Marvel Movies Ranked (Includes Infinity War!)

Thanos has arrived.

With the release of Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel has delivered on a promise made during the post credit scene of the first Avengers movie. The Big Bad of the MCU is finally here and ready to make some noise. Which has everyone wondering, is Infinity War any good, and how does it compare to other Marvel movies?

While my actual review for Infinity War is still in the works, today I will be providing a sneak peek by ranking all of the Marvel movies, from my personal favorite to those I am less enthused about. This is a fun exercise I like to complete after every new Marvel release, albeit typically not with this much depth. One thing I have discovered over the years is that while some things remain constant about The List, there is also a fair amount of shifting things around. My opinions on a movie may change over time, especially if it’s one I find myself rewatching frequently. So on top of providing a strict ranking, I’m also going to divide my list up into three tiers: top tier, mid tier, and bottom tier. The actual ranking of the Marvel movies might change with my mood, but this is something that remains pretty constant.

Without further ado, here are all the movies ranked according to my personal preference.

Top Tier Marvel Movies

The Avengers (2012) To me, the first Avengers was a perfect storm of awesomeness. Getting to see so many of my favorite heroes come together for the first time was ground breaking in so many ways. So many aspects of the MCU, from the very Whedonesque mix of humor and drama, to the audacious set pieces, to the interpersonal relationships that have come to anchor this mega-franchise, all had there start here. It even managed to avoid the most common pitfall of Marvel movies by delivering a strong villain. Out of all of the Marvel movies, this is the one I have rewatched the most, and holds the steadiest place in my heart. It’s not just one of my favorite Marvel movies, it’s one of my favorite movies of all times.

Captain America: Winter Solider (2014)- One of the interesting things about these top tier movies is how many of them were not just entertaining, but managed to transform my expectations of what the MCU could accomplish, and none of that is more obvious than in Captain America: Winter Solider, a grounded spy thriller with seriously high stakes, taut pacing, strong performances, and heart wrenching character drama. Marvel movies may be best known for their humor and overall sense of fun, but when they get serious, it really pays off.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)- Aaaand sometimes you just want humor and overall sense of fun, and what’s the harm in that? Guardians of the Galaxy successfully launched the cosmic arm of the MCU, proving that Marvel didn’t need to be limited to earth-based capes and cowls style adventures. But perhaps the more impressive things about Guardians is just how audacious is it. An 70s-music inspired space comedy starring a lovable cast of characters-including a talking raccoon and his best friend, a sentient tree? Yes. please! After The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy is the Marvel movie that I’ve rewatched the most.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)- While Infinity War didn’t seem to charm critics as much as some of Marvel’s other films, out of all of Marvel’s offerings this one gave me the most feels. And it’s easy to see why. Marvel spent ten years making me fall in love with its characters, and then put them all in extreme danger. Thanks to a big character death in the first scene, it felt like no one was safe this time around, and the Russo brothers, who directed Infinity War, notched that tension up further by interspersing the big ballsy set pieces with genuinely moving character moments that reminded me why I loved these characters so much. On top that, Infinity War managed to recapture the same feeling I had while watching the first Avengers, seeing so many of these characters interact for the first time.

Iron Man (2008)- Nowadays, looking at the financial juggernaut that is Marvel Studios, it’s easy to forget that it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. When Iron Man was released 10 years ago, they were faced with a fair amount of skepticism. How would the studio find financial success when the rights to their most popular characters were owned by Fox and Sony? Not to mention the judgmental comments people made about lead actor Robert Downey Jr’s past. But that skepticism was quickly proven wrong when Iron Man turned out to be such a damn good movie. Lead by an electrifying performance by Downy Jr, Iron Man is a movie that holds up extremely well over time.

Black Panther (2018)- I went back and forth over the placement of Black Panther and Iron Man on this list. But while Tony ultimately won, T’Challa has quickly become a new favorite of mine. Much like Guardians of the Galaxy expanded on the MCU by going to space, Black Panther accomplished this by largely leaving the western world behind. The film sidesteps the Marvel villain problem in a BIG way with Erik Killmonger, but what ultimately sold Black Panther for me were its female characters. Diverse in both personality and drive, the women of Wakanda each possess a vibrancy that could anchor their own films. I hope the MCU keeps them around for a long time.

