On Pride and Prejudice

I’ve been in love with Pride and Prejudice ever since I devoured the 1995 television series, cuddled on the couch with my mom and a bowl of ice cream. I had tried More »

On Paranormal Romance

As I mentioned in a previous post, paranormal romance has been given a bad rep because of girly wish-fulfilling books like Twilight. Yes, I’m basing all the bad stigma following paranormal romance More »

On The Dark Divine

*Mild Spoilers (Visit Spoiler Ratings and Guidelines for ThinkyRead’s spoiler policy). As I’ve mentioned before, I listen to a podcast called Writing Excuses. Now, I never mentioned that I listen to it More »

Three Pitfalls of Writing Romance

Romance in fiction is more common than you might think. These days, you don’t have to buy a ticket to the newest chick flick to witness sparks flying on-screen. It seems to More »

On Fifty Shades of Grey

*Spoiler-Free (Visit Spoiler Ratings and Guidelines for ThinkyRead’s spoiler policy). Back in 2012 I opened my Amazon account and took a look at the top New York Times best sellers. I wanted something to More »

 

When Heroes Fall

When Heroes fall

People like heroes. But people love broken heroes.

Often our favorite fictional characters are the ones who act out rebelliously, fall to temptation, or turn out to be just plain evil. Even with their flaws, we love them all the same, if not more. But that begs the question, why do the characters we love act that way?

To Mirror Reality

A story is not a record of cause and event. It’s a snapshot of someone’s life. You’re not just reading about something that happened to someone somewhere. You’re living it.

Real lives aren’t lived out in neat little lines, chugging along like an uninterrupted choo-choo, and they certainly don’t make sense all the time. Real lives more closely resemble a painter’s palette–sometimes so messy you’re not even sure what color you’re looking at.

People can be stupid. We do dumb things all the time, often for no better reason than “I wanted to.” Why would literature, created by messy, crazy, lopsided people be anything besides messy, crazy, and lopsided?

To Teach a Lesson

Historically, stories have been an effective tool for conveying very specific and important information in a way that can be easily remembered. Like parables, parents would whisper terrible tragedies to their young ones to illustrate the importance of their warnings.

After all, originally Little Red Riding Hood got eaten by the wolf. Takeaway? Don’t talk to strangers, don’t tell them where you’re going. While you’re at it, don’t walk in the woods by yourself. That’s just stupid.

To Increase Interest

Reading about a perfect person who always makes the right choice would be like watching Superman go up against Lex Luthor, unaffected by Kryptonite. Dull and predictable. Failure is what makes a story interesting. It’s that ability to witness someone fail miserably, picking themselves up again, trying to make it right, that keeps our eyes glued to the page. It’s that not knowing what will happen–whether our hero will succeed or not–that keeps us on the edge of our seats.

When Failure is a Bad Thing

Sometimes the characters we like do dumb things that just don’t sit right with us. If this balance between believable failure and character stupidity is tipped to the wrong side, we, the audience, often disengage, not knowing exactly what threw us out of the story. All we know is we don’t like this character and are ready for something new.

Usually this scale tips because what the character did was unmotivated. Instead of acting according to their specific worldview, they did something that was completely opposite for no apparent reason.

For example, if the character you’re reading about is a sheltered Christian girl and at some point in the book she decides to give in to her persistent boyfriend, this action, according to her worldview, would be considered wrong, immoral, and damaging. A true Bible-believing Christian would do her best to remove herself from the temptation of sex before marriage. Seeing a strong Christian decide to sleep with her boyfriend for no good reason tells is that something about the development of this character is broken.

Though a failure such as this could still go over well with readers if, say, our heroine had been struggling with the temptation for a while. Or perhaps she’s under the pressure of her parents’ oncoming divorce, stressed out, and decides to act out irrationally in response to that. To put a cherry on top, our heroine should also suffer some kind of consequence due to her infidelity, more specifically, due to acting against her worldview.

A lack of proper character motivation will kick readers out of a story. WIthout proper motivation for her actions, readers will dislike our fictional heroine without even knowing why. Especially if her actions directly contrast with her own belief system. With no consequences, readers will catch on to the fact that something isn’t lining up, and because of this disconnect they themselves will disconnect with the character and the story.

In Conclusion

Characters do bad things all the time. Heroes fall and suffer the consequences. That’s what fiction is made of. When you’re favorite character does something stupid, it isn’t always a bad thing for the story as a whole. It all depends on their motivations.

Next time your favorite character does something dumb, take a good hard look into why. This may open your eyes to a much deeper, more enriching understanding of the book.

On Nightingale by David Farland

Nightingale

*Mild Spoilers (Visit Spoiler Ratings and Guidelines for ThinkyRead’s spoiler policy).

On Wednesday, April 10th, I just happened to open up my Feedly (which, admittedly, I don’t do often). Mary Robinette Kowal’s most recent post was titled “Book Bomb to Help Dave Wolverton’s son.” Hm… intriguing, What in the world is a Book Bomb?

Apparently David Wolverton’s son had recently been in a long boarding accident, broke most of the bones in his body. Being a full-time writer often means having not-so-great health insurance. Or, as in this case, none at all. So a bunch of Daven’s writer friends got together and decided to spike Dave’s most recent book’s popularity on Amazon. Higher rank, more sales, less debt. Plus, he got 7% from whatever people purchased from Amazon if they used his affiliate link! And, hey, the book was only $7.99.

So I bought it.

Pros and Cons of Audiobooks

Audio books

Audiobooks are becoming more and more popular by the day, but there’s still some argument about whether or not they are inferior to actual reading. I don’t claim to be the best judge in this competition. I enjoy both audiobooks and actual reading immensely. What it really comes down to when deciding whether to purchase the audiobook or the hard copy is personal choice. Mostly your lifestyle.

Dan Wells’ Seven-Point Story Structure

sevenpoint story

Because we’re talking about Dan Wells’s Partials this week, I thought it would be the perfect time to introduce you to one of the BEST story analysis tools EVER! This story analysis tool wasn’t exactly created by Dan, but he did make it his own and popularized it through a lecture you can watch here. (I do recommend watching his lecture, just keep in mind it’s an hour long.)

This tool is great because it helps you find a good skeleton of a story. It fits in perfectly with the most common story creation/analysis tool, The Three Act Structure (which will be covered in an upcoming post), and is a great framework to keep in mind when reading a book.

Just a note, the way Dan uses this structure to create a story is by working backwards. Keep in mind that he is teaching this method to writers, not to readers (although, they’re often one-in-the-same). (I won’t be running through it backwards, like him.)

According to Dan, every story must have at least these seven elements at its core:

On Partials by Dan Wells

Character Foils1

*Mild Spoilers (Visit Spoiler Ratings and Guidelines for ThinkyRead’s spoiler policy).

I bought Partials by Dan Wells approximately six months ago. And it’s been sitting on my bed, staring at my face, judging me… for six months. NO MORE! I finally picked that sucker up and READ IT! And, you know what? It was pretty good.

Dystopian Fiction

I’ll admit, I was a little afraid that I wouldn’t like this book. Dystopian fiction is… hard to get right. Most of the time the crazy societies that authors come up with are so utterly ridiculous that you might enjoy the book while you’re reading it, but once you step back and think about it for two seconds, the whole story is ruined forever.

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