Writing Tips: How to Create A Main Character

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Purpose: This should be the first part to consider when you create your protagonist. The purpose is how the character creates the plot of the book. What is the character trying to accomplish? What obstacles is your protagonist facing and why are they doing it? These are things to consider before fleshing out your main character. The plot will help you decide what traits to give your character.

Personality: This is arguably the most important part of creating your character because this is what will make the reader either put down the book or continue reading. When giving your character personality traits, make sure to give them traits that are relevant to the story and further the plot. The protagonist’s personality should be relatable and realistic. Everybody wants to read about positive traits and unique skills, but they also want to see flaws. We all have flaws, and sometimes the flaws in protagonists help to advance the plot of the story. How about a knight who is extremely timid? Mixing stereotypes with unique flaws and traits is the ideal way to create your protagonist.

Physical Traits: While personality is most important, the physical traits of your main character can also help draw in readers. For example, this could be race, gender, or physique. Especially nowadays, there is a lot of diversity within books regarding gender and race. This broadens the audience and allows certain readers to connect deeper with your character. Gender plays an important role in modern books because typically, girls read more than boys (not to say boys don’t read or there aren’t amazing male protagonists.) Finally, the physique of your character is important for two reasons: it helps draw in certain groups of readers, and it should reflect your plot. A character who has to carry a broadsword and armor, should have muscle. A character who spends a lot of time inside with little sleep, should appear ghastly. These are all simple ideas that could help you with creating your protagonist. 

-Michelle L.

Writing Tips: Fantasy Worldbuilding

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Genre: The most important part when you begin writing a novel is picking a genre. Think of all your favorite books or movies and take inspiration from all of them. Is your novel going to be set in a medieval world? Space? A dystopian civilization? Apocalyptic world? Once you decide it will be a lot easier to write out a plot and the details of your world.

Setting: The second most important part of writing a fantasy novel is choosing the setting. Typically, most fantasy novels take influence from medieval Europe, but it doesn’t always have to be that. What does the environment look like? Is it set in a cold environment, hot environment, desert, space, mountains, coastline? All of these are factors to consider when creating your world.

Plot: Typically fantasy novels follow a plot where the main character has to go on an adventure or quest to complete a task. However, this plot can have a lot of variation and provide a unique story. Some ideas to consider when working out a plot are the tools you will use to advance your plot. This could be magic, a character with a very specific skill, or any other unique additions to your book. This could also be influenced by the setting, perhaps the world is set in a dystopian setting where there are tensions between the rulers and their citizens. Maybe the main character has to go on a quest to find something. The possibilities are endless.

Characters: People like to read about relatable characters. When creating a main character it’s important to make them believable. Many times, new writers create a character that only reflects positive traits, when in reality, everyone has negative traits they’re not proud of. Insecurities and mistakes in a character give the reader an emotional attachment to said character. When writing side characters, make sure they exist to further the plot. Also try to give them their own personality to engage the reader.

-Michelle L.

You’re Enough

“I’m sorry I’m not good enough. I’m sorry I can’t help you with your homework. I’m sorry I have an accent. I’m sorry I’m such an embarrassment.” Growing up, I heard my father utter these painful words as he looked tearfully into my eyes. But, even then, I wished I could make him see his true value in shaping me into the person I am today. 

I want my father to see himself as I see him: as a hero. I want my father to know that his scarred and callused hands are not merely the hands of a working-class man, but the hands of a selfless father who has given up everything for his children. The countless scars, cicatrixes, and wounds that decorate his hands are like shining medals in my eyes. Yes, my father came from an impoverished town in Mexico, never earned a college degree, and arrived in America with nothing but the clothes on his back; but in my eyes, he is a hero and his scars are his superpowers. His scars tell the story of a young boy who crossed the border illegally into an unknown land in which people spoke a foreign language. They tell the story of a boy who was forced to work in the fields at the age of seven, later abandoned by his parents at the age of eight. Most importantly, they remind me of my story and of my background. They remind me that just as my father wears his scars proudly, so must I. His scars are a physical representation of his dedication to our family. They remind me that just as he works tirelessly from morning to night to provide for our family, I must work to fulfill my dreams.

