A Liebster Award

I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award!

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Thank you so much for tagging me, E.J W! Kids, go check out her blog, One Word At A Time. She’s got some really helpful (and practical) writing tips, plus she’s writing a pretty awesome book.

Now let’s see what this tag is all about. First of all, guidelines.

The Rules of the Tag

  • Acknowledge the blog who nominated you and display the award.
  • Answer eleven questions that the blogger gives you.
  • List eleven random facts about yourself
  • Nominate up to eleven other bloggers that you think are deserving of this award (with less than 200 followers)
  • Let the bloggers know you nominated them
  • Give them eleven questions to answer

(I love this tag already. It says “up to eleven,” which means it can be less than eleven. It will probably be less than eleven.)

The Questions

If you had a whole day with nothing to do and nothing that needed to be done in the future, how would you spend it?

I guess I’d write. Write, write, write. I have so many books that I need to write, and having a whole day to crank out as much writing is possible is a wonderful idea.

What is your favorite book and author?

Favorite… book?

Of… all… time?

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Okay. *deep breath* For now, I can give you some of my favorite books. Three books that have most impacted me as a writer are The Hobbit, The Book Thief, and Animal Farm.

Oh, and my favorite author is C.S. Lewis. (Although I’ll give a close second to Tolkien or Austen.)

Ice cream or cake?

Ice cream, especially since I’m not allowed to eat gluten for the next few months. I could take or leave cake.

What is your favorite mythical creature?

Svartalfar! No, wait, dragons! No, wait, Maiar! No, wait…

It’s too hard to pick; I love them all. But let’s say that if I could have any one of them for a friend, I’d choose a dragon. You can’t go wrong there.

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What is the one chore that you absolutely hate doing?

Shopping. I haaaaaate shopping. There’s just something despicable about navigating a concrete building filled with fluorescent lights and grumpy people who don’t want to be there any more than you do. Shopping is a character-building exercise, to be sure.

Which is your favorite season?

Fall, of course. I used to live in Pennsylvania, and not to brag, but we pretty much have the best autumn ever, with colorful leaves and pumpkin candles and gentle rain.

What is your favorite breakfast food?

Waffles, except for… ahem… the gluten-free thing. I miss waffles.

Why did you decide to become a blogger and what do you hope to accomplish by it?

Ah-ah-ah, two at once! That’s cheating.

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Why become a blogger? On the more philosophical side, I blog (and just generally write) because I have the freedom and therefore the responsibility to share truth with others. That’s just part of being a Christian. On the rubber-meets-road side, I just think a lot about a lot of things, and that naturally spills over into blogging. People like talking about writing, about the Bible, and about the struggles that we all face, and a blog is a great place to do that.

And what do I want to accomplish? Well, I guess I already answered that- I want people to be able to talk with and learn from one another, whether we’re talking about writing tips, theological insights, or how to survive a particularly difficult four years of your life.

Would you rather fly or be able to breath underwater?

Fly. Then I could wear a special cloak and fly through cities and fight evil sorcerers and basically be Dr Strange.

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Yes, we really did need a random Dr Strange gif thrown in.

What is your favorite genre of music?

Does Hans Zimmer count as a genre?

What is the most recent crazy thing you have done?

Eh, I don’t really do crazy.

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Well, a few weeks ago I did dress up as Galen Erso and let my younger siblings (dressed as Krennic and Co.) throw me into the trunk of my car for a film project. Looking back, I see how that was kind of crazy.

Eleven Random Facts

  1.  I am a Christian. (As if it wasn’t terribly obvious.)
  2. In real life I’m much quieter and saltier than I seem on my blog… if that’s even possible.
  3. I’m exactly the same height as Napoleon. (5’6″, if you want to know.)
  4. I often lose count of how many siblings I have. I have a lot of them.
  5. My Spotify playlist is currently paused on a song called “I See Dead People in Boats.” Like I said, Hans Zimmer.
  6. I have never watched Star Wars: A New Hope all the way through.
  7. Rude people scare the heck out of me.
  8. I prefer to subsist on tea and turkey sandwiches.
  9. I’ve thought about becoming a film director.
  10. I’m allergic to pretty much every furry pet known to man.
  11. I like sweaters.

And now, the real good feature…

The Bloggers

For this award, I hereby nominate:

Congratulations, y’all!

