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The most beloved character type in modern literature

Anyone who writes or enjoys reading stories has at least a general idea of the various character types that make up the basics of virtually any story, novel, play or movie.

Of course, there are the villains, as more technically refereed to as the antagonists.  And just as obviously there are the heroes, technically termed the protagonists. Just perhaps the most beloved character type that is in use more now than ever is the figure known as the anti-hero.

Some people may be familiar with this type of character but in the event that you are not one of them, an anti-hero is essentially a protagonist that is anything but perfect.

Gone are the days with squeaky clean heroes who always make the right decisions and never cross any moral lines. Writers and readers have come to embrace protagonists with faults, personal struggles and other serious and not so serious issues that they must face.

So why is the anti-hero so popular? I would venture to guess that it’s because he or she is a character to which people can more accurately relate. Quite frankly, they are more realistic. Even the most shinning examples of humanity struggle with their own issues from  time to time. Nobody does everything right or always makes the right call pertaining to a moral or ethical situation.

Some famous examples of anti-heroes include:

Books -

Holden Caulfield – “Catcher in the Rye”

Scarlett O’Hara – “Gone with the Wind”

Movies -

John McClain – “Die Hard” series

Frank Martin – “Transporter” series

Television -

Patrick Jane – “The Mentalist”

Emily Thorne – “Revenge”

Plays –

Lady Macbeth  - “Macbeth”

Comics -

Batman

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Top Ten Things Your English Teacher Got Wrong

Many of the things we learn in school or in another educational setting we tend to instantly accept as fact. But no matter how reasonable something might seem, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true. This is certainly the case when it comes to some of the “rules” that govern the English language as you may heave been taught to understand them. From the simplest notions of proper grammar to the more complex idea of citing sources in research documents, chances are you have been taught to abide by several of these so-called facts that are either only partially true or downright false.

10. You should always have one or more rough drafts

Perhaps you’ve heard it said that usually one’s first instinct is the most accurate one. This notion of not second guessing ourselves has been around for quite a long time. And recently, scientific study has weighed in on this matter.

In my opinion, this filters over into the practice of writing. While it is necessary to go over your work to correct errors and possibly make some wording and stylistic adjustments here and there, that by no means suggests an entire rewrite. And it certainly does not ensure that multiple revisions will be necessary.

9. Shakespeare wrote in proper English

There is no doubt that William Shakespeare was a brilliant writer with a masterful grasp of the English language. However, the man also “made up” more than 1,700 words. Some of these include the terms “arouse,” “fixture,” “majestic” and “negotiate.”

Imagine if we just randomly began to create our own words for letters, essays, research papers and more. Perhaps we’d even incorporate a bit of modern slang. This certainly wouldn’t be considered proper grammar or writing today and thus it wouldn’t have been in Shakespeare’s day either.

8. You must double space after a period

While in ages gone by when everything had to be hand-written, this was a non-issue. Only since the institution of typing machines (first typewriters and now computers) has this one even come into play.

When it comes to conventional typewriters, the sizes of the letters are slightly different. To compensate for this problem, it became common practice to add a second space after the period at the end of each sentence. But in this computer age, proportional font spacing has all but eliminated the need for double-spacing.

7. You should always use proper grammar

In most case, it is very important to use proper grammar. However, there are some instances in which a writer can bend or even break traditional grammatical rules for any number of purposes.

The famed twentieth-century poet E.E. Cummings provides a perfect example. In his work, Cummings frequently and intentionally used bad grammar to create a more dynamic effect while establishing his own personal style.

In other instances, writers sometimes use poor grammar in the speech of their characters. This is especially true when the author is trying to bring out cultural and ethnic traits such as the use of slang in an urban environment or the feeling of a Southern drawl.

6. You need a comma to separate every instance in a series

Separating small lists of items in a series does not necessarily require the use of a comma after each item. For example, according to many experts and style guides, the use of a comma before words like “and” or “or” to close out the series is actually quite redundant.

For instance, let’s take the list “red, white and blue.” Notice how there is no comma prior to the word “and.” The reasoning is that if we use a comma after the word “white” it essentially amounts to using the word “and” twice.

5. Paragraphs have to have more than one sentence

This is a long-held myth that can be easily disproved. All one has to do is look to the work of legendary author Charles Dickens. His famous novel entitled “A Tale of Two Cities” begins with a single paragraph that is also only one sentence long.

The truth is, as long as it meets the criteria to make a paragraph, there is no set number of sentences the writer must use. It can be as few or as many as her or she wants.

4. There is only one proper way to cite sources

While your teacher may have preferred the use of a particular style in his or her classes, there are actually several ways to cite sources in research papers and the like. Often this varies depending upon the discipline you are researching or studying.

