My Blog’s Getting a FACELIFT?!

Hello there, all my beautiful blog followers!

I know, I know, I’ve been absent.

For like, a year.

Life has been happening (I have a niece now, guys!!!) and I’ve gotten distracted by – well, everything. What I’m saying is, I haven’t been fair to this blog and to its readers. And I regret that. I realize now that from the outset, my blog’s purpose has been way too narrow. Don’t get me wrong, writing is my life, but I have other passions that I’ve been searching for outlets for, all the while forgetting that this blog is a great outlet for all of the topics that I’m interested in. By making it solely a writing blog, I had limited my ideas for posts and my ability to create weekly content.

But no more.

I’ve decided to broaden Bookends to include not only my writing thoughts, but also just life stuff (did I mention my adorable niece already?) and the others things I am passionate about, like pop culture and hearing loss awareness.

What helped me come to this conclusion was my wonderful-beyond-words friend Maggie from Maggie’s Musings. She has a great blog that discusses everything from the plights of being a girl geek to the ABC’s of writing. I’ve been impressed with how she’s continued to run weekly posts (while being in college, no less), and she’s encouraged me to revive my blog and keep going.

So, here goes. Bookends will stay Bookends, but with more topics and (hopefully!) more consistency. Within the next week or so, I’ll edit outdated content on the site, like my “About Me” page, and I’ll get a new posting schedule up and running. Any blog post that I have previously published will still be available, so feel free to go back and read and share them to your heart’s content.

Buckle up, guys. You’re getting an invitation to join me on this wild ride I call my life.

Let’s go!

Your turn! Check out Maggie’s blog and give her a follow, then come back here and tell me your thoughts on my new direction for the blog! 

 

 

 

Dear Hearing World…

Dear hearing world,

Please be patient with me.

Be patient when I ask you to repeat yourself.

Be patient when I lose track of the conversation because I can’t hear all of it.

Be patient when everyone’s laughing at a joke and I look confused because I didn’t hear what was said.

Be patient when I give a response that doesn’t fit what you said because I misheard you.

Be patient when you’re waiting for me to answer and I’m not aware that you said anything.

I want to hear you. I really do. I want to be a part of the conversation, of the jokes. I want to not feel foolish when I ask you to repeat yourself and it turns out that you were just yawning or making a noise (I can never be sure). I want to interact with you.

But I have a hearing loss, and sometimes things are loud. Sometimes crowds are noisy. Sometimes you’re too far away. Sometimes I misread your lips or wrongly piece together the parts I heard.

I know this is a foreign concept for you, because you hear things much better than I ever will. You may mishear or not hear at all every once in a while, but it’s not a daily occurrence. I know you don’t understand, but I ask you to try.

I’m not making it up; I’m not messing with you; I’m not making a joke. I’m not being rude, or ignorant, or dumb. I’m simply someone who goes through life with a hearing loss that can make interacting with others challenging. There are others who have hearing losses much more severe than mine or cannot hear at all. Whatever problems I have communicating with others, I’m sure theirs are tenfold.

So I ask you, be patient with us.

Don’t explain away our challenges. Don’t try to tell us that we just need to pay more attention. We’re being truthful when we say we didn’t hear you – saying, “oh, you heard me” won’t change anything.

When we want to find ways to accommodate our hearing loss, we’re not being whiny. We’re looking for ways to ensure that we can do the best we can at our jobs and in our relationships with other people. We want to make sure that we will have the same opportunities that fully-hearing people have. When you repeat yourself five times and can’t understand how we haven’t heard you yet, we’re not trying to be frustrating. In fact, we’re frustrated at ourselves as we attempt to make out what you said.

We just want to be people. People that can live life to the fullest as we experience new things and forge new relationships. We want to overcome the obstacles being hard-of-hearing and deaf create.

We want to hear you.

And if you’re patient, we will.

Sincerely,

A Member Of The Hard-Of-Hearing Community

What Defines Fantasy?

Fantasy is by far my favorite genre. I can get into other books, but I always come back to my first love. And, since I could talk about fantasy for years on end, you get to hear about it today.

What defines fantasy.jpg

First, you need to know that there are certain kinds of fantasy that I separate from normal fantasy. These types are what you would call “high fantasy” or even “epic fantasy”, but I refer to it as “traditional fantasy”, due to the fact that it’s essentially how fantasy used to be done before the genre evolved.

