Wanna Help Me With Some Book Research?

Research.

It’s inevitable in a writer’s career. At one point in time or another, we will have to learn about some subject that we are not familiar with, whether it be neuro-surgery or training a duck to quack “I love you”. I’ve given my two cents on research for writing before, but now, here I come to you, defeated and dejected (or at least mildly discomforted). You see, I have been searching for an ideal source on which to base my research, but have come up with virtually nothing.

In a book-in-progress of mine, I have a main character that is blind. He’s 15-16 years old, and the whole book primarily revolves around his visual impairment. The story is not told from his point of view (rather the POV of his closest friend), but nevertheless, I have no experience with blindness and wish to correctly and respectfully portray the amazing abilities of people who are blind to live normal lives.

This is where you guys come in. Do you have any experience with friends, relatives, teachers, etc. who are blind? Or do you know any good non-fiction books that tell about blindness? Please share them with me, and you could be part of my book someday getting published (after all, it can never be ready for publishing without this research).

Okay, here’s your challenge. Tell me anything you know from personal experience with people who are blind, and/or any non-fiction books that will help me learn how people who are blind live every day. Thanks for your help!

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School and Blogging

Heya! Today isn’t so much a blog post about writing as it a blog post about school (yeah, I know, I’m sorry, I’m not trying to cheat you out of a decent blog post but I just can’t write two in a day).

So, assuming that you’re still here and you didn’t bail at the mere sight of the word “school”, I have to let you guys know that I will be starting my junior year of high school on Tuesday. I’m excited, but I’m certain that I’ll also be very busy, and that can impede my blog-writing progress.

Basically, I’m letting y’all know that I might not be able to write blogs as regularly as before. I’ll try to keep up my Monday/Thursday schedule, but blog-posting might still be erratic, and posts may not be posted when posts are supposed to posted (I dare you to say that ten times fast). If I find that I just really can’t deal with coming up with new ideas for posts and writing said new ideas while juggling schoolwork too, I might cut it down to one blog a week instead of two, at least until the school year is up or I find that I can do two again.

Of course, my education comes before my blog-writing, and I definitely don’t want Bookends to interfere with me working towards my high school diploma. But don’t worry, I love doing this blog, so I’ll try my best to give you guys something every once in a while.

That’s all for me for today. This has been Kiara, signing off.

Okay, so…are you in school? What’s your favorite subject? Can you tell me about some of the teachers that you have had that you really liked? Do tell!

Liebster Award

I was nominated for this thing called The Liebster Award by my lovely friend Jessica over at Simple Scribbles. I’m not quite sure what it is, but, hey, I love trying new things. It seems like it’s a way to get to know other bloggers by getting the chance to ask them questions.

Here are the rules:

  • Thank the nominator and link back to his/her blog. (Thanks, Jessica!)
  • Answer the questions asked by the nominator.
  • Ask eleven questions of your own.
  • Nominate other bloggers.
  • Have fun! (Okay, that’s not a rule, but it totally should be.)

Jessica’s Questions:

  1. How did you get started writing? I’ve just kind of always been telling stories, whether I was writing little short stories or when I was playing with my stuffed animals. My early stories were almost always centered on animals, and my logic was horrible, but once I reached my tweens, I really started taking my writing seriously. I finally realized that it was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
  2. What is your favorite book? Why? This is hard – I love so many! One I really love is The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. When my dad had suggested I read the book years ago, I turned him down and said I probably wouldn’t like it. Yeah…I was wrong.
  3. What is your least favorite book? Why? I assume I have to have read the whole book to claim it as my least favorite, so I’ll just say The Finisher by David Baldacci. I’ve complained about it before, so I won’t here, but I just really didn’t like it.
  4. What are you currently reading? Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan.
  5. Some writers never have plans to publish. Do you? Yes. Not for fame or fortune, but just because I want to touch people’s lives like other author’s books have touched mine. I don’t know when, and I don’t know how, but I’ll be published, someday.
  6. Cat person or dog person? Both, but recently I’ve found that I sway more towards the dog side.
  7. How many states/countries have you lived in? One. One country, one state, one town, and one house. My whole life.
  8. If you could be any fictional character, who would you be? –Realistically, I’d probably be Joey from the Disney Channel show Liv and Maddie. He’s pretty much me, just male and fictional. If I could choose to be any character, though, I’d be either Luna or Hermione from Harry Potter. I’m already a healthy mix of both of their personalities, but I’d gladly be either one of them, because they’re both so brave, kind, and unique.
  9. School’s almost starting! How do you fit blogging into your daily schedule during the school year? Since my blog is still a baby blog, I’ve never been maintaining it during the school year. My plan is to try to make time where I can, sit at the computer, cry, and hope it turns out alright. 😉
  10. If you could have any superpower, what would it be (made-up ones count, too!) I would either be able to A) shape-shift, B) super speed, or C) have telekinesis.
  11. What do you plan on studying in college? I’m not sure yet. I love writing and want to become an author/journalist, but I also am contemplating pursuing a career in Christian radio. Whatever I need to study in college for those.