A few of the more common style guides include MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), CMS (Chicago Manual of Style) and AP Style used by many journalistic outlets. There are several others out there as well.

3. Always use a comma after the greeting in a letter

While using a comma after statements like ”Dear Ted” or “Hello Maggie” at the start of a letter is generally correct and seen as good grammar, this is not always the case.

In instances in which you are writing a business letter, the comma should actually be replaced by a colon.

 Commas should be reserved for more informal communication.

When it comes to the use of email, it is generally accepted that either of these two forms of punctuation can be used to fit the bill.

2. You should not shift tenses

Sure, shifting tense for no real reason is poor grammar and makes for poor writing. However, there are some instances in which a shift in tense is appropriate and even required to make things work.

If the time frame of something taking place in your writing moves from past to present, you have to change the tense for both correctness and to avoid reader confusion. The following two sentences provide a simple example. “I was so afraid to get on that bicycle as a young child. Reflecting back on that point in my life, I think it was more about the possible embarrassment of falling rather than getting hurt.”

As you can see, the first sentence focuses on the past and uses the past tense while the second one is amount my reflections in the present.

1. You can’t use “and” to start a sentence

Those who use “and” to start off a sentence have long been ostracized by those entrusted with teaching us the English language. However, this isn’t a criticism that is based in the reality of proper grammar.

While the use of “and” as the first word of a sentence can come across as rather informal and has the potential to make your wording a bit choppy and awkward, it’s not technically wrong. In fact, some language experts suggest that it can actually work better in some case that using more traditional terms like “however,” “therefore” and “furthermore”

Finding out about fan fiction

Fan fiction

has been around for several years now. And while I had a basic idea of what the concept was all about, I never really bothered to look into it until recently. A friend of the family gave me a few more specific details of what is involved in this fan-driven form of literature.

Imagine reading your favorite science fiction book, or watching a classic super hero movie and having some actual control over the thoughts, actions and just about everything to do with the characters. This is the essence of fan fiction.

The control over one’s favorite characters combined with the ability to express one’s own creativity has made this form of writing a rapidly growing success.  Essentially, everything is possible!

Personally, as a fan of the television series “Revolution,” I am looking forward to checking out what people have written about this futuristic and somewhat post-apocalyptic show. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll even write some for myself.

Revolution show

Awaken Anew (a poem)

I’ve decided to share

a new poem I was recently inspired to write. I hope you enjoy it.

Awaken Anew

For more of my work, please feel free to check out my poetry books and other publications.

The art of language and definition change over time

Any writer must realize

when we try to define words, the definition of things tend to change over time. In fact, few people today may know what a given word we use on a daily basis might haven meant decades or even centuries ago. And the ones who do might potentially have a bit of an attitude when it comes to what we consider the “real” meaning of a word.

The truth is, there is no real meaning but just the meaning that the word was intended to convey at the time.

For example, while today one might use the word “girl” and a representation of a young female child. However, in centuries past, the term girl was used for a young person of either gender. That’s a big difference huh?

Some words change do to the influences of other languages and cultures while others adopt a new meaning due to the use of slang. No matter what the source of the change may be, the change itself can be quite interesting.

no dictionary

Here are some more fun examples:

Bad -

In many contexts it can mean negative or terrible while the slang of the last few decades has redefined it to also mean positive, good or outstanding.

Handsome -

Today this usually refers to a man who is attractive in appearance. However, in years past it referred to pleasant looking women.

Dude -

when used today, a dude tends to be a rather fun, lively or interesting guy. But with the earliest origination of the word, the term was one that depicted a pansy sort of man.

Interesting isn’t it?

Three non-technical keys to writing your best poetry

What makes good poetry?

If someone was to ask this question to a crowd of people, that person would probably receive any number of different answers. But in my personal opinion as the author of poetry books, considering the fact that poetry is an art, who is to say what makes one piece good as opposed to another not? Like any art form, it is highly subjective.

writing poems

But with that being the case, I do believe that there are a few things any poet can do in order to make the best of their own work.

1. Be inspired -

If you don’t have some sort of inspiration behind your work, the result won’t be as satisfying as if you do. While in other forms of writing you can simply just jump into it, this is not the case with poetry.

2. Express emotion -

Letting your emotion pour out onto a page is very important in this particular form of literature.

3. Let if flow -

The flow of the words in your poetry is also very important. The more natural and compelling the flow of the words, the better your writing will end up.

How to overcome writer’s block

No matter what professional or recreational activities we may engage in, at some point, we’re all going to be off of our game. A surgeon may struggle with shaky hands, a public speaker may slip into a bit of a stutter, or any other number of samples can apply. But in many cases, these problems are more mental than they are physical.