I wish I could make my father see that his white beat-up work truck is worth more than any Mercedez and that his tattered work clothes are more valuable than any luxury business suit. Because, in my eyes, his run-down truck and stained clothing tell a story, not of wealth and privilege, but of perseverance and incomparable strength. His scars, beaten truck, and tattered clothing are the reasons I have the opportunity to achieve my dream. They have given me insight into the value of hard work and inspire me to challenge myself daily. One day, I will make my father realize how valuable he truly is. For now, all I can do is hold his hand, look into his eyes, and say, “I promise, you’re enough.” 

-Yvette C.

Ode to the Beach Poem

Whenever I see you I am comforted,

By your magnificent waves that crash against the sand.

When I see you I think of the magical creatures that are swimming in your oceans,

As well as the trillions of rainbow-colored fish I see each time I snorkel in your waters.

Whenever I step foot onto your sand,

I feel the sand between my toes,

That feels like home.

You provide a sense of comfort whenever I come to you,

As well as everyone else like my family and friends.

You provide a gathering spot where people of all ages can socialize and have fun,

And play in the sun.

Your oceans are sparkling like big diamonds wherever I look at them,

Which provide perfect picture spots.

There is so much I can do when I come to you,

Like play with sand toys in the sand,

Which make great big sandcastles,

That causes friendly competition.

And I can play in the water,

Whenever I go in,

I feel like I am by myself,

And that time has stopped.

I will always love coming to you.

-Abby V.

Alternate Ending for “The Landlady”

I recently read a short horror story called “The Landlady,” which was left on a cliffhanger. I decided to write an alternate ending for it! I would highly recommend that you read the original short story before reading the alternate ending. You can find the story at https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/sites/teacheng/files/landlady_text.pdf

Alternate Ending for “The Landlady”

Something, just something about this whole affair bothered Billy. He couldn’t quite place his finger on what it was, a stirring of the mind, a brief flash of thought. He attributed it, of course, to the heat of the room and the time of night. “I think I should like to go to bed now,” he said.

“Of course, dear,” cried the old lady, fussing over him, “I should think so!”
Billy sighed, stepping gingerly over the dachshund to make his way to the stairs. He turned back to look at the landlady. She had her back to him, serenely gazing into the dying embers of the fire, petting the dachshund, a cold, stiff travesty of a dog. Yes, something about this whole bloody business just wasn’t quite right. Shaking his head, he stumbled slowly up the stairs and into his room. He sat down heavily on the bed, still thinking. The fourth floor? The men were still here? But how? Eyes drooping, he fell straight to sleep, questions still echoing around his head.

3 a.m. the following morning
Billy started out of sleep, thrashing wildly about his bed like a trout out of water. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he looked blearily around the room. A quick check of the nightstand clock confirmed his suspicion that it was indeed very early in the morning. Just a minute! A voice was coming from the landing above his. It was a mere mumbling, but a voice nonetheless. It was a crooning, haunting tone that rose and fell eerily; yes, it was a voice as smooth as silk, yet as sharp as glass. Billy was wide awake now, no chance of ever falling asleep in this cursed house again! Pulling on his robe, he slowly pushed open the door to investigate.

He crept up the stairs, thoroughly examining his surroundings. He was on the third floor now. Looking about, he saw a small sewing machine, overflowing boxes of cloth, and shelves overflowing with a large variety of small bottles. The room itself smelled faintly of hospital disinfectant. Intrigued, Billy slowly stepped closer. A curious smell came from the flask closest to him. Reaching out, he pulled it from its place and gave it a cautious sniff. The flask reeked of bitter almonds and garlic. Covering his nose with his sleeve, Billy replaced the cask on its shelf and continued his trek.

Something wasn’t quite right. Billy was tripping now, stumbling and coughing. His vision doubled and his eyes watered. In front of him he saw the landlady, crooning gently to- to- he collapsed, the cold, dead face of Christopher Mulholland still swimming in his memory, mouth affixed in a plastic smile, ghastly and preserved.

The face of the landlady, cruel and hard, stared down at him. In the light, she looked a hundred years old, like the old Greek demons Billy had learned about in school. His head felt like a lump of stone. The woman leered down at him, spinning a scalpel expertly between her fingers. He rasped out one word. “Why?” The landlady’s lips turned down. She looked put out to see him awake. “Why, darling, I must keep you! You’ll wither away otherwise.” Billy coughed again, then screamed as a sharp pain sliced into his flesh, below his abdomen. As he floated in and out of consciousness, he heard the landlady singing. My Bonnie lies over the ocean, my Bonnie lies over the sea, my Bonnie lies over the ocean. The landlady smiled cruelly as she pulled her final stitch. “Please bring back my Bonnie to me…”

I hope you enjoyed it!

