Monday, August 29, 2011

Ever had a fictional character who reminded you of... well, you?


So it’s Monday, the start of my first full week of school. After a hectic weekend of being evacuated for the hurricane which (thankfully) didn’t hit here, and returning yesterday afternoon, I’m surprisingly prepared and ready to enter back into the university routine. The class I’m most looking forward to (apart from creative writing) is Psychology of Personality. Since I have personality on the brain, I thought I’d tie it into my post.

So we all love fictional characters, right? But which ones are we most like? The myers-briggs personality test classifies people based on four categories:

E/I -Extravert/Introvert

N/S- Intuitive/Sensing

T/F-Thinking/Feeling

J/P- Judging/Perceiving

(Ever heard someone say I’m an ENTJ, or ISFP? They’re (probably) referring to their myers-brigg type)

Now take a look at popular fictional characters and their personality types:

Who do you match up with? Anyone you like? Anyone you hate? Have you ever been told you acted like someone (who is or isn’t) on the list? Would you agree?

If you haven’t had enough already... here are some more fun links.
At Personality CafĂ© you can type in your letters + “fictional characters” and see what a number of people have come up with.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Blogging Schedule


Do you have a blogging schedule? Have you ever tried one? Do you find it better to have more structure and organization, or to go with the flow and wing it? 

Since I've started this blog, I've been more of the second type, writing what I felt like writing when I felt like writing it. And it's worked so far. I'm just a very organized person by nature, and now that school is back, I like to have as much of my schedule as planned out as possible-and that includes blogging now. 

While considering whether or not it was time to start organizing my posts, I came across this article: “Stop Being an ‘Aspiring’ Writer" For Anyone who is just starting to blog or write, or anyone who has ever doubted themselves, I would recommend reading it. In addition to delivering good informative advice, it was what I needed to crack down and organize my own blog. So, from the next few weeks I’m going to try a temporary schedule and we’ll see what comes from it.

Here’s my plan:
Monday Musings- posts of philosophical or psychological nature pertaining to literature, media, and or writing
Writers Wednesday- dedicated to writing tips, prompts, inspirations, etc.
Fun Friday- the day I’m leaving open for anything- memes, jokes, news, anything noteworthy and lighthearted that is fun to write and (hopefully) fun to read.

How does that sound? As always, I’m open to suggestions.

I hope everyone has a great (and safe!) weekend. I’ll be back bright and early Monday morning for my first musings :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Chronicles of Vallanie Sharp

This past week I've been busy, with visiting relatives, moving back to university, classes starting up again, and... (drumroll please) publishing my first book.

Yes, I'm glad to announce my debut novel "Novice," the first in a series titled The Chronicles of Vallanie Sharp has been released. It's now available electronically through both amazon and smashwords. It's a young adult, sci-fi adventure story that takes place in a seemingly utopian society (but we all know what that means, right?). For a more detailed description, see the tab "My Works"above.

In other news, I've started my courses this semester which are very heavy on Psychology-I'm looking forward to them though. I'm sure they'll inspire many thought provoking posts.

I hope everyone is having a great week (and for everyone else who just started back to school, a great semester).


Monday, August 22, 2011

Star Trek As We Know It: Blogfest

Today is the Star Trek As We Know It Blogfest, (hosted by Ellie Garratt, here) where you're supposed to post your top five favorite star trek characters and episodes/films. 

Let me start by saying I’m somewhat new to star trek. I was actually introduced to it during my freshman philosophy class, when our teacher showed us scenes from Next Generation to familiarize us with philosophical content. Then the new movie came out and my friends and parents dragged me to see it, though I’d never seen the originals. I stated really watching them early this summer so, at this point, I’ve only seen the movies, the first three seasons of Next Generation, and a few of the original episodes.

Favorite Characters

5. Spock- So smart and serious it’s hilarious.

4. Dr. Beverly Crusher- Every crew needs a smart woman. She's kind and caring, but doesn't let anyone push her around.


3. Captain James T. Kirk
Um… he’s Captain Kirk! Need I say more?



2. Lt. Commander Data
I find him absolutely hilarious. Especially when he’s trying to be human. And the fact that he’s looked down upon for being an android just makes me love him more.

1. Captain Jean-Luc Picard
His morality and attempts to peacefully resolve conflict are what makes him my favorite. Though he’s an intelligent, resourceful captain, he still listens to other’s opinions, considers their advice, and then forms his own solution.


