My New and Improved Character Profile

Hello everybody! Recently I have put a lot of work into crafting my own character profile. So many of the ones I have found online weren’t working for me, so I started studying my favorite characters in order to craft a profile of my own.

It has really helped me to bring my characters to life, so today I want to share it with you! However, I also greatly encourage you to do your own character studies. What works for me may not work for you, so making your own character profile or altering one that you find online can be very beneficial to getting inside the heads of your characters.

A trick I’ve picked up on that works in tandem with this (or any) character profile is to answer some of the questions unexpectedly. Often, our first instincts when it comes to our characters can make them seem very flat and one-note. However, if there are aspects of them that are unexpected that you can then explain, it adds new layers to the character and makes them feel much more real and unique. For example, if you have a very responsible character, they may be very irresponsible with a particular group of their friends. This one simple trick has really helped me to develop my characters.

Here’s my profile, I hope you find it helpful!

  • What is their name? Is it significant?
  • What is their age? Is it significant?
  • What is their appearance and why do they present themself that way? Is there any symbolism or story significance in their appearance?
  • What is their greatest fear? Why are they afraid of this thing?
  • What do they believe, based on that fear, that is wrong?
  • What ideals do they hold? What’s their moral code? Why do they hold those ideals/morals?
  • What is their greatest passion? How does it impact their life and choices? What are other people’s reaction to it?
  • What gets them fired up?
  • What is their main goal?
  • What are they completely oblivious towards? (Are they oblivious to someone loving them? Oblivious to the pain they cause? Oblivious to how people look down on them? etc)
  • What is their greatest flaw? How does it manifest?
  • What are other, ‘smaller’ flaws they have? Do they change or remain the same?
  • What quirks do they have?
  • What is their role in their group? (ex. glue, adopted introvert, big brother, mom, etc) Does it change based on the group they’re in? Do they have a group at all?
  • Who do they see themself as? How would they describe themself?
  • Who do others see them as?
  • How do they want others to see them? Does it change based on the group they’re in?
  • What is their maturity level? What do they think their maturity level is?
  • What would make them break down? How do they break down?
  • What’s their love language?
  • What is their instinctual reaction to stressful situations? (Do they try to release the tension? Yell at the person they think is to blame? Make an awkward joke? Freeze? Cry? Beg others to stop fighting? Walk away? etc) Do they follow their first instinct?
  • Are they more logical or emotional?
  • What do they look down on people for?
  • What are they insecure about? Can other people see these insecurities? How do they respond to them?
  • How do they communicate? (clearly, one word at a time, through grunts/sighs, talking around in circles, yelling, clumsily, through actions, etc.) What verbal habits to they have? Do they have an accent? How is their character voice differentiated from that of other characters?
  • How do they pull themselves out of disappointment or dark situations?
  • Do they put all of themselves into what they do, or do they hold back to avoid getting hurt?
  • What would it hurt them most to lose?
  • What would they change about themself?
  • Do they overthink, rush in without thinking, or are they somewhere in the middle?
  • Are they subtle about what they want or do they declare it everywhere they go?
  • How would you summarize this character in a few sentences?

There you have it! This profile has made my writing a lot easier, and I hope it can do the same for some of you!

Do you have any questions about my profile? Do you think there’s anything I missed? What makes a character feel real to you? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

Haikyuu Character Dynamics ft. Merie Shen

Hello everybody! Merie from Imperial Scribis and I joined forces to analyze the character dynamics in one of our favorite shows. (Yes, I know I’ve been talking a lot about Haikyuu recently, but my next post is on something else entirely.)

Character dynamics are something that can truly bring a story to life. Friendships can not only reveal the layers of a character, but they can also play a very large role in character transformation.

There are so many dynamic duos in Haikyuu, but we picked a few of our favorites today to analyze. You’ll see Merie’s wonderful commentary here in this post, and if you want to read mine you can find it at her blog! Click here to read her half of our collaboration.

Let’s get into it, shall we?

Bokuto & Akaashi

Merie: Despite being the captain and ace of a powerhouse team, Bokuto with his wildly temperamental personality would be a huge liability–if it weren’t for Akaashi, whose calm, calculating demeanor offsets Bokuto’s craziness. Their polar-opposite personalities make this friendship fun to watch, but Furudate goes one level deeper and uses the two characters as foils against each other. Throughout the majority of the series, it’s pretty obvious that Bokuto doesn’t really think before he does something (or if he does, it’s most likely to his detriment, as we all remember from his list of weaknesses) and that Akaashi is there to counter that. But this isn’t a one-way thing; Akaashi is the subtler one of the pair, so of course, it’s not going to be clear right away that Bokuto also serves to highlight his weaknesses. But he does! 

Besides, who wouldn’t enjoy watching Bokuto break down in the middle of a game, only to have the rest of his team carry on happily without him for a few minutes before Akaashi, having meticulously calculated all the odds and variables of each potential situation, pulls him back to his feet with a well-timed toss that results in a perfect shot. Who wouldn’t, I ask you.

Jorja: Merie is so spot-on with this. Conflicting personalities like Bokuto’s and Akaashi’s work so well to highlight characterization. They’re dynamic is so satisfying to watch.

Yamaguchi & Tsukishima

Merie: In season one, Tsukishima’s role in the team seems pretty unclear (aside from the little bits of foreshadowing here and there). He’s mean and provocative for no reason and never puts much effort into practice, despite being valuable as the tallest member of his team and, according to many of the opponents they face, a very intelligent and logical one. So we start out wondering why Yamaguchi, who acts so earnest and works so hard to improve his serve, follows him around everywhere. Unsurprisingly, like the other characters in the series, Yamaguchi and Tsukishima’s friendship emerged from their shared interest in volleyball. Tsukki’s interest, however, has noticeably flagged since then, whereas Yamaguchi is still working to earn his spot on the team’s starting lineup. 

