Friday, January 31, 2014

Blogging: How Do You Create Success?

So, I’ve been blogging relatively consistently for about a year now, and, over that time, I’ve discovered a few things about the art of blogging. I can’t be considered any kind of expert, of course. I only have four followers, after all! But that’s four more than I had a few months ago! And each new one excites me! Thanks, ya’ll! Anyway, here’s some of my thoughts on creating a successful blog:
  • Discover your purpose. I started The Ink Loft because I wanted a platform for the numerous thoughts running around in my head and because I wanted to better my writing. I know my writing has improved the more I blog, and it is an absolute blast to craft posts out of my crazy thoughts.
    1. Sharpen that purpose. Honestly, this is something I’m still working on. I think it’s important, though. Sure, it may be fun to write about anything and everything. But readers generally aren’t going to enjoy that broad of a spectrum. You have to be sensitive to what your readers enjoy and what they don’t.
    2. Enjoy what you write. Though it is important to tune into your readers’ desires, you shouldn’t let them dictate everything. Even if you discard some of your ideas because you know they wouldn’t be interesting to your audience, you should still like the ideas you are using. Don’t let your readers make your blog into something you dislike. Note: I’m not saying my followers do that in any way, shape, or form.
  • Make yourself visible. I get way more page views on my blog than I have followers. But most of those people flit across my page without knowing who I am or what my blog is. They look cool on my stat board, but they don’t mean much for the growth of my blog. The important page views come from my followers and people who heard about me somewhere else.
    1. Follow other blogs. I follow around twenty different blogs right now, and I enjoy reading their thoughts. Many of them are writing blogs, so I have common ground with their authors. By following and commenting regularly on those blogs (I don’t comment on all of them, but I try to be regular on the ones I do comment on.), I make my name stick out to the authors and readers of those blogs. When I started following blogs, I freaked out because I don’t have a Google+ profile. So, at first, I couldn’t figure out how to follow them visibly. But then I discovered Blogger’s Reading List. I don’t know how WordPress works, but on Blogger you can go to your Blogger Dashboard (account home), where it says “[Your Name]’s Blogs”.  Under the info about your own blog(s), it should say “Reading List.” All the blogs you follow show up here, notifying you of new posts. If you click the button that says “Add”, you can paste the link to the blog you want to follow and choose whether to follow publicly or privately. I follow publicly so as to maximize my visibility.
    2. Get social media involved. This is one I haven’t really done yet, because I’m a bit wary of social media in general. I’m thinking about setting up a Pinterest account, though. Despite my absence on that scene, however, I know it’s beneficial. I have found many good articles and a few new blogs through Pinterest. Thousands of people get the chance to see your stuff if you use social media.
    3. Tell your friends. I know it feels arrogant to advertise for yourself, but you can do it in a non-boastful way. I usually don’t mention it unless I’m talking about my writing or a topic I recently blogged about. Then I’ll let their reaction judge my actions. If they seem interested, I’ll mention my blog title. I need to get better about inviting people to check The Ink Loft out, though, because I’m still pretty shy about it. At least in theory, your friends should be quite interested in browsing, and hopefully following, your blog, because they’re invested in you.
  • Use pictures. I kind of discounted this when I first started blogging, but I’ve become more convinced of its importance lately.
    Courtesy of Pixabay
    Including pictures snags readers from the very beginning, when they see your new post on their reading list, because it differentiates the post from everything else on their screen. Though I read articles from oldest to most recent (on my reading list) so as to not miss anything, certain ones jump out more due to the picture I see next to the title. And in the post itself, pictures break up the monotony of prose. I’m a prosy person, but even I have trouble on the Internet with just words on the screen. Pictures give the mind something to wander to for just a moment before jumping back to that fascinating article. Plus, going back to the social media argument above, pictures allow you your posts to be pinned on Pinterest. I use a mixture of pictures I’ve taken, pictures from Office’s clip art gallery (make sure you investigate the copyrights with these), and pictures from
    pixabay.com, a free image provider.
  • Create a good title. I find the best titles to be catchy but not too mysterious. Use that clever line you thought of. Just remember that it’s okay to add a colon or a dash and an explanation of said cleverness. As with the pictures, you want something that catches people’s attention. But you don’t want to waste their time. You’re not going for page views; you’re looking for followers. Thus, you want the people clicking that link on social media to be people interested in the things you write about. So, don’t be confusing. Don’t be dull. Don’t be annoying. Be unique. Even with that, though, remember that not every title must be earth shatteringly amazing. And on something like Pinterest or Google, you want the title to contain the topic someone would be searching for. In this post, for example, I start with “Blogging.” If someone is looking for info on blogging, I have a chance of showing up on their radar.
  • Create a good atmosphere. This is one of the most important aspects to having a good blog, I think. I’ve discounted more than one blog because their format is unappealing. There are three elements to this:
    1. Don’t overcrowd your sidebar. Yes, it’s necessary to have access to previous posts and the like. Those are good things to have. I included a banner for TeenPact on my sidebar because it is a program that changed my life, and I want others to know about it. I could do another such banner for One Year Adventure Novel, which also benefitted me greatly, but I haven’t because I don’t want to overcrowd my screen. I don’t like blogs that have too much stuff, especially pictures and moving objects, because it’s distracting. So, be careful with how many extras you add.
    2. Be professional. This is huge! I discount many blogs almost immediately because of poor spelling and grammar, odd spacing, or illegible type. If you want people to pay attention to your blog, you must present an easy-to-read format. I don’t use the fancy scripts that I’d like to because most of them are difficult to read on the Internet. Think about those kind of things when contemplating a blog post.
    3. Be genuine. Being professional and concise is important, but it’s possible to be too perfect. You want to seem like the real person that you are, so don’t be afraid to use personal examples and life updates. Those kind of things help establish a connection between you and your readers, and you can be as personal or careful as you like.
What do you consider the important things for a blog?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Why I Prefer Mr. Knightley to Mr. Darcy