As for my favorite episodes, I don’t think I’ve seen enough to choose. The new movie was great. My mom made me watch “trouble with tribbles” with her recently, and I found it hilarious. I love the Sherlock Holmes episodes with data: Star Trek in London and Data as Sherlock Holmes… what’s not to love!?


Since my family has become recently obsessed with this you tube music video (and it fits just perfectly with this blogfest) I felt obligated to share (If you haven't seen it, it's hilarious):


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Moment to Ponder


Have you ever wondered what it really is that makes stories so captivating? Realistic, fascinating characters? A unique and engaging plot? An exquisite setting?

Or maybe it’s something more. Something much deeper, beyond an individual author or story, and perhaps what brought us all here to this online avid reader community.

How is it that, from spending two or three hours staring at ink on a page (or lights on a screen), we can come to know fictional characters and places better than some real ones we’ve lived around for years?
 
How strange is it that, even in a different part of the world, you can meet a complete stranger who has read the same book, and suddenly you have a whole world in common-filled with people you both love and hate, places you both remember, and adventures you’ve shared.

It really is a marvelous form of communication- not just from author to reader, but then from reader to reader as well.

I was just thinking of this for no particular reason last night, as I was falling asleep, remembering how many friends I met through a mutual interest in specific books, movies, or TV shows. There were a surprising number of them (a few of which I still consider good friends), and I just thought “Wow… it’s so crazy that you can go to a completely new place, with completely new people, and have so much in common from a single book.”

Have you ever bonded with someone over books? Would you say that, after discussing a story with someone else, it changes your perception on it, or your experience with it?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back to Work: A Bit About Bios


After a (mostly) fun filled family vacation to Seattle, Washington, I’m back to the hot Carolina heat and looking forward to staying inside and writing!

I'm glad to announce that my first book, “The Chronicles of Vallanie Sharp: Novice” is now (almost) ready for publication. It’s as revised as it’s going to get, edited, and formatted for Smashwords. I’m satisfied with the cover. All that’s missing is the summary and the bio.

Hence my post for today: Writing a Bio.

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on this. Other than my resume, this is the first time I’ve written one. However, I’ve found some helpful sites including:

A perfectly timed post by go teen writers: Writing a Bio

An e-zine article, How to Write an Author Bio has some good tips to keep in mind. 

You can find some decent examples here.

I also looked up some of my favorite authors and read their bios, which were interesting, but not quite as helpful, since they mostly just listed their numerous credentials and publications.

After some experimentation, here is what I came up with (feel free to offer any advice- like I said, I'm no expert):

Morgan Feldman currently resides in North Carolina where she is earning her BFA in Creative Writing and her BA in Psychology. She considers surviving high school her greatest accomplishment, which must have contributed to her passion for writing teen novels. Seeking anything that engages her imagination, she spends time reading character centric books, making student films, and psychologically analyzing fictional characters with her sister.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Vacation

Sorry I haven't been posting or commenting much lately- I've been on vacation. I'll catch up when I get back next week, and I'll try to organize this a little better (maybe start a posting schedule... we'll see how well that works). In the mean time, I'll leave you with these photos I took of cool "Middle Earth" street signs:





Monday, August 8, 2011

Crossover Madness(& Fun!)

I thought I'd start the week of with a fun little Meme (Totally taken from Eleatintil's post Of Bob the Tomato, Han Solo, and Bellatrix Lestrange... which was so hilarious, I knew I had to do one myself).

First, list twelve characters from any fandom, then answer the questions below.


1. Harry Potter

2. Charles Xavier

3. Frodo Baggins

4. Obi-wan Kenobi

5. Elizabeth Swann

6. Buffy Summers

7. Fox Mulder

8. Anakin Skywalker

9. Shawn Spencer

10. Sherlock Holmes

11. Pippin Took

12. Kitty Pryde



1. Who would make a better collage prof, 6 or 11? 
Buffy or Pippin? Haha, wow, I’d love to take either’s class, but I don’t think I’d learn anything! Although, Buffy could make a good self-defense instructor (I’d be sore for days!). Pippin could teach… uh… how to get out of trouble.


2. Do you think #2 is hot? 

Charles Xavier- The only man who can be bald and in a wheel chair and still run a school, peacefully negotiate, and kick ass…What could be hotter? Maybe a film about his pre-professor X days where he’s played by James Mcavoy? Now that would be hot ;)


3. 12 sends 8 out on a mission. What is it? Does it succeed?