How is a piece of fantasy dubbed as traditional fantasy? I define traditional fantasy as being such using one and only one piece of criteria. Traditional fantasy must, in my personal definition, center on a fully developed world apart from ours. Though it may be hard to believe, the presence or absence of magic is not a factor at all. While magic is a fun element of fantasy and is present in most works in this genre, a book can have absolutely no magic anywhere in it and still be a true fantasy story. Jaye L. Knight’s Ilyon Chronicles has nary a trace of magic threading through its world, but the important thing is that it’s a fantasy book (and an AMAZING one at that) because it does have that world.

Okay, so traditional fantasy always has a well-thought-out fictional world. But I also divide it into two types of traditional fantasy. I know, things are just getting all crazy, right?

Traditional fantasy type #1: The purest type of fantasy is that in which our world is nonexistent. One of the possibilites for traditional fantasy is that you are immersed completely in a fictional world with no acknowledgement of our own. The characters know nothing of our world, and by all means, it doesn’t exist. You’re in another land, and that’s where you stay, learning the cultures, customs, and general life of its people. You can find this sort of fantasy in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, as well as Jessica Day George’s Dragon Slippers, Jaye L. Knight’s Ilyon Chronicles, Jennifer Nielsen’s The Ascendance Trilogy, and John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice*.

*Some may debate whether Ranger’s Apprentice is even traditional fantasy, since it’s been hinted at that the story may actually be set in a medieval Europe. However, since it operates very much under the fantasy umbrella and it has never been determined that the lands in the book are real, I’m going to count it as such.

Traditional fantasy type #2: This second subgenre of traditional fantasy still meets the criteria of having a developed fictional world. However, this world is featured alongside our own as people from our neck of the woods somehow journey to another place. The new world is still as unique and different as in the first type; it’s just that our world is acknowledged and recognized. Additionally, we learn the rules and customs of this different land through the eyes of the people from our world that go there. This is demonstrated in C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia and Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper’s The Berinfell Prophecies. (I would put more examples of this type of fantasy story, but I’ve discovered that I must read more of the first type than the second, so I don’t have many others).

To summarize, books that contain a central, well-developed world apart from ours are called traditional fantasy. Traditional fantasy can either occur solely within a different world or can center on humans from Earth that are transported to a different world.

What do you think of traditional fantasy and its two subgenres? Which do you like to read most? What are some other books that fit this description? Do tell! 

5 Myths about Writers

Writers are a mysterious group. If you’re not one, you’ll likely never understand what goes on inside their minds. Therefore, a lot of myths and misconceptions have sprung up about writers and how they work. I’m here to clear the air once and for all (or at least until you have more questions about us). It’s time to reshape how you think about writers.

5 myths

Myth #1: All writers are introverts

I’m not sure how this myth came about. The only thing I can figure is that people looked at writers, wondered why they wanted a profession where they worked solely with imagination and words, and then automatically assumed it’s because they didn’t want the company of people. That’s far from the truth. While I’m sure there are many writers that are introverts, it is not a job qualification. I, for one, am much more extroverted than I am introverted, and I love writing.

Writers definitely need alone time with no distractions to focus on writing, but that doesn’t make them introverts. It just means that we understand the value of sitting down where we can get a lot of work done without being interrupted.

John Green once said that writing is a “profession for introverts”, and I couldn’t disagree more. While it may not be the right career for someone who wants to constantly be interacting with people, extroverts can do it just as well as introverts can.

Myth #2: Writers are out of touch with reality

You don’t realize how frustrating this misconception is.

Yes, writers have vast imaginations and fictional worlds that we love. Yes, sometimes we wish those worlds and characters would be real, and we often treat them as if they are.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t understand what’s a part of reality and what isn’t.

Writers don’t think the same way you do. We know all about reality, but there’s an element of our minds that will never stop at “this is real”. We push further to “what if this was real”. We know that this-and-that can’t happen, but we want to know the ramifications if it did. Plus, we love our characters and wish they were real, so why not have some fun and pretend that they are?

Don’t act like writers have something wrong with them just because they see things differently than you.

Myth #3: Writers daydream all the time and are therefore oblivious to things around them

Writers are some of the most observant people you will ever meet. We’re people-watchers by trade. We take in everything around us with a great curiosity and notice small details that others might miss.