My questions:

  1. Are you left-handed or right-handed?
  2. What’s something funny you’ve heard a little kid say?
  3. If you could choose one person (fictional or non-fictional) to narrate your life, who would it be?
  4. What’s your favorite medieval weapon?
  5. What’s the plot of the earliest story you can remember writing?
  6. Do you prefer pencils or pens?
  7. If you created a new superhero persona for yourself, what would it be?
  8. What’s your favorite genre to read?
  9. What’s an unconventional animal that you wish you could ride?
  10. What’s a smell you really love?
  11. If you could teach a newly created school subject, what would it be?

I nominate Christa Kinde from her home site/blog about her books!

It’s your turn! If you read this blog post, post your answers to my questions in the comments and we can chat. I wanna hear from you!

What Writers Need To Know About Hearing Loss

(Cupped ear image taken from Google Images. Credit to rightful owner.)

(Cupped ear image taken from Google Images. Credit to rightful owner.)

So, you want to write a hearing impaired character? You came to the right place, because if I have authority to speak about anything, it’s hearing loss. I happen to have extended experience with it.

Here’s a quick run-down: I’ve been wearing hearing aids in both ears for what will be 3 years come the end of October. I have a condition called LVAS (or sometimes EVA), which stands for enLarged Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome. That basically means that the tube that connects my inner ear to my skull is bigger than normal, and for some reason that causes hearing loss.

Since I’m up close and personal with hearing loss every single day, I figured that I’m just the person that can speak from experience and help writers know how to correctly portray it in fiction. I’ll give you an inside look at what it’s like to be hearing impaired, and I’ll tell you some things that you may not have known.

NOTE: Most facts are given with congenital hearing loss (present from birth) in mind. I am not familiar with hearing loss that has been brought on by elderly age or by an outside source (such as a concussion). I am also not familiar with cochlear implants and how they work, although I do know people who have them. Additionally, there are different rules for each condition that cause hearing loss, so be sure to research what kind you’re using. Also, I can only speak for those who are only hearing impaired. If you wish to write a completely deaf character, I cannot speak from experience with that.

Here’s what you need to know about hearing loss:

  • There are different kinds of hearing aids. They all are meant to help you hear, but each kind looks a little different.
    (Credit: NIH Medical Arts)

    (Credit: NIH Medical Arts)

    There’s a nifty little chart to help ya out. I, for one, wear the “Mini BTE”, and that seems to be the most common, though the regular BTE isn’t rare to see. Be sure to know which kind of hearing aid your character wears. Just for fun, here’s a pic of the hearing aids I wear now (right down to the same color I have):

    (From Google Images. Credit probably goes to Unitron. Thanks for making the hearing aids I wear, guys. 🙂 )

  • Hearing aids have batteries that need to be changed. This is something you don’t really think about. I know I sure didn’t before I got hearing aids. But hearing aids DO take batteries, just like other electronics do. Now, they’re special kinds of batteries, so you can’t just slap in any ol’ double A’s, mind you. They’re small button batteries made specifically for hearing aids, and there are different kinds of hearing aid batteries that fit different hearing aids. Hearing aid batteries are sold at stores like Wal-Mart, so as long as you get the right kind, store brands will work. In my experience, with the kinds of batteries I use, they last about a week or a little longer before they die and need replaced. You know the batteries are dying, because your hearing aid will beep twice in your ear. If not changed, it’ll beep twice a few minutes later to warn you again, then after that, it’ll usually die. How do you put batteries into hearing aids, you might be wondering? With BTEs, there is a compartment that you pull open, put the battery in, then close it again. Here’s an example of what that looks like when it’s open:

    (Image taken from Google Images. Credit goes to rightful owner – again, probably Unitron.)

