Top Social Artist: The 2017 BBMAs!

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Jahn Shi 1/22/17 © (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Recognize these boys? If not, well my friends, let me introduce you to BTS. This male singer/dance group is from Korea, and they are very popular in the world of K-pop. And it just so happens that they were at the BBMAs last night.

BTS was nominated for Top Social Artist in this year’s Billboard Music Awards. Fans were able to vote starting at 9 a.m PST on Monday, May 1st. The group finished with about 300 million votes, absolutely crushing the competition and breaking a world record.

Last night, a little past the halfway point in the awards show, BTS was announced the winner of the group, which had ARMYs (the fanbase) ecstatic. If you listen when the nominees are being listed, BTS has a very impressive volume of fangirl screaming (which my friend and I contributed to from home). It’s very cool that a Korean group was able to compete with and win against Western artists like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, and Shawn Mendez.

The leader of the group, Namjoon (more commonly known as Rap Monster) gave the speech in exceptional English, with all the other band members by his side. “ARMY, our fandom, thank you very much,” he started, beginning the speech by thanking the fans. He was very gracious for the opportunity to go up against Western artists, saying, “And it is so great to see all the artists we admire, and feel honored to be in this category with such great artists.” He continued, dedicating the award to everyone giving the group love, ending the speech by saying, “Please ARMY, remember what we say; love myself, love yourself.”

The boys destroyed it out there, and their hard work has definitely paid off. We love you,  BTS!

High School: Going Against the Grain

Often times, high school is a place where people say they really “found” themselves. One of the biggest pressures in high school is this. You’re told that you need to figure out who you are, because soon, you’re going off to college and studying for the career you hurried to choose. You’ll have to get a job and work and spend the rest of your life in a field of study you were interested in as a teenager. Now, where I go to school, there are a lot of very bright kids who weigh themselves down with AP classes, dreaming of going off to Stanford or Princeton or Harvard. A lot of kids think that by taking as many honors classes as possible and pulling countless all-nighters, they’ll get into their dream college, become scholars or doctors or other high-paying, difficult jobs.

Many times, these goals end up being traced back to the parents. The parents encourage their children to take difficult classes, which results in them becoming unhappy at some time or another. They’re bogged down by homework, tests, and projects, and they’re unable to get the proper amount of sleep or spend a healthy amount of time with family and friends. It becomes all about school, about working hard so that you can go off to college and work even harder. Rarely do I find students who solely decided to pursue such challenging careers (but if you’re one of those people, hey man, do what you love :] ). I have a few friends whose parents want them to go to huge colleges and work hard jobs. Most of them would rather do something different, though.

Personally, I want to go to school to work in the art field. I’d love to become a storyboard writer or character designer. I think that kids shouldn’t have to be forced into a career by their parents. Of course, parents certainly should offer suggestions or help their kids if they’re indecisive, but making a child take on more than they can handle (or want to handle) isn’t right. I’m extremely grateful to have such supportive parents, but I know friends who aren’t as lucky. I want to reach out to anyone having a hard time with these kinds of thing. The best thing to do is try to communicate calmly and peacefully to your parents what you’re feeling. It’s important to stay civil. You’re still family. Just never forget to go after what you love.

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Jason White 3/12/07 © (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I know that it’s hard to find jobs that make people happy these days. To support a family, or even just yourself is difficult, and to do so, you probably won’t be working the ultimate dream job. My hope, though, is that we can get as close to it as possible. Happiness is key in the work place, and without it, life can become dull and dreary. Maybe you won’t get your favorite job right away, either. But you have to remember to never give up on that dream job. Aim high, my friends. It’s not easy. It’s never supposed to be easy. You’ll get there if you keep trying, though, as corny as it sounds. And if it’s really, truly meant to be, God will guide you there himself.

I’m going to keep fighting to get there as hard as I can. Next year, I’m starting to buckle down with some animation classes that will really help solidify my art. I’ll look into regular and art colleges, and decide when I’m old enough just what to do. I encourage you to do the same for your dreams, and keep working towards them. It could very well pay off in the end.