-Vaidehi B.

“The House” Short Story

I strolled down the sidewalk on the sunny Thursday morning, lost in my thoughts and worries. Was I ever going to find a home that was perfect? I idly examined the mansion I found myself in front of. Manicured lawn, tall hedges hiding the home, marble fountain bubbling up on the walkway… “I could live with this,” I mumbled to myself. I peer through the hedges, trying to catch a glimpse of the house. Suddenly, two boys sauntered up the lawn in front of me, no more than three yards from me! I fervently prayed they wouldn’t notice me, and they didn’t. Breathing a sigh of relief, I strained my ears to hear what the taller of the pair was explaining to his squat friend. “Yeah, the house is nicer since Dad put the new stone siding and fireplace in…” Hmm… a fireplace? I listened closer, sneaking around to the back where I could hear the boys’ voices through the open kitchen window. Newly painted living room, nearest house a quarter mile away? “Lovely, lovely,” I thought. Damp and musty basement? Could get a discount for that… But new plumbing was an added plus. A den was rather unnecessary but perfect for a home theatre system. “Speakers, projector, screens..” Quite lost in my reverie, I came to when the boys were already upstairs! I put my ear to the wall, and was barely able to hear Tall’s voice over Squat’s rapid questions. Three upstairs bedrooms… Perfect for a study and a recreation room. I could hear Tall’s voice more clearly now. “The bathroom in the hall is mine, since Dad added one to my sisters’ room for them… yeah, this is a leak; the roof finally rotted…” A leak! That was worth a hefty price reduction… Grinning to myself, I decided that I had heard enough. As I ambled down the street, I imagined myself putting in an offer, one they wouldn’t be able to resist. How did I know so much about their house? Well, that was my little secret… 

Linwood Custom Homes Named Finalist in Six National Home ...

-Vaidehi B.

Writing Tips!

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Creating things can be difficult.  Frequently, writers develop a lack of motivation or good ideas, known as writer’s block.  When in one of these moods it can feel impossible to begin writing, like your writing is no good, or that you will never finish on account of not finding the perfect synonym for “yesterday”.  

My brain’s most frequent writing issue is that I ramble.  My ideas come so fast, my fingers don’t have time to get them down on paper, and before I know it I’ve forgotten what I was writing and moved on to a completely different topic.  This leaves my writing sporadic, confusing, and without purpose.  

A tip to cope is letting go of your standards when you first start writing and entering a “brainstorming” mindset where your fingers can get down the most important parts of your ideas without having to worry about grammatical errors or better word choices.  This allows you to get more work done and gives you more material to work with during revision later.  You’ll also feel more satisfied with how much you were able to write and express yourself.  

This brainstorming mode can even take the form of a list or other grammatically incorrect forms.  Long run-on sentences branching out your ideas or even sketchy, bulleted outlines of stories all work to combat writer’s block, give you more motivation and satisfaction, and help you become a more confident and efficient writer.  You’ll be surprised how much more you’re able to get done!  Happy writing! 

-Giselle F. 

What Life Is All About

Everyone seems to have their own outlook on what life has to offer and what makes life so precious. In my perspective, it’s the little things that make life worth living. When people think of what the rest of their life has to offer, most think about the major events like graduating or their wedding. Although those are major and amazing parts of people’s lives, it’s vital to notice that life goes a lot deeper than that. 

Life is a collection of small moments. Some of those are going to be good, while others may be bad. We don’t give those moments enough credit, the little moments where you look over and someone’s thinking the exact same thing, smelling a scent you remember, hugging someone you missed, etc. There have been so many days I’ve looked back on and all I seem to remember is the random person I saw dancing in their car or how perfect the weather was. Each day is like a treasure hunt, full of hidden beauties and it’s up to us whether we want to overlook or appreciate them. 

Live for the endless laughter, for the sunsets, for the little thing, and you’ll feel the joys of life. It’s not always about the bigger picture, details are important. So, if there’s something that you want to do whether it’s writing a book or smiling at a stranger, do it. Even if it doesn’t’ affect your life, it’ll affect theirs.  

-Kaitlyn Y.