    That little circular area is pulled out. Plop the battery in, then push it closed, and voila. You’re done.

  • Not all hearing aids have manual volume control and on/off settings. This seems to be very popular in the movies. Hearing impaired character is frustrated with what another character is saying, so they cheekily turn off their hearing aids or turn them down, and now they can’t hear a single thing their friend/coworker/sibling/etc. is saying. (A good example of this is in Spy Kids 4: All The Time In The World). There are several things wrong with this scenario. First, not all hearing aids even have the aforementioned features. I have worn two sets of hearing aids thus far. The first set had no volume control whatsoever. The ones I wear now do have buttons on each that I can use to turn them louder or softer, but it depends on the type of hearing aid. In the same vein, I have never come across any hearing aids that have manual on/off switches. Both sets of hearing aids I have had always turn on when you push the battery compartment in (you pull it out to turn them off) and put it in your ear. I can’t just reach up and push a button and they’re turned off. It doesn’t work that way. One last faux pas of that stereotypical movie situation is that it’s a bit unrealistic to have the character turn off their hearing aids and not be able to hear anything. It is possible, but it depends on how severe of a hearing loss your character has. I have mild to moderate hearing loss, so if I take out my hearing aids or have them turned down, I will still hear people (not as well, but I’ll still hear them). However, someone with severe hearing loss might hear little to nothing if they take out their hearing aids. Consider the severity of your character’s hearing loss before you go and make the joke of them taking out their hearing aids so they can’t hear their comrades.
  • Your ear gets used to hearing aids. They feel really weird at first, and your ear is like, “THIS IS SOMETHING FOREIGN. GET IT OUT.”, but it won’t always be that way. After a little while, your ear realizes that it’s here to stay, and you get used to it. After wearing hearing aids for nearly three years, I don’t really even feel them anymore – sometimes I forget I even have them in!
  • Hearing aids cannot help a hearing impaired person hear perfectly. I think some people see it as, “Well, you have hearing aids, so you can hear normally now”. Actually, no, I can’t. Hearing aids help a person hear better than they would without them, but they can’t make a hearing impaired person hear as well as non-hearing impaired people can. I wear my hearing aids every day, but even with them in, I still mishear or don’t hear things. I still need to ask people to repeat things. I still have all the problems my hearing loss brings, just a little less often than without them in.
  • There are two main types of hearing loss: sensorineural and conductive. Sensorineural is when your hearing loss is caused by the nerves in your ear. For one reason or another, they aren’t processing sounds correctly. People with sensorineural hearing loss often struggle with headaches, dizziness, and feeling off-balanced. They also tend to endure a lot of tinnitus (a persistent ringing sound in the ears). Conductive is when the outer or middle ear is the cause of hearing loss. It has nothing to do with your nerves. Many sites describe it as a “mechanical” problem, because it has something to with one of the ear’s parts not doing its work (for example, the eardrum not vibrating correctly, or the three little bones called the ossicles not transferring sound like they should). I have a mix of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, ’cause I’m just that lucky. When conductive and sensorineural hearing losses are present together, it is referred to as a third type of hearing loss: mixed hearing loss.
  • People with hearing loss can have trouble hearing either high or low frequencies. I was talking to someone about my hearing loss a little while ago, and they assumed that hearing impaired people only can’t hear low sounds. They were very surprised to learn that people can have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds too. Mine is a low-frequency hearing loss, so I have trouble hearing soft, deep sounds. I have a hard time hearing my dad, because he happens to have a deeper, very quiet voice. However, those with high-frequency hearing loss might not be able to hear, say, a woman’s voice as well. The sounds you want your character to hear (or to miss) will depend on what frequencies they can hear.
  • Hearing loss can be present at birth, but not realized until later in life. Take me, for example. My hearing loss has been with me since the day I was born, but I didn’t know that I even had a hearing impairment until three days before I turned thirteen (I’m sixteen as of the time of writing this). If you want your character to know about their hearing loss and be wearing hearing aids from a young age, by all means, go for it! Just know that it is perfectly plausible to say that they’ve had it their whole life and haven’t found out about it until the time of the events in your book.
  • If hearing loss has been present from birth and a character gets hearing aids later on in life, they will hear new sounds you take for granted. You know how when your wear jeans, there’s a little swish swish sound as the fabric rubs together when you walk? How about when you hear the whirrr of the refrigerator running? And your computer’s fan makes a whoosh noise as it keeps the electronics at a proper temperature? Imagine hearing none of that. Not a single one of those sounds. I mean, you don’t pay much attention to those sounds now, right? They’re just there, in the background of your daily routine. But when you haven’t heard those sounds your whole life, you definitely notice them when you get hearing aids and you suddenly do hear them! As I walked out of the audiologist’s with my new hearing aids, I said something really intelligent like, “Whoa, Mom, my pants are making noises!” She never even thought twice about hearing jean fabric rubbing together, but to me it was an astonishing new revelation because I had never heard it before. Another person with LVAS told me that for the first time, she heard herself walking! So, if you happen to make your character get hearing aids during the course of your book (or if they have just recently gotten them when your novel begins), show that transition between not hearing and hearing by making a few remarks about the commonplace sounds he/she is now hearing.
  • Sounds are very loud when you first wear hearing aids. I remember driving home from the audiologist’s, and even just a potato chip bag crinkling was really loud! Hearing aids are essentially amplifiers of sounds, so at first every single little noise seems deafening (that’s a bit of an exaggeration). Again, that’s something that the hearing aid wearer will get used to after a few days, and things won’t sound as loud anymore.