One and a Half Months Left

That’s how long the rest of the school year is. And let me just say, I don’t think I could be happier. Don’t get me wrong, I love to learn. But learning and school can be two very different things at times. Also, who doesn’t love summer break? Like, come on. Don’t lie to me. You know you love it. So, today, with the school year wrapping up, I want to talk about a few things I’d wish I’d known when I started my freshman year.

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Paradox 56 9/16/08 © (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

  1. People Don’t Judge You Nearly as Much: In middle school, there were a lot of things I hid about myself for the simple fear of being judged. Looking back, they were silly things, like the fact that I enjoy Dragon Ball Z (give it a chance I beg of you pretty please we can be fangirls together). I came from a very small private school, and half the grade had known each other since kindergarten. Whenever the smallest thing happened, it could spread through the entire middle school student body in half a week. I had hoped that high school would be a little different, and I got braver as middle school graduation neared, but I never quite got over it until I actually reached high school and experienced being a freshman for a few months. I think I would have been a lot more comfortable knowing that no one’s particularly judgemental. Whether it’s because we’re all too stressed to care, or we’re just more relaxed and open-minded, now, I believe that a lot of high schoolers are pretty accepting people.
  2. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help: As a tiny freshman on the first day of school, I was terrified. The campus looked huge and I was completely overwhelmed. My old school had never used a bell, and navigating the massive grounds seemed to make getting to class on time an impossible task. I managed to make it to all of the right classes, but I have friends who had to ask other students, and even teachers, for assistance. As an almost-sophomore, I can tell you that most older kids will be happy to help point you in the right direction. And never ever be afraid to ask a teacher for help, either. Teachers understand that it’s scary on the first day of school. They’ll be glad to help. Everyone’s your friend on the first day.
  3. Make Friends: When I started high school, I wasn’t looking forward to it one bit. None of my friends were going to the school I was going to, and I had already made up my mind that I could last all four years without making new friends. I decided I didn’t need new friends. Low and behold, sitting outside my first class on the first morning, I started talking to a girl who is now one of my greatest friends at school, and we still talk and meet for lunch on most days. That week, I was also reunited with a handful of pals from an old soccer team I was on, who I’d lost contact with four or five years prior. It’s a lot easier to make friends than you’d think, even if you’re not from one of the high school’s main “feeder” middle schools. It just means you have more stories to tell. I made almost all of my friends by having awkward conversations with them because we sat next to each other in class. Most people are in the same, uncomfortable, hormone-filled boat as you are, so don’t freak out, okay? You’ll be fine, trust me. If I can do it, you most certainly absolutely definitely can.
  4. Get to Know the Teacher Before Spacing out in Class: This is a very delicate matter, I can tell you right now. I’m an artist, so naturally, I doodle in class. But let me give you a little advice, my dudes. Get to know the teacher and his or her routine before you get comfortable. Personally, I try to wait about a month before I get comfy, but I usually end up drawing by day two. Just be careful out there, because some teachers are stricter than others. Be very sneaky, bros. Like silent, introverted ninjas.

So that’s the end! If you read this far, then thanks! I have a little announcement to make down here real fast. If you’ve noticed, sometimes my hyperlinks seem a little strange or irrelevant to the post. Just between you and me (and my English teacher probably), it’s a requirement that I have a hyperlink in each blog post. You know, like, for a grade. Here’s the deal I’d like to make with you. If you leave a comment of something you’re interested in down in the comment section, I can provide you with a hyperlink to it at the end of my post, as well as a shout out. That way, I get my grade, and you get some weird facts you’ve always wanted but never really looked into! I’d love to have little mini-features of things you guys are interested in! It can be anything, like, “I wanna know more about the illusive creature known as the pangolin,” or “Give me some weird facts about soap.” Anything. Let’s keep it PG, though, okay? My English teacher reads these.

Anyways, thanks for reading, everyone! Have a happy morning/noon/night!