Millions of women adore Jane Austen’s novels, in particular Pride and Prejudice. I am among them, though I’ve only read what must have been an abridged version of the novel. I love the movies, though. And I love Emma, too, though, again, I haven’t read the book. So, I’m basically on even terms for discussing these stories’ respective gentlemen, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Knightley. If any guys are reading this, don’t freak out. If you’ve ever despaired of being compared to the perfect Mr. Darcy, I’m going to show you a glimpse of the female mind on the subject.

For most Austenites, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is considered the epitome of manhood. He is the ideal man for many women. And I love Darcy, I really do. But I think there is another Austen hero who is an even better candidate for the title. In Emma, Mr. George Knightley is a dear friend of the Woodhouses. His older brother is married to Emma’s older sister; Mr. Woodhouse considers Mr. Knightley a confidante. Though sixteen years older than Emma, he is the perfect match for her. And I adore him. Now, why is he better than Mr. Darcy? Let me lay out some of the particulars.
  • He isn’t arrogant. Let me be clear in saying that I don’t consider Mr. Darcy irreparably proud. He is greatly improved by the end of Pride and Prejudice. But he nonetheless has an arrogant streak in him, generally disdaining those who don’t engage him on an intellectual level. Knightley, on the other hand, has every reason, just as Darcy does, to be proud but isn’t. He has the highest social standing in the area, along with the Woodhouses. According to the class structure of the times, he is better than most everyone else. But he doesn’t act like it. His first reaction is compassion, not arrogance, toward those less fortunate and/or sillier than himself. Compassion is always more attractive than pride.
  • He is a friend to Emma. Again, I’m not saying that Darcy isn’t a friend to Elizabeth. I believe their marriage would be one of deep friendship. But Knightley has known Emma since she was born. He knows her many faults but always reaffirms his friendship. Initially, at least, Darcy does not give Elizabeth the benefit the doubt in extending his friendship.
  • He chastises Emma. Like a true friend, Mr. Knightley tries to help Emma correct her mistakes. He does it perhaps a little too often, but he always has honest intentions. For those of you who know the story, the Box Hill incident comes to mind. Knightley’s “Badly done, Emma!” is a turning point of the whole story. One of the things I appreciate about his honesty, though, is that he doesn’t correct her in public. He saves her the shame of being reprimanded in front of others and only speaks of his disapproval when they’re in private.
  • He is real. Mr. Darcy, no matter how well portrayed, often feels like a person I could never meet on the street, whereas Mr. Knightley is incredibly genuine. He says what he thinks and enjoys manly pursuits. He’s not fond of dancing or gossip. Of course, neither is Darcy. Perhaps it’s simply that Knightley seems to be more rounded. Reading Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman,  helped make Darcy more real for me. But that’s not written by Jane Austen. Anyway, Mr. Knightley seems more real and like someone I could actually meet than Darcy does.
  • He’s a realist, not a romantic. Okay, part of me is in serious rebellion right now, because I’m a huge lover of romance. But, let’s face it, most men are not naturally romantic. They’re practical. Mr. Darcy has a distinctly romantic era about him, exuding the classic, mysterious aura. In the movies, he gets the proposal-in-the-rain scene, the famous wet-shirt scene (I still don’t understand the big deal about that), and the proposal at dawn. Knightley, on the other hand, has one of my favorite lines ever: “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.” Knightley speaks practically and doesn’t wrap his words in mystery. He abhors the coy games he sees played out around him because of their secrecy and dishonesty. And he’s scared of losing Emma’s friendship if he shares his feelings. How common is that? He understands and respects the boundaries of classes; that’s why he tries to dissuade Emma from setting Harriet Smith up with Mr. Elton, the preacher. He knows Harriet would be happy with someone from her own station in life, the farmer Robert Martin, while Emma is letting her romantic dreams cloud her judgment. She doesn’t see that Mr. Elton would never marry beneath him; there is a “littleness about him,” in Emma’s words, that Knightley sees. He wants Harriet to be happy, too, but he sees her marriage through a practical, not romantic, eye. So, in some ways, this goes back to the “realness” point above. Most guys are not major romantics, so don’t expect them to magically be that way.
  • He’s considerate. This is basically the other side of the previous point. Mr. Knightley is not a romantic. But he is incredibly thoughtful. When a group comes to his house for strawberry picking, he provides a comfortable seat and things to entertain the always-worrying Mr. Woodhouse. And one of my favorite scenes in the BBC mini-series Emma is the last one, when *SPOILER* Mr. Knightley and Emma are on their honeymoon, going to a secret place, which turns out to be the sea. Emma has never been to the ocean before, and she is completely enraptured by his thoughtfulness. *END SPOILER* Mr. Darcy can certainly be kind, but he is not always that considerate.
So, now you know why I like Mr. Knightley better than Mr. Darcy. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts; I’d love to discuss it with you!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Writing Strong Female Characters

In our feminist society, it’s easy to believe that women are only portrayed as strong in media if they can fight just as well as the men can. But that’s a lie. I don’t believe that women are misrepresented in stories, but I really don’t have a wide-enough knowledge of pop culture to expand on that.  The
Courtesy of Pixabay
fact of the matter, though, is that women and men are different. Thus, they should be portrayed differently.

In my opinion, the best way to make a female character strong is to make her real. The housewife who cares for an adoring husband and five children can be just as strong as the female colonel in the Army who fought her way through the ranks. Our job as writers is to make them both real to our readers.