Sure, we get lost in the occasional daydream or two, but you’ll find that more often than not, we’re listening to things around us. We’re observing and mentally taking notes for the future (who knows, this situations may come up in a book further on down the road). We’re rarely completely unaware of our surroundings.

Myth #4: Writers don’t like to talk about their writing

This myth is a tricky one, because sometimes it’s actually true. In full disclosure, some writers don’t like to talk about their writing.

However, I am willingly to state that the majority of writers, if you really care about what they have to say and they can sense that, will gladly tell you all about their writing. After all, contrary to popular belief, we’re not total recluses.

I am a little wary of telling people about what I’m write because I’m worried that my carefully crafted plot will come out sounding totally ridiculous when the words leave my mouth, but if someone genuinely wants to hear about it, I get excited! After all, my only wish is for others to love the characters and worlds that I have created as much as I do. If someone wants to hear about it, then I want to tell them about it. Additionally, when I get a new plot or character idea, everyone hears about it. And by everyone, I mean everyone. Or at least the people in my general vicinity at the time.

Some don’t like to talk about their writing to people who aren’t fellow writers. While I don’t always understand it, I respect that. Just genuinely show interest, and if the writer in your life jumps at the chance to tell you about the latest development with their protagonist, listen. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Myth #5: Required writing automatically makes you a writer

In my opinion, there are two main things that make someone a writer – a soaring imagination and an intense love for storytelling. While non-writers can most certainly possess imagination and enjoy stories, there is a way that these two traits combine in writers that is unique and special.

Writers, very simply put, like writing. They want to do it. A lot.

A pet peeve of mine is when other people with no love of writing (in the creative sense or with journalism) call themselves writers. You are not a writer just because you have written essays or any other sort of mandatory project. You are a writer when you like to write and you pursue it with a burning passion outside of obligatory assignments.

The difference between being a writer and being someone who writes is vast. Can you write well? Perhaps. I am in no way saying that you can’t. But what you can’t do is call yourself a writer when you do not like the profession and do not wish to pursue it. You have no authority in which to say things and then call them definite because “I’m a writer”.

Why do I care so much about whether people say they’re writers or not?

Because I feel it devalues the group of people who have the skills and passion necessary to be defined as writers. It implies that their vocation is so easy that it can done by anyone who has ever put pen to paper. It suggests that writing takes no special talent and skill, which is absolutely false. I can say that I’m a singer because like to belt Adele’s “Hello” at the top of my lungs when no one is home, but that doesn’t make me a singer, because although I do have a love for singing and music, I do not have the talent and skills to sing for a living, and I am not pursuing that career.

Long story short: not everyone is a writer. Don’t say you are when you’re not, or your writer friends will be annoyed with you.

Writers are very misunderstood beings! Do you have any other myths about writers to debunk? Which myths bother you the most, and have you encountered any of these 5 myths firsthand? Do tell! 

An Open Letter to 2015

An Open letter to 2015.jpg

Dear 2015,

Wow, were you a roller coaster of a year.

You were the year that I turned 16. The year that I started my junior year of high school. The year that I started this blog. The year I got my first job.

I was able to fulfill a dream of mine by visiting Ford’s Theatre, and I stood in the doorway to the balcony where President Lincoln was shot. I got newer, hi-tech hearing aids that can do some pretty cool things (like act as a substitute for wearing earphones). I attended Washington, D.C.’s Cherry Blossom Festival, and I saw a Star Wars movie in theaters for the first time.

2015, you brought a plethora of emotions.

There were times I laughed so hard I thought I couldn’t stop. There were also times where I cried so hard I thought I couldn’t stop. I did stop, eventually.

There were good times and challenging times. Sometimes happiness and sadness were felt at the same time.

A lot of things happened in 2015. Both the good and the bad are contributing to who I am as a person, so I won’t throw you away, but I am excited for what the new year will bring.

You were only one year among many, 2015. Your events won’t set the tone for the rest of my life, but man, they sure were a doozy.

Thanks for an interesting year, 2015.