Spider-man: Homecoming (2017)- I, like many people, wasn’t looking forward to this iteration of Spiderman. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the character, but was tired of seeing the same Peter Parker story over and over again. And then Spidey-actor Tom Holland charmed me in Captain America: Civil War, and continued to win my heart in Spider-man: Homecoming. Instead of treading water, Homecoming does a fantastic job of breaking new ground in the MCU, by focusing on a teenage lead in a diverse urban setting, and bringing back the secret identity, a classic superhero trope largely abandoned by the MCU. Spider-man: Homecoming may technically be a Sony movie, but the quality of the film is what I’ve come to expect from the MCU: sky high.

Mid-Tier Marvel Movies
Captain America: Civil War (2016)- AKA Avengers 2.5! All kidding aside, it would make sense that the third Captain America would be more team focused then previous installments, given Steve Rogers’s rise to leader of The Avengers in Age of Ultron. And while some members of ensemble cast are better served than others, Civil War is nevertheless quite the impressive balancing. Based around the relationships in Steve’s lives, from humble beginnings (Bucky Barns and Peggy Carter), to his new life as an Avenger (Tony Stark especially), the film also brings in two new headliners (Spiderman and Black Panther) in exciting ways. Civil War was a fitting finale to the Captain America trilogy, and a nice preview of things to come in Infinity War.

Thor (2011)- It’s often been criticized that the first movies in Marvel trilogies tend to follow a familiar pattern: a selfish white guy (Tony Stark, Thor, Peter Quill, Stephen Strange) turns over a new leaf and learns how to be a hero. And well… that’s criticism is perfectly valid. But when it’s done right, it really works, such as in the first Thor movie. Yes, the romance is kind of rushed, and the less said about some of those wigs the better, but I found myself really swept up in both Thor and Loki’s story. In addition, the Thor movies are the only franchise (with the exception of Ant-Man) that deal with blood relations, as opposed to found families, which brings a unique spice. Thor is one of my most rewatched Marvel movies, and I think I’ll always have a soft spot for it.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 (2017)- One of the drawbacks to making a follow up to something truly unique is what looked like groundbreaking before can quickly start to resemble a formula. And while Guardians of the Galaxy, vol 2 suffers from this a bit (that and the fact that the humor can occasionally veer into overly cartoony) the movie was still incredibly enjoyable to watch. A lot of this lays at the feet of the films talented cast, and the wonderful relationships shared between these memorable characters. By the end of the film (which featured one of the most tearful deaths in the MCU) I knew that I was a Guardians fan for life, and look forward to what happens in Vol 3.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)- When I first saw Captain America: The First Avenger, I remember enjoying it just fine, but not finding it as satisfying as some of the other MCU movies. Weirdly enough, the movie holds up much better when seen in the context of the wider MCU. And yes, it suffers from the Marvel villain problem, and there are one too many montages, but thanks to a compelling performance from Chris Evans, Steve’s journey holds emotional weight, which is what makes this movie work so well for me.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)- Warning- some of the placements on this list might leave you scratching your head a bit, and I’m going to guess that said head scratching is going to start right about… now! Okay, so I know that for many viewers, Age of Ultron is their least favorite Marvel movie. And while it’s my least favorite Avengers movie, I actually like it as a whole! Yes, there are a lot of areas where it struggles. Between character arcs, the Ultron storyline, and setting things up for Infinity War, it ends up falling short in a few places. And it suffers from the Marvel villain problem. But the character interaction is what really makes it work for me. I also really like the two new characters introduced here: Scarlet Witch and The Vision. So while Age of Ultron is far from my favorite, it’s admittedly a Marvel movie I enjoy plenty.

