Category Archives: Writing

Interesting Language Arts to remember

Some tips I wish knew before when writing

Who or Whom

The word who is used when the pronoun is the subject completing the action, and the word whom is used when the pronoun is a direct object receiving action.

The teacher is a knowledgeable instructor who truly cares about her students

In this case, the teacher is performing the action: she truly cares about her students.

Carol was not sure to whom she was speaking.

Here, Carol performed the action of speaking. The person to whom she spoke was the recipient of her action.

Dependent and independent clauses are important in understanding how and when to use commas and semicolons.

A comma can be used to join a dependent clause with an independent clause:

Even though it was cold outside, we went camping anyway.

A comma can join two independent clauses, if followed by coordinating conjunctions for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so or FANBOYS.

A crowd gathered outside the building, and the protestors began to seem restless.

Semicolons join two independent clauses without conjunctions though transitional words like however, nevertheless, and therefore.

The evidence against the defendant was strong; nevertheless, the defendant was acquitted.

Active vs. Passive Voices

Active verbs are those that express action directly. When you use an active verb, the sentence typically shows the agent performing the action:

Raquel purchased the clock

Raquel is the agent performing the action, purchased is the verb indicating the action and the clocks the object acted upon. Active voice sentences tend to contain sentence components in this order:

Agent + action + object

Because active sentences often show the agent and the action directly, they tend to be straightforward in meaning and easily understood.

Passive voice sentences emphasizes the object that received the action:

The clock was purchased by Raquel.

Typically components are in this order:

Object + action + agent

Some passive sentences may not even include the agent of action at all:

The clock was purchased this morning.

In this sentence, it’s not clear who purchased the clock. Because passive sentences tend to deemphasize the agent of the action, they can see more obscure in meaning than active sentences. Passive sentences can even be used on purpose to obscure meaning:

A decision was made to terminate your emp0loyment.

Passive verbs are also used to convey meaning with constructions such as it is or it was:

It is anticipated that the ceremony will last for hours.

To identify passive sentences, look for helping verbs such as the “be” verbs is, are, we, were, and will be. Sentences in the passive voice contain helping verbs.

The tree will be cut down next summer.

 

 

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A New Bi-Weekly Segment

So I’ve realized something walking down the street today, namely that I think a lot. I’m  a fan of a lot of franchises in television, video games, manga, and related media. I also have a lot of opinions and enjoy telling other’s about them so that should give you an idea about what comes next.

Eclectic Aficionado 

eclecticadjective- deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources

aficionado– noun- a person who is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about an activity, subject, or pastime.

So starting in March, I will write an article that will analyze something in one of my favorite franchises.  At the beginning, I want to do keep this up every two weeks to expect a consistent schedule. It might be a look into what I enjoy about a character or a particular story arc, what I’ve observed about a company and their decisions, even the dreaded questions on what is going on in a particular fandom. (I might even do an article on why fandoms might be dreaded…).Regardless, I hope you’re looking forward to it and I can keep up interesting content.

Watch “Nostalgia Critic: Are Kids Shows Better NOW Than Ever?” on YouTube

So cartoons have been part of my life since the beginning. As a 90’s kids, many of my cohorts liked the shows we grew up with as some where influenced by the animation renaissance thanks to Disney movies and Roger Rabbit. I also felt a lull in programming after 2005 but the new ten’s are really bringing it back. Hey, even Vanessa Fly Trap was made in the end of the 2000’s in my attempt to bring the 90’s inspiration via books/comics but now I’m glad I can get inspired but the depth of running children’s programming too.

The Beauty of Flaws

For those who don’t know, I enjoy a Cartoon Network show known as Steven Universe.

Actually enjoy is an understatement but instead of fan gushing, let me get straight to the point of my post. A recent episode ” Historical Friction” the main character Steven learns from his friend Jamie why having a character in a play that is perfect and never struggles is ultimately boring. He later goes on to share this with one of his foster mothers, Pearl and how satisfying it is when a character who makes mistakes keeps trying and doesn’t give up until they reach their goal. (Which resonates with her especially since the show had a week of episodes revolving around a story arc where Pearl angered her friend Garnet by lying to spend more time with her.)