The New Eleven Questions

  1. What’s your favorite thing about blogging?
  2. What’s your personality type? (Or, if you don’t know, your Hogwarts House.)
  3. Who are three of your real-life heroes? (They can be living or dead, but they have to be real.)
  4. Axe or sword, or some other weapon?
  5. Describe yourself with a gif.
  6. If you could play any fictional character in a movie adaptation of your favorite book, whom would you be?
  7. Hot tea or sweet tea?
  8. What is your favorite song/band?
  9. What’s a skill you’d really like to learn if you had the time?
  10. What’s your favorite non-fiction book?
  11. In one sentence, how would you explain the meaning of life?

That’s all the time we have today, kids! Until next time.

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To Christians With “Overprotective” Parents

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Here are two things you should know.

1: This post is a letter written to Christian kids under age eighteen. If you’re not a Christian and/or child and you want to read this post, take it for what it is: not written for you.

2: This is an insanely-super-long post, so if you don’t have a lot of time and/or are highly distractable, don’t read this post right now. Bookmark it and come back later after you’ve taken care of your important to-do things.

What to do about overprotective parents?

Full confession: I’m eighteen now and make my own decisions. Before I turned eighteen, though, my parents were what they jokingly call “overprotective.” Meaning, I didn’t read Harry Potter until one year ago, the kids in our family couldn’t watch the Disney movies with ghosts until we were too old to appreciate the slapstick humor, and most of my siblings still don’t have Facebook. Basically, I’m saying I know what it’s like to have parents who say no.

Maybe you’ve said/heard people say things like this:

Dad shouldn’t try to control me so much!

I may not know everything, but neither do my parents, and I know myself a heck of a lot better than they do.

Harry Potter isn’t going to damage me; it actually teaches some really good lessons.

I know my parents are well-meaning, but they don’t understand me.

It just hurts that Mom doesn’t trust me with something as harmless as a children’s book series.

But are we looking at this all wrong? I’d posit that we might be, that maybe overprotective parents are not a curse, but rather a blessing. I thank God and my parents for most, if not all, of the decisions they made, even though I disagreed with them at the time.

To explain why, I need to start from square one:

Everyone is overprotective sometimes- and thank God that we are.

When people say “overprotective,” what do they really mean? No one knows the future, obviously, so there is no way to be just the right amount of “protective.” People have to be either under- or over-protective, and most folks like to err on the side of caution.

Let’s just take the most basic example: a seatbelt. Every time you get into your car and put on a seatbelt, you are necessarily being overprotective. Gee whiz, you’re probably not going to wreck every single time you’re in a motor vehicle. What’s the big deal? In fact, while we’re at it, we could probably do away with those giant concrete barriers in the middle of the highway and just use one yellow line instead of two. It would definitely save the government some money. Buckling up is a time waster.

Yet, if you’re smart, you buckle up. You know that if you don’t have a seatbelt on, you could get hurt– just like my friend. Last month, driving back from vacation, a distracted driver rear-ended her car at high speed, totaled the vehicle, and gave her whole family whiplash. If my friend hadn’t been wearing her seatbelt, she would have flown through the windshield and probably died. This is why the law requires people to buckle up.

If you don’t crash, a seatbelt is an inconvenience that wastes maybe five seconds on every drive; if you’re in a bad wreck, it’s that fine line between life and death. Next time you pull into the driveway safely after a road trip, thank God that He made people to be overprotective.

Of course, overprotection can be a good or bad thing. Where do overprotective parents fit in? Well, let’s get to the next point:

The keyword is not “overprotective.” It is “parent.”

Let’s say you’re a mom or dad who just brought home your first child. Congratulations, balloons, meal trains. Now what do you need to do? More than you think. Contrary to popular belief, your job as a parent is not just to clothe and feed that hypothetical child and make sure he/she doesn’t do bad stuff at parties until age eighteen; you as a parent are now responsible for an actual soul. When God creates a child, He doesn’t just make a body with a brain that sometimes functions with ample caffeine. He creates a person with a soul that will live forever. (C.S. Lewis wrote a good explanation.) God gives children to you, the parent, with the responsibility to make sure that you take care of their little souls, lead them to seek out and obey His plan, and teach them diligently in the hope that they will come to a saving relationship with Christ.

This is why we have Mother’s and Father’s Days. Because, all things considered, your parents are doing a pretty freaking awesome job.