Thor: The Dark World (2013)- The head scratching continues. I also liked Thor: The Dark World! Yes, Thor: The Dark World is probably the worst offender when it comes to the Marvel villain problem, and the relationship between Thor and Jane continues to be uneven, but I really like the Thor characters. I loved watching how the Thor/Loki relationship developed, and connected very well with the more humorous bits. Despite it’s title, I ultimately found The Dark World to be a lot of fun. Also, better wigs!

Iron Man 2 (2010)- Given the strength of Robert Downey Jr’s performance as Tony Stark, it’s sometimes easy to forget how uneven the Iron Man movies can be. But I ended up rewatching this one recently while visiting my family and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it, which brings it up a notch. Yes, the movie suffers from the Marvel villain problem, and Black Widow’s introduction is uneven, but the set pieces are really thrilling (especially the Monaco racing sequence), and the chemistry between the cast is on point as always.

Thor: Ragnarock (2017)- Now I know some of you are in complete shock! What is this? You say. The best reviewed Thor movie is so far down the list? To which I say, yup! Thor: Ragnarock is a daring entry into the MCU. I love much of the humor, and I think we can all agree that the MCU is better for having Korg and Valkyrie in it. But there are some tonal issues in this movie that marred my viewing experience, and the brutal mowing down of the Warriors Three, done with so little respect to their characters, is unforgivable. I enjoyed this one, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not my favorite.

Ant-Man (2015)- Sometimes your experience with a movie is dragged down less by what the film itself has to offer, but more by what it could have been. Ant-Man, in so many ways, is a successful superhero film. It’s well cast, has a unique feel to it when compared to the rest of the franchise (likely a result of hiring a comedic director), and is a generally feel good time at the movies. But then you think about the quirky masterpiece it could have been had things worked out better with Edgar Wright. And, like others, it suffers from the Marvel villain problem in a big way (despite it’s best efforts not to. Not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, but far from greatness.

Doctor Strange (2016)- Speaking of movies that are far from bad, but still aren’t that great, let’s bring out Doctor Strange! It’s one of the best reviewed films in the MCU, which I believe to be 100% due to director Scott Derrickson’s impressive visual style. My problem with Doctor Strange is the fact that if you take away that impressive visual style, it ends up feeling very routine. Remember what I said about the “selfish white guy learns how to be a hero” plotline. Here’s an example where it’s not quite as successful. On top of that the movie suffers from the Marvel villain problem (again, despite its best efforts!), and the humor doesn’t always hit. Doctor Strange is a franchise brimming with potential (seriously, the talent level of that cast alone!). Let’s see if we can achieve that next time.

Bottom Tier Marvel Movies
The Incredible Hulk (2008)- I remember almost nothing about this movie. Seriously, almost nothing. I recall a scene where the villain (played by Tim Roth) gets an incredibly painful series of injections, and the Stan Lee cameo. That’s it. “But Nancy,” you might be saying, “this movie came out ten years ago. How well can you be expected to remember it?” And while that it true, this is an issue I’ve had for years. And sure, while part of that is due to the fact that they pretty much retconned the movie when they recast Bruce Banner, I still feel like a Marvel movie should leave a greater impression on me. And this one didn’t.

Iron Man 3 (2013)- If The Dark Knight Rises, Iron Man 3, and season 6 of Arrow has taught me anything, it’s that the villain switcheroo is really difficult to pull off. This is where you present a serious threat (in this case The Mandarin) and reveal halfway through the movie that the true villain is someone far less obvious. So you need to make the second villain unassuming enough to not give away the surprise, yet impressive enough to appear more of a threat than the first. And for me, Iron Man 3 didn’t pull that off, which left me feeling more disappointed then any other Marvel movie has so far. Sure, I liked some of the individual scenes in Iron Man 3, but not the movie as a whole. I think that every Marvel movie fan has a particular film that just didn’t click with them. For me, this is it.

And that’s it (phew! that took longer than I thought). My full review of Infinity War should be coming out next week, first on Speculative Chic and then posted here. I hope everyone enjoyed the latest Avengers movie as much as I clearly did!

 

 

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Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly Reviewed

Looking for a new type of fantasy novel? Then why not check the Nebula nominated Amberlough. Click the link to read my review on Speculative Chic.

