Writers don't have to be careful about too many things. We say what we want in public and ask ridiculous questions in the name of research, we take pictures of people without their consent and have notebooks filled with the effects of neurotoxic snake venom. But one area in which we must exercise caution is the area of creating characters.
It's a temptation to make characters either completely good or completely evil. Let's take Lukas--he's a multilingual genius and expert swordfighter, with the spiritual gifts of discernment and prophecy. He loves pretty much anyone who's not trying to kill him. I found myself wondering, is there anything this guy can't do?
See, if a person in real life is good at everything, we tend to hate them. Why? Because they're perfect. We can't relate to them because we have flaws, and characters are the same way. In fact, we love fictional characters because of their flaws.
On the other hand, it's entirely too easy to paint villains as pure evil. While creating Konar, I was tempted to make him an evil maniac who's constantly about to murder somebody. I forced myself to step back, give him a sinful smile, and see what else I could do to make him relatable. And also frightening. He's gotta be frightening.
Lukas has his drawbacks. Unless he's one-on-one with somebody, he has practically zero social skills. He needs time alone, although he hates being lonely, and there's a fine line between the two. He's more likely to punch a hole in the wall than admit he's afraid. And Konar has his good points--he's charismatic, a strong leader, and can be quite charming when he wants to be.
If you were a fictional character, people would love you because of your weaknesses. Keep that in mind as you go throughout your day. What sorts of weaknesses would you love to see in a fictional character? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below! God bless you, and have a wonderful day!
Mother's Day has come and gone, and I'm reminded of how wonderful my mother is.
When I was little, she did what moms are supposed to do. She cared for me, fed me healthy food, and read to me. I still remember trying to squeeze both of us into a red armchair we had so we could read Little House in the Big Woods together.
When I got past preschool, she went above and beyond the call of duty. She started homeschooling me.
I'm sure it's tough enough being a mom, with its endless laundry and late nights, but Mom now spent a good deal of her day helping me with my schoolwork. I still remember reading a story about Cincinnatus out loud to her while she did laundry. As I aged, I needed her help with fewer things; she still quizzed me for Classical Conversations' Memory Masters program. And even now, she'll help me study for a college history quiz.
She was with me when I was afraid. She helped me when I was sick, she gave me hugs, she let me eat ice cream and talk things out with me. She edited my writing for me--in fact, she still does all those things.
She used to work part time. She'd come home at five on Tuesdays, tuckered out, but still have enough energy to help me make dinner and whisk me off to church at six. When I came back around 7:30, she'd be helping my sister with homework--and my sister isn't the kind that's easy to help.
That being said, we're both normal people, and we actually had a disagreement last night over clothes and hair. (Whatever hormone causes females to obsess over their appearance, I don't have much of it.) But she loves me, and I love her, and we always manage to work through things like that.
What kinds of awesome things does your mom do for you--or, if you are a mom, what are some awesome things you do for your kids? I'd love to hear them in the comments! God bless you, dear reader, and have a wonderful day!
One of the best things about a book is the characters. They're the ones you fall in love with, the ones you grow to hate. You cry when they die. I cried whilst killing my first character, who just so happened to share her name with my future best friend's mom.
It got me thinking, how do authors name their characters? Why do we pick what we do, and is there a method to our madness? Well there is, and here are a few factors that go into the naming of fictional characters.
First for me, at least, is historical and geographical accuracy. I'm not going to have a character who lives in the Middle East named Laura Sue, unless she's a Southern transplant. And while no one's certain when specific names were invented, we can all agree that (probably) no one in the Middle Ages was named Zeke.
Second is ease of pronunciation. This is one of the reasons I hate the Gaelic language. It's gorgeous, I love listening to songs in Gaelic, but when Eabha is pronounced "Ava" I get a little annoyed. And don't even get me started on Caiomhe. It sounds more like "quiver" than anything else.
And sure, we look at how beautiful the name is, and how well it suits the character's personality, but one of the most important features of a character's name is what letter it starts with.
If I had a choice, all of my characters (all the girls, anyway) wound have names that start with vowels. Look outside of the Clouds Aflame series with Alynn, Aeryn, Edana and Adelaide and you'll find Elizabeth, Ellie, Azure, and Everly. Here's a mental conversation I have with myself whilst naming minor--unimportant minor--characters:
Writer me: Astrid is such a beautiful name. I'll name her Astrid.
Perfectionist me: But Alynn's name starts with A.
Writer: Okay, then. What about Brynn?
Perfectionist: Rhymes with Alynn. Can't do that.
Perfectionist: That could work...oh, wait, there's a horse named Honor. Scrap it all, we're going with Geirhild!
Writer: But I don't--
Perfectionist: You got a better idea, genius?
Writer: I do like Hilde.
Perfectionist: That's the most overused Norse name in all creation. Just Google Icelandic female names, for crying out loud. Oh, look--Brynhild. Problem solved!
What's your favorite name? Tell me in the comments below, and it might just turn up in one of my future novels! God bless you, dear reader, and have a wonderful day!
Earlier this year, I had a blog post about common misconceptions people have about authors. Now, as an (almost) lifelong homeschool student, I'm answering five common myths about homeschooling to see if they apply to myself personally. (Thanks to familyeducation.com for providing the misconceptions!)
1: Homeschoolers never leave the house.
I've often felt this way, but it's simply not true. I leave the house at least three times a week (church on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and every Tuesday for a youth group meeting), not to mention piano lessons on Thursdays and gardening group most Mondays. Once in a while, I even get to go shopping, and I walk my dog 4-6 times a week.
2: Homeschoolers don't have friends.
Oh, we do. They're just imaginary friends. Have you met Running Horse, the great panther-slaying Ojibwa with Hiawatha's gift for speaking to animals? Just kidding--homeschoolers have plenty of friends. We're just more apt to meet them at 4-H or church, or at co-op if we're lucky. My best friend is actually the daughter of one of our ex-chiropractor's employees.
3: Kids cannot be socialized if they don't go to school.
Um...pardon me, but school is not the only social setting in the world. And even then, the only 'social' interaction is during lunch and between classes, and most of that is negative. I know plenty of homeschoolers who are very social ,and I know plenty of homeschoolers who aren't. I'm sure that public schoolers are the same way.
4: Average parents are not qualified to teach their children.
Once high school hits, with its algebra and chemistry, this may be the case. (And that's where A Beka Online comes in handy!) But my mom did a very good job of homeschooling me, and I passed the TSI when I was 15. While my mom does have a bachelor's degree, her major was in music, not education, and I feel that she did a wonderful job teaching me. I wouldn't trade in my grade-school years of homeschooling for anything.
5: Homeschooled teens miss out on "the high-school experience."
There's an experience? So having five hours of homework a night, being pressured into underage drinking/dating/drugs, and pulling my hair out over standardized testing is an experience? If it is, it's not a very good one, and I don't regret missing it. In my years of high school, I've managed to write two books, be active in church, and ace the SAT's. Plus, I'm guaranteed the valedictorian, and Mom said I can have cake at my graduation party.
What are your thoughts on homeschooling? I'd love to hear them in the comments below! God bless you, dear reader, and have a wonderful day!
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.