Both Tsukishima and Yamaguchi feel somewhat inferior to their teammates. Yamaguchi is the only one of the first-years who isn’t a regular player, and during the Spring Inter-High tournament, he messed up on his one chance on the court. Tsukishima, on the other hand, feels inferior to Hinata and Kageyama because he doesn’t have their crazy “monster” talents and doesn’t think he’s able to keep up with them. That crucial scene in season two during the Tokyo training camp, in which Yamaguchi finally demands to know why Tsukishima can’t let go of his own baggage and just play, strikes a new contrast between them–Yamaguchi feels a lack of skill and confidence, both of which he’s willing to improve; but Tsukishima feels a lack of talent, something which is impossible to improve. In other words, if Tsukishima didn’t listen to Yamaguchi’s outburst during the Tokyo training camp, Yamaguchi would have eventually surpassed him in playing ability because even though you can never change what you were born with, you can always do something with it. 

Jorja: Merie really nails down the motivations of Tsukishima and Yamaguchi here. Or, in Tsukki’s case, lack of motivation.

Hinata & Kageyama

Merie: Okay… where do you even start with these two? Since the series is about them and everything, there’s definitely a lot to talk about. Kageyama and Hinata seem like polar opposites at the start–there you have a dark, broody, angsty dude who’s terrifying on court and has quite the reputation among volleyball schools across the prefecture; and there you have the wild, orange-haired, energetic, completely unknown shrimp who knows next to nothing about the most basic techniques. No, they don’t get along. But remember what Hinata keeps telling Kageyama? “As long as I’m here, you’re invincible.” 

They’re also more similar than you’d think. It’s no secret that pretty much every character in this series is a lovable, silly dork on some level (even Akaashi, I rest my case), and of course, these two are at the forefront. Their passion for this sport can only be matched by their total indifference to things like school grades. Hinata’s the first player who can spike one of Kageyama’s infamous “freak” tosses. And, well, Kageyama’s the first setter who can bring Hinata’s full potential out in a game. Together, this crazy duo has become the backbone of Karasuno’s offense, and thanks to them, every opponent they face is guaranteed to be playing against an unpredictable team of ever-changing tactics.

Jorja: I love her point about the similarity of these two characters. Although at first they may seem to be polar opposites, due to their personalities and character design, their passion for volleyball and general dorkiness is definitely something they have in common.

Kuroo & Kenma

Merie: This friendship, at first, appears to be less crucial than others in the story. After all, for most of the story the key scenes of character development among the Nekoma team members occur between laid-back Kenma and his overenthusiastic spikers. But you have to notice that Kenma doesn’t seem much like an athletic kid: he likes to play video games more than volleyball games. On the court, though, he’s the unassuming yet invaluable “brain” of his team, a skilled tactician and a competitive player. We can all thank Kuroo for that. 
Kuroo, the much more outgoing and confident captain of Nekoma, is an excellent example of what supportive supporting characters do. We’ve all read or watched the MC and their best friend, a secondary character who should probably have more personality but nah, who cares, we’ll only be paying attention to the love interest anyway. Not so with these two. Kuroo, while sporting vast differences to Hinata, also shares quite a few similarities to the latter, the most critical of them being their willingness to push, or more often than not, shove Kenma into his Challenger Mode (Hinata because he’s totally oblivious to the way he inspires everyone around him to aim high, and Kuroo because he kinda needs Kenma to play for them, and also, because it’s fun). One interesting factor in this dynamic is that we actually see more of their individual relationships with other characters in much of the series than with each other, to the point where their personalities are mostly drawn by those other interactions. Instead of cheapening their friendship, though, this enriches it by introducing them separately and then easily showing them together. So while there are barely any scenes exclusively about Kuroo and Kenma’s friendship, we’re still very familiar with it, and we can understand it perfectly.

Jorja: Kuroo happens to be Merie’s favorite character, so she makes some amazing points about his supportive personality. He’s an amazing leader, and is able to bring the best out of his team, especially Kenma.

The Miya Twins

Merie: Haikyuu does one of the best takes on twins I’ve ever seen. The Miyas have an entirely unforgettable dynamic from the beginning, coupling two equally passionate, equally competitive players… one with a filter and one without. The series has no problem showing us every angle of their bond–the formidable, silly, flawed, and touching sides; their similarities and their differences; the paths they’ll take, both together and individually. In the style of siblings, neither is ever willing to concede to the other except in one thing, and even then it’s hardly a concession.

Furthermore, the twins are described as being the only people who can keep up with each other. Osamu knows when the ball is coming to him, and Atsumu knows he’ll hit it when it’s sent that direction. Neither will let the other give in, constantly challenging and shoving and fighting each other to grow and change and improve in that way all the best friends do. That’s why it kinda hurts when Samu says to Tsumu, “When all’s said and done… you love volleyball just a teensy bit more than I do.” 

… On a much lighter note, one has to wonder: which of them is the older twin…?

Jorja: I 100% agree that this is probably my favorite pairs of twins ever written. Their similarities are there, but their differences are where they really shine.

Thanks so much to Merie for collaborating with me and sharing her wonderful analyses! (Also thanks for helping convince me to watch Haikyuu in the first place).

Remember, if you want to check out my analyses of the same duos, hop on over to Merie’s blog!

In the comments, talk to me about some of your favorite fictional duos!