Sincerely,

Someone Living In 2016

 

 

 

The Ultimate Christmas Playlist: 25 Holiday Songs To Get You Through The Season

Christmas is three days away, and that means that the socially acceptable time period to listen to Christmas music is rapidly dwindling away. I’m here to help you make the most of the time you have left to unashamedly and unabashedly blast Christmas carols from every corner of the house. So I present to you a list of 25 songs to listen to before the holiday season ends, complete with my favorite versions of said songs. Whether you like mellow classics or jubilant new releases, you’re sure to find something here that suits your fancy. Just click on the blue highlighted song/artist names, and you’ll be taken directly to Youtube to listen. Grab some hot chocolate, sit by the Christmas tree, and unapologetically play these holiday songs ’til the season ends.

25 Holiday songs

  1. The First Noel by Tobymac ft. Owl City – This song is great as a classic, but Tobymac’s hip-hop style and Adam Young’s techno vocals just knock this remix out of the park. It’s a bit unconventional, what with Toby’s rapping and all, but the charm is unavoidable.
  2. I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day by Casting Crowns  – You say “Christmas”, and I hear this song. It’s just always been something I love hearing around Christmastime, and the song itself is beautiful. I’ve never listened to anyone sing this, and I probably never will.
  3. Little Drummer Boy by Pentatonix – Not only is Pentatonix an a cappella group, which is awesome, but their arrangement utilizes all of their unique voices and talents while still maintaining the original integrity of the song. It’s not too far from the original song, but yet it’s still modernized, in a way.
  4. O Holy Night by Danny Gokey – Danny Gokey’s voice is easily distinguishable due to its sound and texture, and it’s so pretty. I’m excited to have discovered his music, and his version of O Holy Night is pretty much flawless.
  5. Jesus, Savior by Chris August – Another recognizable voice and sound, Chris August’s original song Jesus, Savior is bouncy, catchy, and super fun to sing when you’re home alone…or when you’re out in public…any time, really.
  6. How Many Kings by Downhere – This is one of my most favorite Christmas songs. Both the music and the message are powerful, and may I add, the harmonies in the chorus are wonderful. I can’t even put into words all that I love about this song.
  7. Jesus Is Alive by Josh Wilson – Josh Wilson happily proclaiming that “Jesus is alive” gets me into such a joyful mood. He IS alive! Sing it out proudly! Go tell everyone you know!
  8. Mary, Did You Know? by Pentatonix – You’ll find that Pentatonix steals several spots on this list. They’re so talented (they won “The Sing-Off” for a reason, after all). I just really like how they orchestrate this arrangement. Also Mitch’s sweeping vocals.
  9. Just A Girl by Brandon Heath – We don’t really think much about the innkeepers of Bethlehem, but Brandon Heath decides to take a journey back in time to see what it might have been like to be the person who turned away the mother of the son of God that holy night in Israel. The song has a nice pace, and Brandon’s vocals are perfect for it.
  10. You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch by Boris Karloff – This song is everything: fun to sing, fun to listen to, and fun as you try to achieve the impossible feat of getting your voice deep enough to match Karloff’s. A Christmas classic? Definitely.
  11. O Come O Come Emmanuel by Casting Crowns, Jeremy Camp, and Aaron Shust – I actually have three favorite versions of this song! I’ve always loved this song, and it’s one of the few that I won’t allow to be extremely altered. Jeremy Camp and Aaron Shust do speed the song up a little, but they both do so well that I overlook that. Additionally, I adore the verses in Latin at the beginning of Shust’s version. However, the instrumental version from Casting Crowns might possible be my favorite ever. The violin adds such a beautiful, dramatic effect to the overall song and story.