Kitty sends Anakin out on a mission to get her pet dragon a healing potion from his alien homeland. It would succeed… hopefully without Anakin upsetting multiple alien species who develop a vendetta against earthlings…. hopefully.


4. What is or what would be 9's favorite book?

Shawn? Any with few words and lots of pictures.


5. Would it make more sense: for 2 to swear fealty to 6, or the other way around? 

Charles Xavier and Buffy Summers- Neither are really the fealty swearing type. Though Charles is better at giving orders and Buffy is better at carrying them out, so I’d say, if it came down to it, she’d be more likely to swear allegiance to him.


6. For some reason, 5 is looking for a roommate. Should (s)he room with 9 or 10?

Should Elizabeth Swann room with Shawn Spencer or Sherlock Holmes? Well, that depends, does she want an immature over-confident roommate who’s always hitting on her, or one who remains quiet for days conducting scientific experiments with flys and randomly shooting at the wall? Either way, if there is ever a crime committed, she’ll have someone to solve it for her!


7. 2, 7 and 12 are going out to dinner. Where do they go and what do they discuss? 

Charles, Mulder, and Kitty... well, I image the restaurant would be somewhat fancy, and all the surrounding tables would give them strange stares as they talked about aliens and extraterrestrial encounters (“No, Mulder, for the tenth time, we did not see your sister”).


8. 3 challenges 10 to a duel, who wins? 

Frodo challenges Sherlock Holmes? Poor Frodo, dumb decision, because you would most certainly loose :(


9. If 1 stole 8's most precious possession, would (s)he get it back? 

Harry stole Anakin’s most precious possession-which would be either his lightsaber, or padme (since Anakin seems to view her as his possession)-either way, there would be an epic battle before he got it back.

10. Suggest a story title in which 7 and 12 both attain what they desire. 

Mulder and Kitty? Humm, a story in which the aliens come and return Mulder’s sister, then attack the world only to be stopped by mutants who are then looked upon as heroes... the title? Mutants vs. Aliens.


11. What kind of plot device would you have to use if you wanted 1 and 4 to work together? 

Well, Harry Potter stumbles across a strange object in the Room of Requirements that he accidently activates, which transports him to a galaxy far, far away, where he is found in the desert by an old man named Obi-wan Kenobi. Though Harry would miss Hogwarts, he’d be glad to get away from all the action and adventure for a while, take a break from fulfilling prophocies and fighting evil, you know, and just see what life is like as a normal teenager, like this “Luke Skywalker” they seem to have mistaken him for.


12. If 7 visited you for the weekend, how would it go? 

When Mulder comes to visit, expect life-endangering situations, alien invasions, conspiracies, and a supernatural overload.


13. If you could command 3 to perform any service or task for you, what would it be? 

Frodo? I think destroying the ring and saving the world was enough. But, other than that, I’d say invite me to the shire and feed me for a day :)


14. Does anyone on your friends list write or draw 11? 

Of course Frodo writes pippin. And Kitty probably drew hearts around his name in middle school… does that count?


15. If 2 had to choose sides between 4 and 5, what side would (s)he choose? 

Charles has to choose between Obi-wan and Elizabeth- Sorry Elizabeth, I think he’d side with the Jedi.


16. What might 10 shout out while charging into battle? 

Sherlock Holmes- “The battle is afoot!”


17. If you had to choose a song to best describe 8, what would it be? 

A song describing Anakin Skywalker: humm,.. something angsty and dark. “Animal I have become” by Three Days Grace


18. 1, 6 and 12 are having a dim sum at a Chinese Restaurant. There is only one scallion pancake left, and they all reach for it at the same time. Who gets it? 

Out of Harry, Buffy and Kitty: I’d go with Buffy. There’s something about fighting vampires that I’d imagine comes with good reflexes.


19. What would be a good pickup line for 2 to say to 10? 

Charles Xavier to Sherlock Holmes: “Has anyone told you your mind is exceptionally groovy?”


20. What would 5 most likely be arrested for? 

(Elizabeth) That’s easy: piracy.


21. What is 6's secret? 

Um, she’s a super awesome vampire slayer who’s died twice. And she used to be a cheerleader.


22. If 11 and 9 were racing to a destination, who would get there first? 

Shawn would beat Pippin, hands down… unless they were racing for food, and then it would be a close call.


23. If you had to walk home through a bad neighborhood late at night, who would you feel more comfortable walking with, 7 or 8? 