Amberlough (2017) Written by: Lara Elena Donnelly Narrated by: Mary Robinette Kowal Genre: Fantasy Length: 11h, 26m (Audiobook) Series: The Amberlough Dossier Publisher: Macmillan Audio Why I Chose It: When I first heard about Amberlough, I was intrigued by its unique, cross-genre premise (the fact that one of my favorite authors narrated the audiobook was a…

via Come Hear the Music Play: A Review of Amberlough — Speculative Chic

Author-in-Training: Three Types of Professional Editors for Indie Authors

Last week, I talked about three different types of first readers-alpha readers, beta readers, and writing groups. These are great (and free!) resources that I used to help get my novel, Red and Black, to a higher level of quality than I could achieve on my own. But even after seeking advice out from friends and colleagues, Red and Black still wasn’t in a publishable state. For that, I needed professionals.

You may find yourself wondering why. I mean, my first readers were all kick ass. Why did I need to pay professional editors to mark up my book even further? This has a lot to do with the nature of self publishing. As indie authors, we are expected to perform all of the steps that would normally fall to a traditional publisher. And traditionally published works go through multiple layers of editing, both with the writer’s agent, and the publisher itself. And just like how most of us non-artsy folk wouldn’t consider opening up Photoshop to make our own covers, unless you know the Chicago Manual of Style front to back, you really should hire a professional to do your editing. And even if you do have a pretty good grip on the rules and regulations, you still should consider hiring some sort of professional. Once you’ve read over a manuscript dozens of times, little things like misplaced commas and repeated words just don’t stick out like they should.

There are a lot of different types of editors out there, but for the purpose of this column, I’m just going to go into the big ones: developmental editors, copy editors, and proofreaders. What you chose is going to depend on your experience as an author, and the needs of the manuscript in hand.

Here’s the breakdown.

Developmental Editors– If you’re new to writing in general, then you’ll probably want to consider a developmental editor, who can help you with large concept issues such as plot structure, characterization, pacing and flow, and how your book fits into the expectations of your genre. The software of your book rather than the nuts and bolts. Developmental editors typically jump in after you’ve done drafting and some editing on your own, but I’ve also heard of editors that provide assistance even earlier in the writing process. As far as the cost goes, like with all professional editors, it can really vary. One numbers I’ve seen thrown around in multiple locations is 1-3 cents per word, but given that I did not use a developmental editor for Red and Black, I cannot confirm this. So don’t be surprised if I’m a little off on this one, money-wise.

Copy Editors– Copy editors bring things to a more technical level, being concerned with grammar, punctuation, and word choice. All the small things that are likely to trip up your reader. My copy editor was also really good at pointing out repeated words, capitalization errors, and the fact that my word processing software had inserted the wrong type of apostrophes. She also commented on POV slips, and a few pacing issues. Even after having multiple people go through my book (including myself!) I was shocked at the amount of errors she was able to catch. Most resources I’ve checked report that copy editors typically charge between 1-3 cents a word, and this lined up with my experience.

Proofreaders- This is the stage that I’m on right now! Proofreaders take care of the really nitty-gritty stuff, such as misplaced commas, capitalization errors, and any spelling/grammatical problem that have managed to slip through. Just because your copy editor didn’t notice them, doesn’t mean a random reader won’t. I’ll never forger reading one of the early Harry Potter books and discovering a case were Professor Snape had been shortened to “Snap.” I’ve heard it say that proofreaders typically charge up one cent a word or so. This has lined up with my personal experience as well.

If it’s your first time thinking about professional editors you’ve probably taken a look at the costs provided above, done some mental math based on the word count of your novel, and are now quietly (or not so quietly?) weeping into your hands. Yes. Hiring professionals to edit your novel is awfully expensive, and is one of main reason why it took me so long to come around to self publishing. After all, I don’t usually write in the nice, compact 50-60k range you’ll see a lot of self published novels settle into. 90-100k all the way!