  12. Linus and Lucy by Vince Guaraldi  – You may not know the artist at first, but take a listen and you’ll immediately recognize the iconic piano song from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. Can it get any more Christmas than this?
  13. Our Lullaby by MercyMe – The band themselves described this song as a “weird mix of Elvis and Beach Boys”, but I think the sweet, soulful melody is perfect just the way it is. It does have sort of an older feel to it, but that makes it even better.
  14. O Come All Ye Faithful by Third Day and Casting Crowns – It’s sort of amusing that my two favorite versions of this song are complete opposites. Third Day ops for an electric guitar, quickened, rock approach, while Casting Crowns sticks with an acousic guitar and a slower pace. Regardless of their differences, I love both.
  15. Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives – Bouncy and best sung by Burl Ives, nothing can make this Christmas classic any better than it already is.
  16. Baby Boy by For KING & COUNTRY – For KING & COUNTRY achieve the most gorgeous harmonies, and there’s no short of those in this song. It’s got a great sound, amazing voices, and well-written lyrics. I may or may not play this over and over because I love it so much.
  17. Sleigh Ride by Amy Grant – I’ve always loved this version the best, but I only found out yesterday that Amy Grant is the one who sings it. I feel she does it really well, and hearing this version makes me feel all Christmassy.
  18. Deck The Halls by Tenth Avenue North – Tenth Avenue North is my favorite band, and for good reasons, too. They’re not only insanely talented, but they have a great sense of humor. If you do anything today, watch their video of Deck The Halls. It’s ridiculous and hilarious and I promise you won’t regret it.
  19. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer by Burl Ives – Anyone can tell you that I’m obsessed with Rudolph. I love the movie, and I love this song. Of course, it’s only acceptable if Burl Ives is singing it.
  20. We Three Kings by Tenth Avenue North ft. Britt Nicole –  This song doesn’t seem to be as popular as some others at Christmastime, but Tenth Avenue gives it new life with help from Britt Nicole.
  21. Put One Foot In Front Of The Other by Mickey Rooney and Keenan Wynn – From the Christmas classic movie “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”, this is a potentially overlooked song, but it’s my favorite! I’m so happy when this song comes up in the movie, and I almost always sing along to it. It promotes goodness and kindness, and it’s so. Catchy.
  22. God Is With Us by Casting Crowns – I have memories of driving home from church on Christmas Eve with this playing, and it’s such a beautiful song. It gives me a special feeling that I just can’t explain.
  23. Carol Of The Bells by Pentatonix – And here Pentatonix makes one last appearance. This song is so fun to begin, but Pentatonix gives it a great new sound. Mitch also gets most of the solos, which makes my heart happy. Is there any Pentatonix song that isn’t completely awesome?
  24. God With Us by Jeremy Camp – Not to be confused with Casting Crown’s song of a similar name, Jeremy Camp’s original song rocks the acoustic sound as well as a good tune. It definitely has a cabin-campfire-snow feeling to it, if that makes any sense.
  25. Camoflauge and Christmas Lights by Reed Robertson – The eldest son of one of the stars on the hit show Duck Dynasty, Reed Robertson has such a beautiful voice that I fell in love with at first listen. His solo song on the Christmas album recognizes the sacrifices our military go through during the holidays. I love this version because of his amazing voice and his alteration of a few lyrics in order to make it clean. Although Reed does not yet have a CD out yet (and I am unsure if he is planning to), I am ready to buy one the moment he does.