I love both Arwen and Eowyn in Lord of the Rings. Each is a princess of her people, and each woman shows strength in her own way. Arwen chooses mortality, going against her father’s fears, to stand by the man she loves. Eowyn literally does battle to save her people. They each make difficult choices for what they believe in – for Arwen, it’s love, for Eowyn, freedom. Thus, my first thought on creating strong female characters:
  • Give her something to believe in. In my book, Raiders’ Rise, Zana believes in her family and in the necessity of saving them. She has a purpose. Give your female characters a goal and a mission (not always the same thing), and you will develop the first layer in a strong woman.
I also admire Elisa Lindheim in The Zion Covenant series by Bodie and Brock Thoene. If you haven’t read them, investigate the series. They’re complicated books, but I love them. Elisa is a half-Jewish violinist in 1930’s Europe, facing the threat of Hitler. I could have just as easily used her for my “Something to believe in” example, but I chose to let her represent femininity:
  • Let her act like a woman. One of my biggest problems with female characters created as a nod to feminism is that they are often portrayed as overly gruff, stern, non-feminine versions of their male counterparts. One of the biggest strengths of women is their emotion. It’s also our greatest weakness, but that’s how most people’s traits go. Our emotional fabric is very different from that of men, and it gives us unique abilities. So it always feels wrong to me to see women like that. Are they out there? Yes. But it’s not the norm. Woman are emotional. That’s just how we were created. Elisa Lindheim is a beautiful cauldron of emotions, torn in several different directions. Her strength comes by channeling those feelings. And she’s feminine. She wears dresses and heels. She loves romance. At times, she’s incredibly sweet and soft. But you can’t doubt her strength. Celebrate your female character’s femininity, even if it’s only minimal. Don’t destroy it; used correctly, it will make her a better creation.
I’m going to go with my own character, Zana, for this next one. She’s a princess of Meristos, used to privilege. She doesn’t know what it’s like to truly suffer. Others do the heavy lifting for her usually. But she surprises even herself on this journey.
  • Give her a rescuer, but let her come to the rescue as well. It’s bogus to say that a strong female character should always be able to rescue herself. Sometimes things just get out of control, and we’re faced with the fact that we can’t do everything on our own. That’s a real thing, and thus you should portray it. It’s not wrong for her to be protected by someone – it can be incredibly poignant. But that doesn’t mean she can’t do some rescuing, too, both of herself and of others. Zana performs both roles – rescued and rescuer. She’s not a visible tower of strength, and she doesn’t flaunt what she does. But she isn’t helpless either. Don’t make your females completely helpless; if you do, any illusion of strength will disappear.
Most of what I’ve talked about already could apply to both male and female characters. But now I want to focus on those women who do fill a traditionally male role. Natasha Romanov, also known as the Black Widow, has appeared in two Marvel movies so far, Iron Man 2 and The Avengers. She will also play a role in the upcoming film Captain America: The Winter Soldier. She is a former assassin-turned S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who could be considered the epitome of strength. She takes on bad guys without blinking and holds some impressive skills. But that’s not all there is to her. In Iron Man 2, she acts as a personal assistant. When The Avengers roles around, we find that she has a deeply personal history with Hawkeye. We see a vulnerability, a realness, to Natasha Romanov. And that’s the key. If you choose to give your female character a tough fa├žade, make sure that’s not the only element to her personality.

There are lots of other things that could be said about character development in general, but those will have to wait for another time. Female characters are strong when you make them real. Strive to be genuine and the readers will believe you.

How do you make your female characters unique and strong?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Diligence

Perseverance Quote

I’ve always considered myself to be a disciplined, hardworking person. And I am, on some things. On others, however, I can be incredibly lazy. I discovered this recently, and, honestly, it terrifies me! What a slash to the ego, right?

Now that my pride has been taken down a necessary few inches, though, I’m faced with the reality that I am not always a go-getter. I lack initiative and discipline, and, frankly, the prospect of hard work makes me want to drop certain ideas as soon as I get them. But that doesn’t help me grow in any way. I need to learn diligence. According to dictionary.com, “diligence” is “constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind.” In other words, it requires work.


It takes diligence to blog consistently. When I started The Ink Loft, I held grand and expansive dreams about it. The reality of it has been a little difficult to realize, however. Blogging is hard. It can be a lot of fun, but it’s not as easy as I originally thought it would be. Nonetheless, this is one area that I’m excited to do better at. Raiders’ Rise is something I’ve plugged away at for over a year and a half, but I haven’t established a disciplined regimen for finishing it. I’ve relied on inspiration a bit too much. That has to stop. I need to write consistently, with goals and deadlines. That’s why I’ve established a loose schedule for the completion of my rough draft and the start of editing. Those dates are physically on my calendar now. Diligence is necessary in everything from job hunting to my spiritual life. But how can I establish a habit of diligence in my life?

