ReMade episode 3 season 1: Home, perilous home

ReMade episode 3 season 1: Home, perilous home Book Cover ReMade episode 3 season 1: Home, perilous home
ReMade #1.3
Carrie Harris
Science fiction, YA
September 28 2016

New week, new ReMade episode!

So - this time we get some suspicions confirmed, right off the bat,  simply by looking at Nevaeh's memories of her life before this odd jumpsuit-clad camping began.  She was not a determined and fierce go-getter, like May. She wasn't planning her college application extracurricular activities like May, or headlessly crushing on anyone, like Holden.  Nope.  What Nevaeh was doing was surviving.  For as long as she could.

She isn't socialized the way the other teenagers are, and it shows. What also shows is that Nevaeh is intelligent and resourceful and, above all, very kind. Maybe just exceedingly well trained by too many classes in mindfulness and meditation, but, well, it ends up looking like kindness. 

I know I said May was going to be my favourite, but Nevaeh has this intense quiet-on-the-surface thing going on, the sort of thing that reminds you oceans also occasionally feature tsunamis. 

Here's the episode blurb:

Waking up in a strange and scary new world isn’t necessarily the worst thing, especially when you are grateful to wake up at all. When Nevaeh opened her eyes to find no hospital bed, IV drips, or cancer riddling her body she counted her blessings and sang for joy – happy to face the deadly jungle, killer robots, and (if she’s honest, perhaps the most disheartening) disgruntled companions. They say smiling is the best medicine, but does it still work after death?

ReMade episode 2 season 1: Hungry

ReMade episode 2 season 1: Hungry Book Cover ReMade episode 2 season 1: Hungry
ReMade #1.2
Andrea Phillips
Science fiction, YA
September 21 2016

Ooh, episode 2 is out!  Are you reading ReMade yet? 

In this episode we get to know May, as described in the blurb:

May likes being in control: with an obsessive drive to succeed and her aim set on Harvard, she knows how to keep her life on course. Plucked from her whirlwind of tests and achievement charts, and dropped into a world where civilization itself has crumbled, she wants more than just answers. But living with deadly allergies means you’re always on the razor edge – one peanut, one bee sting, one toe out of line could be your downfall, and nobody wants to die twice.

I imagine May is going to get some mixed responses from readers - me, I like her a lot. She's serious and high-strung and extreme, and probably fits adjectives like snooty and superior aswell, but that just makes her better, I think. 

And look, May's terribly allergic to a whole bunch of things. Isn't it strange how allergies don't show up more often in fiction? The first examples off the top of my head are kind of far-out space colonization stories in which humans turn out to suffer anaphylactic shocks in response to anything alien, which is an interesting kind of story, but isn't it terrifying enough for a character to have to guard against sudden death from everyday food items?  Or worse, food ingredients.  I don't have very difficult allergies myself, but I've known people with nut allergies, and it sounds so tiresome to check (and mostly reject) every single bread, cake, protein bar, falafel mix, et cetera forever. Just in case it's going to kill them. Yikes.

May's allergies serve a specific purpose to the story unfolding, too. There aren't any labels on the foods the teenagers forage from their surroundings.  If she eats a thing, she's likely to die, and if she doesn't die, that's a whole new set of worrying questions right there.

Give me episode 3!

Story genius, by Lisa Cron

Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere) Book Cover Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere)
Lisa Cron
Non-fiction, writing
Ten speed press
August 9 2016

Following on the heels of Lisa Cron's breakout first book, Wired for Story, this writing guide reveals how to use cognitive storytelling strategies to build a scene-by-scene blueprint for a riveting story.

It’s every novelist’s greatest fear: pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into writing hundreds of pages only to realize that their story has no sense of urgency, no internal logic, and so is a page one rewrite. 

The prevailing wisdom in the writing community is that there are just two ways around this problem: pantsing (winging it) and plotting (focusing on the external plot). Story coach Lisa Cron has spent her career discovering why these these methods don’t work and coming up with a powerful alternative, based on the science behind what our brains are wired to crave in every story we read (and it’s not what you think). 

In Story Genius Cron takes you, step-by-step, through the creation of a novel from the first glimmer of an idea, to a complete multilayered blueprint—including fully realized scenes—that evolves into a first draft with the authority, richness, and command of a riveting sixth or seventh draft.

