Force Yourself to Write with Write or Die!

April 5, 2010 in Novel, On Writing by pacejmiller

One of my readers recently brought to my attention this website called “Write or Die” (created by Dr Wicked)

My biggest problem as a writer is my tendency to procrastinate and self-edit whilst writing.  What Write or Die does is force you to write.  You set yourself a word target and a time limit, the consequences of failing to meet the target within the time, and away you go!

I’ve only used it a couple of times so far, but it really works!  Of course, I had to set realistic targets and limits, but once I did, my productivity went through the roof.  Not much of the stuff I wrote was any good, but at least I am getting words out, writing freely and letting my words take me wherever they want.

I’m hoping Write or Die can help me finish the first drafts of my novels before the end of the year.

Give it a try by clicking on the link above.  You can also purchase a desktop version for 10 bucks.

Movie Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

April 5, 2010 in Movie Reviews by pacejmiller

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish name:  Män som hatar kvinnor or Men Who Hate Women) is a fantastic adaptation of the first book of the best-selling “Millennium Trilogy” by late Swedish author Stieg Larsson (see my book review here).

The film has a classic mystery suspense thriller plot.  It tells the story of a wealthy industrialist, Henrik Vanger, who is convinced that someone in his dysfunctional family killed his beloved niece more than 40 years ago.  In a final effort to solve the mystery, he hires Mikael Blomkvist, a recently disgraced journalist facing prison time for libel.  Running parallel to this storyline is the tale of the dangerous and vulnerable security specialist Lisbeth Salander, the titular character.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the type of film that will make you like the book more.  When I read the book, I wondered how the heck they would be able to fit the extremely long and complex novel into a single film.  But somehow, the screenplay by Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg managed to take the best of the book and squeeze it into the 152-minute running time.  All of the essential elements are there, including the key characters, almost all of the investigative events, and the majority of the subplots.  A few relationships and subplots may have missed the cut, but I think making things a little simpler actually helps the film.

One of my primary complaints with the novel was the amount of exposition — there were so many biographies and backstories that I felt it sagged the plot and the pace.  But the film version got around most of these problems without compromising the intelligent and complex storyline.  Sometimes a short scene or conversation, or even just a look, replaced pages and pages of exposition from the book.  A fantastic adaptation.

What really sets The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo apart from your average thriller is the main characters.  Of course, everyone talks about Salander, one of the most intriguing characters to be portrayed on screen in recent years, played perfectly by Noomi Rapace.  But I also think Blomkvist, played by veteran actor Michael Nyqvist, is a highly interesting character.  All the minor characters are well cast and well played too.  A high quality production whichever way I look at it.

A great start to the Millennium Trilogy.  I can’t wait to see the next two films.

4.5 stars out of 5

Is it worth paying extra for 3D?

April 5, 2010 in Movie Reviews, Technology by pacejmiller

One thing that’s really been annoying me lately is the extra price movie-goers have to pay to enjoy a film in 3D.  Where I’m from, there’s the “normal” price of the ticket, and on top of that there is the arbitrary price for the 3D, and then there’s the additional cost of the 3D glasses.  Some theatres allow 3D glasses to be reused, but others require you to purchase a new pair each time.  When you add it all up, the movies are getting ridiculously expensive these days.

Now if it is a genuine 3D film, like say Avatar (or even The Final Destination), where the experience is truly enhanced because of the 3D effects, I don’t have a huge problem with that.  You pay for it with extra cash and discomfort from wearing the glasses for the entire duration of the film, but it’s ultimately worth the trouble.

But the last two “3D” films I watched, Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans, both felt like they were riding the 3D tidal wave for a bit of extra box office income.  I was appalled by how little the so-called 3D effects added to the films.  Arguably, I would have enjoyed them more had I watched in ordinary 2D, without the irritating glasses frames, the darker tint of the lenses, and me taking taking them off constantly wondering whether I had accidentally walked into the 2D version.

So from now on, I’m going to be a 3D sceptic.  No more watching films in 3D if those effects have been added in post-production in order to ride the 3D bandwagon — unless, of course, someone tells me I’d be missing out on something amazing.