  • Hear God’s thoughts on the subject – The Bible contains many verses on hard work and perseverance: “We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. ” [Romans 5:3-4] This one reminds me that diligence brings hope and joy to life. “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” [Hebrews 12:1-2] This verse is an excellent reminder that we’re following the example of Jesus, who was diligent through a trial the likes of which we may never see. God knows how hard it can be to persevere, but He also knows it’s good for us. The other side of hearing God’s thoughts is, of course, prayer. I need to consistently reevaluate what I’m being diligent about in light of what God says I should be focusing on. Maybe my goals don’t belong in His plans. I won’t know unless I spend time with Him.
  • Set goals – I’m not great at following through on plans, but I’m even worse at finishing things when I don’t have a plan at all. Thus, I intend to actually use my calendar this year. I have weakly deadlines for each chapter and I’ll get a reminder when I’m ready to start editing. During that quiet period, I have world building to do and a novella to write. All of those things are going on my calendar. And I’m hoping that those visible markers will help me stay focused.
  • Don’t take every break you want to – I’m notorious for working on something for an hour and then “taking a break.” The problem is that I don’t come back to that job after my break, or I extend my break too long. Breaks are essential, and, in some cases, I don’t take enough. (Which lead to neck pain…) But, sometimes, when I’m dealing with a boring or hard task, I need to push aside my brain’s initial plea to do something else. Maybe that break can happen the next time I think I should stop instead.
  • Reward yourself – Along with those goals you set, rewards can be extremely helpful. Even tiny ones, like a piece of candy for a finished page, are motivating at times when your inspiration is lacking.  The other day, I put a frozen chicken pot pie, which takes about an hour to cook, in the oven and wrote until it was done. My lunch acted as my reward in that case. And it worked fantastically. Sometimes we think we should force ourselves through things. And, of course, there are times when willpower has to come into play. But let yourself enjoy the journey and the satisfaction of reaching your goals.
I hope I’ve given you something to think about; I know that this is an important concept for me this year. May you be diligent in whatever you do, whether it be writing-related or not. How do you all stay on track?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My Year in Movies