I think you’re all set to get to some holiday listening! So, what are you waiting for? Merry Christmas, and have a Happy New Year!

It’s your turn! What are some of your favorite Christmas songs and your favorite versions? Do tell!

What Writers Can Learn From Girl Meets World

If you’re not familiar with the TV show Girl Meets World, then first off, you need to go and watch it. It’s a sequel series to the 90’s show Boy Meets World, which followed 12-year-old Cory Matthews from elementary school to high school to college as he tried to navigate all of life’s numerous challenges. Girl Meets World takes a very similar direction; it centers on Cory and Topanga Matthews and their children, Riley and Auggie. Riley has to manuever growing up as feelings, friendships, and everything around her grows more and more complicated.

Boy Meets World was a coming-of-age story that encompassed all the many situations we find ourselves in as we go through life. Its succesor follows closely in its footsteps. Here’s what Girl Meets World can teach writers.

What Writers can learn from gmw

Girl Meets World is one of the best family-friendly shows on TV nowadays. It is superbly written with a wonderful cast, and there are so many things I love about it. Let’s try to sort just a few of them out via a bulleted list.

  • Girl Meets World is not afraid to touch on important topics.           The show has discussed bullying, stealing, lying, peer pressure, death, an absent parent, Asperger’s Syndrome, forgiveness, and faith in God, and the second season isn’t even over yet! Girl Meets World handles each topic with respect and understanding, while still addressing it fully. It never gives shallow lessons as other shows are prone to doing, but rather goes deep into the topic and the situations surroinding it. Writers, learn the art of skillfully discussing difficult topics – after all, part of our job is to shed light on serious issues facing our world.
  • The show does not always have complete, satisfying endings.         Girl Meets World, like its predecessor, understands the painful truth that not everything in life is resolved quickly and neatly. It’s simply not realistic. At the end of the day, every plot point in our lives won’t be tidily wrapped up and set away. The show recognizes that, and sometimes it gives us loose endings. That’s realistic. We should remember that sometimes, things have to wait for another day to clear up. Sometimes our characters won’t meet their goals. At times, we’ll have to end on a cliffhanger or an incomplete ending. We can wrap things up later, but not everything can be clean-cut and perfect.
  • GMW stresses strong familial relationships.                                           While this isn’t as much of a thing that we can learn, it’s certainly important in this day and age. Don’t always write romances and things when you could be recognizing the importance of family. It deserves some time in the spotlight.

Those are only a few of the things that make Girl Meets World such an example of master storytelling at work. Perhaps I will make a second post with more points, but for now, shouldn’t you go and watch some Girl Meets World? Yeah, me too.

Have you watched either “Boy Meets World” or “Girl Meets World” before? What have you noticed about it that writers could learn from? Do tell!

 

NaNoWriMo: A Reflection

I forgot to do my last NaNoWriMonday, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t look back on what happened in November!

My final word count: 4,006

A lot of people met their word count and I didn’t, but I’m trying not to let that get to me. There’s always next year! Now that NaNoWriMo is done, it’s December and it’s time to ring in the Christmas season. Winter is my second favorite season (the first is fall, in case you were wondering), and the holidays are always so much fun.

Anyway, if you missed the chronicles of my NaNo journey, or if you want to reflect on them for old times’ sake, then here you go:

NaNoWriMonday: Getting Started

NaNoWriMonday: Getting To Know My Characters

NaNoWriMonday: Finding Peace in Unaccomplished Goals

NaNoWriMonday: A Sneak Peek At What I’ve Been Working On

I managed to write 16 pages of “Prisoner” (which is a lot for me!). Now, as life permits, my blog schedule will go back to normal.

For now, let’s talk Christmas!

What’s your favorite Christmas tradition? Do you ever write fun little Christmas scenes with your characters? If so, which characters are doing what?

NaNoWriMonday: A Sneak Peek At What I’ve Been Working On

This time I’m fully aware that it’s Tuesday and not Monday, but I spent most of my day yesterday working on a project for school. I don’t want to leave you without NaNoWriMonday, so you still get it, just a day late!

My word count: 4,000

I have a special treat for our second-to-last NaNoWriMonday! This week, I’ll share an excerpt from what I’ve written so far for NaNo. These are my words, so please, do yourself a favor and don’t steal (unless you’re Swiper the Fox; but even then, don’t do it).

Here is your first, exclusive look at a scene from “Prisoner”:

Jonathan herded him towards an office-like room, away from row upon row of cells. Mason, the head Caretaker, sat at a mahogany desk, seemingly waiting for them. Finn swallowed nervously. Mason was a large man in his forites – tall and strong and quite possibly able to kill someone if he glared at them for too long. Jonathan wasn’t that big of a deal. Even the other Caretakers could be handled. But Mason. He was in charge, and he was the living definition of cruel.

“I heard you got into some trouble, number 814.” That was another thing about Mason. He numbered the prisoners and called them by such. Finn had never heard him call anyone but the other Caretakers by their name.

“I – I’m not certain how that information reached you already-” Jonathan twisted his arm back a little, “sir.” He added.

“You’ve been here long enough, 814. You know I have eyes and ears all over this place.”

Finn wasn’t sure how to answer. Sure, he knew that, but he never paid much attention to the meaning of it. So what if Mason had people that told him everything that went on inside the prison. Finn had never been afraid to speak his mind before, and he wouldn’t start now.

Mason raised an eyebrow. “But tell me, what did you do that you had to be so unceremoniously dragged off courtyard grounds?”

“I gave Joel what he deserved, sir.”

Mason laughed – a deep, abrasive sound – and stood, placing the palms of his hands on his desk and leaning over. “What he deserved? Do you know what you deserve, 814?”

“No, but I’m sure you’re going to tell me.”

The older man scowled and slapped him. “Talk back again, and you’ll get worse.”