So the full title for this book is long:  Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere)

Phew, right? Some of the writing advice books I've read could have their whole content summarized in a shorter sentence than that. Which is symptomatic of the genre, really - there's a lot of writing craft books out there that are more like discussions over one particular facet of how to craft a novel.  They tend to have pagecounts that are a widdle bit larger than they really needed to be to communicate the One True Thing the book wants to teach you.  This is also true of Story genius.  

I haven't read Lisa Cron's older book, Wired for story, so I don't know how the two compare.  Also, I am the kind of person who  reads books about writing craft, even though any actual writing tends to just... not happen.  Yeah.  Sometimes that's exactly why I read craft books, though;  Their advice and exercises are inspiring all by themselves.  Again, this is true of Story Genius. It's packed with exercises following longer texts about how and why a thing works. 

Rather than focus on plot, this book wants you to think about the plot as a consequence of your character(s), and how your characters need to have their papers in order, so to speak.  There's only so much story that can come welling out of a character who was essentially born on the first page.  Unless we're talking about a baby, but very new babies are also pretty bad at being hip-and-happening story protagonists, so that's... that. 

If you're looking for ideas, techniques, patterns or clues regarding how to build a useful and functional character, this is a good choice.  It does offer something different from the myriad "Get to know your character"-questionnaires out there.  Cron's writing is clear and instructional, and the examples are solidly detailed.

If you're looking for something more focused on plot structures or themes or world-building or anything other than characters and character-driven action,  you'll be better off with something else. 

ReMade episode 1 season 1: Shadows and dreams

ReMade ep1 s1: Shadows and dreams Book Cover ReMade ep1 s1: Shadows and dreams
Remade #1.1
Matthew Cody
Science fiction, YA
September 14 2016

Hey, you know Serialbox? That thing that publishes excellent entertainment literature in episode-sized chunks? Yes, that. It's awesome. The pilot to the new series ReMade is out today.  Me, I had the kinda-misfortune to read this and the next episode a couple of weeks ago. In this context, "misfortune" obviously means I want more episodes and I've already waited weeks, waaah!


So, yeah. This is YA Science fiction, written by an ensemble of authors - the pilot is credited to Matthew Cody, whose other work I'm not familiar with, but might pay attention to from now on.  If I had to describe this pilot by comparing it to other things, it'd have to be something like "LOST, the tv series, you know, where everyone has a history, maybe except everyone's a strong Katniss-like teenager, and it wasn't a plane crash, but there's a space elevator!".   I could throw in some arrows pointing to Maze Runner or other "whoops, let's have a bunch of teenagers and zero adults"-setups, I guess.

Sometimes certain tropes show up so often in their genres, they eventually only make you cranky. It's not exclusive to YA, but I think you know what I mean when I say there has to be something special for me to bother with yet another superspecial girl who'll save everyone from the dystopian future, or yet another dome-like world in which kids are trying not to go all Lord of the flies-y, etc.   And ReMade is probably going to contain several of these types of storylines, but hey, guess what?


There! That's all. I love it.  I'm already rooting for some characters and hating on others. It feels sort of like the first time I sat down to binge-watch Buffy. Except I can't really get with the binge, because I need more episodes. Moooore episooodeeesss.

Here's a link to the pilot episode available for free on Serialbox,  and here's the blurb, too:

You live. You love. You die. Now RUN. ReMade.

Every minute, 108 people die.
On October 14th, 2016, from 9:31-9:32 p.m. EDT, 23 of those deaths will be teenagers.
Now they are humanity’s last hope for survival.

Awakened in a post-apocalyptic world and hunted by mechanical horrors, these teens search for answers amidst the ruins of civilization. Fate, love, and loyalty face off in this adrenaline -pumping YA adventure.

ReMade will unfold across 15 episodes. "Shadows and Dreams" is the first episode.

Holden Black never imagined his crush knew his name, much less that he’d suddenly be driving her to a party. But life can change in a second, especially when you’re 16. A look. A flash of headlights. A scream. What do you do when the unexpected jumps straight to the unbelievable, the dream becomes a nightmare, and waking changes everything except your heart’s desire?

By the way! If you prefer audiobooks, Serialbox publishes that way too. Yay, knowing things!