(Mulder or Anakin) I’d take the FBI agent over the mass murderer.


24. 1 and 9 reluctantly team up to save the world from the threat posed by 4's sinister secret organization. 11 volunteers to help them,but it is later discovered that s/he is actually a spy for 4. Meanwhile, 4 has kidnapped 12 in an attempt to force their surrender. Following the wise advice of 5, they seek out 3, who gives them what they need to complete their quest. What title would you give this fic? 

Harry Potter and Shawn Spencer’s reluctantly team up to save the world from the threat posed by Obi-wan Kenobi’s sinister secret organization (the jedi!?). Pippin volunteers to help them, but is actually Obi-wan’s spy. Meanwhile, Obi-wan has kidnapped Kitty in an attempt to force their surrender. Following Elizabeth Swan’s advice, they seek out Frodo, who gives them what they need to complete their quest (the ring!?).

Title: The end of the literature.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The First Spark


As it is a dreary (desperately needed) rainy day, I’m feeling up for something nostalgic.
So I’m posing the question: What book first turned you on to writing? Or reading, if that’s your preference.

I can’t remember exactly when it was I first wanted to write. I’ve always loved making up stories. When I was in first grade, people would ask what my favorite subject was and I would say “writing.” Then they’d ask what my least favorite was and I would say “spelling.” I found it incredibly confusing that people would always laugh.

The first book I remember really falling in love with though, was The Grand Escape by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.



I was probably eight years old the first time I read this juvenile book, and ten years the last time, but for some reason, this cute comedic story about two runaway house cats really stuck with me. I had to have read it at least six times in a row. And then I went out and bought the sequels. I think I'd memorized half the dialogue. If there was ever a book that made me want to be a writer, this was it. 

I started writing my own "cat adventure stories," trying to re-create The Grand Escape feelWhen people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said “a writer, like Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.” So I guess you could say she was my first role model... that wasn't fictional :P 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I want to be a real boy (or girl)

Ever opened a book and read about a character that you felt like you knew by the end? Ever fallen in love with one? Have you ever closed a booked (or muddled through with a determination greater than mine) because the characters seemed flat, unrealistic, or didn’t make any sense? As a writer, we want to be remembered for the first, and not the second.

So what exactly is it that seperates the two?

Personality: this is obvious, but sometimes it seems to be shoved aside when another character or a complicated plot is introduced. Every character that has a line of dialogue should have a personality. You don’t need to figure out every last detail of the guard’s life if he’s only in one paragraph, but do decide if he’s a typical guard (serious, commanding, intimidating) or if there is anything different. Different is often more interesting. People are more likely to remember the frail, worried guard on his first day than they are the “cut-out” of normality.

Motivation: What is it that is motivating your character? What are his or her goals? They should have two: one, which is tangible and they are aware of (ie: destroy a ring, save the cheerleader, or win back the girl of their dreams) and one in that lies deep in their subconscious, which you as the author are away of. This second is much larger, and usually is to be loved, to be feared, to be accepted, to be admired, or something very similar. This should never be stated explicitly, but the readers should be able to figure it out by the end of the book (which category does Bella fall into? Harry Potter?)

Self-image: Often times, the most interesting stories are when a characters self image is quite different from how they are perceived. They see themselves as worthless and cowardly, while their actions show they are actually quite brave, but perhaps not in a way they don’t think of as typical bravery. Or, they see themselves as heroic and inspiring, but are crushed when they realize everyone else sees them as self-centered and cocky.

Background: it’s good to have at least a general idea for a character’s background, even if it’s never mentioned. Were they properly educated? Do they have a strong accent?  Are they close to their family? These factors are going to change the way they behave and influence the other characters perceive them. The larger role the character will play, they more you should spend time creating their background.

Interaction with others: this is the most important part. It could really have a whole post to itself. A character can be described as funny, but no one is going to buy it unless they see for themselves. “Funny” is such a generic word, because everyone has a different sense of humor.

Relatable: This doesn’t mean all young adult books have to take place on earth in a suburban high school, but it does mean it has to be relatable to people in that setting. Loss of innocence, witnessing injustice, introduced to new situations, and becoming overwhelmed with emotions are all trials we face as young adults, and are therefore often explored in the YA genre.

Simply put, people want to read stories about people (or at least, characters with human qualities) so character development is a crucial part of the writing process.

What are some of the “most real” fictional characters you’ve been introduced to? What do you think it was that made them so real?