Until next time,

Antagonists and Character Foils: A Case Study of Haikyuu!!

As promised, I’m kicking off my new series on Story Case Studies. Like I talked about in my last post, I recently finished my first watch-through of Haikyuu (and then proceeded to begin my second).

I know not everyone has seen Haikyuu, so I’m splitting this post into “non-spoiler” and “spoiler” sections. You’ll be warned when the spoilers are coming, and then it’s up to you if you want to continue or not! My recommendation is to go watch Haikyuu and come back to this post, but as I mentioned last week I needed a LOT of convincing before I decided to watch it, so I get it if you’re hesitant.

Spoiler-Free: Just the Things I Learned

I learned so much about character and story craft from this show, especially when it comes to antagonists.

You see, this show is about high school volleyball. It doesn’t have ‘villains’ in the classic sense. No one is trying to murder anybody or start a new world order. They’re just trying to be the best they can be at volleyball.

So, with a plot like this, where does the suspense come in? If the characters win a game, then they win. If they lose, they lose. What’s the big deal?

The big deal, my friend, comes down to two things: character development and relatable antagonists.

Let’s start with character development. This show is so good at development that I’m going to do a whole post on just this topic (including examples from other stories as well) but this post is about antagonists.

What makes Haikyuu’s antagonists so wonderful is how they inspire and enhance the development of the protagonists. They do this by being character foils.

For those who don’t know, a character foil is a character that contrasts the protagonist in order to highlight a specific aspect of the protagonist. Just like white paper makes black ink easier to read and ladies in toothpaste commercials wear bright red lipstick, contrast makes things easier to see. That’s exactly what a character foil is meant to do.

Often, the character foil has a lot in common with the protagonist. This can act as a way to show what the character can become. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and the foil reveals the protagonist’s potential for good. However, I think foils are always more compelling when they’re acting as an antagonist. They know enough about the protagonist, due to their similarities, that they can hit them where it hurts. They have something the protagonist doesn’t that allows them to take things to a more extreme degree. Because of this, they’re a credible threat, and the conflict is so much more personal.

The amazing thing about Haikyuu is that the giant cast of characters allows it to have several foils to each person, and each foil highlights a different aspect of their personalities. This is part of what gives each character so much depth. There will be some concrete examples of this in the spoiler section of this post.

Next, relatable antagonists. Now, relatable doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a personality in common with them, although most well-developed characters will have at least a portion of their personality that the reader/viewer can relate to. “Relatable” in this case simply means “human”. Characters that have depth and sometimes make decisions that contradict what you know about them because humans don’t respond the same way to things all the time. Haikyuu utilizes flashbacks to reveal the personalities and struggles of the antagonists. This is what humanizes them and makes you care about them. And because of this, I rarely watch a victory in the show without it feeling bittersweet, because a team loses every time another team wins, and you care about all of the characters. This can only happen because the antagonists are given the same amount of care and attention as the protagonists are. They have dreams and obstacles. They have flaws and expertises. They have fears and passions. Not to mention, they have close friends that make up some wonderful dynamics.

Let’s hang onto that one for a moment. The antagonists have friends. Good friends. Close friends. When it comes to making villains more human, common advice is to ‘make them the protagonist of their own story’. This is good advice, and I believe it is part of what makes characters human. But you know a tried-and-true characterization technique I don’t hear about enough? Give the characters friends. Family. Love interests. These characters aren’t just there to tick a box, they’re here to show who your protagonist is and help them grow.

This is part of the reason heist stories and found family stories are popular among many readers, especially readers who care more about character than plot or world-building. Because, within these groups, people are going to rub against each other. They’re going to fight and argue and disagree. Showing how your characters deal with interpersonal conflict is a huge part of showing who they are. However, on the flip side, people also show love in different ways. Outlining how your character shows love to who they’re close to is another layer of their personality. Not to mention, in most stories, the ‘found family” (heist crew, volleyball team, etc.) all have a similar goal. So they have to learn how to work together. They’ll also likely go through some stressful and intense situations together, which helps them learn about each other, trust each other, and grow closer.

So, if this is such a good characterization method, why don’t we see it enough with antagonists? Because they’re ‘evil’ so people don’t hang out with them? That’s so black and white. Unless your antagonist is a sociopath or a dark lord (which are both valid and might be the right choice for your story) chances are they care about someone and someone cares about them.

We’re about to get into spoilers and examples, so here’s your chance to skip down to my final thoughts at the bottom of the post if you want to avoid said spoilers.

Spoiler: In-Show Examples

Alright, you’ve been warned. Let’s get into some examples. *rubs hands together*

First: character foils. There are so many in Haikyuu that it’s kind of crazy. But I’m going to choose one here that is used for some amazing development. In this case, the protagonist is Tobio Kageyama and the foil is Toru Oikawa.

The thing is, I don’t actually like Oikawa as a person that much. (Sorry to all the many, many Oikawa lovers out there) His personality kind of grates on me, but as a character I marvel at how well written he is. His personality may not be my cup of tea, but it is constant and unique. His motivations are clear, his backstory is emotional, and he is a perfect example of a character foil.

Kageyama, one of the main protagonists of the show, is a genius setter. For those who haven’t seen the show and/or just don’t know much about volleyball, a setter sends the volleyball to one of the spikers on their team so that it can (hopefully) be smashed onto the floor of the other side of the court. This job requires precision, so that the ball is in the proper position to be hit when the spiker jumps up to hit it. Kageyama is a master of this precision. He can send a ball to the correct position so reliably that one of the other protagonists, Hinata, hits it with his eyes closed for a significant amount of time. What he isn’t a master of is… people. He’s not great at communicating and tends to intimidate those around him.