You might be wondering, after all those facts, how do you effectively write the experience of being hearing impaired? You’ll never get it perfect if you’re not hard of hearing yourself, but you can still make it believable if you try your hardest to understand what it’s like. I have a few last tips on writing the atmosphere of being hearing impaired.

Making sure your character’s hearing impairment is prominent in their lives doesn’t mean you need to make it the topic of every paragraph. Subtle comments about putting their hearing aids in or them not hearing things is communicative enough to your readers without forcing the fact into their faces. Also, I’ve found that there are two ways that I don’t hear people: I either completely don’t hear them, or I hear their voices, and not their words. The former is your typical, run-of-the-mill “I didn’t hear them say anything at all”. It could be that someone said my name, and I’m not aware that they spoke at all. The latter is a bit different. That’s when I hear someone talking, but they’re too far away, too quiet, etc., and I can’t make out what they’re saying. It’s really hard to explain, but I hear their voice and certain sounds, but I can’t figure out the words. LIke, if someone might say, “I was once in the army”, I might only pick up the “s” sound, something that sounds like “unce”, and “are-ee” (“army” without the “m”). Based on the context of our conversation and the sounds I pick up, I might be able to roughly figure out what the person was saying. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t. It depends. I’ll briefly rehash what I mentioned above: what sounds your character can or can’t hear will depend on the severity of their hearing impairment and whether they have high or low frequency hearing loss (for example, if you want them to mishear their best friend who is male a lot, they might need to have low-frequency hearing loss). And one last thing: the character’s personality will determine how they react to having to ask people to repeat themselves. Asking for repetition is inevitable in a hearing impaired person’s life, but not everyone is willing to do it. I will ask as many times as I can, but after six or seven times, I might just act like I heard it, even if I didn’t. Some people won’t even ask someone to repeat themselves once. It all depends how forward your character is.

Finally, since I dumped a LOT of info on you today, here is a brief, simplified list of factors that might change certain facts I have given here.

  • The condition which instigates hearing loss (Born with it? Concussion? Something else? Find out the facts)
  • Severity of hearing loss
  • High or low frequency hearing loss
  • Type of hearing aid
  • Kind of hearing loss: sensorineural or conductive
  • The disease/syndrome/affliction that is at the source of hearing loss (LVAS like me? Another kind? Find out the symptoms and facts that are unique to each kind)

Now that you know the facts, go get started!

It’s your turn! Do you have any hearing impaired characters? What else do you want to know about hearing aids and having hearing loss? Do tell!

10 Book Series You Need To Read

(Note: I usually post on Mondays and Thursdays, but seeing as my birthday is Thursday – tomorrow – you get the post originally scheduled for that day a day early. Go ahead. Celebrate.) 