Finn’s cheek stung, but it wasn’t like he hadn’t expected the blow. That was the weird thing about him. He knew the consequences as soon as the words formed on his tongue, but he was never able to stop himself. He just rode whatever it was out and waited for the repercussions, determined not to react.

Mason leaned closer. “You, and all of your little friends – you’re the lowest of the low. You deserve to be executed for all that you’ll do. And yet we graciously keep you here, with food to eat and a roof over your heads.”

For all that you’ll do. Finn found it curious that Mason had spoken in future tense, and he had a feeling that it hadn’t been a slip-up. But why, was the question…

“Are you listening?”

Finn refocused. “Yes.”

“Good. You cause more trouble than you’re worth, and I have half a mind to get rid of you and put an end to our headaches.”

If you had a full mind, you would’ve done that a long time ago. Finn just narrowly refrained from blurting out the words, but he still inwardly smiled at his own cleverness.

There you go! I hope you enjoyed the scene, and hopefully it inspired you to write something of your own.

How did you like the scene? Did it catch your interest? Do tell!

Understanding Why Your Characters Act The Way They Do

When you get angry, you’re likely to offer a snappy retort. When you’re in pain, maybe you cry. A friend shunning you can make you afraid to try new friendships. If you’re someone who likes to laugh, you’ll probably joke around with people that are close to you.

Virtually every single thing we do and say has a reason behind it. Whether it’s conscious or subconscious, our actions are influenced by what we experience around us.

If there are reasons behind how we act, why shouldn’t there be reasons for our character’s actions?

In order to appear as real people to the reader, characters must think and operate like real people. Characters should never do something just to do it. There must always be some sort of reason that acts as a driving force for what they do. Sometimes it’ll be something really little, other times it’ll be long and involved. If you don’t have any reason for making your character act a certain way, then it’s usually smart to throw that action into the trash.

For example, let’s say you just want some drama, and so you decide your protagonist gets mad and yells at another character. But why? Are they exhausted in the moment, and so are more prone to snap? Are they under a lot of stress and this was the last straw? Did the other character say something that offended the first or stirred up bad memories? Did the actions of the other character resemble something negative the protagonist has experienced? You have to understand what drove your MC to raise his or her voice, especially if it’s a character that is usually quiet and amiable.

Simply put, you shouldn’t make a character act a certain way just because you want them to.

Your character doesn’t like the woods. Is it because they hate to get dirty, or is it because they’re scared of wild animals? Your character seems afraid to get close to people. Are they that way due to an absent parent or have they been hurt by someone they cared about? Perhaps they’re terrified of the ocean or of swimming. Have they nearly drowned sometime in the past? Have they had a relative or friend that has died or been injured by an ocean creature such as a shark? Maybe they love helping people. Is it because they’ve needed help before? Perhaps their parents instilled a love of serving in them.

A main character that I write was abandoned as a child, and as a result, he’s grown into a very arrogant young man (to compensate for his lack of self-worth). He also tries to put himself in control over as many situations as he can, so he can be the one to leave, to decide that someone else isn’t worth it. Even his flirtatiousness comes from a deep-seated need and desire to feel wanted for once in his life.

I could have just decided that he was flirty and arrogant and that was it (and I probably had done that at the start), but do you see how when there are layers and psychological catalysts behind his behavior, he becomes three-dimensional?

I could go on forever about why understanding your character’s behavior is necessary, but right now you might be asking how you get started. Here are some questions you can ask yourself while trying to determine the reasons behind your character’s actions.

  • Are they acting out of character right now? If so, what would drive them to act so different? (Be careful, though. When a character acts out of line, it’s more often than not a bad thing.)
  • What is the mental effect this scene is having on my character? Is it positive, negative?
  • If I were acting like this, it’d probably be because…
  • If I were in this situation, I would do/feel… (Remember, your character won’t always do what you would do, but thinking about the reasons for your behavior can be a good start to contemplating theirs)
  • What past experiences could possibly influence my character’s feelings/decisions in this situation? Why?
  • Does this scene bring up any memories for my character? Are they bad or good?

Today, take some time to understand why your characters are acting the way they do – and give them viable reasons for responding in their unique ways.

Now it’s your turn! What steps do you take to understand your characters’ actions? Have you ever had to alter a scene to properly be a catalyst for what you wanted a character to do? Any other thoughts? Do tell!