Oikawa is not a master of this precision. But he is a master of people. He truly understands his teammates. He communicates with them effectively and consistently. Therein lies the contrast.

These two characters have known each other for a while. They used to play on the same team. They know each other’s skills and weaknesses well. Something Oikawa uses to his advantage.

You see, Kageyama needs to learn to listen to his teammates. He needs to learn how to provide feedback without yelling and receive criticism without…yelling. When he gets frustrated, insecure, or generally feels threatened, he tends to lash out. Basically, his communication skills require work. Because of this, his teammates have trouble working with him. This is holding him back from his potential as both a setter and a person, and the reason that for as long as Kageyama has known, Oikawa has surpassed his skill.

Oikawa practices hard. He throws his whole self into volleyball. He can communicate well, what he can’t do is make genius sets. However, when his team goes against Kageyama’s in a very important game in season one, he still wins. But, in the midst of this game, Kageyama learns from his rival. He learns the importance of communication. His friend, Suga, from his own team, is a similar foil to him during this match. Between Oikawa and Suga, Kageyama gathers what he needs to become a better setter and teammate. He lost the game, but he had a personal victory.

In season two, the teams have a rematch. In this match, Kageyama uses his newfound skills in order to win. Oikawa, however, also manages to pull of a truly genius set.

They both walk away from their games against each other with some animosity. Their rivalry is strong and they dislike each other. However, they also walk away begrudgingly realizing the value of the other’s skills. They both grow from the encounter.

And that is the potential of a great antagonist.

Moving onto relatable antagonists. Again, there are dozens of examples in Haikyuu. However, I’m choosing to focus on Goshiki of Shiritorizawa as my example. There are several reasons for this. One is that many of the teams the protagonists face off against don’t feel like antagonists, even though they’re on opposite sides of the court. As soon as they step off the court, the teams are often hanging out as friends and laughing together. Shiritorizawa is different. This team doesn’t hang out with the main characters much, and any off-court interactions are full of tension. They feel more like an antagonist.

The second reason is that Goshiki isn’t a very celebrated character. He’s not actively disliked by most people, but he also is more of a side character. And yet, he has depth and layers.

Goshiki goes to a powerhouse school. His team is good. Great, even. They’re one of the top choices to win the national championship. And a major reason for that is that they have a player named Ushijima. His power and skill is renowned, and he’s one of the top players in Japan. And Goshiki lives in his shadow. Ushijima and Goshiki play the same position, and Goshiki wants to prove himself. Not only that, but he wants to be better than Ushijima. His desire is clearly showcased, as every time he does something well, he looks for praise. It’s also showcased when he tells Ushikima that he plans on surpassing him, something that most people don’t have the guts to do. Ushijima tends to intimidate people, but Goshiki has no qualms about challenging him.

He can be insecure at times, but he takes any encouragement from his teammates to heart and uses to it light a fire in himself to play harder. To push himself further. However, he also takes their teasing to heart.

He has unique dynamics with each of his teamates, from the teasing he recieves from Shirabu to the encouragement he recieves from Tendou to the mostly one sided rivalry between him and Ushijima. Each one of these dynamics reveals more about his personallity.

He has the same amount of flaws and passions and dynamics with his teammates that the main protagonists have, and for that reason, when he suffers a loss at the hands of the protagonists (and breaks down) I felt for him, and he was so much more compelling. All that work to become the youngest member of his team’s starting lineup. All that time devoted to practice. All that effort, only to watch his chance to impress his teammates be ripped away. Not to mention, the player he looked up to most, Ushijima, failed right alongside him. He fell along with his hero.

All this personality and character work, and he’s not even on screen for very long. The amount of care put into each and every character so that no two are alike (not even the set of twins) and everyone feels real and human is part of what sets Haikyuu apart from anything else.

Final Thoughts (Spoiler Free)

So, antagonists. Not that hard. They simply require the same amount of thought as the protagonist and a healthy amount of contrast and they become unforgettable.

Do you have any tips on writing antagonists? Do you know of any other great villains that exhibit these characteristics? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

I Finally Watched Haikyuu!! // My Thoughts and an Announcement

There are two things that have been true about me as long as I can remember: 1) I don’t play sports and 2) I don’t watch anime.

I’ve always had friends who watched anime and played sports, but neither of them were things that I ever got into. I did one season of Cross Country back in middle school, and I watched Your Lie in April last year, and I wasn’t a big fan of either of them.

So imagine my response when my writing group told me I should watch Haikyuu: an ANIME about SPORTS.

I laughed. I made excuses. I wasn’t interested.

Boy, was I an idiot. I should trust my friends more often, because here I am four seasons later with such a deep appreciation for the show that I can’t believe I ever avoided it in the first place. (Thanks, Merie, Mya, and Carlye. I owe ya’ll a lot)

Initial Thoughts

Even after watching a few episodes, I was skeptical. But something drew me to the characters in this show. So I kept watching.

Then I fell in love with so many of the characters I finally admitted that I liked the show. I finished the two seasons that were English dubbed on Netflix and wanted more. So I watched seasons three and four online in Japenese with English subtitles.

Season four sent me over the edge from enjoying the show to loving it.

For those of you who have seen the show, my five favorite characters are Tanaka, Kita, Bokuto, Akaashi, and Suga. This list changes based on what episode I happen to be rewatching, because there are just so many wonderful characters.

For those who haven’t seen the show, you should watch it. That is all.

What I Learned

This show is full of magnificent characters, and the format of the story is wonderfully done. Since the moment I finished watching the season 4 finale, I started studying the show.