Writing: Creating Memorable Characters

Creating characters is one of the most important parts of writing. It reflects the quality of the work and gets readers involved and wanting more. However, it isn’t an easy thing to do. Here are a few of my own tips for when it comes to making lively and memorable characters.

  1. Physical Appearance: When people think of creating characters, they often think of the physical appearance of the character first. The best way to work with the physical appearance factor is using vivid vocabulary. Saying a character has brown hair is dull and boring. It’s flat and doesn’t even touch on the particular shade. What about saying a character has chestnut hair, though? Or hair the color of honey. Auburn hair comparable to the autumn leaves. Metaphors and similes are very welcome when describing a character’s appearance. It gives readers something to compare the physical traits to. And that’s only hair. What about emerald green eyes? Delicately tanned skin? Freckles like the stars in the night sky? The colorful language gives an element of life to the description. For more help on the particularly artistic element of physical design, I suggest watching this video by YouTube artist, LavenderTowne, who makes a few very good points on how to successfully design a character.
  2. Personality: It’s incredibly important to consider the personality of your character when describing or designing them. Are they innocent and naive? Stubborn? Proud? Childish? Mature? Shy? It’s important to let the reader know the character’s personality. While it may be tempting to describe the personality of a character directly, it’s often better to show it, rather than tell it. Don’t explain to a reader that your character is childish. Show it by making the character refuse to pick up after themselves, or have the character be a picky eater. If a character is mature, show how seriously they take things, like tasks given to them by others. Showing always works better than telling, but it’s especially important here.
  3. Backstory: The third main part of a well thought out character is his or her backstory. Now, it’s important to be cautious here, as backstories are often tedious and/or cliche. The best thing you can do is start with motivations. They don’t have to be your character’s motivations, if you don’t want that. They could be the motivations of others that simply affected your character. But backstories exist for a reason. Don’t just create one for the sake of a character having one. They don’t have to be overdone or extreme, either. Maybe a character comes from simple backgrounds, and now they’re moving onto something bigger. The contrast of the basic backstory and a more complex main story work out nicely.
  4. Uniqueness/Originality: The last thing you should know about creating a character is that he or she should be as unique and original as possible. Don’t be afraid to make a character your own. Personally, I think it’s fun adding elements of my own life into my characters. Don’t like tomatoes? Maybe your character doesn’t either. That’s the great part about having your character reflect elements of you or others around you. Everyone is unique, and that can flow through to your character, as well.

PetalPrincess CropHere’s a character I drew a few weeks back. Her design is simple enough. Let me try to run through my list with her to give a sort of final example. She has rosy pink hair and nicely tanned skin. Her sea foam eyes are always shining. As you can tell by her demeanor, she’s a happy young girl, excited to be alive and just enjoying life in general. She may be a bit naive at times, though. Her backstory isn’t overly complicated. She’s from a simple kingdom and is setting out on a quest with her friends with no goals other than to have as much fun as possible while traveling through other kingdoms.

That’s basically it! I hope this helped out!

Extroverts and Introverts

Extroverts and introverts are two very different “types” of people. For those who don’t know, extroverts are people who love being around other people. They’re bubbly and enjoy being in the limelight, and extroverts just love having a good time. They don’t mind being in crowds and make new friends easily like beautiful little social butterflies. Introverts, on the other hand, are basically the opposite. That’s not to say they don’t enjoy being social. They just can’t handle it for as long, and need alone time to recharge their batteries. Here are a few distinguishing things about the two personality types that might help you figure out which you are (remember, not everyone is gonna fit exactly into a personality type; maybe you’re an ambivert, a mix of the two!)!

Having Fun: Introverts and extroverts can have drastically different definitions of fun. As an introvert, I can tell you that my ideal Friday night consists of me being home in my pajamas, cuddling my cat, and reading or writing something. Going out with friends isn’t always appealing, but it really depends on how the day went. I tend to have more energy if I haven’t had an overload of social interactions throughout the day, and I’d be more likely to be spontaneous with my friends that night. Extroverts on the other hand, don’t always enjoy being kept inside, especially on weekend nights. They love going out, walking around downtown, meeting new people, and getting wild.

