From time to time, I come across a poem that intrigues me. See if it speaks to you.
Lo! I am come to autumn,
When all the leaves are gold;
Grey hairs and golden leaves cry out
The year and I are old.
In youth I sought the prince of men,
Captain in cosmic wars,
Our Titan, even the weeds would show
Defiant, to the stars.
But now a great thing in the street
Seems any human nod,
Where shift in strange democracy
The million masks of God.
In youth I sought the golden flower
Hidden in wood or wold,
But I am come to autumn,
When all the leaves are gold.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton
If you can see God in every face, behind every mask, that is certainly a blessing. If so, your Your voice, your compassion, and your actions have always been important.
And they are needed even more today.
Have you ever read a story that didn’t have some kind of villain?
It’s tough to write a griping story without someone that provokes conflict. That makes it a challenge when an author like me has has a tendency to develop too much empathy for my characters to make them real villains. For example, Liza in Cinnamon Bourbon and Deception was supposed to cause problems but she had too much spunk and refused to cooperate. You’ll see more about her in the future, but for now, back to villains ...
Both bad and good characters need to exhibit a mix of good and bad quirks to make them interesting, but villains have evil motivations as well. Consciously observing and incorporating negative behaviors from real life as well as fiction helps to make my intended “villains” more viable and “heroes” more believable – and sometimes add a bit of humor.
Recent events have been great for this, so I’ve complied a list for my future use.
Which would make a character most irritating or untrustworthy? Downright unlikable? Take a look through the list below and vote by leaving a comment below.
1) Lying -- A character can get caught in a lie and then become caught in a web of further lies. This can be funny if it’s a silly lie -- many sitcoms are based on this. George Castanza was always getting caught up in his lies. But when a character an expert at lying, telling stories and distorting facts to another character’s disadvantage, they’re on their way to being a villain.
2) Denial and Blame Shifting -- Even when there is clear proof or recorded evidence, the characters lies without flinching. Nothing is ever the character’s fault. When caught in a lie or other situation where they are at culpable, they find a way to blame others. “No, sir, I didn’t kill the chicken”, he said, dusting a feather off his pants. “It must have been that immigrant you hired, I’ve heard people say he’s always eyeing the chickens.”
3) Never admitting they are wrong -- When denial and blame deflection doesn’t work, villains rarely admit guilt or say they are sorry, and if they are forced to, they say it in a way that’s really not an apology. “I am sorry – sorry I ever let him talk me into playing this game in the first place.”
4) Switching the Topic -- This is a sophisticated tactic where the character, in order to avoid having to answer for something they’ve done, will change the topic or reframe the situation. They attempt to confuse or humiliate other characters -- to keep them preoccupied, confused or put them on the defensive.
For example, a slight suggestion that changes the character’s original plan would be met with “you are always criticizing, big stuff” or “your face has big brown smudge on it”, or “is this like the time you told me to get off at the first stop?”.
5) Projecting -- This is a tactic in which the character accuses another of doing exactly what they are being accused of.
For example, a dishonest character may start a rumor to label another character as dishonest to deflect from their own lying. “I don’t know if it’s true, but I think Jimmy cheats at poker.” He said as he slipped the ace into his sleeve.
Or when they exhibit horrible behavior to someone and they are confronted, they’ll act insulted and attack the assertive character, accusing them of not being “nice”, claiming to be the victim.
6) Generalizing and Exaggerating -- The character can use words like “it’s a disaster,” “this is tremendous,” “we are in a big, fat, ugly bubble,” “it’s unbelievable”. He/she also loves to use the language of “everyone” or “many people” as in “everyone tells me she’s a witch” – a claim that is very difficult to prove or disprove or fact-check.
This trait can range from humorous to abusive, depending on how the character relates to others in the story.
7) Yelling and Interrupting -- A voice can be a tool of violence in a scene. A villain or bad character can use their voice a weapon in order to ensure that they are the ones heard most. They will confront anyone who tries to stand up to him/her by raising their volume. This is particularly effective on soft spoken or risk-adverse characters. If volume alone doesn’t do it, expert interruptions combined with some of the techniques above can confuse and even overpower the other characters.
8) Fear-Mongering -- A character can attempt to provoke fear, exaggerating the worse case scenarios, gross generalizations and misperceptions. This is a very powerful tactic of manipulation, as it is very hard to stabilize an atmosphere of terror. Think of characters that incite lynch mobs, genocide, or demonize people who are “different”. The worst villain incites the fear, but steps aside to let the mob do his dirty work for him.
9) Body Shaming / Belittling -- Body-shaming is a tactic that can cause another character pain. When directed at a vulnerable area, they may be too humiliated to speak, advocate, or appear in public. Belittling is psychologically making the person feel small or unworthy. It can be subtle: “Sure I’m interested in your little project”.
10) Physical intimidation – using size or proximity to another character to make them uncomfortable or threaten them. He leaned over her shoulder to see what she was writing, his thick hand resting heavily on her upper arm, moving toward her chest.
On the lighter side
All of these can be bad, but can these characteristics be humorous rather than abusive? When mixed with other good traits and used lightly, a character who lies, denies or generalizes can be funny, especially if they don't mean to hurt others. But it depends on their relationships. If the character has or wants real power over the other characters for evil purposes, combining several of these traits can result in a certified villain.