But despite the shock of seeing my savings account dramatically decrease, I have yet to regret the money I’ve spent on my professional editors. After all, I want people to take me seriously as a writer, and the best way I can communicate that is with a book with a high level of polish. And while the numbers may seem high for something similar to what your beta readers do for free, you need to keep in mind what you’re really paying for. Not just the hours they spend combing through your manuscript, but for all of the experience they’ve accrued over the years to get to this level of expertise. And that’s worth something.

“Okay, okay, Nancy,” you may be saying. “I’ll consider it, but where do I find these people?” As with much in this digital era the answer is, “the internet!” A lot of freelance editors have websites where they list their clients, costs, and availability. Which I, as a newbie indie author, found completely overwhelming. This is why I ended up using Reedsy, a curated website of professional editors, cover artist, formatters, etc, as a resource. If you’d like to check them out, their website can be found right here. If you’d like to learn more about my experience with Reedsy specifically, I am planning on writing up a post with more details in the upcoming month. Please considering subscribing to my blog to learn about this in your email. There’s a handy dandy link on the left hand side of my home page for that.

But until then, I need to dive back into these edits. It’s back to the world of misplaced commas and stray grammatical issues for me!

Author-in-Training: Self Publishing Advice for Your Earbuds- The Creative Penn Podcast

A little while back, I talked about why I decided to self published Red and Black. One of the reasons I didn’t mention is the influence of the The Creative Penn. The Creative Penn is a weekly podcast created by indie author and entrepreneur Joanna Penn (who also writes under JF Penn). Each week, she covers information related to self publishing, the craft of writing, and life as a writer.

Most epiosdes have a pretty standard format. After a brief introduction, Joanna gives a personal update where she talks about her books, conferences or travel she may have undertaken, as well as any other relevant information to the podcast or her writing. Next, the podcast goes into self publishing news, which I oftentimes feel is the most important part of the podcast. The world around self publishing is constantly changing and updating, and Joanna does a really good job on staying on top of things. The episode then segues into an interview where Joanna speaks with either an author who can disperse device, or an entrepreneur with a product that has proven to be useful to indie authors.

Admittedly, interview based podcasts don’t always work for me, because so much hinges on the quality of the guests. Fortunately, Joanna has a knack for picking really good ones. It was during one of these interviews where I found out about Reedsy, which has helped me find multiple professional editors for Red and Black. In addition, Joanna herself has a really warm and inviting personality that really draws you in, and I think results in some really high quality interviews.

If you’d like to check out The Creative Penn, then I’d recommend subscribing to the show on your podcatcher (here’s the iTunes link!). Some recent episodes that I have found interesting include: “Creative Lessons from Screenwriting with JF Penn” (posted on 3.26.18), “How to Write High Volume Fiction in a Sustainable Way with Toby Neal” (posted on 3.12.18), and “How to Write Emotion And Depth of Character with Becca Puglisi” (posted 2.12.18).

The Creative Penn is a great resource for anyone looking for a high quality, free resource on self publishing, and the fact that it’s in podcast form makes it extra convenient. I love listening to it while I’m on my daily walks. Knowing that Joanna is a big fan of walking always makes it feel extra appropriate!

Author-in-Training- Alpha Readers v. Beta Readers v. Writing Groups

I’ve been working with a editor to bring Red and Black up to snuff for publication this summer. But before I even considered hiring a professional, I hit up my friends and colleagues for feedback. The reasons behind this were simple. For one thing, it was free. Secondly, I didn’t want my editor to spend her time fixing problems that I could have either done on my own, or with a little help from my friends.

If you’re looking to publish, I’d highly recommend seeking outside feedback first. The key is finding out which type of readers are right for you and your project. For Red and Black, I utilized three types of first readers: alpha readers, beta readers, and a writing group.

Alpha Readers
Alpha readers are the first people that you allow to see your book, as it’s being written. So as you might expect, for me, this took place waaay back during the early drafting of Red and Black. My reader, in this case, was my husband (thanks, Love!), and he didn’t do much “reading” at all, as I read the first several chapters aloud to him. Fortunately for him, it wasn’t rough draft quality. I had gone through each chapter and cleaned things up a bit, but it was certainly a long ways away from being done.

