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Surprise Midnight Dumpster Diving

  • Posted on January 22, 2015 at 3:04 am

I’m writing this as I sit in contented glow on my nice warm couch, gazing upon the red glint of my new vaccuum cleaner. It’s handle is snapped, wrapped in layers of duct tape and masking tape, as it to hold on by a single thread that last hope, and even that didn’t save it from the dumpster in which I found it. It sits next to my movies now, it’s permanent home, where it will clean my couches in peace.

This is but one of the joys I discovered tonight, during a round of Surprise Midnight Dumpster Diving. This is what I’ve come to name the odd event that happened to me. After bicycling home at 10:00pm, in 19 degrees farenheit, from my six hour shift (which I took in four inch heels, take that.), I had found myself in front of dumpster diving youtube videos. I honestly have no idea how I got there, maybe from a beauty tutorial, who knows. But the important thing is the next string of thought that entered my mind.

“I have friends who dumpster dive.” followed by “I know the Sally’s Beauty supply is closed right now.” quickly tucking into “I should text them and see if sometime this week we can go dumpster diving at Sally’s Beauty.”

Their reply was a little unexpected. “Do you want to go tonight?” Well, my next shift isn’t until 2pm tomorrow, so… WHY NOT.

So me and my friends, a married couple who have fallen on hard times recently, head out in the (rapidly falling) chill, to rifle through companies dumpsters in hopes of finding good things. I didn’t find that makeup I had hoped for, but I did find a nice milk crate, a few generous shoe boxes, of which my plants will be thankful for, they could use a boost towards the sun, and that lovely vaccuum.

Now all of this would be just another fun night on the town, had it not been for a conversation I found myself having. You see, recently, I’ve been suffering from a feeling of expiration. I’ve read somewhere that a woman is at her peak beauty at 25 years old. And after that, well? It all falls downhill. This has plagued me, tormented me, for quite a while. I don’t know why. I know I’m intelligent, and I know that I have so many more things to offer the world than my pretty face, but still! It really bugged me!

And while talking with my friends, they helped me realise this one, very, very important fact.

I am not milk, which sours on some predetermined date.

I am wine, which grows more rich and flavorful with every passing moment.

9 Ways to Fix your Stereotyped Character – A guestpost by Cindy Grigg

  • Posted on August 11, 2014 at 2:08 pm

So You Wrote a Stereotyped Character…9 Ways to Fix Your Story

 

I’ve recently been doing a blog post series on How to Write Well-Rounded Female Characters, which included a list of 19 Female Character Stereotypes to Avoid.

Since Nicohle and I are swapping blog posts today, I would love to take that list one step further and show how I would fix a stereotyped female character (but the same concepts apply to any character).

Why You Don’t Have to Start Over

If your female character falls into a stereotype, it’s not so much that you’ve written her wrong as that you’re just not done writing her.

Writers revert to stereotypes or tropes rather than fully articulating what makes a character unique. It’s tricky because you may not feel lazy as you write a stereotypical character. You’re still sitting in the writer’s chair fulfilling your daily word count or time quota, but essentially you’re being creatively lazy about who you are writing about.

1. Rearrange what you’ve got. A lot of creativity is a matter of how you arrange the disparate parts of something to make a whole. Which aspect of your character is the focal point? By restructuring which personality traits are pivotal, you could create a more fresh character.

2. Add something to the character that scares, stretches, or otherwise challenges you. If writing about a certain characteristic your character possesses makes you think about the world in a new way, it likely will do the same for many readers.

3. Change how long your character stays a stereotype. Maybe your character can start out as a character but be changed by a new event. Maybe reveal they were hiding their true nature for some good reason. Think: Scarlet Pimpernel.

4. Look around you. Think of the most unique people you know and add some part of their personality to your character.

Rarity gives you an example reaction.

5. Add more weaknesses, flaws,  fears, and losses! I like the trick of thinking, What is the worst thing that could happen to my character? Then consider adding that to your plot so your character has to really solve and struggle.

6. Put your character in strange situations. Brainstorm several seemingly unrelated scenes and put your character in them. Consider crossing genres with this exercise. Put your fantasy heroine in a murder mystery and see how she behaves, etc. You may stumble upon an interesting nuance to add to your story.

7. Change your character’s past or future. If the character seems flat or one-dimensional, hook the audience into caring based on something terrible or wonderful they went through or will go through.