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Pboto Gabia Party 4/25/13 © (CC BY 2.0)

The perfect example of the differing definitions of fun between introverts and extroverts is the party example. If an extrovert went to a party, it’s likely they’d be in the crowd, dancing, having a blast. In contrast, introverts would probably hide away on the edge of the room, maybe having a little something to eat or drink, and possibly mingling briefly with other introverts.

Friends: Now, this section isn’t a popularity contest about who has the most friends. It’s more about how introverts and extroverts interact with their friends. Extroverts have large rings of friends that they’re comfortable with, and are always making new ones to add to the circle. Introverts are more secluded, and while they have plenty of friends themselves, some introverts prefer to only share their secrets with a handful of their closest ones, who they’ve known for awhile and trust immensely. Also, from personal experience as an introvert, I can inform you that some of us, when in a large group of friends, tend to branch off and only chat with a few, unless the entire group is doing something all together. Introverts prefer one on one conversations to large group discussion sessions, and being the center of attention is incredibly nerve wracking for them.

Encountering Strangers: Interactions with strangers are very different for introverts and extroverts. As we’ve established, extroverts make friends easily. They enjoy social interaction, and talking to strangers doesn’t daunt them.

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Photo Blese 12/8/11 © (CC BY-NC 2.0)

However, introverts are a different story. When an introvert meets someone new, it’s perfectly normal for them to be very shy and quiet. Don’t let this upset you, if you meet someone who doesn’t talk much. Chances are, they’re an introvert, and they’re just trying to size you up. Meeting someone new is hard for introverts, and they like to start by studying people to see what kind of person they are. Don’t let this freak you out. It’s just our way of saying hello! We wanna be friends, but we’re not sure if you want the same thing. We’re afraid of coming off too strong, so we do the opposite until we’re assured that you also are looking for friendship.

Now, at the beginning, I briefly mentioned a third personality type. Ambiverts. This is a personality type in between introverts and extroverts. And there can be even more personalities in between those three, too. Introverts who display extroverted qualities, and vice versa. It can be difficult to see which someone is, sometimes, but that’s okay. If we only had two or three solid personality types, things would be boring. People tend to lean towards one type or the other, but it’s not bad if you don’t! It’s not set in stone! The terms used to define personality types are nothing more than man-made labels. It’s okay if you like your personality being identified, and it’s okay if you don’t. Just be the best you that you can be.

(Hey, you! Thanks for reading this post! Still unsure of which type of personality you have? You really wanna know that bad? Here’s a cute little quiz I found that can tell you, if you’re really interested! [I’m not sponsored, haha. I just think Buzzfeed quizzes are fun sometimes.])

Top 5 Books That Deserve More Credit

I like to think I’m not alone in saying we’ve all been there when it comes to reading a book or book series with a small fan base. Sure, I love Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Divergent, and several other popular book series. And yeah, there are times where I’ve gotten lucky and stumbled upon books less known that still have a lot of fans, like the Warrior Cats Arcs. However, there are some books that deserve more credit, some that have fan bases that look like that episode of Spongebob, where his only friends are a potato chip, a used napkin, and a penny. So, today I present to you my Top 5 Books That Deserve More Credit:

Number One: Michael Vey by Richard Paul Evans– Ah, Michael Vey. One of my most recent reads. I adore this book series (and am still desperately waiting to get my hands on the newest book).

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Photo Vernon Barford School 4/15/14 © (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Essentially, our main character, Michael, has mysterious electric powers, and is starting to find more people like him. Now, the reason I love this book so much is because of how “relatable” it is, for lack of a better word. Characters behave in a way that makes it seem real. You’re kidnapped? You cry. You don’t put on a tough front (which is seen a lot). If you’re a teenager who’s been stolen because of your crazy ability, you’re scared. Michael Vey nails this aspect, and because of how real it seems, it makes this book all the more terrifying. Reason #2 why I love it so much. I was on edge when I was reading this series. I don’t know if this is just me, but books that are scary are literally the greatest things. This series kills it, in my humble opinion, and should have more people reading it. It’s too good to pass up!