(Book shelf image taken from Google Images. Credit to rightful owner.)

(Book shelf image taken from Google Images. Credit to rightful owner.)

I’m all for single-book novels, but trilogies and series are where my heart lies (as long as the story can be reasonably stretched among more than one book without being totally horrible). I don’t know what it is about series, but I love being able to track the story through several books as I watch the characters develop and mature. I’ll read a one-book novel in a heartbeat if I love it, and I have nothing against books written that way, but it delights me if I find that the book I like continues on into a collection. It’s like the sun becomes brighter, the air grows fresher, and little woodland animals scamper up to congratulate me on another great find like I’m in a Disney movie or something. But that’s just me. 😉

I’ve gathered a list of 10 book series that you really need to read. They’re in no specific order, and there are some great series I couldn’t fit in, but nonetheless, I think this a pretty good, fairly varied list of awesome series that I would love to share with you guys.

Let’s do this thing.

  1. Percy Jackson and the Olympians I will never stop singing the praises of this book series. Seriously. Never. It’s got everything – it’s humorous, well-written, and has amazing characters. Also, the last book, “The Last Olympian” is like, the best last book ever. It doesn’t fall into the normal pitfalls of rushing to get to the end, and Rick Riordan masterfully writes a final battle that lives up to the expectations he had previously set for his audience. The concept is one of my favorites – bringing Ancient Greek mythology to a modern audience. I know quite a bit about the Greek myths, and pretty much everything I know I learned from Percy Jackson. The series is extremely creative, inventive, and hilarious. I better stop, or you’ll be here all day. Read it. Just do it.
  2. The Ascendance TrilogyThere are very special instances in which I read a book and immediately fall head over heels for it. I didn’t know when I picked up The False Prince that this would be one of those times, but alas, it was meant to be. Four orphan boys are chosen by a shady nobleman to train in the way of nobility. Why? Because one will be chosen to impersonate the long-lost prince, Jaron, and will take the throne of Carthya. Tricks. Treachery. Secrets. That’s what this book is made up of, and it’s awesome. Just like Percy Jackson, I love the concept. The main character, Sage, is the epitome of snark and sass. He’s amazing, trust me. The book kept me on the edge of my seat, and it also kept me surprised. All in all, love the series.
  3. Ranger’s Apprentice Not a lot of authors can pull off writing a 10-book series. For most, it would become stretched out, tedious, and boring. Not John Flanagan. This Australian author creates a fascinating, believable mythical world and intriguing characters (Will had my heart from the very beginning). Scrawny Will is chosen to be the apprentice of a stern Ranger, one of the mysterious cloaked men that are said to use magic to disappear into the woods. The books are amazing, the characters are amazing, the plot is amazing. I just love everything about this series. It’s one of the forefront things that inspired me to get into archery, and I quote this line all the time: “An ordinary archer practices until he gets it right. A Ranger practices until he never gets it wrong”.
  4. Conspiracy 365                                                                                                                               Ah, another Aussie series that I love. Conspiracy 365 is the perfect concoction of a crime novel, a mystery series, and a treasure hunt all thrown together. It’s beautiful. Really. The plot can be kind of hard to explain, and I’ve already tried my best in a previous blog to do so, so I’ll just say this: the series is about a fifteen-year-old boy who has been accused of the attempted murder of his uncle and little sister (which he didn’t do). Now, he’s on the run from the authorities while simultaneously trying to figure out the secret behind his father’s mysterious death. No person I actually know reads these books, but they’re so deserving of their own fanbase. Try them out and then cry over them with me.
  5. The Homelanders Charlie is a normal high-schooler with a normal life – at least, that’s the last thing he remembers. He woke up strapped down in a room that was obviously designed with torture in mind, and he can’t remember the past year of his life. The last thing he remembers is a fairly normal day at school. But something must not have been normal about it, because once Charlie escapes his captors, he finds that he is hailed as an escaped convict charged with the murder of his best friend. He would never do such a thing! But…did he? The Homelanders series is a fast-paced thriller that I have come to like a lot. It’s got a lot of mystery and action, and it’s a good read!
  6. The Reckoners                                                       I’m not a big fan of dystopian novels. I think it’s because it’s really all been done before. Oppressive government, special rebel (usually strong-willed plain girl), inspirational stuff that spurs people into an uprising. It just seems to be cut from the exact same cloth, and I don’t like that. However, The Reckoners turns dystopian fiction as we know it on its head. Super-powered villains have ravaged the country of North America, building gangs, conquering cities, and killing whomever they please. Small cells of people called “Reckoners” knock off lower-class Epics (as the super-villains are dubbed) where they can, hoping to make a difference. But David, an eighteen-year-old citizen of what used to be Chicago, wants more. Steelheart, the supposedly invincible Epic who rules his home of Newcago, killed his father. And David wants to join the Reckoners for one reason – revenge. Although the final book in the trilogy, Calamity, has not yet been published, I already adore the Reckoners series. It puts a new spin on the tired dystopian genre, and it’s so well written. David is a really funny, likable main character that is easy to root for. The whole Newcago cell of Reckoners is comprised of a very memorable cast of characters that I’m so fond of. The super-villains (and their superpowers) are amazingly original and creative. I’m so glad a classmate recommended Steelheart, because I found a series I’ll love forever.
  7. Harry Potter  *dons wizarding robes* I’m a proud Slytherin, and an even prouder fan of the Harry Potter series. It’s a fantasy series that is known worldwide, and rightly so. It’s absolutely incredible. Relatable characters, magic, and pretty much everything else in these books is what makes them so wonderful. I love them with all of my heart, and if you don’t yet, you totally should. And if you should happen to claim they’re stupid and not worth reading, then PFFFT. Muggle.
  8. Lord of the Rings “This is an obvious choice,” you complain. Sure, this might be an obvious book series that people should know to read, but do you know how many people I have met that complain about it being long and boring? Like, no. Just – no. Reading The Lord of the Rings is an ordeal, I will give you that. It is very long, and by the time you finish, you feel like you’ve hiked to Mount Doom and back. But it’s worth it. Oh, is it ever worth it. Everything you could ever wish for in a book is in these series. Action, adventure, a fantasically detailed world, memorable characters, peril, humor, mythical beings: it’s all here. J.R.R. Tolkien is a genius, as I have said before, and his books are definitely classics. Man up and go read them, no matter how long they seem.
  9. The Amazing Tales of Max and Liz / Epic Order of the Seven 