Because of the rough quality of my work during this phase, I wasn’t looking for an in depth critique. Instead, I was looking for a sympathetic ear to let me know whether or not things were working, and if there were any red flags. And sure, maybe that “sympathetic” part makes me thin skinned, but I was still in the process of writing the book, and therefore in a more vulnerable state than usual.

Other writers do alpha readers a little differently. Sci-fi/Fantasy author Mary Robinette Kowal actually distributes her works in progress to readers, via patreon, which feels incredibly brave for me.

Regardless of how you do it, alpha readers are people who see your story during the early phases, and are good if you want to get a general idea on whether you missed the mark or not. Feedback received by alpha readers can be very helpful when planning out the rest of your book.

Beta Readers
Beta readers are people who read your finished manuscript, and provide more detailed feedback. By the time Red and Black got to my beta readers, it had already been through some serious editing and yours should too. Yes, your mileage may vary as far as how much work you want to put into the book before your beta readers see it, but let me tell you as someone who’s been on the other side of the fence. Reading through a draft that’s clearly had little to no editing is fucking tedious. Your beta readers are doing you a favor by reading your work, so at the very least, clean up the shit you already know how to take care of.

As for the level of feedback provided by Beta Readers, it’s going to depend the individual. Some of my Beta readers provide detailed suggestions in the text itself. Some of my Beta readers don’t write down any feedback at all, but read the entire book, and then patiently sit there while I pepper them with questions. Some Beta readers focus on things like spelling/grammar/style, while others are drawn towards larger issues such as character arcs, and the overall plot of the novel. If you are only looking for a certain type of feedback, do yourself a favor and communicate this in advance. After all, there’s no point in asking a colleague to check your grammar, if they almost flunked out of high school English.

Personally, I like getting a wide variety of feedback, so I chose to send out my books to as wide a range as beta readers as I can. If that sounds scary to you, then you might have a bigger problem then just finding a beta reader. After all, if you’re lucky, eventually your book will be devoured by a wide variety of people. Why not get practice now? If you’re still nervous about the idea, sending your work out to readers in phases, might prove to be helpful. Start with a couple people that you trust the most, and move on from there.

When it comes to choosing your beta readers, I’d recommend looking beyond other writers. Sure, having writers as beta readers is great, as they’re likely to give you more in depth responses, but seeking out people who tend to read books in, or close to, your genre, is also a good idea. After all, those are the people you’re going to want to be attracting as readers. Isn’t it a good idea to get their feedback? A lot of professional writers (Brandon Sanderson, for example) actually use some of their readers like this, which has always struck me as a great idea.

Writing Groups
Now, I know what you’re thinking. First alpha and beta readers, and now you expect me to join a whole group? What’s next, going outside!? Fear not my fellow introverts, joining a writing group doesn’t have to be intimidating, nor does it need to involve leaving the house.

While I was working on Red and Black, I was fortunate enough to be part of a writing group. Writing groups come with a great feeling of reciprocity and community. Beta and alpha readers, for all their benefits, can feel as little one sided, as their main task is helping your book get better. With writing groups, on the other hand, you’re not only having your work reviewed, but commenting on other people’s work, so everyone benefits.

All writing groups are different. Some are online, while others met in person. My group met every two or three months, and used googlehangouts. At each session, we’d discussed a section from two writers’ work. There were four people total, meaning you didn’t have to wait to long too have your work discussed. Red and Black, due to it’s length, ended up being discussed over the course of three different sessions.

The feedback I got from my Writing Group was invaluable.They sort of served as a step in between an alpha and beta reader, as they read a draft as it was going through in depth revisions. The comments they made greatly shaped the developing draft and I’m convinced that Red and Black would have been a very different book had I not had the benefit of their feedback.

Of course, I’ve also heard my fair share of horror stories when it comes to writing groups. Stories of people who weren’t critical as much as cruel, and writers that lacked the maturity to take honest feedback. So perhaps one good thing to check for before choosing a writing group is to make sure the other people aren’t dicks. Also, your writing group is more likely to be successful if all members have similar goals, or are writing in similar genres. In my writing group, for example, we were all writing speculative fiction. I wouldn’t have been comfortable critiquing a picture book, or a memoir.