Number Two: H.I.V.E. by Mark Walden– Okay, I’m willing to bet most of you haven’t heard of this series. And if you have, you’re my new best friend.

I read these books about a year ago, but I never finished the series, since the newest book was impossible to find at my local library (not finishing a series is a pet peeve of mine, so this bothers me to this day). This series takes us through the journey of Otto Malpense and his friends as they train at the Higher Institute of Villainous Education to become the greatest super villains the world has ever known. This was another series that had me on the edge of my seat. Honestly, suspenseful books are my favorite thing, and this one had something crazy going on all the time. Infiltrating facilities, faking deaths, betrayals, insane backstories and reveals and wow. It was just impossible to be bored while reading this series! I loved it to pieces, and frankly, it doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

Number Three: Maximum Ride by James Patterson– I’m not sure about other people, but usually, I don’t read a series twice. And if I do, I wait awhile before doing so. But Maximum Ride. Oh man.

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Photo Vernon Barford School 10/28/16 © (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) [Maximum Ride: Book 7- Angel]

I read this series two or three years ago, and just finished rereading it last October or so. I just love it so much. I even read all the manga created for it. In this series, Max and her gang of fellow bird kids (you read that right; bird kids) were created in a lab as experiments. 98% human. 2% bird. They have wings. They were tested on and able to escape because of one of the lab workers who felt sorry for them and busted them out. They’re on the run from the scientists who want them back, and it’s all action from there. The fight sequences in this book blow my mind, and the plot is stunning. To this day, this is probably my favorite book series of all time. I think it’s the most well known book series on this list, but still, I feel it deserves more attention.

 

Number Four: Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore– Alright, first of all, props to anyone who knows why this is number four before reading on. Now, I haven’t read this series in about three years, and this is also one that I never finished, because the newer books weren’t out at the time. However, it is on my list of things to reread, so I’ll definitely look into it again soon and read the new books along with it. If I remember, though, this series is about the Lorien, a group of aliens who were attacked by the Mogadorians, another group of aliens, but meaner. There were two types of Lorien; the Garde, who were the warriors and had the cool legacies (powers), and the Cepan, who lack legacies, but are unfathomably smart and act as advisers, in a sense. Only a handful of Lorien were able to escape the planet, nine Garde, and nine Cepan. Each has a number, and they can only be killed in the order of their numbers (our main hero is number four). And the journey goes from there as the Mogs try to hunt down the Loric children, who are developing their legacies. It’s a great series, and the backstory is fantastic. Probably one of the most detailed backstories I’ve ever read, actually. And the delivery is phenomenal. Nothing is revealed too fast or too slow. The pace is perfect. I can’t wait to finish it.

Number Five: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson– So maybe this isn’t a “real” book. But hold on. This graphic novel is too good to be ignored.

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Photo Vernon Barford School 11/18/15 © (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Nimona is a shapeshifter looking to be the sidekick of the town’s notorious villain, Ballister Blackheart. Their adventures are not only adorable illustrated, but have an amazing story line. I love how it portrays the view points of the hero and villain (and sidekick), but the best part to me, is the ending. Which I guess you’ll have to read for yourself (please go read it now we can fangirl together).

 

How Popular is Reading?

Reading is something I’ve always enjoyed, and I still love it to this day. Here are my thoughts on how society views reading today, and how I viewed it growing up:

I used to think everyone liked to read. Why shouldn’t they? We always read at school. We read in groups, on our own, with our teachers. It was all about reading and writing, learning to spell, and memorizing phonics charts to learn how certain letters sound together.

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Photo Kathy Cassidy 6/2/14 © (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Besides all that, I read a lot at home, or at least on my own time. I got my library card when I was six, and if I didn’t have any books I wanted to read at my house, I’d go there and find what I liked. All of my friends loved to read, too. It was great! Pretty much all aspects of my life influenced my love for reading. It seemed that it was something everyone loved to do.