    (I couldn’t find a picture of the books so you’ll have to deal with this Order of the Seven seal)

    Animals. History. The Bible. Some of my favorite things, and I didn’t think it was possible, but Jenny L. Cote combined them all in her two series, The Amazing Tales of Max and Liz and Epic Order of the Seven. (The former is sort of a prequel series, but it directly connects to Epic Order of the Seven and was published before the latter was, so I’m including the two as one series). The “Epic Order of the Seven” is a group of seven animals that have been appointed to help historical events take place throughout time. For example, in one mission they had to make sure that the books of the New Testament were written and kept safe. In another, they kept baby Jesus and his family safe. In yet another, they helped Handel to write his famous “Messiah”. I absolutely love this series. It’s still in the process of being written, but there are currently six books out and about – plenty for you to get started on. It’s so interesting to see historical events take place through the eyes of two cats, two dogs, and a mouse as they leave their marks (er – pawprints?) on history. Every time I read one of Mrs. Cote’s books, I learn something new about history and the Bible. Her humor, insight, and adorable set of characters are just a few of the many things that make her books such a delight to read. You want awesome? Well, then read her books.

  10. The Threshold Series         Prissie Pomeroy lives in the small town of West Edinton, which, apart from the fact that she lives with her five brothers, is pretty uneventful. Then, one day Prissie meets a boy that she’s not supposed to see. When her new friend turns out to be an angel, Prissie is thrown into a battle between good and evil – with help from some old friends (and some new ones), as her faith in God is strengthened. Y’know, I remember picking up The Blue Door in the library. It looked interesting, and I was ready to give it a try. I now love the series so, SO much. The characters, the concept, the lessons – it’s all perfect. I cried when I finished the last book (don’t judge me, it happens to all of us). Also, I have had the pleasure of conversing with Christa Kinde, and she is the nicest thing ever. So, yeah. Go read the Threshold Series too and make your life a little better. If you don’t, well, then you’re missing out.

