when something does and doesn’t need to change.

Personal deadline

I also think it’s important to set a personal deadline for yourself, just so you’re not postponing the release of a relatively clean story for months on end because you can’t get a beta to respond. Everyone has their limits, and it helps when you fire off the rough draft to have a figure in your mind, something like: If I don’t get this back in three weeks I’ll just go ahead with what I’ve got.

Use and reuse

Sticking with the same beta-readers over a long period of time will help in training them to work well with you. Note that “training” here isn’t used in a derogatory sense, merely to say that the more you work with someone the better they get to know you and vice versa. They’ll become familiar with your mistakes and how you think and will be able to help you steer clear of your trouble areas. Their unique Specialty will enable them catch the mistakes you make over and over again, and eventually the repetition will allow you to correct yourself.

Swiss army knife

Your betas are to you what Batman’s tool belt is to him. They are all at your disposal, but it doesn’t mean you have to use them all at every chance you get. Think this story is fine on spelling? Why not forgo that spelling expert and give her a break? You can ship it out to the grammar nazi and the plot seeker instead. The more people you know in a fandom, the more beta-readers you have at your disposal. Most authors are more than willing to donate a little of their time as, to love writing, they have to love the entire process from the gritty to the glamorous. Even a quick five-second job can unearth useful tips for improvement. Take what you can when you can. Opinions are free, and you never know what will come in handy.

SO NOW I HAVE MY BETA....WHAT NEXT?


The lead-in

You’re both a little nervous, you’ve never done this before, but that’s okay. There are lots of things you can do to make your new beta-reader feel comfortable.

R-e-s-p-e-c-t

The most important thing you can do for yourself in terms of having a good relationship with your beta-readers and keeping them as a result is to treat them with respect. Remember that they are helping you. They are taking time out of their day without pay (and with the risk of possible injury depending on how “rough” the draft is) to sit down and give you an impression on something you have written. They’re not there to gouge at you or humiliate you or otherwise make you feel worthless. And if you get the sense that those are their true motivations then you need to part ways. The beta-reader is simply going to sit down, go through your story, and tell you what they think.

Be a taker, not a giver

Miss Manners would have my head on a pike at dishing out that piece of advice, but in terms of critiques it’s the best way to get a good, quality experience.  Not all of your beta’s suggestions are going to be good. In fact, a great many of them will probably miss the mark—DON’T BE DISMISSIVE. Personally, you could never convince me of a solid reason to even reveal to a beta that you’re not going to take a piece of their advice, but if you absolutely must verbally dismiss a comment, remember to be tactful about it.

What you want to stay away from is scaring them into censoring their own feedback. Beta-readers are just as self-conscious as authors are and don’t like to be ridiculed or harassed for their opinions. My recommendation is to take everything they say with a smile as if you were going to go home that instant and act on every suggestion they gave you. Then, at a later point, you can decide what you will and will not use. Not only will this encourage your betas to be open and honest with you at all times, but it will keep you from talking about the story and influencing what they have to say through debate or discussion. Be honest and humble. Don’t get angry, don’t make excuses, don’t try to explain your mistakes, don’t try to make them see your point of view, because when you have the reader sitting at home with your story none of those will be options.

If you want to talk to them about problems you are having, wait until after they have finished before jumping in. Then you can discuss to your heart’s content. Don’t try to make them go back on what they said, however, or this will lead to defensive behavior and the possible alteration of their opinions in the future. Good questions cover topics like, “You said the third paragraph confused you, where did you get lost?” and “I was trying to make my characters sound angry at that part. Can you tell me where it slipped?” not “Why did you say my writing was flat?” or “How carefully did you read that part?”

Encourage, encourage, encourage

As I said above, beta-readers can be just as fragile as their author counterparts. The more you encourage their feedback and make them feel appreciated for their work, the less afraid they’ll be to share their opinions with you. This usually takes the form of a general personality you project above anything else, but at the very least make sure they know you’re okay with criticism, even if, secretly, you’re not. Overcoming the “hurt feelings” demon is one of the hardest things for writers to do, and sometimes the only way to win is to face the Beast head on. I’m not, of course, speaking about extreme cases where the fear of critique is debilitating. (I’m assuming, in wanting to find a beta-reader in the first place, the audience here is already past that part.) But most betas don’t want to hurt your feelings and will hold themselves back if they sense that they’re doing so.

Submit your story

If it’s written out on paper I’d recommend you type it up in double-spaced font so there’s plenty of room to write between the lines. Otherwise, it it’s going by email, I’d recommend you create a separate file on your computer only for the content you are going to be sending to your beta to look over. This serves a few purposes:

1. It cuts down on length

Editing in general is a taxing, draining process and there’s nothing more daunting for a volunteer beta-reader than to open up a 30-page file and think (or know) they have to wade through every inch of it. They’re human, they get tired, and the farther they get into any length of writing the sparser their commentary is going to be. Don’t cut and edit your story to make it shorter for them by any means, but instead of sending over that 30-page bad boy maybe think about splitting it up into 6-10 page increments and having it read in pieces over time or by two other people.