I don’t know about you, but when I step back and realize the overwhelming responsibility of my parents to care for my soul, I find it really hard to be mad about not reading TwilightIn fact, I even have a little bit of gratitude that Mom and Dad made the best decision they could for my benefit. They probably didn’t enjoy some of those decisions any more than I did. (It can be hard to say no to people you love, especially if it makes them sad.) Some of those safeguards were probably unnecessary, but my parents didn’t put them there because they were monsters. They put them there because they cared.

If you understand all this, yet you still fundamentally disagree with your parents’ Hunger Games policiesthen here’s another bit of truth that might help:

You probably aren’t missing out on much.

If you really miss out on something good, you can catch up on it later. I don’t think it takes that long to read The Hunger GamesIn fact, you’ll probably enjoy it more if you take your parents’ advice and wait.

Now if your parents are starving you, then by all means argue, disobey, and do whatever it takes to eat and survive. That’s not overprotection; that’s abuse. (Metabolism is one of the four biological criteria for life.) If they aren’t letting you encounter opposing worldviews and you’re in your teens, maybe have a talk about that one- or else college is gonna be tough for you. But if your parents tell you not to do something you want but don’t need… then don’t do it. Face it, you don’t need Harry Potter in your life. Queen Victoria never read Harry Potter, and she ruled the British Empire for over sixty years. Tell yourself you’re being like Victoria. It will do wonders for your attitude.

And if you think that you should be able to make your own decisions because you know best, think again. Many times, when my parents told me not to do something, I later realized they were right. For example, a few years ago when I was probably fifteen, maybe younger, I wanted to watch Sherlock. Dad said no because it had a lot of swearing, it could be scary, and it would probably do me no good. I disagreed with him on that last bit quite strongly; but I decided to do the right thing and obey.

Now, as an adult (and Sherlockian), I can see at least two reasons why it was a good idea to skip the show at that age. One, Sherlock is in fact scary, and being my usual empathetic, prone-to-depression self, I would not have handled Moriarty’s psychopathic tendencies very well at all. It would have done me more emotional harm than good. Two, Sherlock has some particular themes in a particular episode (if you don’t know, don’t look it up) which my dad didn’t know about because he never finished the show. If I had stumbled upon that episode a few years ago, I would have been too disgusted to finish the show, and thus I would never have watched “The Sign of Three.”

There was no way for me to know all that at age fifteen. Good thing my parents were overprotective about a show they never finished.

And lastly, if you still disagree, I just have one more thing to tell you:

You should obey anyway.

Even if nothing else in this post has inspired you to obey, this should be enough to convince you. As a Christian, you have a responsibility to obey your parents in everything. Look at Colossians 3:20. In context, “children” means “people under the legal age of adulthood.” That means that if you’re a Christian under age eighteen, you have to obey your parents whether you like it or not. (Even adult Christians are still required to show honor to their parents.) Unless they command you to do something sinful, disobedience to parents is disobedience to God. Obey them, if for no other reason than your desire to obey God.

Ultimately, it helps to know that your parents do actually care about you.

They aren’t always right. Parents can be wrong sometimes; I know my parents make mistakes because I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my few years of life, and they’ve been around a lot longer than I have. But now that Mom and Dad have messed up a few times, they can help us avoid doing those things. They can protect us from things that just might be dangerous. When they say no to something, try asking why- I’m sure they’d love to explain it to you if you just ask them nicely. You can disagree and present your reasons for why they should change their mind; in fact, you may actually get them to agree with you. But in the end, it’s the job of Christian parents to make a wise decision, and it’s the job of a Christian son or daughter to accept it.

And it’s worth mentioning that the sooner you decide to trust your parents, the likelier they are to start trusting you with more of those things you want to do.

Why That Movie Wasn’t a Failure

I’ve been confused for some time about the complaints of Star Wars fans of The Force Awakens. You have probably heard them…

“That’s not a story; that’s a pitiful fraction of a story.”

“There wasn’t enough character development!”

“How can I understand this story? The movie raised more questions than it answered.”

http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?page=2&t=2139356

But the people who say these things really mean them. These are die-hard Star Wars geeks who were anticipating another good movie, but somehow J.J. Abrams didn’t meet their expectations. They aren’t trolls; they are disappointed fans.