I wanted to know why. Why did this show impact me so much? How did it get so much emotion out of me? How did it convince me to set aside my dislike of both anime and sports? And the answer is multifaceted.

This show has wonderful themes that the characters represent beautifully. It utilizes flashbacks to add purpose and empathy at key times. It focuses on an insanely large cast of characters, all of whom are completely unique and understandable.

In studying this show I learned how to write antagonists, how to make characters with no transformation arc still be relatable and human, how to utilize flashbacks and parallels to enhance the plot.

I was going to include all of my findings in this post, but it was getting far too long. I didn’t call this post a ‘review’, because then I would want to go into everything that this show succeeded at, and again, that would be too long. That’s why I am kicking off a new series on my blog: story case studies.

I’m going to be writing posts about what I learned from many of my favorite books, shows, and movies. Haikyuu, Tangled, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and too many books to count will all be making an appearance.

I’m really excited to start this series of studies, and I hope you guys are too! Let me know in the comments if you have any specific topics (tropes, elements of story, etc) you want me to focus on, as well as any fandoms you want me to feature!

Until next time,

Part Two: Writing Activity ft. Jamy Starling

Hello dear readers! As promised, it’s time for Jamy’s part of our collaboration. For those of you who missed the first portion of our collab, you can read my story here.

The challenge was to choose an image and write a story based on it. Below is Jamy’s awesome story and the image she based it on. Without further ado, here’s “A Calamities Tragedy”:

What was so wrong with me that they wouldn’t love me any longer? Why would they blameme for something I didn’t have a choice in? Why not love your daughter?

“Don’t tell a soul,” Grim had sternly told me only two years prior. “Only use the Earth. Noneof the others. Especially the Darkness.”

It was a mystery to my six year old mind. Our world frowned upon those with all five elements. So long as you only had the one that was of your realm you were good.

And the most puzzling thing. Why I couldn’t tell my parents. I was their darling daughter, there’s nothing that would make them hate me. How naive I was.

That day was as normal as any other. Huddled around the table, like any other night, the smell of chestnuts roasting over our fire. Mom humming tunes while stirring the chocolate. The baby babbling over the slightest thing. Dad trying to persuade me into eating my least favorite veggie.

“Eat at least half of them.”

“No.” I told him, crossing my arms and turning my nose away from their stench.

“If you don’t eat them you won’t be able to have any chocolate chestnuts.” Dad threatened.

Shook and shocked I turned back toward him stunned, I needed to make sure he was serious. Drat. He was.

Frowning I looked down on my veggies, their smell itself seemed to taunt me. Nudging one I contemplated whether chocolate chestnuts were worth this torture.

They were soooo good! A rare delicacy. Well not that rare, but it always felt like it was. Chestnut season felt so short.

But the little veggie devils on my plate were not so good. They made your nose crinkle no matter how hard you tried to fight it. And the taste, I will never forgive nature for allowing this creation to grow.

“Agh!” I thrusted my hands in front of me, the plate went sliding across the table and crashed to the floor.

Woops. It took me a couple seconds to realize I’d used Air. Looking at my parents, dad’s face plastered with shock, and mom looked horrified.

Dad slow in turning to me looked at me weird. Lunging for the baby he yelled at me, “Go!”

“I’m sorry daddy, I didn’t mean to.”

Eyes softening, he pleaded, “Just… go to your room for the night please.”

Worrying the entire time, I got ready for bed. I didn’t understand, and too scared to ask for help I went to bed in an unbuttoned nightgown.

I remember laying there for what might’ve been hours, listening to the hushed voices of my parents. Squeezing my bear, I heard hurried pacing, and then the front door slamming.

In the end, I convinced myself mom and dad were only shocked, and in the morning everything would be fine. Convincing myself my mind put to rest.

Awoken from a heavy slumber, Grim’s worried eyes were the first thing I saw.

“We have to go!” Throwing back my blanket and grabbing several things and shoving them into a satchel. Shoving my fallen bear into my arms, he ran to the bathroom gathering more things.

Tears were welling, and once catching some composure I asked why we were leaving. Eventhough I already knew.

Emerging from the bathroom, he stared at me fighting back tears. Kneeling in front of me, he asked a simple question. “Do you know where your parents are?”


Taking my silence as an answer, he asked another question. “Do you know what they’re doing?”

Shaking my head, he sighed, gulped, grabbed my hand, and explained. “We can control all five elements. They call us Calamities. Because of the Dark Element we are monsters to them.”

Taking a shaky breath and slipping socks and shoes on my feet he continued. “Your parents are going to officials. I don’t mean to scare you, but if we don’t run they will come and kill you. I won’t go down without a fight, so they’ll discover me. And I will end up killed too. We have to run.”

“We have to run.” I echoed, accepting the misfortunate card I am dealt.

Taking his hand and clutching my bear, we climbed out the window together.

It wasn’t more than ten minutes of us walking did we start hearing rowdy voices. Hoping and praying they were only a party group. But fate had it in for us, the voices were that of soldiers looking for us.

Grim bolted dragging me along, I tried my hardest to keep up and help him. But I was only nine. My legs were still short, my hope that was usually high was dropping, and adrenaline was pumping.

How was this fair? I didn’t choose this! I didn’t ask for this! I didn’t want this! Why was I going to be slaughtered or this?

All this fury building up gave me the strength to run faster, Grim tripped on a rock sending his bag flying. Slamming the ground with a punch in a second he was up again lunging for the bag.