8. Give your character a unique motivation. Most of humanity is motivated to some degree by love of family, romance, personal gain, or moral/spiritual paradigms, for example. But what if you made your character also motivated by something kooky like a love of snails, and wanting to save those snails from extinction, for example?

9. Create personality contradictions. I love giving a character two characteristics that seem paradoxical or at odds with one another, then showing why they are this way.

Both fixing characters or scrapping them will require a lot of editing, so I figure you might as well refurbish your stereotyped character rather than starting from square one.

While it takes more effort, it’s more fun and interesting to write well-rounded characters. For me, this comes down to asking, But who else is she/he?! By consciously steering clear of stereotypes, writing becomes more adventure. More fun.

Cindy Grigg

Cindy Grigg writes speculative fiction and instructional non-fiction. She is the author of the HULDUSNOOPS series, a middle grade mystery and fantasy adventure about Icelandic Huldufolk or “hidden people”. As About.com’s Office Software Expert, Cindy also writes about technology and productivity (www.Office.About.com). Find her writing advice, blog, and other projects she’s working on at www.CindyGrigg.com.

26 Questions No One Should Answer

  • Posted on July 17, 2014 at 1:51 am

Courtesy of Tumblr, I’ve found a blog-post thing that I figured I could fill out for fun and profit. Profit mainly being answers to questions I never thought I’d have to answer. So, here we go, 26 questions that literally, no one should answer, Ever.

