A Writer’s Eyes

You may remember the moment. Plots became more obvious to you. Books, movies, and TV shows had to be among the best to impress you, because mediocre wasn’t cutting it anymore. You had writer’s eyes, and story became fairly obvious to you.

At first I didn’t like being able to figure things out. I wanted to be surprised by the stories I consumed in whatever format I consumed them in. And occasionally I still am, but for the most part it takes a pretty good story to get me impressed. There truly is nothing new under the sun, but I continue searching for those really good stories that make the consumption worthwhile.

Has that happened for you? Are you able to predict the plots of stories because that’s your business? That’s just how your brain works? You’ve spent a lot of time making those plot connections yourself, so most plots of most stories won’t really surprise you.

That’s often how I feel about movies today. Oh, we’re spending a lot of time on this minor character, he must be important later. Hmm, seems like this girl’s only purpose is to get the plot going. Things like that.

Granted, there are a few movies/books/shows that do take me by surprise and tantalize my brain, but that’s generally more the exception than the rule.

And then there are those stories that I know exactly what’s going to happen and yet somehow they still pull me in. (See Korean dramas.) I always try and explore the essence of those stories and figure out what it is that keeps me hooked and how can I harness that draw in my own writing.

Although becoming a writer and understanding story has “ruined” some experiences for me, it’s enlightened me in other ways. I try not to waste my time on mediocrity. Although I have found on occasion the abysmal story can be instructive in its own way.

But I want to hear from you. Do you now have writer’s eyes? Has it ruined certain stories for you, or do you feel it has enhanced your experience? Is it difficult for you to find really impressive stories or do you find value in even the abysmal? Let me know what you think below.

League of Utah Writers Conference

Over the weekend I attended the League of Utah Writers Conference. We have quite a few authors out here in Utah, many of them who were members of the League or attended some of our Utah conferences before getting published (and still come back as visitors).

I decided to attend this year and lucky for all of you, I took notes which I will now share. So put on a lanyard, go into a crowded hotel with your laptop and pretend your right there with me.


This was basically a grammar and other tips session. I guess in previous years they did a boot camp where you get to work on your pages. While I thought much of the information I received was helpful, I still wish it had been the boot camp. If you already have a strong grasp of grammar and the industry, I would skip things like this at your own conferences. But if you can do a boot camp on your work, sign up for it. Super helpful (I’ve done a few in the past). And now onto the notes.


Definition of genre:
1. A loose set of criteria for a category of composition. Genre can be determined by literary technique, tone, content, or even (as in the case of fiction) length.
2. Genre is often used for marketing purposes

Genre in Fiction. There are two major groupings: realism and fantasy. Realism is stories that could have really happened (Like The Help). Fantasy is stories not possible in the real world, and they often follow the quest pattern. Of course there is genre blending these days, but it’s still important to know where your story lies in genre.

Themes in Fiction/Non-Fiction.

  • growing up/coming of age
  • individual
  • man vs. man
  • man vs. nature
  • man vs society
  • life, alienation, death
  • relationships
  • peer relationships
  • family relationships

Target Audience. Know your audience. These serve as guides for approximately how many pages your story should be, especially if you’re interested in traditional publishing. These are based on manuscripts in the traditional format of Times New Roman 12 point font, double spaced with 1″ margins.

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Friday Flix: Boys Over Flowers

friday flix jae scribblesOkay, I’m cheating just a little bit on this one, since this is a TV series and not a movie. But it’s still worthwhile I promise. Let me introduce you to a Korean drama called Boys Over Flowers. I can’t remember how I stumbled onto this little gem, but I’m so glad I did.

Boys Over Flowers is originally a Japanese manga. There’s a Japanese anime and even a Japan version of the TV show. I haven’t seen the anime, so no comment. But on the TV show, I tried watching it, but I found Jun Matsumoto to be all wrong for the male lead. It’s probably the Korean version’s fault. Lee Min Ho does a much better job. (It’s probably from watching Jun be a “dog” in Kimi Wa Petto).

Anyways, the plot from Wiki:

Geum Jan-di is an ordinary girl whose family owns a dry cleaning store. While delivering dry cleaning to a student at the prestigious Shin Hwa High School, she saves his life by stopping his attempt at jumping off the roof and is given a full swimming scholarship. She attends Shin Hwa High and soon is terrorized by the leader of F4 (the four richest and most popular boys at the school) Gu Jun-pyo.