Do you agree? Please vote and comment below.
Thanks for reading!
Want to write? If you do, I found this very helpful blog post from Zen Habits. In it, he urges the reader to start writing every day. Which is not easy (believe me, I know!)
So here are the helpful tips:
1) Have a reason - having the motivation of informing, helping people or just getting that story out of your mind can help get your fingers moving.
2) Block off the time -- this can be hard as everyone is so busy and it's hard to save time for yourself. Remember #1.
3) Set unforgettable reminders -- as with any habit, if you remind yourself in a way that motivates, you'll more likely to do it.
4) Do it in short bursts -- it's easier to say "I'll write for 5 minutes" than committing an hour. I discovered this when I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) a few years ago.
5) Be mindful, grateful, and focused -- don't lose your sense of wonder or gratitude for being able to express yourself, even if it is just for 5 minutes.
If you'd like to read the original article*, here's the link: http://zenhabits.net/daily/
Let me know if this helps you!
Thanks for reading ,
*this is not an endorsement of the Zen Habits course. I do enjoy his blogs, though.
Have you ever had to name a character, persona, or just wondered where authors get their names from?
I was just glancing through the "people you may know" on Linked In and noticed some unusual names.
With a little juxtaposition and creative license (don't want to use anyone's real names), I was very quickly able to come up with this list. See if you find any of these amusing:
Tina Learner -- Educational Software Developer
Digger Crabtree -- Garden Supply Consultant
Emma Askew -- Organizational Design Specialist
Justin Plumbs -- Architectural Site Evaluator
Dan Reeds -- Book Editor
Lotta Bile -- Internal Medicine
Casey Boils -- Dematologist
Guy Armstrong -- Personal Trainer
Crystal Flute -- Wine Taster
Ryder Whitehurst -- Funeral Home Owner
Carrie Champagne -- Event Organizer
Ida Ho - Executive Director, Potatoes are Us
Mary B. Frank -- Ethics Officer
If you can add to the list, please add in the comments!
Have a great day,
Answer: Ebook prices! They have been slashed to $.99!
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Do you like words?
Being a writer, I love words. I get one from Dictionary.com every day.
Some seem very obscure and I don't think I'd ever use them, but every once in awhile there's one I'd like to share. Today's word describes something we need more of in this world.
\TROO-pen-ee\ noun -- a trusty, honest fellow.
How the word's been used:
Ha, ha, boy, say'st thou so, art thou there trupenny?
-- William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 1604
"A very nice sermon," said Mr. truepenny, trying to say something.
-- Punch - Volume 25 (Jul-Dec 1853)
These quotes are historical, can you add one that is hysterical? (or at least different?) If so, please add in the comments.
For more words, here's the link to the page: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/truepenny
Every once in a while, I run across a bit of text that captures a thought in an inspiring way. This quote is from The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers. It is from a letter to Washington, DC from Chief Seattle responding to the government's request to buy their land. I had to stop and read it twice, finally writing it down.
I hope it gives you a sense of awe as well.
“The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? The land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every Sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.
We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great Eagle, these are our brothers. The Rocky crest, the juices in the meadow, the body heat of the pony, and man, all belong to the same family.
The shining water that flows in the streams in the rivers is not just water, but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you our land, you must remember that it is sacred.
The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes hand feed our children. So you must give to the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.
. . . One thing we know: our God is also your god. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator.
Preserve the land for all children and love it, as God loves us all."
Letter to Washington, DC from Chief Seattle, 1852
The new book has been released!
Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple iBookstore and Smashwords. At Smashwords, the new book is on sale and the first book in the series is free!
But hurry, the sale only lasts until July 31st.
Enjoy reading -- I'd appreciate knowing what you think of it!
all the best,
Stock up on E-books this July and Save!
My books are on sale, and there are thousands more.
Try a new author or genre!
I decided to walk instead of drive to the drugstore. What I had to pick up wasn't heavy, and I could count it as steps in my exercise plan.
It's not a long walk, only about 20 minutes each way and there is a nice, wide side walk that frames a five lane street.
On the way back, I was walking the same direction as the traffic, so I couldn't see what was coming. I became aware of how fast the cars moved, how loud the traffic was, and how a narrow strip of grass was all that separated me from several tons of moving metal. This was especially true when a truck passed, waifing mechanical wind exhaust my way.
A horn blared and I jumped.
I felt very small, insignficant and vulnerable.
It made me wonder if any of the drivers had ever walked along the sidewalk -- or even noticed that someone was walking there. Turning my gaze away from the street, I noticed a small space of undeveloped land that still is a home for wild plants (and probably some animals, though I didn't see any).
Perhaps that is a bit like life. We can drive swiftly past so much of nature, so much of humanity, while fixed on our lanes of pursuit.
Or we can expand our point of view and for a short while, become pedestrians.
And the same with writing -- if you want a character to have an epiphany, or an unlikely change of view -- perhaps they need to be a "pedestrian" for a scene or two.
Thanks for reading! If you have comments, please post them.
Insights on writing, characters, humor and other tidbits from the author of the "Scoops and Schemes" series of novels.
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