So those are the three types of first readers I encountered while writing Red and Black. I know I’m getting repetitive here, but I highly recommend seeking out feedback from others, if you’re looking to have your work published. I’m a firm believer that as writers, sometimes we’re too close to a book to notice its flaws. Sometimes we even miss out on hidden strengths. Looking outside of ourselves can help us find these hidden facets in our writing. So don’t be shy! Share your work.

This post is part of the new Author-in-Training Project, where I document my path to publishing Red and Black, and the lessons I’ve learned on the way. Please click on the Author-in-Training tag for more posts.

Rodent-Based Crime Fighters and Super Administrators: Our Favorite Superheroes

Who’s your favorite superhero? With Infinity War on the horizon, we discuss some of our favorites on Speculative Chic.

Infinity War is coming, Infinity War is coming! To say that some of us are excited would be an understatement. With this in mind, I asked our contributors something simple: who’s your favorite superhero? It doesn’t have to be one of the obvious heroes. I humbly submit that Buffy Summers is a superhero, for example.…

via Roundtable: Our Heroes — Speculative Chic

Thoughts on Camp NaNoWriMo

As of the writing of this post, I am ten days into Camp NaNoWriMo, the off season version of NaNoWriMo. This time around, instead of writing 50k in 30 days, you pick a writing project that you want to tackle over the course of a month. I’m writing a 20,000 word retelling of the “Beauty and the Beast” fairy tale. If all had gone according to plan, I would be almost done. Instead, I am 17,470 words into a project that looks to be closer to 30,000 words long.

Oops.

Not that I’m complaining. For the most part, the writing has gone steadily. I wrote nine out of the ten days this month (I’m drafting this post on the April 10th), and only skipped one day when I came down with an unfortunately timed migraine. The novella has some serious issues, but the same can be said about most rough drafts. Most of these issues stem from the fact that I haven’t done much work with the novella length. I typically stick to novel-length projects, and I’ve done some short fiction as well, but this medium-sized variety is quite different for me. Far too often, I find myself treating this project as if it were a novel. In retrospect, I can see places where the world building needs to be simplified, side characters could be trimmed, and more time spent on the central plot. Or, I could chose to give up the ghost, and just turn it into a novel, meaning that I would need to expand on things in a big way. Either way, it’s clear that, if I decide to continue on with this project, it’s going to take A LOT of work, which is kinda frustrating and not quite what I had in mind when I decided I wanted to do a quick, fun novella for Camp NaNoWriMo.

But those are decisions for revisions. The point of NaNoWriMo (and, by extension, Camp NaNoWriMo) is to finish, after all.

Another issue I’ve come across is the fact “Beauty and the Beast,” as it is recognized today, is pretty much synonymous with the Disney version and not the original fairy tale. I don’t think I had much of an idea how big of an influence the animated film had on me until I started this project. This means that, despite intentionally diverging quite dramatically with the Disney version, there are times when I find myself inching back towards it. For example, I have a character that’s very Gaston-like, which I had not intended on at all!

As for my thoughts on Camp NaNoWriMo as a whole, I’m finding that I’m enjoying it but not as much as the classic NaNoWriMo experience. There’s just something so motivating about everyone coming together to tackle one goal that just can’t be replicated here-although the cabin system is nice enough.

This has me thinking of the future. What will happen to this “Beauty of the Beast” retelling? Will I expand it into a novel? Edit it down to a more focused story? Write it off as an interesting writing exercise before leaving it to die a slow death on my hard drive? Will I do Camp NaNoWriMo again? Or should I leave my drafting to November of every year for regular NaNoWriMo.

Obviously, it too soon to really answer those questions. Right now I’m just going to focus on finishing this draft. Which is clearly going to take a little longer than I expected (I honestly though I’d almost be done right by now). I’ll check in again when I do my month in review for April. Who knows, maybe by then I’ll have answers for some of my questions!