Although Jun-pyo persists on bullying her, he begins to find himself attracted to Jan-di. However, Jan-di has a crush on Yoon Ji-hoo, Jun-pyo’s best friend.

Let the love triangle romance begin!


Let’s face it. Most of us aren’t rich and probably a lot of us harbor some angry envy toward those that are—especially when they’re snobbish about it—more especially when it was something just handed to them. It’s a subject matter that appeals to a wide audience, so they’ve already built up story sympathy that way.

And just to sweeten the pot, the show us how poor the female lead, Jan-di, is. She has a job, Mom and Dad both have jobs—oh, and Dad has a gambling problem. So getting that swimming scholarship seems like it would be a big boon to Jan-di, only it isn’t. She doesn’t want to attend a snobby, rich kid school. And, it seems, every hates her for being poor in the first place. See how much conflict they’ve already set up in the beginning?

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Mini-Reviews: Pretties & Abandon

For the Holiday book read I was able to get 2 books under my belt, namely Pretties by Scott Westerfeld and Abandon by Meg Cabot. What did I think? That I pretty much wanted to abandon both series.

It’s not as bad as I’m making it sound, but neither book made me want to read the sequels. I didn’t regret reading either, and I think I learned a few things about my own preference and what not to do with my own novels. They’re still fairly well-written overall, and it really may just be my own preference.


PrettiesLet’s start with Mr. Westerfeld’s book. Let me begin with saying I loved Uglies and it’s the whole reason I was dying to read Pretties in the first place. I’ll try to be a bit general so as not to give out spoilers. But this is Book 2 of the series, so some spoilers for Book 1 may appear.

Pretties is the continuing story of a girl named Tally who lives in a world where all anyone wants to do is be made pretty—a surgery that happens when you’re 16. But Tally gets mixed up with some rebels and decides she doesn’t want the surgery. Plus they discover it does something to your brain, kind of like mind control. But the only way to test the cure is for Tally to go get pretty. In Book 2 her friends attempt to rescue her from her pretty brainwashing.

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things i love: Farscape

For me Farscape is one of those shows I would elect to have with me if trapped on a deserted island. I can watch it over and over again and have several times. And like all good shows, it got canceled, though it made it a little further than Firefly, Freaks & Geeks, and Pushing Daisies.

But back to Farscape.

To give you a little background, Farscape is about an American astronaut named John Crichton whose space pod gets sucked down a wormhole while experimenting with a space travel theory. He encounters new species of aliens, including some who look human but aren’t.

Best of all the show is produced by the Jim Henson company, which means puppets and puppet prosthetics are involved. I love the capabilities CGI gives us, but for me alien creatures always look more real if they are actually real.

CG yoda vs puppet yoda

No, Yoda isn’t in Farscape. I’m just using this to point out how glad I am we got the puppets and not the CG monstrosity.


There are quite a few reasons I love Farscape, from puppetry to pop cultures references, space travel and science fiction, but I’ll level it down to three:

  1. The non-traditional yet traditional protagonist.
  2. The villain.
  3. Creativity in story-telling.


John CrichtonI watched Farscape on the recommendation of several friends and I have to admit, I didn’t connect with John Crichton right away.  To me even the actor seemed like a jock cast for a part not meant for him.  One of those leading men that says and does everything right, all the while performing impossible feats to save the day.  Not so with Ben Browder’s portrayal of Crichton.

Though he starts off as a strong and heroic astronaut he soon transforms to bumbling neanderthal in the company of advanced alien races.  Astronauts are among the smartest we’ve got in humanity, and he’s stuck barely comprehending the strange, super tech world around him.

But he doesn’t remain that way—not exactly.  It’s usually thanks to his optimism and refusal to accept there’s no way out of a sticky situation that he and the rest of his companions make it out of situations alive.

Something I’ve hated about a certain attitude in certain parts of sci-fi is that our human race is usually portrayed as being far less advanced than any other alien society in every way—as though ours would be the only race in the universe to make mistakes or get it wrong.

And though he’s among aliens with advanced technology, many of their ideals or thoughts about how life should be seem incredibly antiquated standing next to Crichton’s morality and integrity.  They learn as much from this human creature, if not more so than the human creature learns from them.

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