I knew from day one that these arguments had some underlying logical problem, but I could not pinpoint what that problem was, nor why people seemed to think their complaints were legitimate. And the dichotomy wasn’t limited to Star Wars. People might well have blurted the same things about The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit trilogies, but that wouldn’t have made sense, either. Somehow I knew that the “half-story” arguments were true for some trilogies and not for others. But why?

Then it struck me: there are two kinds of trilogies, with completely different functions and rules. I call them the triplet and the triad.

The Triplet: Three Stories in Three Parts

In music, a triplet is three notes in a row, one after another. They are all equal in that each gets a third of a beat, but otherwise they are distinct notes. They might have different tones, they might vary in loudness, or some might be played staccato and the others legato; they all give off a different sound. They are three separate notes. Yes, actually, I am a part-time music teacher. How did you know?

Some trilogies are like triplets. They are all linked together somehow- maybe having the same characters, setting, or theme- but each movie or book in the triplet is a complete story by itself. Often these trilogies begin with one wildly successful story that inspires the author to make more.

The first Star Wars trilogy is a good example of a triplet. A New Hope was originally intended to be a stand-alone film, but its monstrous success led to two sequels (and, unfortunately, three prequels). In keeping with the first film, The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi were both written so that they could also be stand-alones. Each film has the same characters, but each one tells a different story about those characters.

The Chronicles of Narnia is another example of a triplet- or septuplet, in this case. The first book written was, in fact, the second in the series: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. C.S. Lewis wanted to write stories for the children who came to stay with him during the Luftwaffe raids on London, so he drew inspiration from history, mythology, and his own childhood games. Each book centers on the world of Narnia, but aside from that, every book has a different story.

The Triad: One Story in Three Parts

In music, a triad is three notes played at the same time. We sometimes call it a “chord.” Each of these notes has a different tone, but they work together to form a single sound. If you take even one of the notes away, the triad is no longer a complete triad.

Triads are like the other kind of trilogies. Each movie or book in the triad tells only a fraction of the story, and when you take each part together, you get one complete story. Granted, in some triads, each story might possibly be able to stand on its own (like An Unexpected Journey in The Hobbit trilogy), but this is not usually the case. Most of the time, each part gets only one act, which doesn’t make a whole story. Its job is to set up the story and conflict, introduce characters, ask questions, and draw people in for Act II. You can usually tell triads apart from triplets by looking for a climatic moment followed by a resolution that answers every question. If the big showdown has not happened and nobody has won for good, then the story isn’t over yet.

This is the case with The Force Awakens. We are introduced to a new problem- the First Order and Kylo Ren- and a set of new characters. We learn to ask questions: Does Rey get trained as a Jedi? What will become of Finn now? Where did they both come from? Can Kylo Ren ever turn good? The storytellers can drop as many hints as they like, but it isn’t time to answer the questions yet. Thus, folks like me have no choice but to be hopelessly interested in the story.

The Lord of the Rings is also a triad. The Fellowship of the Ring only contains the first act of the story, and though it leaves us crying as Frodo and Sam make the tough decision to simply walk into Mordor, yet we are still left with questions. So we are drawn into the theater each December to find out what happens in The Two Towers and The Return of the King.

Now hopefully you can see why the “underdeveloped story” arguments about the newest Star Wars film don’t make sense from a storytelling perspective. Expecting a full story from The Force Awakens is like me watching The Fellowship of the Ring and then refusing to watch the next two movies because not all of my questions were answered. Well, of course Frodo didn’t get to Mordor, and of course Aragorn didn’t save Minas Tirith; those things don’t happen until Act III in The Return of the King. And I haven’t even met some prominent characters like Gollum, Eowyn, and Faramir. If I really want to have my questions answered, I should stick around until the final act.

So why don’t people recognize this fundamental difference at once? I think it’s because the The Force Awakens was dangerously close to being a carbon copy of the original Star Wars movie. The original was a whole story; naturally, fans had a subconscious expectation that the new movie would be the same, and they were disappointed to get only one act. For me it was different. Not being around for Star Wars in the seventies and eighties, I was blessed to go see this movie without those expectations.

All in all, I learned two things from the Star Wars trilogy discussion. One, fans ought to keep their trilogy categories straight, because mixing them up is unfair to the writers; and two, writers must not try to copy a different kind of trilogy, because that is unfair to the fans. If J.J. Abrams and all other Star Wars fans had kept triplets and triads separate, more people might have enjoyed The Force Awakens for what it was: one piece of a larger story.