2. It preserves the copy just the way you sent it

We’re writers. We look over words on a piece of paper or a computer and no matter how much we try to resist we poke and prod and shift and change. If you copy your story directly into an email and then change it later in the master file you have no way to go back and compare the copy the beta received with the copy you changed in the meantime. Maybe they fixed a sentence they didn’t like, but you caught it, too, and altered it in your own way.  You want to be able to tell which is better: their suggestion or yours.

The beta’s not going to do much, I can hear you saying, it won’t be that hard to pick out the changes. Wrong. In some cases that may be true, but it’s my experience that it’s not only hard to fish out what was altered (especially if the beta doesn’t use colors), it’s exhausting and is much easier to simply avoid altogether with a quick File -> Save As at the beginning.

3. It’s easier to send electronically

As a beta-reader, I don’t mind writers cutting and pasting their stories into an email, but I’d rather it be in a word file, even if it’s in notepad. For one, I’m just going to copy the text and put it in a file anyway so I can write on it. And two, it ensures that the formatting will stay relatively readable. If you absolutely have to cut and paste to email your story, I’d recommend that you clear it with the beta-reader first (Is it okay if I...?) At least that way they’ll know it’s coming.

4. It will prevent you from saving over the real file once you get the beta back

Because that would suck.

File format

At the top of the file you may want to put the story title, the chapter, your author’s notes (if you know what you’re going to say) and any other information you think would be helpful such as things you’re looking for, what you’re worried about, and any additional thoughts. Keep in mind, however, that any notes you put at the beginning, even in the most innocent of contexts, can alter the beta-reader’s focus and bias their “test run.” For example, an offhanded comment written before the story that says “I don’t like the third paragraph” will almost certainly distract the beta once they reach it as they look for mistakes. If that’s what you want, fine. But realize you’ve just skewed their run through the story since a regular Joe may or may not have noticed that paragraph on their own. Placing your concerns at the end usually fixes this problem.

Sign, send, wait

Real life sucks and everyone has to live in it. If you badger your beta-reader(s) to send back a response you’re going to annoy them, rush them, and possibly alienate them. Hopefully before sending you followed my advice and created a personal deadline so the urge to poke won’t arise. If not, keep your hands at your sides. No poking allowed.

Receive

Finally, your beta got back to you! Congratulations! Don’t just stand there...rip it open! Look it over! Once your initial sense of curiosity has been satisfied you can continue reading to see how to go over it again with a much more critical eye.

Post-criticism

Seethe in silence

The best thing you can do after getting your critique is, that’s right, nothing. Don’t act on it right away and, for the love of God, don’t respond with a comment, email, or IM unless you are 150% sure nothing negative or defensive is going to come across. Some people can transition flawlessly from the firing squad to the healing process but my guess is most people reading this can’t, myself included. At this point everyone’s reaction is going to be different. Some people will feel sorry for themselves, some will get angry, and some will skip off to the local ice cream parlor to enjoy a big chocolate Sunday. The important thing is to remember that your betas are doing you a favor and, in time, you’ll come to thank them for it.

Be methodical

As I said above, not everything the beta-reader suggests is going to be good. It’s now up to you to decide which suggestions are worthy of becoming permanent additions to your baby. Take the changes slowly, one at a time, and as you go through keep the personality of your beta-reader in mind. What are their Specialties? If they’re an author, what do you and don’t you like about how they write? If they’re a reader, what do you and don’t you like about what they read? All of this will give you a better insight into which changes truly reflect what your general audience is going to see.

Don’t dismiss any changes right away. Look at them, think about them. This is another reason why a separate beta file is a good thing to have; you can alter and fix and change to your heart’s content to see what you like without fooling around with your original copy and accidentally saving over something.

Don’t let your beta-reader push you around, either, or force their agenda or personal style onto you. I’ll touch on this more in the next section, but this piece of work is your brainchild, not theirs. It is up to you and you alone to decide what is best for it, and you don’t owe excuses to anyone. If a change the beta suggested makes sense but doesn’t feel right, there’s probably a reason. Don’t use it. Everything is there for your disposal. Also, keep in mind that just because a beta-reader suggested a change doesn’t mean the original writing was wrong. There are good betas and bad betas and you have to watch out for both of them and weigh their comments accordingly.

Good betas

Good beta-readers recognize that the story is about you. They know the difference between changing something because it’s incorrect, and changing something simply because it’s not a thing they would do. When reading over a piece of work they examine themselves as much as they examine the text, filtering out suggestions that they know to be petty or irrelevant, and trying as best they can to cater to the author’s individual style. They will often abstain from commenting on things because they know they are personally biased on the matter. Or, if they do comment, they will put forth a suggestion with some kind of disclaimer (ex. “There are a lot of ellipses in your writing, but I don’t like ellipses, so you may want to get a second opinion.”) In short, they’ve been around long enough to know and respect that, in the end, it’s the author’s decision on what to alter and they can only throw in their two cents as the boat passes by.