  • A. If you could get away with one murder in your lifetime without any legal, social, or emotional repercussions, would you kill someone? -Absolutely. There are a lot of people out there that really, really do not deserve to live. And I’m pretty sure they may not know who they are. But if I were able to live a free life afterwards, I would happily murder some of them.
  • B. What is your first thought when you receive a message, are you excited for the idea of someone from potentially the other side of the world wanting to talk to you or fearful that someone will criticize you? – Well, Both, a little, but honestly, I’m just excited, because it means that someone actually wants to talk to me, and it’s someone I can hopefully have a long, heartfelt dialogue with.
  • C. Have you ever looked down on someone because you thought your religious views were superior? – No, But I have looked down on someone FOR their religious views. There are people who beleive that their religion comes over other’s basic human rights, and that in and of itself makes me angry.
  • D. Would you rather know everything the universe has to offer but in exchange lose all emotions or remain the way you are now? – …I’d rather remain the way I am now. My emotion is part of what makes me who I am. Not only that, but if I knew everything in the universe, what fun would it be? Part of the joy of life is discovering what exactly I’m looking at.
  • E. If you could live and be healthy without sleeping or eating/drinking, which would you cut out of your life? …Sleeping. Eating and drinking is VERY, VERY fun, new tastes, sensations all of that. But honestly, sleeping I would miss if only because I have really awesome nightmares sometimes that turn out to be really great story ideas.
  • F. If you could take on the exact body and form of anyone else on Earth, who would it be? – …Uh, well… I’m a little partial to the form of one Tom Hiddleston. I wouldn’t mind being him for a while.
  • G. Would you rather burn or freeze to death?-  FREEZE. ABSOLUTELY. Freezing makes you want to go to sleep. Burning just hurts. Everywhere. Forever.
  • H. If it meant it would solve all world hunger, war, disease and bigotry, would you spend the rest of eternity in Hell? – Yes. I would. Because honestly, if one person could end that much hatred and pain, then any torture is worth that sacrifice.  And if I could be that person, then I would suffer through the pain and torture knowing that my pain brings others happiness.
  • I. Was the first crush in your life something you had or something someone had on you? – A boy named Bobby Brown had a huge crush on me when I was living in West Virginia at the age of Nine. He and I went to school together, and we were best friends. Turns out, he had a huge crush on me, and for christmas, had his dad help him buy me emerald earrings. I have no idea where the earrings are, but I remember him, and I miss him to this day.
  • J. Could you live without having sex ever (again) in exchange for eternal youth? – <Asexual laughter in the distance> No, but really, I could absolutely live without ever having sex again. As an Asexual, I don’t need it, don’t like it, and honestly, would much prefer eternal youth.
  • K. Have you ever watched a full length pornographic movie? – Yep. It’s like any other movie, only with more grunting and a lot of sex.
  • L. The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? – Neither? If only because both of them are good, but not my favorite.
  • M. If you could have the ability to manipulate matter or energy, which would you choose? – Matter. Energy is constant, but matter can shape and change. So, I could, technically, create more money. Which would be useful.
  • N. What was the worst nightmare you ever had? – One night, I dreamt that I was a mother of two, in a post-apocalyptic world, covered in water. I was searching for a place for my children to be safe, and took them into one of the few non-flooded basements I could find. My child was curious, and opened a door. Inside was a creature I can only call a Revenant, a strong, fast, and vicious zombie-like thing, and it attacked the child. I tried to leap forward, to put myself between it and my child, but… I couldn’t. I woke up crying out for a child I don’t have yet.
  • O. Would you rather spend one year with your one true love just to never see them again or the rest of your life with second best? – …I…Wow, this one is hard. Probably the one year. Because better to have and lost, then never to have at all, right? But… Wow, yeah, that would be difficult.
  • P. All the sequels/remakes/adaptations/rip-offs in movies nowadays, good or bad? – Neither? Some are good, some are bad. They’re getting better, though.
  • Q. Would you rather be dirt poor and emotionally fulfilled in life or be rich beyond imagination and emotionally dissatisfied for life? – … Considering I’m dirt poor and emotionally dissatisfied right now, I’d say Rich. Because at least then I wouldn’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from.
  • R. Do you have any (secret) feelings of bigotry to any group of people? – Unfortunately, yes. I do. I’ve often been jealous and bigoted towards those of a Mexican background. Their women are prettier than I am. Not only that, but I was jumped by a gang of mexican children when I was in gradeschool. So I harbor a grudge.
  • S. Would you rather be the only person in the world that can read minds or have everyone else in the world be able to read minds except for your own? – I’d rather read other people’s minds. Honestly, because that way, I could try and make peace with everyone.
  • T. If everyone in the world would automatically only know one language, which language would you choose? – Japanese! JAPANESE. I want to learn that language SO BAD. You have no idea.
  • U. If you were old enough and not in a situation where it would be inappropriate, would you sleep with one of your (past) school teachers/professors? – …Not really? None of them were attractive to me. And, again, Asexual.
  • V. A world without religion, good, bad, neutral? Neutral. People would find other reasons to kill each other.
  • W. The men’s rights movement, legitimate cause or laughable, and why? – Well, honestly? Legitimate cause. But not the way they’re going about it. The way most men’s rights activists go about it is to bring out their issues whenever a feminist brings out theirs. Which demeans both causes, and brings more and more distain down on both of them. Men do have problems. They can’t report rape without being laughed at. The ‘Sissy’ standard. Domestic violence issues. I understand this. But that does not compare, not right now anyway, to the systematic rape and repression of females all over the world. Personally, if MRA’s want to make things better, maybe they should concentrate on helping Feminists first.
  • X. You can eliminate one of your five senses to substantially strengthen the others, which one and would you do it? – Hearing. Because while there are lovely sounds in this world, and music is beautiful, it is nothing compared to the beauty of a sunset, or to the touch of soft fur, or the exquisite taste of a well-cooked meal.
  • Y. Do looks mean anything to you? Don’t lie, could you fall in love with someone you thought was ugly? – Looks do mean something to me. I want the person I love to take pride in their appearance. So yeah, I would have issues falling for someone I deemed unnattractive.
  • Z. Can you understand the mindset and logic used by the opposite spiritual opinion? An atheist understanding the belief in a higher power and vice versa. – As a Pagan kitchen witch, I do understand the beleif in a higher power, whom sent their most beloved down to die for you, and all like you. I don’t beleive the same, but I can understand the instinctual comfort such a thought would give.

Beauty and her Beast

  • Posted on April 2, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Beauty and the Beast Vs. Taming of the Shrew

Both iconic tales, although for very different reasons. Long, well-known, articulate, and fascinating, both tales are considered love stories, usually of the romantic variety, with sweet connotations, underneath everything else. The humor in Taming of the Shrew is considered a finer point of William Shakespeare’s works. The “song as old as time” of Beauty and the Beast is famous for it’s sweet romance, persisting through the ages as a love story to be emulated.

However, both stories have deeply troubling issues within them that few enjoy looking at. Truthfully, I don’t enjoy looking at it. Like any little girl, I absolutely adored Beauty and the Beast, wanting nothing more than to find that kind of adventure and love so easily. And my teenage self really enjoyed Ten Things I Hate About You, which is roughly based off of Taming of the Shrew. Both were funny, quirky, beautiful stories that made me think that maybe, just maybe, love was out there for everyone.

Now, break it down, by role. Let’s start with the women of each example.