Pulling me, he ducked behind a large tree. It was a smart idea, our forest had lost of trees if we kept dodging behind trees they’d be slowed down some.

“I’m going to teleport us, to the Dark Realm border. I know, but they won’t enter the Dark Realm, it’s considered a suicide mission. We won’t go too far in.” He said plowing through my interjection.

Busied with digging through his bag for ingredients for our teleportation to work.


I shouldn’t have and I knew it but I turned to this familiar voice calling for me. And there he was. Daddy.

I’d turned hoping the best. He’d changed his mind. Wanted to protect me. Was going to help me. But of course I knew I was wrong when he lifted up his shot gun to aim at me.

“Sana! It’s ready.” Grim yelled over the noise of the others. Yanking me out of dad’s line of sight.

Tears blurring my eyes, all I could see was a blue blob almost as big as me.

Turning to dad one last time, I squeezed my bear. Taking a deep breath, he needed to know that I’d be happy and I didn’t need him to be that.

Summoning up the biggest smile I could manage, I smiled for him. “Bye, Daddy.”

Wasn’t that a super fun and creative story? I had such a good time reading it! Thank you, Jamy, for sharing this story with us and for collaborating with me!

Until next time,

Writing Activity ft. Jorja Ayres

Hello everybody! Jamy from Sonata Starling Realm and I are doing a little collaboration. Check out her post if you want to read a short story I wrote, and stay tuned for when I post her story over here on my blog!

Sonata Starling Realm

Hello my Pretties! Today is a very special post, Jorja Ayres from Polka Dot Pens and we decided to do a writing activity collab together. Our collab is a little different from what you might expect, so I’ll explain what we did. We both chose an image we liked (Jorja’s is above) and then we write a story off of what we think the image is telling us. And that’s really all there is to it.

So allow me to present to you Jorja’s wonderful writing piece–

Off Track– by Jorja Ayres

I had twenty minutes to do everything in my power to prevent my sister from boarding a train. How hard could it be?

I fingered the small jar of black ink in my pocket, relieved that I had some left after using so much of it a few weeks ago. I didn’t have much to begin with, and…

View original post 1,312 more words

My Faith, Character Arcs, and Speaking Truth

That’s a kinda serious sounding title, but I was feeling rather introspective today.

You see, I recently purchased this awesome shirt from Jenna Terese’s new Redbubble collection (Here’s a link to her blog, go check her out!) The shirt features this quote:

The world does not need more Christian literature. What it needs is more Christians writing good literature.

-C.S. Lewis

This quote is one that I often go back to when thinking about how to incorporate my faith into my writing. And it’s a quote that really speaks about fiction’s place in the advancement of the Gospel.

I’ve always interpreted this quote to mean that there are many places that a seeking soul can go when they are looking into Christianity. The Bible itself, a Christian friend or family member, the many devotionals and resources available online. However, when it comes to people who aren’t interested in Christianity, preachy fiction isn’t going to get very far.

That is not to say that there isn’t a place for devotionals and Christian literature in this world, there certainly is. It’s just more likely to appeal to an exclusively Christian market than a secular one.

A good story that is written by a Christian has the potential to inspire people who would never think to pick up a “Christian book”. Incorporating themes of hope, forgiveness and redemption into a story can deeply resonate with people and speak truth into their life.

I often think about how to showcase my faith in my writing ‘properly’ (even though there’s no finite way to define that). I ask myself if I’m doing enough, or if I’m doing so much that I’m limiting my potential audience. What is the line I want to walk? I don’t want to put a book into the world if I haven’t really considered the possible impact it can have.

However, recent study and pondering has led me to my personal response to those questions.

My small group at my church has been discussing the impact that lies have on our lives. If we believe the lies that Satan, or other people, tell us then it leads us to sin. Me being me, this topic of conversation got me thinking about character arcs.

A common formula for positive character arcs (often illustrated by Abbie Emmons on her amazing YouTube Channel) is this:

  • Step 1: Character believes a lie.
  • Step 2: Character makes misguided decisions based on that lie.
  • Step 3: Character causes harm to themself and/or others based on those misguided actions.
  • Step 4: Character realizes the truth and goes forth to defeat the main conflict as a better person.

The reason this formula works is because it’s the basis for positive change in real life as well. Our bad decisions, our sin, is based on lies that we choose to believe. Lies are our way of trying to justify our sin. And its exactly what characters are doing in books, movies and TV shows everywhere.

So what are we, and our characters, supposed to do about it? The Bible tells us to speak truth against lies.

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ

Ephesians 4:15 ESV

And so, through writing a positive character arc I can speak truth. Writers have the opportunity to meet people in their dark places and offer them an alternative. Stories have the the potential to inspire. To help people become more like Christ.

If every story I write helps even one person to recognize a lie in their life and turn towards the truth, I’m so content with that. If that positive change can inspire them to look into Christianity, even better. And in my normal life, I try to do the same thing: speak truth.

That’s the line I choose to walk. It’s my goal with my writing, and my everyday life. I’m not saying everyone should write like this, we all have different goals, write towards different audiences, and should therefore walk different lines. But, personally, I’m gonna go forth and try to be a good Christian that writes good literature.

Thanks, C.S. Lewis.

That was my two cents. What do you think? I know this post is pretty different than my usual style, but its also something I felt needed to be said. Did you enjoy this more introspective post style? Where do you draw your lines? Is this something you think about at all? Let me know in the comments section!

Until next time,

The Disney Character Blog Tag

Merie over at Imperial Scribis tagged me for this, and of course I’m going to do it! I mean, a chance to fangirl about Disney movies AND share more about my charters? What’s not to love?