Something I took from this was making a list of my personal flaws that could come up via personal reflection and comments from people close to me. It’s tough exposing your hang ups especially on the internet but here they are:

  • Unrelentingly push side in argument past point of interest
  • Try too hard to yield to other side if other side is close to me
  • Prone to procrastination
  • Inconsiderate of other side in argument
  • Bad at keeping touch with friends I don’t see everyday or long distance
  • Rather find personal hobbies or entertainment than seeking a possibly good time with others
  • React to criticism of habits/character with excuses or sarcasm, constructive or otherwise
  • Reluctance to changing routine despite bouts of longing for participating in things with others

Sometime next week, I will post the opposite, my strengths that I think makes me great. (Something else an episode of this show touches upon).

Myself as a writer

So I tend to think of myself as a writer, right now mainly a hobbyist or amateur. However I wouldn’t be against the idea of becoming freelance or partime in the future.
On a related note, I took a survey for writers a year back online. I saved a lot of the content to my computer because answering those questions enlightened me to new possibilties and reflect on what I can accomplish as a writer. So I wanted to share my answers to the questions (though I skipped the Horror writers section) to give a sense of the type of writer I see myself as.

How long?
more than 5 years

What genres do I write?
Comedy, Satire, Fantasy, Potentially Sci-fi, Mixed Genre

Age Groups
Children’s, maybe Middle Grade & Young Adult

Types of Stories
Short stories, Book series

Fantasy Subgenres I’m willing to write
Modern, Fairy Tale Retelling, Superhero, Myth, Science_, Paranormal/Supernatural

Science fiction Subgenres I’m willing to write
AI/Androids, Steampunk,_Fantasy, Time Travel, Soft, Space Opera

Writing Strengths
Dialogue, Character Creation, World Building, Writing the Middle

Writing Weakness
Prose, Starting, Finishing, Sub Plots, Plotting

Nagas and Lamia

In the realm of fantasy world building, certain creatures are so familiar that it is debated which to use or what is the difference. One such is that of Lamia and the Naga.

Actually, Nagas are from Vedic Indian mythology and folklore as well as from some Hindu and Buddhist holy scripture. They were a race of immortal (or thats what i’ve come to believe) beings whom, as you can see, were human from the waist up and serpent from the waist down. They had a high affinity to earth and water, in which they were often credited for being the keepers of the earth’s waters. they were also shape-shifters, capable of taking full human or full serpent form (sometimes with multiple heads). Females nagas frequently became spouses to several historical rulers in India, supposedly.

The Lamia, however, was a Greek monster. She’s similar to a vampire in some ways. According to the story, she was a woman who had an affair with Zeus and that ticked Hera off, so Hera took away her children, which in turn drove the woman mad and she eventually turned into a half-animal creature
(depicted as either a half-serpent, half-lion or half-goat), and began abducting and devouring children herself.

In modern pop-culture, Lamias and Nagas grow to be more related, often showing up in anime, comics, video games, and the likes, quite often as some form of magic-using snake-woman.

And that’s all i can give ya without actually researching additional info on it.

Middle Age Magic

Those who follow my blog know that I have an ongoing project to make an expansive fictional world setting. Some of you may not know that as I build my system of performing magic, I look to other works to draw inspiration from.

In this case, I’ve come to share my general findings on how magic was viewed in the Christian territories of the Medieval times.

Medieval Christian views of magic were varied. Generally speaking, they divded things into works of the devil, or miracles of god. Witchcraft, sorcery, and quasi-magical seeming thing attributed to pagan priests, that was all lumped into “evil Satanic powers, burn those people at the stake.” Stuff done by good Christians or saints, if it seemed appropriately holy, was divine and therefore okay.

The grimoires and books of magic that have survived from medieval times are generally books that belonged to Goetic magicians. These were men, taking their ques from the story of Solomon, who thought that if they purified themselves enough, and were holy enough, they could command demons into doing their bidding. In theory, it was all about turning evil forces to good ends, but many of the spells described in these books had pretty selfish or superfluous goals. Goetic magicians were often clergy, as they were the main group in society who had lots of access to books and education, and who were able to read and write.

This doesn’t mean there wasn’t some grey areas.

Alchemists were tolerated, for the most part. Their work was either thought to just be a matter of manipulating natural principles or, according to some alchemists, was itself a form of spiritual purification, refining both objects (and themselves) into better forms. Astrologers were tolerated, because the idea that the stars and planets sent out invisible forces that could affect the world was often accepted as a natural phenomena. They would often make the comparison to sunlight heating you up; the invisible heat emanated from the sun affected the world, they reasoned, and so might other heavenly bodies have different affect.s

It should be noted that alchemy and astrology were also both widely practiced in the Muslim territories; indeed, alchemy was originally an Arabic word.