Beauty, whose name literally describes her both inside and out, is a sweet, dutiful girl, who is obedient, intelligent, and (in the original tale) respectful. The disney version added a firey backbone, which was quite nice, actually. Her role in the story was to meet and be enslaved/captured by the beast, and then, despite being cruelly abused, verbally, and physically (he occasionally throws her around even in the disney movie) is supposed to fall in love with the Beast, once he exposes his true, good heart.

Katherina, the infamous Shrew, is an obstinant, firey woman with a temper. She is determined to have her way, and will not be told what to do. She chooses not to marry. During the course of her play, she is psychologically tortured by her soon-to-be-husband, through various methods such as removing her clothing and food, by saying it isn’t good enough for her, and deliberately misinterpreting what she says. She, in the end, also falls in love with a rude, obstinant man, whom has proven to be a rather cruel fellow.

Both women seem to be intelligent, well-thought out women, for all that they’re a little… one dimensional. Beauty is beautiful in all that she is, and Kate is well… a shrew.  But both women are forced, quite against their will, to be in the company of a man who is downright brutish.

The Beast is just that, a monstrous beast both outside and in, with claws that have rended the entire castle. Belle must have lived in fear, for I know I would, were I surrounded by stone gauged by such talons. Not only that, but he treats her as though she were a servant, a slave. He yells, demeans her, and as illustrated before, throws her a few times. He is brutish, boorish, angry, frightening, and supposedly, deep down, has a heart of gold. Belle just has to endure until it begins to show itself. Meanwhile, Beast is just waiting for the right woman to come along and teach him proper manners. How demeaning is that, as an allegory for the male gender? Hear that guys? You have no choice but to be an ass until the right woman comes along and *FIXES* you.

Petruchio, meanwhile, had the benefit of being raised in Italy. Meaning he’s an ass too. Also, he’s psychologically manipulative, and uncaring of Katherina in a personal sense. All he wants, as is stated in the play, is to marry a bride. He too is cruel, wooing a woman who obviously doesn’t want marriage, and basically talking her into marriage with the most backwards sweettalk in existance. He knowingly enters the relationship set to break down Katherina’s spirit and make her docile, accepting, and obedient.

Both men are the worst sort of examples of mankind one can think of. I personally am embarrassed to even call them men, for I’ve MET good men, and they do not act this way.

Now, you ask, at what point do these two stories even coincide with each other? Well, think about it. Beauty and the beast is a story about a woman taming a man. Taming of the shrew is about a man taming a woman. They’re the same story, only with the genders reversed.

What’s worse is, instead of the man showing the woman kindness, as Beauty showed Beast, and finally revealing the heart of gold inside, in Taming of the Shrew, Katherina is instead browbeaten, psychologically tortured, and in general treated as a problem, something to be beaten down and changed.

Both stories have problematic elements, Beauty with her stockholm syndrome and Perchutio with his cruelty, however, when looked at, it is clear what the commonality is. In both stories, women are clearly a means-to-an-end. Nothing more. Katherina is refused her personality, changed by the man in order for him to gain a bride and her sister to be eligible for marriage. Beauty exists for her father to trade off, for the Beast to gain back his humanity. Nothing more.

THIS is the problem with these two stories. When you are writing, consider the women in your story. Consider what they do, who they are, WHY they are in the story. If they are nothing more than a means-to-an-end, then you are doing them, and yourself, a disservice. After all, Misogyny is often internalized, and it’s time that women became women, and not just a catalyst.

Is Sexism alive and well? Try to get a Tubal Ligation, and find out.

  • Posted on March 25, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Got Some Qualms (lifesneverhumdrum: rcmclachlan: doodlyood: …).

 

While doing my normal average tumbling for the day, I came across this lively discussion. Apperantly, it has become doctoral procedure to discriminate against women for their ability to bear children. Several examples spoke of in that small conversation prove the point.

When a woman goes in for a Tubal Ligation, a process by which a woman’s fallopian tubes are severed, and then tied, henceforth stopping any form of conception, she is given a stern lecture of the likes of “You’ll regret this later in life.” or “Have a kid first, then come back.”

What I find absolutely appalling is that men, when going in to have a vasectomy, are basically given an immediate okay. It’s ridiculous that women are told to go home, when asking for the same sort of rights as men. We should be able to control our reproductive rights.

I  personally, want as many children as I can carry. I don’t think I would ever consider having a sterilization surgery. But that doesn’t mean other women, women who do not wish to care for children, shouldn’t be allowed to!

This is ridiculous, and something needs to be done.

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