Not to mention, my character design process includes a step a bit like this so I kind of have ideas for most of my character comparisons already. If you guys want a post all about my character creation process, let me know in the comments!


  1. Link back to the tag’s creator. Riiiiight here.
  2. Link back to the person who tagged you. Thanks Merie!
  3. Pick 10-12 of your favorite Disney characters. Time to narrow down the monumental lists of favorites. I’ll be going with 10 today.
  4. Choose which of your cast of characters (whether from your current or a former WIP) reminds you of those princesses and tell us why. As Merie tagged me for this and didn’t just use princesses, I’m gonna take a page out of her book and also deviate a bit. There will be some princesses, but also some other characters from the Disney universe.
  5. Tag 4-7 other people. We’ll see if I can think of four….
  6. (Optional) Use the graphic I created for the tag.

#1 Rapunzel (Tangled)

Tangled is my favorite movie, ever. And so its probably no wonder that Ava Clare, my main character, has some similarities to Rapunzel. Although, weirdly enough, I also considered going with Simba for this one. But I’m saving him for later.

Ava has the same innocent, happy personality, and although they have notable differences, especially later in both of their stories, they have quite a bit in common.

#2 Belle (Beauty and the Beast)

Nikki Nunez has the same “I can read books and beat you up” energy as Belle. They both want so see what the world has to offer. However, Nikki is a lot more… silly than Belle. There’s quite a bit in this world that she doesn’t take seriously, and if you turn your back on her, there’s an 86.4% chance she’s sticking her tongue out at you.

#3 Ron Stoppable (Kim Possible)

I know this is a TV show, but the comparison was too spot on to pass up. Liam Taylor and Ron Stoppable would create some food-related havoc together.

They’re both incredibly loyal, dorky, and hilarious. They both generally don’t care how people see them. They would both do anything to protect their loved ones. life experiences caused Liam to mature a bit faster (as much as his family claims he hasn’t matured at all) and have changed him, but if Liam was in our world, in high school, with Kim Possible for a best friend he would likely be quite a bit like Ron.

#4 Tadashi (Big Hero 6)

*I couldn’t find a normal picture because I got rid of my Pinterest, but this one makes me laugh, so it’s staying.*

Zeke Roland is such a devoted big brother that its honestly one of his personality traits. Plus, he builds gadgets, so what Disney character would be a better fit than Tadashi Hamada himself? Zeke is a bit more of a control freak than Tadashi is, but he has the same support for his brother and is completely likely to stare at one of his inventions and say “I’m not giving up on you.”

#5 Flynn Rider (Tangled)

Ross Clare has the same attitude that Flynn does at the beginning of the film. He knows he’s charming and will use that charm to get what he wants. He likes to act like not much matters to him, while on the inside he’s trying to juggle a million conflicting priorities.

#6 Simba (The Lion King)

Shawn One-Day-I’ll-Think-Of-A-Last-Name was the hardest character to assign today. His struggle is one that I haven’t seen specifically represented in a Disney film (that I can think of at the moment) and he’s got quite a few layers (some of which he still hasn’t revealed to even me). However, Simba’s arc of running away and then returning to do what must be done is something that Shawn can certainly relate to.

#7 Tiana (The Princess and the Frog)

Del Taylor could also have been Wendy Darling, but I like Tiana better, so this is the direction I’m taking. Both Del and Tiana understand the value of hard work and love feeding people. Its how they show love. Del is a lot more chill than Tiana, though.

#8 Megara (Hercules)

Chara Royal-Last-Name is not quite as sarcastic as Megara, but she has some other major similarities. She has the same attitude, she walks to the beat of her own drum and really doesn’t care a whole lot about what goes on around her.

#9 Merida (Brave)

Yes, this is a Pixar movie. It still counts in my book. Kara Taylor has the same defiant/independent streak that Merida has, as well as the habit of sometimes ignoring people’s feelings because of that defiance/independence. Kara also has the same love for her family and ability to bribe her brothers that Merida has.

#10 Hiro (Big Hero 6)

Part of my motivation for comparing CJ Roland to Hiro was because I compared his older brother to Tadashi. But CJ and Hiro have the same curiosity, and the same response to grief, so it actually fits pretty well. Plus they both could probably benefit from constant supervision. CJ is a lot less cocky and sure of himself than Hiro, though. You wont see him betting on bot-fighting anytime soon.

I tag…

Nicole Dust @ Legend of a Writer

Jen @ Living Outside the Lines

Christine @ Christine Smith Author

And whoever else thinks this tag would be fun!

What do you think of my choices? Who are some of your favorite Disney characters? Do you think anyone noticed that this wasn’t the Zeke interview post I promised? Nah, probably not. Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

My Four Favorite Books on Writing

Hello everybody! I’m still working on Zeke’s character introduction/interview, so that will probably be next week’s post.

Today, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite books on writing that changed my writing life.

I was recently going through my old writing notebooks (searching for an empty one because there is never enough paper in this world) and I found an abundance of notes on various writing books. These are the four writing books that had the biggest impact on the way I write today:

Not Write Now – Kyle Robert Shultz

This book is not only hilarious, it really helped me to objectively look at my writing process.

It uses reverse-psychology to tell you how to become a “Not-Writer”, which for some reason… works. I can’t explain why, I can just tell you that I loved this book. It made me even more certain that I want to be a writer, and helped me recognize the things in my life that were holding me back. (*ahem* procrastination *ahem*)

Plus, did I mention how funny this book is? I was laughing out loud so much. Its hard for even fiction books to get me to laugh this much. It was just an enjoyable reading experience all around. Possibly because being called out doesn’t sting as much when someone is telling you to go for it! Ignore your dreams! Waste away in front of Netflix and YouTube! Its good for you!