And, after this discussion, I hope that you will learn to enjoy your favorite triplets and triads even more.

Have you ever heard of the differences between the two kinds of trilogies? What are your favorite triplets and triads? 

Also, I’ll be doing a Q&A series on self-publishing soon, but first I need your questions! If you wonder about any aspect of indie publishing, comment and ask me.

The Wings of Antheon: Author Interview

Recently I had the pleasure of beta-reading a debut fantasy book. Ellyana J. Wenceslao, also known as E.J W on her blog, is another young author who, like myself, has a fascination for fantastical worlds, and she recently decided to publish her first book, The Wings of Antheon. Yes, you all have to know about this, and I’ll tell you why in a minute.

But first: a synopsis so you aren’t utterly lost.

The memory of the Great Battle against the Antheons is a story of long ago, now buried within the pages of history. Until one boy learns the truth: the Antheons live!

Peter, an Antheon living among humans, has a necklace, a secret, and the Duke he calls friend. But when he discovers that the Duke has been hiding his dark history, Peter’s only choice is to leave or face death. As he runs, doubts begin to set heavily about whether he can ever trust anyone again. His answer: he refuses to trust.

Forced to flee for his life, Peter embarks on a quest to find the lost Antheons – a quest where danger and adventure never seem to be more than a step away. But will Peter be able to overcome his own dark history and doubts before everything changes…again.

Now, I don’t often say that I really enjoyed a story. I’m picky that way. You might know that I dislike Marvel movies, and I didn’t even enjoy Dune. However, Antheon does belong in the short pile of books which I would read more than once. A rich mythical kingdom in England during the days of Richard Lionheart? Characters on quests that will change them forever? Mysterious secrets that need to be unraveled? Duh, yes.

So, without further ado, meet E.J and the Antheons.

Hannah: You have told me a little bit about the origins of this story, but can you share how you got the ideas for Antheons and the other elements of the book?

E.J: I got the idea from a toy I saw years ago when I was eight. I had forgotten about it until I started racking my mind for something to write about. I got the idea for the high King from many different books such as Narnia, Kingdom Tales and other books that held similes.  

Hannah: Can you tell us the names of your characters and give a one-word description of each?

E.J: That’s hard! But I’ll try.

  • Starlin: Prince
  • Starl: Brother
  • Rose: Sister
  • King Ruundar: Father
  • Queen Lincyin: Mother
  • Jotham: Uncle
  • Uundar: Villian
  • Sir Young: Teacher
  • Tecker: Advisor
  • Angela: Mischievous.

Hannah: What is your favorite thing about writing? Imagining new stories, world-building, killing innocent characters… what do you really like?

E.J: I enjoy creating relationships and places. Although deaths are tragic and heart-rending, therefore making them fun to write as well.

Hannah: What was the hardest part of the book to write?

E.J: The middle chapters. I was able to think of the beginning and ending, but something needed to go in-between, and it took me the longest time to figure that out.

Hannah: Why did you write the story of the Antheons?

E.J: I think there is in incredible lack of “good” books for teenagers. If you walk to the teen section of the library and just scan the books you’ll see words such as Blood, Death, Revenge, Vampire, Werewolf, Evil, and a bunch of other rot. Now, not that there isn’t blood, death, revenge, and evil in the world or that it shouldn’t be in books to a reasonable extent. (I’m not including Vampires and Werewolves. I honestly think those are ridiculous.)  Face it, you can’t have a battle without blood and death, and you can’t have a good guy without a bad guy. But that doesn’t mean there needs to be a whole book dwelling entirely on just that. I wanted to write something that teens, or anybody, can read and not feel uncomfortable and, hopefully, enjoy. I like to quote C. S. Lewis when he says, “Since it is so likely children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.” There can be a bad, but there needs to be a good that overcomes.

Hannah: Why do you want people to read it?

E.J: Because I want to show people you can have a good story without making it weird and evil.

Hannah: Do you identify with any of your characters?

E.J: Yes. I would certainly say I and Starlin share the most characteristics.

Hannah: For good measure: if you could be any literary or movie character, whom would you choose?