Then, as I got older, the people around me (my classmates in particular) started passing time doing other activities. Video games were starting to become more popular, and soon, it seemed everyone had some sort of game console, particularly, Nintendo ones. Sports were a hit, too.

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Photo Jason Lander 5/8/10 © (CC BY 2.0)

Everyone was starting to figure out the things they liked to do to have fun. As we grew older, sleepovers and other activities with friends took up a lot of our weekends. Other things were stealing our interests.

So, I thought that, while we all had other hobbies, we all still liked to read. After all, we were still young. Reading was certainly still fun to me. It was about this time when I’d start reading one of my favorite book series to this day. Still being in elementary school weren’t plagued by overbearing amounts of homework.

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Photo Kathy Cassidy 3/21/13 © (CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Plus, before we got into middle school, we had allotted times during the week where our whole class would go read in the library. It was still enough to convince me that reading was enjoyed by everyone in my life.

Unfortunately, the ugly truth became more apparent with age, and I realized that there are people who flat out hate reading. Moving up into middle school didn’t leave as much time for reading.

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Photo College Degrees 360 7/12/12 © (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Grades were suddenly our number one priority, we were introduced to final exams, and the weight of taking several different classes that piled on homework was heavy. For some people, the only reading they ever did was once every few months to get AR points for the quarter. It was honestly saddening. Suddenly, reading wasn’t a pastime anymore. It was a requirement for school. It was a burden.

Now, I believe society is unappreciative of literature. Of course, some people still adore reading, and to those people, I say, props to you, friend. You deserve a round of applause. However, a lot of focus in this day and age has shifted to social media. The “hierarchy” today isn’t as supportive of reading as it is of social media sites and the like. Several people in the honors English class I’m taking complain about having to read for class, because it’s “cool.” It’s especially sad to see great works, such as To Kill a Mockingbird, put down. If you don’t have in interest in reading, maybe you shouldn’t be in the class at all. For some, reading has been reduced to skimming the occasional newspaper article or magazine. It’s upsetting to watch society lose interest in reading, and for what? To waste their time trying to get more likes than others? Likes won’t get you into college, friend. Try picking up a book instead of your phone.

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Photo Emily Carlin 8/21/10 © (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Editing Drafts

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My friend and I recently had the chance to start working on our second draft of the first book in the series we’re writing, and a lot has changed. I thought I’d make this post to share a bit of our experience with our first round of major editing.

  1. Plot: Some of the biggest changes came from adjusting the plot. The story line was adjusted to make more sense, and we rechecked the timeline more times than I care to recall. In the first draft, the climax was set waaaaaaaaaay too far back, with not enough leading up to it, causing it to feel rushed and forced upon the reader in a confusing way. We learned how to sprinkle in bits and pieces of important information throughout the rising action to better prepare the reader for the climax.
  2. Setting: Several places were added to the world we created for our characters, and we made better use of what we already had. We do plan on putting a lot more time into world building. It’s important to remember that even if you can picture your characters’ home world with ease, readers might not be able to unless you get descriptive. Even if it may not seem important, setting is your friend, and can be of great use when attempting to set a certain tone throughout a story.
  3. Characters: We recently had our first major character cut in this draft, and it was, admittedly, a bit hard. After almost a year working on draft one, it’s difficult to completely remove one character, but we cut a family of four after coming to decide that they just don’t play a big enough role in the development of the plot. It’s not bad to have minor characters, but they were stuck trying to play a major character’s role without having the same importance. Other characters were improved upon to differentiate them, and we continue to grow more attached to them every day. A handful of new characters were added to suit the needs of the adjusted plot, and we have high hopes for their development, as well.

These three things helped us make important changes for the new draft, and our story will be better for it. I think the most important thing is to remember to never be afraid to adjust, or even start from scratch. Just be as thorough as possible, look at things from the reader’s perspective now and then, and always remember that it’s okay to add and delete ideas. It is your world, after all.