This book helped me focus on my passion and motivation, which has changed the way I view my writing as a whole.

Dear Ally, How Do You Write a Book? – Ally Carter

Ally Carter is one of my favorite authors, so when she released a book about writing I was SO EXCITED! I grabbed it on my Kindle and read it in a day, highlighting like a madwoman.

This was one of the first books about writing that I read, and it did a wonderful job of introducing me to a variety of strategies, writing processes, and solutions to problems. In fact, it’s this book that solved one of the biggest problems I had with my A Girl of Two Worlds WIP.

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel – Jessica Brody

No one is surprised to see this book here, I assume. This book is extremely well known and popular for a reason.

I was pretty skeptical of story structures in general a few years ago. Then I found the Three Act Story Structure (through Abbie Emmon’s YouTube channel) and thought it was AWESOME. However, I still had some trouble fleshing out my story. The way Save The Cat explained the Three Act Structure, accompanied with the idea of “multi-scene beats” helped my plot feel so much more complete.

Story Genius – Lisa Cron

This book helped me in several ways. The first was teaching me how to intertwine character arc and plot. The second was teaching me that I am never going to be an intense outliner. Do I outline? Yes. Does it save my life? Yes. But I’m never going to be the person that uses scene cards or outlines everything before I write a book. It showed me an option for my writing process that I didn’t end up taking, which helped me narrow down exactly how I want to write.

The two other resources that impacted my writing process are Abbie Emmon’s YouTube channel and Brandon Sanderson’s lectures on science fiction and fantasy. Many of you have heard me mention both of them before, because they helped me so much. I highly encourage any writers out there to watch them, and be ready to take notes as you do!

If you have any writing resources or hacks that have helped you out, let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

Character Interview: Ava Clare

I have returned from my unintentional hiatus! Between starting school and my work hours being crazy, I haven’t had much time to blog recently. But I think I’ve got everything running smoothly, so I should be back to weekly posts unless something comes up!

However, something amazing did happen while I was taking a break. You see, I told myself that if I won NaNoWriMo that I would commission art of my characters. And since I DID win NaNo, it was time to finally reward myself.

And that is why I commissioned art of my main characters from the amazing Laura Hollingsworth. The very same artist who does much of the official art from Keeper of the Lost Cities, and is the author/illustrator of The Silver Eye web-comic! Laura is one of my favorite artists, so I knew I wanted her to be the one to bring my characters to life in an illustration.

And so, today I am sharing the commission with you guys, and giving you some more information about Ava with a character interview!

Without further ado, let me introduce Ava Clare and Zeke Roland…

I’m still screaming about this. My beautiful children are looking so good!

Because of spoilers I cannot get into why they’re all dressed up, or even where they are. But I can let you know some more about who they are and their backgrounds! This post is just going to be Ava’s interview, but Zeke’s will be coming soon!

The Interview

J: Alright, let’s get started! Why don’t you introduce yourself?

A: Hi! I’m Ava Clare! I’m seventeen, I love to paint, and… I’m not sure how much my brother would want me to tell you. Ross tends to be a lot more secretive than I am, which makes sense. We do important work and we wouldn’t want too much of our information falling into the wrong hands.

J: I wont push you and risk the wrath of Ross. Why don’t you share some more about your family? Do you have any other siblings?

A: I do! A little brother. He lives with my parents. I haven’t seen the three of them in a while, due to my… uh… current situation, but I do hope to be able to see them again someday soon! Until then, I have Ross with me. And Shawn, his best friend. He’s kind of like a second older brother to me.

J: What about friends?

A: I love meeting new people when I go on missions, I make a lot of friends that way! But my best friend is Zeke, our resident weapons maker. People tend to be intimidated by him, since he makes weapons and doesn’t say much, but he’s really one of the sweetest guys I know. And if you can get him to open up about his gadgets or his family, you’ll find it hard to get him to stop talking.

J: You’re a painter, what’s your favorite thing to paint?

A: Anything with interesting lighting! I do a lot of landscapes. Light filtering through trees to the forest floor. Light from house windows illuminating the night outside. If I can capture moments like that, I’m happy. I also do a lot of floral paintings.

J: Any big dreams, or a bucket list?

A: Too many to count. But I think the biggest one is to explore the world. I’ve been to a lot of amazing places, but I can’t help but want to see what else is out there.

J: Who do you trust the most?

A: Probably my brother, Ross. He’s always looking out for me, and I know he’ll always do what he believes is right.

J: How do you know you can trust a person?

A: Innocent until proven guilty, right? My brother disagrees with me. So does Zeke. But I can handle myself.

J: What would make you feel the most betrayed?

A: Oh, I’m not exactly sure. I guess if someone took advantage of me in some way, but I don’t really have a lot of experience with this.

J: How do those who know you best describe you?

A: Peppy, or happy. Sometimes even ‘too happy’, but I don’t think that’s a thing. I think making the best out of life is the most fulfilling way to live.

J: What’s one skill you want to get better at?

A: Probably combat. I do well with some of Zeke’s gadgets, but he’s always telling me not to rely on them.

J: Excellent, thanks for being here, Ava!

A: No problem! This was fun! Fair warning, though, if you’re planning to do this with Zeke he might not be as keen about answering your questions.

J: You just leave that to me.

That’s it for the interview! Is there anything else you’d like to know about Ava? Any questions you want me to ask Zeke? Let me know in the comments!

Now, excuse me while I stare at the art of Ava and Zeke for hours.

Until next time,