Whew, that was quite a list! Please remember that these are in no particular order except for the order I thought of them, so number 8 isn’t less than number 1 or anything of that sort. (I just had to go back and see what number 8 even was. Silly me). So, what do you do now? Go read all of these books, of course!

It’s your turn! What are some of your favorite book series? Have you read any of the ones I’ve mentioned here? If not, are you planning to? Do tell!

Use It? Or Lose It?: Character Cliches

Hiya! It’s nice to see you again, and welcome to the third installment of the blog series “Use It? Or Lose It?: Cliches”. So far, we’ve talked about narrative cliches and cliched dialogue, and I’ve given some very controversial opinions about both.

But here, here we come to the big one.

Character cliches.

Character Cliches

Did that make you shudder? I shuddered. I may tolerate other sorts of cliches, but I cannot stand character cliches. Maybe it’s because, like I’ve mentioned before, characters are the backbone of a story. They can’t afford to be the exact same every single time. If they are, it’s unrealistic, because no one is exactly the same in real life.

What is a character cliche, you ask? It’s basically a stereotype of a certain kind of person. Instead of trying to explain them, I’ll just give you some examples of the forefront character stereotypes in popular fiction.

  • The really nice, pretty girl who had previously dated the jerky jock and now suddenly likes the main character but still doesn’t stick up for the MC when her jerky jock ex-boyfriend makes fun of him.
  • The blonde cheerleader (also usually dating a jock).
  • The good guy and the bad boy that are part of a really unnecessary love triangle.
  • The special, pretty girl who always insists that she’s not pretty or special.
  • The brooding bad boy with a troubled past.
  • The beautiful girl who’s nice, helps orphaned puppies, is great with the elderly, is class president, is prom/homecoming queen, gets straight A’s, is loved by everyone, gives to those less fortunate, and somehow manages to just be insanely perfect at everything.

I know those aren’t a lot of examples, but they pack a wallop when you come across one. With my other posts, I more or less said “all things in moderation”. Not with character cliches. There is never a time that a cliched character should be used (unless their cliche-ness serves to prove a point in some way).

But does this mean that you can never write another nice, pretty girl? What about rebellious bad boy with the leather jacket? Are their archtypes gone forever? Not necessarily. It’s okay to have a cheerleader character, or a character that finds out they’re special and destined for something great, but just change it up.

For example, I have a character named Kaden. Kaden could fit the “bad boy” description – wears black leather, is quiet, a bit brooding, etc. – but he’s more than what he seems. For starters, he just likes the color black – he’s not trying to make some statement by wearing it. He’s solemn, quiet, and a little brooding because he’s been treated like an animal his whole life (he’s a super-powered mutant, but we won’t get into that). You might think you have him all figured out at first; after all, isn’t he just another rebel? Turns out, he isn’t. He might be slightly stand-offish at first, but once he realizes he’s made a friend, he is unwaveringly loyal. He likes things kept neat, and he’s a little nervous to try new things (mainly new foods). In a scene where the villain tries to talk Kaden into joining his side, and you really think that he’s turned, he rebukes the baddie and quips: “What, you really think I’m the kind of guy to switch sides just like that?” And voila. Kaden is more than just a bad boy. He’s a living, breathing human being that might have a little “bad boy” in him, with the black leather and all, but he has a complex personality that doesn’t fit neatly into a set stereotype.

So, there’s my advice. Go deeper than the surface. Maybe you have a bad boy too. Okay, so that’s established, but what else? Does he melt when he sees baby animals? Does he have a soft spot for helping the elderly? Maybe, despite what people think, he gets good grades in school. Perhaps his dyed hair isn’t a sign a rebellion, but has some sort of sentimental significance to him. Maybe he’s the kind of guy who has tea parties with his little sister. Go past the norm.

Sometimes, character cliches can’t be salvaged and must be cut out, so keep watch for that too. Analyze your characters. Do any seem cliched? If so, take the next steps to figuring out what you should do about that.

That’s all for “Use It? Or Lose It?: Cliches”, though I probably could have thrown a “Plot Cliches” post in here and made it a four-part, but oh well! Thanks for reading, as always, and please stick around for what’s coming next!

What about you? What are some character stereotypes you can’t STAND? Have you found yourself writing any of these cliches? Do you have any characters that on the surface seem stereotyped, but deep down are complex and unique, like Kaden? Do tell!