E.J: … … … Um… I guess I’ve never really thought about it before. It depends a bit. If I were to be in the story they were in I would probably be Lucy Pevensie from Narnia, because that is my favorite movie/book ever! But if I were to simply look like they do I would pick Liv Tyler because she’s beautiful.

Hannah: Where can we find your book on July 3rd?

E.J: I will be publishing through Amazon, so you can find it there.

Hannah: Anything else we ought to know?

E.J: Honestly I think that’s everything! Although my brothers are trying to talk me into publishing my other books, also on the Antheons. I’ll probably have to agree. But when they will make it to Amazon is Fate’s decision. You’ll have to stay tuned. 😉

Thanks for doing the interview, E.J! In the meantime we will stay tuned for July 3. Maybe I can even talk her into doing a giveaway contest…

If you want more tidbits about The Wings of Antheon, check out E.J’s post at her blog, Chokmah&Kishron.

Playing by the Rules with Description

Narrative is tricky stuff.

Writing teachers throw all kinds of rules at us. Show, don’t tell. Vary the length of your sentences. Show, don’t tell. Adverbs are taboo. Show, don’t tell. Oh, did I mention showing and not telling?

Fantasy writers have the hardest job of all, it seems. When it comes to description, not only are we not allowed to tell rather than show (or use double-negatives), we also are forbidden from using certain narrative tools that help us get the job done. Why? Because some of those descriptions have no place in our fantasy worlds.

“Then Ramilon parked his Corvette by the Waterfall Gate.” (credit)

Let me show you. (Ha, look who’s following the rules!) Say I am writing a scene that takes place just after a battle. Elkay is collapsed beneath a tree, worn out and quite discouraged, when his wife Ivora comes to find him and bring him back to safety. Elkay sees her coming and is overjoyed that someone still cares about him. She looks just like an angel-

HOLD IT! screams the internal editor. No angels! You’re writing in deep POV, which means that you have to step into Elkay’s leathery, mud-covered sabatons and write according to his rules. Elkay has never even heard of the concept of angels; how could he compare Ivora to one?

As much as I hate it, the internal editor is right for once. Elkay doesn’t know what an angel is, nor a demon, nor any such being from the real world. For crying out loud, he doesn’t even know what fantastical creatures like svartalfar would be. When writing a fantasy, I suddenly cannot use the familiar expressions that I use every day without thinking about it. And do you know what? That’s a good thing.

Why? Because when we can’t use all of the common expressions, similes, and other narrative tricks that we love so much, we are forced to come up with our own, and it makes our stories that much more original. If I may steal someone else’s originality to explain, C.S. Lewis puts it best:

Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the things you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please, will you do my job for me?”

Some (most) of these familiar expressions have lost their meaning through overuse. The first time a person uses an expression, his or her friends appreciate the wit and begin incorporating these new figures of speech into their own vocabulary. Then the friends of those friends pick up on it, and then their friends, and so on, until the expression is nothing but trite. It’s just another meaningless phrase among the portmanteaus and colloquialisms of the English language.

Admit it- a few moments ago, when I was talking about my imaginary scene, you expected me to say that I had to step into Elkay’s shoes, didn’t you? But, while you knew what expression I was using, you didn’t even think about what the expression really meant- not until I used an archaic word like sabatons that forced you to look twice.

Meh… who would want to come up with original words to describe this, anyway? (credit)

I’m not saying we should look to startle our readers with our word choice; too often startling them will take them right out of the story. However, I am saying that we should be glad that all these expressions are now off-limits for us. Other writers, like authors of contemporary romance novels or general fiction, have to work harder to eliminate trite expressions from their stories; fantasy writers automatically must come up with their own.

And what if you don’t write fantasy? You can still learn a lesson: eliminate those overused words and expressions from your work anyway. Be original! You may have to look harder, but any writer worth two cents can come up with new ways to tell his or her story.

Yes, sometimes it takes a little bit of brainpower. I did indeed sigh over the lack of the term “angel,” and I did have to describe instead how Ivora looked. I had to show her dark hair over her white dress, her soft round face, her sad smile that made Elkay feel less lonely. But as Lewis would say, when the readers finished reading that description, they could only say, “Ah, Elkay’s guardian angel!”

You know, I think it’s fun to use my imagination instead of asking my readers to please do my jobs for me.

What expressions and words are off-limits in your stories? Have you ever invented your own?