Bad betas

Bad beta-readers are, shockingly enough, the exact opposite of good beta-readers in almost every way. Though they can be remarkably talented writers themselves and load comment upon comment into a piece of work they’re editing, they fail to recognize that quantity never surpasses quality in any area of writing. They comment on things that are petty or unimportant. They insist on making subtle changes to every sentence because it’s not the way they would have written it. They are unable to leave things alone that are different than what they’re used to, but just as effective. And they sometimes go so far as to try and inject their personal opinions into the story. In short, their interest is not in helping you to become better, but in helping you to write like they do.

WANT TO BETA-READER? GOOD!

Make it known your services are available


There are tons of authors out there just begging for beta-readers to go through their stories. They need people who are supportive, friendly, reliable, and somewhat acquainted with how writing works. Fortunately, in the fanfiction world, writing is usually a slow and staggered process, so unless you put your name in with 600 different authors it’s unlikely you’d be doing beta-reading more than a few times a year. All the authors need from you is to know they have someone to call when they’re having doubts or need to get out some ideas. You can tell them by talking about it on your livejournal or in your FFnet and message board profiles, or simply offering to beta when you review your favorite stories. I doubt you’ll find anyone ungrateful for the help.

Encourage, encourage, encourage

Just as the authors need to respect the work you’re doing for them, you need to respect the work they’re entrusting to you. They may seem tough to criticism on the exterior, but chances are they get a least a little nervous every time they send off one of their babies. Don’t try as hard as you can to rip their stories to shreds just because you think that’s what beta-readers are supposed to do. Encourage them to change and grow as they continue to write and offer them advice that will help them improve versus giving them another item on their checklist to fix.

Be honest, but tactful

As stated a few times during the course of this essay, the idea of critiquing is not to shatter a person’s spirit. Leave that for when they get a job. The purpose is to learn and to help an author become better by letting them know what you see as you read...and there are a thousand ways you can do so without being, if you’ll excuse the language, an insensitive ass about it. You don’t have to sugarcoat, but you don’t have to bring out the editing machete, either. Just tell them what you think.

Stack your comments—that is, do the good thing/bad thing shuffle. Don’t just point out all the stuff that needs to be changed, tell the author what you really liked as well as what you didn’t. If you sense that some feelings are starting to get hurt, maybe pull back and focus on the positives for a while. I find it easy to ask authors before I start what kind of beta-reader they want on a scale of 1 to 5—1 being the wimp and 5 being the every-other-sentence-has-a-problem psycho. Most pick around a 3. After a while the nitpicky approach gets to such a point that it’s doing more harm than good.

At the top of every beta you give you may want to include a little disclaimer that summarizes your philosophy on beta-reading as well as makes your appear less scary to the author by reminding them of their power. Mine looks something like this:

Before I start I’ll give you the same schpiel I give everyone I beta for: This is your creation, your baby. You know how it’s supposed to go and what needs to go in it, and I am the lowly peon who just happens to be getting a sneak preview. That being said, anything and everything I have written below is merely a suggestion. You may read some of them and think they’re great, you may read others and think I’m a complete idiot—both are fine. Ultimately, it’s your call what you think should stay in and what shouldn’t. And don’t be scared by all the red, most of it is just notes and inane commentary.

Be general as well as specific


Sometimes in the cyclone of lackluster critiques we get so caught up in insisting on specifics that we forget how useful general advice can be, too. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “You know, this paragraph was written extremely well” and as a beta you shouldn’t shy away from it. The frustration on the part of the author comes when all of your comments fall along the lines of “I like your sentences” and “You write good.” You can see where those don’t hold much weight in terms of educational value.

WRAPPING IT UP

...This was a lot longer than I had originally anticipated, but I hope it was of some help. There are lots of other things I could go over in relation to this topic such as “the many verbal dances of the defensive author” and “inside the mind of a bad beta-reader,” but for now I think we’ll call it a day. I apologize if, at any point above, my language sounds arrogant or condescending. I’ve been told I have a tendency when slipping into essay mode to sound hard-edged, but I swear it’s not my intent. I suspect it just sounds that way because my voice and manner of speaking isn’t there to soften it out.

If you want, you can take some small pleasure at my expense when I tell you that this essay on beta-readers had no beta-reader. I’m the only one that’s looked over it. Hooray for irony!

Finally, with all this talk of editors and experience and the laws of the written word I need to throw out a word of caution: None of this is to say that you should ignore the rules of English completely when writing. Most of them are in place to make the written word more universal and therefore easier to understand. But it’s important to realize that the “rules” aren’t so much rules as they are universally-excepted-methods-of-practice...and, if you know what you’re doing, they can be bent and/or broken.