Use It? Or Lose It?: Dialogue Cliches

Dialogue cliches

Welcome to the second post in my three-part series about writing cliches! Last Thursday, I talked about narrative cliches. Now, we come to what is perhaps my favorite type of cliche ever: dialogue.

Dialogue cliches are the best. I know, I know, as a writer, I’m not supposed to say that, and this whole post is probably going to be controversial, but just hear me out. I love memorable, unique lines as much as the next person. Like, just look at this gem:

PJO

Unconventional dialogue can become well-known and often recitated lines. They can give rise to inside jokes among fans. Words can do a lot of things.

(Artemis Fowl)

Obviously, we want to make our character’s words special. We want someone to read our dialogue and laugh or stop in amazement at the truth we have imparted.

(AOU had the best dialogue - Avengers: Age of Ultron)

(AOU had the best dialogue – Avengers: Age of Ultron)

(Another well-timed and well-written line - Avengers: Age of Ultron)

(Another well-timed and well-written line – Avengers: Age of Ultron)

Since we wish for our character’s dialogue to be deep and meaningful, or witty enough to elicit a laugh, most writers will say to eliminate all dialogue cliches anywhere in your book. But this time, I’m going to let you decide.

Here’s a list of just a few cliched lines that appear in both books and movies. If you want to find out more dialogue cliches, check out this article.

  • “Try me.”
  • *After character wakes from dream/hallucination/etc.* “You were there, and you were there, and you were there!”
  • “I was born ready.”
  • “Well, well, well, look who we have here.”
  • “You’ll never get away with this!” “Watch me.” (Or “I already have”.)
  • “Now…where were we?”
  • “What part of ____ don’t you understand?”
  • *handling some sort of gadget/weapon, or in Flynn Rider’s case, a frying pan* “Whoo! I have got to get me one of these!”
  • “Is this some kind of sick joke?”
  • “How is he?” “He’ll live.”
  • “In English, please.”
  • “It’s called ____ , you should try it sometime.”
  • “No, come in. ____ was just leaving.”
  • “Shut up.” “I didn’t say anything!”
  • “I want your gun and your badge on my desk by tomorrow morning.”
  • “You wouldn’t dare.”
  • “Don’t you die on me!” (Okay, really, why are people still using this one?)
  • “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”
  • “Maybe you should sit down.”
  • “What’s the meaning of this?!”
  • “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
  • “It’s quiet.” “Yeah…a little too quiet.”
  • “I mean, what’s the worst that can happen?” *worse thing happens*
  • “Not so fast!”
  • “If my calculations are correct…”
  • “That’s going to hurt in the morning.” OR “That’s going to leave a mark.”
  • “No, that’s what they want us to think.”
  • “You’re either brave…or very stupid.” (Stupidly brave, maybe?)
  • “This just gets better and better.”
  • “Over my dead body!” “That can be arranged.”
  • “____ is my middle name.”

Whew, I think you get the idea, and that’s just a tiny fraction of the many lines of dialogue out there that are considered cliched and overused. So, what do we do? Do we take out a machine gun and go eliminate every single trace of a cliche in our dialogues?

Like I mentioned in my last post, cliches are usually used for a reason – because they’re comfortable and familiar. Here’s my take on it. We, as writers, are supposed to explore the unfamiliar. We do things that people haven’t done before. We go where no one else dares. Our job isn’t to stick to what’s familiar. If we did that, then we’d be boring and pretty ordinary. That said, we all have the capability of writing witty, profound, and interesting dialogue. It’s not easy, but we can do it. Focus on your dialogue. Make it natural, and make it real, but don’t be afraid to spend time making a sentence sound just right.

All that begs the question: should cliched pieces of dialogue be thrown away and never used again? Not necessarily. Write fresh dialogue, but if you throw in a few cliched lines like “This couldn’t get any worse” or “____ is my middle name”, I don’t think it hurts. Like I said last time, all things in moderation. Find your balance. Sometimes you just need a so-called cliche because it fits the scene/situation the best.

Work on your dialogue, and maybe you can get as fresh and unique as Lab Rats.

Maybe.

Okay, it’s your turn! What dialogue cliches in movies, books, and TV shows really bother you? Which ones are you fond of? What’s your rule for including cliched dialogue in your writing? Do tell!