Wednesday, June 3, 2015

How a Blog Grows Up: Part I

Many seasons ago, when Christian speculative fiction was just beginning to gain traction and the young acolytes of Bryan Davis, Donita K. Paul, and Wayne Thomas Batson were many, a teenager started a blog.

Over the course of the next five years, he alternated between gushing about his favorite books and lecturing importantly on how writing works. (It is questionable how much he actually knew about the writing process, but it's all about how confidently you speak!) Slowly, the blog evolved. The old, narrow, yellow blog was replaced by a wider white one, with a yellowed book in the background. The number of readers grew (inexplicably,) and gradually the teenager's obsessive love of comments declined.

As the years went by, his subject of his blog wandered in a generally content universe of almost anything having to do with writing. And as the teenager began to grow up, moving to West Africa, the number of posts waned; but some people still (inexplicably) found it entertaining and continued to read. His posts grew longer, more thoughtful; the book reviews were almost books in themselves.

And now, here we are. The teenager is an old teenager. The blog is now mostly white, with an old header and funny sidebars. If you sniff really carefully, you can detect a lingering fear that it might be three months till the next post. 

There is also a breeze in the air, because it is the beginning of the end. Or the end of the beginning. The time grows near when Teenage Writer must grow up.

But it's a good thing, I promise. It's less of a death as it is a new life. Like I said in my last post, the name and place is going to change, but the essence will remain. With that, I'm going to write a few posts detailing how I plan on changing things up. It's not 100% clear yet (and it may take some wandering to get definite ideas for everything) but I hope that these posts will make it clearer.

This first post has to do with something that has, from the beginning, been an essential part of Teenage Writer: reviews. I've always liked analyzing things. (My personality type is INTP, if you want to know; the detached analyst.) So reviews always came easily to me—short reviews, not so much.

And as I've grown older, I've discovered a new taste for stories of all mediums. Film criticism is something I've been picking up over time, and studying the box office has become a hugely enjoyable hobby. (Let's not even get into animation. I could write for hours.)  So with that in mind, here is what I'm thinking about how my reviews will change.

1. I'll include multiple mediums—primarily movies, books, and TV shows.

Good stories can come from anywhere, to paraphrase a certain Pixar movie. I used to digest stories almost entirely through reading, but I've discovered a lot of incredible stories (and storytellers) in the last two or three years, mostly through watching movies and TV shows. Old and new.

So whenever I discover a story I really like (or dislike,) I'll do my best to write a relevant review, so I can share it with you guys. Good stories deserve to be talked about—and it's always best to warn people about the bad ones.

2. I'm converting to a five-star system.

I dearly love my old, clunky, decimal-ridden ten-point system. But using five stars is simpler and more universal. So at the beginning of each review, I'll give a rating based on the five-star system. (And I'm only going down to .5 when it comes to decimals, I promise.)

3. Thumbnail reactions. 

Also at the beginning of each review, I'll summarize it in a brief paragraph. It'll make it easier for people to tell whether or not they will want to read the whole review. It's also really fun to come up with clever thumbnails. Just sayin'.

4. Comparisons and pundit chat. 

I like being a pundit; it's entertaining. So where possible, I want to compare books and movies and shows to other stories of the same type—and analyze where the genres and industries are going. (In some cases, I want to write pundit posts without any review at all. I have one such post coming up soon that I think you'll really enjoy.)

Specifically, with movies, I'll probably talk box office—that eerie realm where $30 million dollars in three days makes a movie a certified flop. (See: Tomorrowland.)

To be completely honest with you, it's not because I think you'll care about how many millions of dollars a movie is going to make. It's because it's super fun to write about, yo.

So those are some of the ways my reviews will change. As for what I'll be reviewing, well, I have several books up my sleeve. And because I am so flipping excited for Pete Docter's Inside Out, Pixar's June release, I'll probably write a review shortly after it comes out. I plan on seeing it opening weekend.

(In case you wanted to know, it currently has 19 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and they're all glowing. It sits at a rapturous 100%—it's too early to tell if it'll stay there, but the last Pixar movie to hit 100% was Toy Story 2. Gah!)

Till next time!



Keturah Lamb said...

Sounds fun!!!! Can't wait to see what will happen :)

Hannah Joy said...

Can't wait to see whatever you come up with, Jake!