I hope you’ve had an auspicious beginning to 2014. Mine has been pretty low-key. But who knows what may happen in the next year? As I look back on 2013, it seems like it went so fast. (I’m pretty sure I said that about 2012, too, though.) A lot of things happened; many things and people came and went. I hope that I’ve grown as a person and become closer to God and to my family, even though I know I have far to go. Honestly, though, when I think back at 2013, I remember a large number of movies. I went to the theater more than I usually do, but many of these movies have special memories attached to them as well. So, I thought I’d share a taste of my year with all of you.
  • Les Miserables – I almost forgot about watching the 2012 Les Mis, because it seems like I saw it such a long time ago. I reviewed it here on The Ink Loft. Seeing this movie opened my eyes to the beautiful story that is Les Mis. I usually don’t like sad stories much, but I enjoyed this one.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness – First trip to the theater of the year! It was so much fun to see this second chapter in the new era of Star Trek on the big screen! I also reviewed this one, and you can find that post here. Into Darkness was more intense than its predecessor, with a stellar cast and complicated plot. I’m excited to see it again!
  • The Wolverine – I saw this one in a really neat, casual theater. Despite the novel surroundings, however, I didn’t enjoy the movie. I found it to be overly violent, and I disliked the excessive language. The story was coherent and compelling for the most part, but I came out of the theater somewhat depressed. I probably won’t watch it again.
  • Pride and Prejudice – I finally watched the six-hour (1995)  version after hearing people’s rants about it for years. And I loved it! I saw the 2005 version with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen long before this, and I still adore it. In fact, I think I enjoyed them both at the same level, just in different ways. I like the relaxed pacing and drawn-out story of the 1995 version. But I prefer the characters of Mr. Bingley and Jane in the new one. Mr. Collins is even more horrid, a feat which I didn’t really think possible, in the longer version. And Mary Bennett, to my surprise, was rather repulsive. I would love to own the 1995 version along with the 2005 one, which is already in my possession. The biggest problem is simply time; when I have six or seven hours, I’d be happy to watch it again!
  • Man of Steel – Sheesh, I went to the theater even more than I realized! The first time I saw this, I loved it. But I watched it for the second time a few days ago, and I wasn’t as happy with it. I enjoy the story and characters. Henry Cavill was awesome as Clark Kent/Superman, in my opinion. The battle scenes, however, were over-the-top. When I saw it in the theater, the CGI didn’t really bother me. Seeing it again at home, though, it was much more noticeable. The battles felt never-ending and repetitive. They had the potential for greatness, moving from a general battle down to a clash between the hero and villain, which could have been an excellent war of ideals. It was, to some degree, but by the time it rolled around, the battles had kind of numbed my mind. So, will I watch it again? Maybe, but I won’t be buying it.
  • Iron Man 3 – I watched this with my older cousin in my aunt and uncle’s pitch-black living room, which added to the intensity of an already intense movie. We seriously sat in almost complete silence the whole time, soaking in the story. I enjoyed it immensely! Tony Stark has journeyed a long way from Iron Man, and I’m glad to see where he is now as a person. The movie contains some interesting twists, and the ending shocked me! The after-credits scene was hilarious. Definitely needs another viewing.
  • John Carter – I love movie nights with my extended family, in part because I discover some really awesome movies. John Carter is one such movie, as is Letters to Juliet, an adorable movie that I saw a couple of years ago and now own. The former tells the story of a war-weary veteran of the Civil War who gets transported mysteriously to Mars, known as Barsoom by the inhabitants of that planet. On Mars, he gets embroiled in another civil war and discovers a different life for himself. The story captivated me and contained some clever and unexpected twists. It has some hilarious lines and a somewhat unique premise that I enjoy. It reminds me a lot of Prince of Persia, which I also love, but it’s less cheesy. Definitely a new favorite!