Hero’s Journey: Writing

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We’ve started to study the hero’s journey a bit in class lately, and I decided that I wanted to try to map out my own hero’s journey. I’ve been curious to see if I have enough experience in life to show a full hero’s journey, so let’s see how this goes (I’ll be focusing mostly on my experience while writing).

  1. The Ordinary World: I grew up going to a private school. Nothing extreme or out of the ordinary. I had friends, a pet, homework, hobbies, etc. I was a normal kid trying to get through each school year with a 4.0 GPA. By no means was I popular or sporty, and I never really liked sharing my drawings with others, since I felt I was easily outdone by the other art kids in our small classes. I wasn’t particularly outspoken or loud. I was just an average, introverted kid with a low self esteem regarding art.
  2. The Call to Adventure: In my last year at the private school, we were about one semester in when our teachers announced that we’d be spending the last half of the school year taking “Language Extension,” which basically meant we would spend the last period of every other day sitting in some English teacher’s classroom, working with awful writing prompts to encourage us to be creative. After everyone collectively groaned, our teacher told us there was a different Language Extension class we could take. She called it the “Short Story Class,” and explained that anyone who joined would spend the semester working on writing a whole story, instead of a handful of mini ones based on mostly trashy prompts.
  3. The Refusal of the Call: Of course, I wanted to join. My best friend and I basically read each other’s minds and signed ourselves up about 2.3 seconds after this was announced. I was worried, though. I didn’t think I’d be all that great. I had ideas bouncing around in my head, but I didn’t really have a way to concentrate all of them into one place. I didn’t back down, though. This was something I had to do. If I couldn’t come up with a short story in this tiny class that automatically gives you a 100% as long as you show up, how could I possibly do anything bigger in the future?
  4. Meeting a Mentor: Oddly enough, my best friend/co-author and I didn’t really have a mentor. We were armed with half-baked ideas, a basic knowledge of writing from reading several fiction book series, and the ability to write a five paragraph essay thanks to our English teachers. The instructor of the class left us alone as long as we had typed at least one sentence in the class period. So, we kind of became each other’s mentors. We worked together to form a basic outline of our story, throw together some characters, and build a setting. Before we knew it, we were ready to get started.
  5. Crossing the Threshold: It took us a little while to have something solid. In fact, we started Chapter 1 when my best friend sent me an excerpt she’d written based off of ideas she’d gotten while in the shower. We dove in after that. We were entering a new world. Things started fairly slowly. We each wrote from a certain characters point of view, and had about two POVs per chapter. Chapters were written when we had the time, and we pushed along. Then we got faster. Weekends became hours spent sitting in front of the computer, studying what we’d written for mistakes or places to improve. We’d text back and forth, watch while the other wrote, spit out random ideas that worked their way into the story until we were basically machines. We had a full week off in February, and we were cranking out close to three chapters every day, not to mention getting ready for the next few chapters and toning up our previous ones. It’s quite possible that we wrote half of our first book over that week.
  6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies: As time went on, we’d built for ourselves a magnificent universe of mythical beings and creatures we could only dream of. And we continued. We loved our world, our characters. They were our escape. Once we finished our first draft of book one, we took a deep breath. A month or two later, we were at it again. Book two. However, it didn’t come as fast. The high was past, and though we had plot ideas, the class we were in was coming to a close with the school year, and the same motivation we’d had for book one was fading. On top of this, our parents hated seeing us sit in front of our laptops every day, despite our protests and explanations of the things we were working on. We were getting stuck and frustrated, not with each other, but with ourselves. Personally, I started doubting my abilities as a writer.
  7. Approach:  Stress levels were high. Graduation was around the corner. I was chosen to present a speech to an auditorium full of my peers and their relatives. At this time, if my memory is serving me, I believe book two was coming to a close, if it hadn’t already. We may have already started book three. I am uncertain. It blurs together. I remember, though, the lives I have created in my head, the stories we have told. The escape we made together was what kept me sane.
  8. The Ordeal: The chaos collides, entirely engulfing all of our time. We have finals, graduation, after parties, high school preparations. Everything seems to flood our lives at once. However, it’s over as quickly as it came on. It all happens so slow, but so fast. Tests, rehearsals, paperwork. It vanishes almost instantly. If only these were the last of our problems. We have an entire summer to write our final book, then move onto the prequel and follow-up series. Unfortunately, writer’s block set in, and was not kind. Despite our best efforts to plan ahead for the chapters, it felt like some POVs were simply fillers. We beat it, though. We finishd book three and brought our trilogy to an end, still full of plans on where to take this series next.
  9. The Reward: It was finished. Then, we were about six months into this project. Three books had been written, each containing thirty chapters, a prologue, and an epilogue. Our goal was met. We were complete. We had done what we never dreamed we would get to do. No one’s approval was needed, though it was nice to have. We were completely confident in what we’d created, and it seemed nothing would tear us down from our pedestals.
  10. The Road Back: There was excitement, happiness, joy. Every good feeling there was to feel. However, the monster of doubt lurked, still. Time passed, until we nearly reached the present. We looked back on these first drafts of our stories. We took pride in them. We loved them. We lived them. Suddenly, they’re not as good as they were before. Looking at them was comparable to staring into the sun for hours. It hurt. A lot. It felt like all of the wonderful feelings we stole from the monsters of our lives, the ones that stole our time, our ideas, our happiness, were being taken back by doubt. Can we get this series published one day? Will the characters we’ve come to love ever be loved this way by others? Will our escape be someone else’s treasured exit from reality? Is this good enough? Are our writing skills good enough? Are we good enough?
  11. The Resurrection: This is today. The present. We are still locked in combat with doubt. We will win. We are preparing to take our work and revise it all until we break our fingers from typing. This is a world we created. It will not exist in vain. One day, we will win the ultimate victory. Our escape will extend farther than we dare dream. It is the sweetest triumph. We win not only for ourselves, but for others, for the people who escape with us.
  12. Return with the Elixir: To be determined. 😉