One of the most notorious examples in the world of literature is that pesky little condition known as writers block.

writer's block

Photo courtesy of Marya Jan

First off, make no mistake, it happens to everyone.

But as I can suggest by personal experience, there is really only one reliable way to deal with it and overcome this problem – writing through it.

Whether you are a sports fan or not, the easiest way to explain what I mean is through the world or athletics. Let’s take baseball. Even the best and most productive hitters in the game fall into a slump from time to time. During those slumps a pitch that they might normally knock right out of the park might send them to the bench as a victim of a strikeout. And worse yet, it keeps happening over and over again. But how does the hitter finally break out of the slump? He keeps hacking away until he succeeds and gets back into his typical rhythm.

The same approach should and must be taken when you find yourself in a state of writer’s block.

Here are two practical ways to do so:

1. Write for the sake or writing during a case of block. Just keep going despite the quality. This is essentially exercise and nobody ever even has to see what you write.

2. Use the condition as inspiration. Yes, write something, anything, about writer’s block. A few yea’s back I had a poetry assignment I had to write for a class and just couldn’t get going. So, I decided to write the poem about the need to be inspired. In the end, I got an A.

In the end, when you take the time to work through the frustration, things will work out just fine.

New book and another one coming

So as you may or may not know, my educational background is in the literary arts. And in 2006, a few years after graduating from college, I wrote my first book. Since then, I have added three more to that list. However, the newest isn’t a literary work but rather a visual showcase of artistic photography. And the next one will be an SEO guide.

I’d like to that this posting opportunity to provide a little detail on each of my books, starting with the most recent.

My books

Coming soon:

A yet untitled SEO guide for simple and effective website promotion.

Currently available:

“Attirance”

This is a visual piece focused on my work with model photography and showcasing several creative images built around the art.

Attirance photography book

“Making Beautiful Photography:  A Guide for the Novice and the Enthusiast”

This  publication (available in e-book format only) seeks to help those who have a passion for digital photography by offering basic photography tips and tricks that are sure to improve anyone’s understanding of this visual art.

Making Beautiful Photography e-book

“Shadows and Shade”

This book centers on the emotions and circumstances that we all come to experience at some point in  our lives.

Shadows and Shade book cover

“Wishing Wells”

In the amalgamation of three sections, the reader will be taken on a journey through the stages of life, the daily challenges of our world and the mysteries of our very own minds.

Wishing Wells book cover

The resurgence and modernization of the fairy tale

One of the most creative forms of literature, which began long ago out of the desire to tell stories to the children of the world, is that which is commonly called the fairy tale. For a while, it might have seemed like the fairy tale had been relegated to the basement of the proverbial library, all but removed from the minds and hearts of readers for generations.

But, it would seem that perhaps the tide is changing. And as a creative writer myself, I’m curious to see how all of this turns out.

Where and when did this resurgence begin? We’ll that might be hard to pinpoint with any level of exactness. However, in my humble opinion, I’d venture to say that it really started in early 2012. Some might say that animated films like those of the “Shrek” series kick-started things but I’m not so sure that is the case.

In March 2012, Relativity Media released the film “Mirror, Mirror,” a new, yet not too far-fetched, version of the tale of Snow White. Soon after, a number of adjusted fairy tales began to emerge on the silver screen, all with new twists on the classic stories.

Lily Collins Snow White

Some of these include:

Snow White and the Huntsmen (2012) - This movie is a bit more action, driven with a darker side to it.

Hansel and Gretel: Which Hunters (2013) – This one appears to focus on the chosen careers (as which hunters) after the original story. It is certainly of the action adventure variety.

Jack the Giant Killer (2013) – Also an action-oriented film, this take of the original looks to be a visual spectacular.

Other movies in development include revised versions of “Sleeping Beauty,” “Peter Pan and “Pinocchio” among several others.

As far as I can tell, most of these movies seem to be geared toward a more grown up audience with more graphic and mature themes.

At the very least, it should be interesting to see how all of this plays out and whether or not this current trend will be welcomed by the masses or simply turn out to be yet another fad of sorts within the entertainment industry.

The multi-talented Bryan Adams

Bryan Adams is well known…

for his long career in the music industry. After all, he’s been pumping out pop and rock tunes since the 1980s. But, considerably less people probably know about his other artistic talent.

This November, Adams released the book “Exposed,” a collection of his work behind the camera as a photographer. I myself just heard about it today and decided to do a little research. As it turns out, this musician is quite the double threat.

Bryan Adams photography book

Check out some samples of his work below:

Lindsey Lohan by Bryan Adams

Lindsey Lohan

Ben Kingsley by Brian Adams

Ben Kingsley

Lana Del Ray by Brian Adams

Lana Del Rey

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