  • Thor: The Dark World – My review lays out most of my thoughts, but I’m happy to reiterate that I had a blast watching it. Seeing who Thor and the other characters have become was entertaining. The film wasn’t perfect and contained a few holes. All in all, however, I liked it. The mid-credits scene made me extremely curious about where the Marvel movie universe is headed from here. So excited for Captain America: The Winter Soldier!
  • Frozen – *shrieks* Frozen was so awesome! The animation was gorgeous; the songs were catchy and a little more probable than those in Tangled, which I honestly expected to find similarities to. The story was actually quite different from what the trailer had made me expect, and it contained a surprising and delightful take on the meaning of true love. I loved the characters as well. Nonetheless, it did have some story threads that felt incomplete. ‘Twasn’t a perfect movie. I still really loved it, though!
  • The Rescuers – No, this is not the first time I’ve seen this Disney movie, but I hadn’t watched it in years. When I was little, it scared me a lot. The villain, Medusa, is terrifying! And insane… I fell in love with it all over again, though, when I watched it a few days ago. The mice, Bernard and Miss Bianca, are definitely one of my favorite Disney couples ever! If you’ve never seen The Rescuers, I highly recommend it!
  • Hogan’s Heroes – This isn’t a movie, but, rather, a TV show from the 1960’s. It follows the highly improbable activities of Colonel Robert Hogan, an American pilot, and his fellow prisoners at a German prison camp during WWII. Under the inept leadership of Kommandant Klink  and the intentional ignorance of the Sergeant-in-Charge, Shultz, Hogan and his band sabotage German projects, spy on secret meetings, and funnel escapees and deserters back to England, all while maintaining a no-escape record and protecting Klink from being transferred or shot. The ridiculousness of the show is a large part of its charm, and I was happy to get ahold of a copy of the second season this year, after it stopped being aired a couple of years ago on its TV station. This is one of my favorite half-hour shows for just relaxing and not having to think about the story’s probability. The humor is awesome.
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Yay! I was so excited to see this, and I wasn’t disappointed in the least. In fact, I think my expectations were exceeded! I don’t think I like the new form of filming that they’re using, because it tends to blur panorama shots, hurting my eyes. Also, it makes me think more things are CGI than probably are. That is possibly my biggest beef with the whole thing: the CGI feels more obvious than it did in Lord of the Rings. But from a story perspective, this second installment in Peter Jackson’s trilogy is a smashing hit for me! I honestly like how he’s made it bigger than the book, but I may not get into all of that until the third one come out next December. (*sigh* So long to wait.) By splitting the party into more manageable numbers, the movie is able to focus on each character and give us a better picture of who these dwarves/wizards/elves/men are. Kili, in particular, gets a bigger role in this film. I liked the addition of Tauriel, the female elf. The Woodland Realm is gorgeous, not slightly over-the-top like the Goblin’s Cavern in the first movie. Bard the Bowman impresses me, and I’m excited to see more of him in the third film. The way they’ve brought Bilbo’s fascination with the One Ring into play also earned my appreciation. Thorin’s greed is starting to show through. Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug is incredible! Using stop-action like they used with Gollum, they captured a realness for Smaug’s movements. And, by the time the film ended, I felt like was watching an evil Sherlock. That was super creepy! If you haven’t seen BBC’s Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch plays the title character. There are plenty of scary, creepy/gross, funny, intense, and sweet moments in this film, and I enjoyed all of them. I may have to see this one again before it leaves theaters!
So, yes, I watched a lot of movies last year. I think the stand-outs for me were Star Trek Into Darkness, Frozen, and The Hobbit, all of which I’m looking forward to seeing again. What was your favorite movie of the year?