Warming Up to Characters

It’s pretty chilly where I am, today. At least, in my house, it is. So, why not discuss how to warm up to characters? Your characters in specific. Starting a new book is hard enough, dealing with plot and setting, but I know my favorite part, character creating, is one of the hardest things to do. However, making a character isn’t as difficult as writing with them for the first time. By now, in the book series I’m co-writing, my co-author and I are both fully aware of how our characters interact with each other. We know their personalities so well, it feels like when we write, the characters are really the ones in control, and we’re just telling the story of what they did, not making it up as we go. So, how do you get to this point? Well, it’s been nearly a year since we began writing, and I’d say we’ve been truly solid with our characters for only so much time. Maybe a few months? It takes time, for sure. Getting to know the happy-go-lucky character isn’t straightforward, and getting to know a closed off villain and his/her motives is no walk in the park. Here’s how we’ve managed to get comfortable with our characters and their behaviors:

Interaction Practice- One key method my co-author uses with new characters is interaction practice. Previous times, she’s taken new characters and had them interact with one another in mini writing sample, emphasizing their individual traits and practicing how these traits affect the interactions. This is not only good writing practice, but it helps show how characters react when meeting other characters, whether friendly or hostile. These are key things that will be useful later on.

Scenario Practice- My preferred method for getting to know new characters is scenario practice. This throws characters into random situations, good and/or bad, and focusing in on their traits to see how they’d react. It’s basically interaction practice, but with different scenarios instead of other characters (though it may be beneficial at times to include other characters, at least in small amounts). Some scenarios could include a character who’s afraid of heights getting stuck at the top of a Ferris wheel. Simple as that. Taking it to a whole new level is placing that character at the top of a skyscraper and comparing the reactions. Little or big, good or bad, the way a character interacts with his/her environment is just as important as how he/she interacts with other characters.

 

This drawing is absurdly old (like, a few months ago, absurdly old), however it demonstrates an interaction of sorts between the characters. Monte clearly doesn’t want anything to do with his siblings and their beliefs/responsibilities. Practicing interactions between relatives and main characters is extremely important. It helps carve out who they are. I really do need to redraw this, though…triplets