Uncommon diverse relationships

One day on a bus ride, I was thinking about the relationships of the parents of the characters from my projects, mainly Vanessa Fly Trap. So I thought to myself, there are a lot of mixed relationships that I don’t see very often in media that I view, whether it’s books, television, comics, video games. So using the major races I’m aware of, I made a list of the relationships I see the least, whether it is the main focus of a story or in the background.

  • Black woman and East Asian man
  • Black woman and Middle Eastern man
  • Black woman and South Asian (Indian) man
  • Black woman and Pacific Islander man
  • Black woman and Amerindian (Native American) man
  • Pacific Islander woman with an ethnicity besides White (Black, East Asian, South Asian, Hispanic/Latino, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern)
  • Pacific Islander man with an ethnicity besides White (Black, East Asian, South Asian, Hispanic/Latino, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern)
  • Amerindian men and women with an ethnicity besides White (Black, East Asian, South Asian, Hispanic/Latino, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern)
  • Hispanic/Latinos with East Asian men and women
  • Hispanic/Latinos with Middle Eastern men and women
  • Hispanic/Latinos with South Asian men and women
  • Hispanic/Latinos with Pacific Islander men and women
  • East Asian woman with Hispanic/Latino man
  • East Asian woman with South Asian man
  • East Asian woman with Middle Eastern man
  • East Asian woman with Pacific Islander man
  • East Asian men with an ethnicity besides White and East Asian (Black, South Asian, Hispanic/Latino, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern)

Keep in mind that I made this with a mainly American view of ethnicity so there may be a few groups missing depending on how your country views ethnicity. I am also aware there are regions of the world and one or two shows or books but I think my point is that there are a bunch of untapped potential in (American) fiction. That’s why in my stories in all of my projects, I will start to put more like these, for young couples, old couples, families, and childless couples. And no, I’m not eliminating same race couples but you can go outside to find those and they get plenty of representation. Of course I feel the best approach would be to start with them not in the main focus, as to not point them out as something “weird” or “other”. What are some ways that you think could get more representation for mixed race couples in media, or do you think we are at good balance right now and should take it slower? Let me know in the comments!

1001 Mythic Setting 4: Magic

Disclaimer: Remember this is only about how magic works in the majority of Arabian Nights tales. Being orally told for a long time, some did deviate from this. Also you can have a Middle Eastern setting which does necessarily follow this.

 

The traditional term for a sorcerer in Arabic is “kahin,” and they are strongly associated with djinn. In Middle Eastern folklore magic is strongly tied to invoking spirits. A sorcerer may command and bind djinn, ordering them to perform tasks for him. If a sorcerer claims his powers are purely innate, he is usually thought to be lying. For example, if he claims he is flying, he is usually just being lifted into the air by invisible djinn. If he claims he can tell the future, it is because djinn have flown to the gates of heaven, listened to the conversations of the angels, and relayed them to him. You get the idea.

Magical items are often associated with djinn as well, based on the idea that a sorcerer could bind them to physical objects. In this case, you did not need to be a sorcerer yourself to command a djinni, you simply needed to own one of these items. Sometimes you also needed to know an incantation that would summon the djinni and let you control him, but most of the time simply holding the object was enough.

There were other cases when people could use djinn to further their own ends. Very holy men, like King Solomon, were thought to be able to command them through divine authority. Djinn who fell in love with people might sometimes offer to do them favors. And some sorcerers claimed djinn aided them willingly, that they had been born being able to see the invisible creatures, and that they were drawn to one another.

Keep in mind; this is just a rule of thumb. Most belief in magic in the Middle East might have involved the invoking of spirits, but there was room for other beliefs. Alchemy, for example, flourished in the region (the word itself is Arabic), and its practitioners were sometimes regarded as semi-supernatural.

World-building Advising: The Empire Writes Back

So as I build the world of the Arcane Realm, I often find various concepts to build up this weird setting of mine.

So I vaguely looked at the idea of empires as in real world history, they have been a big part of it, spreading cultures, ideology, political powers and similar things to that. The ancient world ran on the progress made by empires and dynasty’s and the modern world as we know was made by breaking that tradition  and entering a new world.

 

I think this video from Extra Credits segment Extra History further illustrates this and I hope you take a look at it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-wSL4WqUws&list=PLhyKYa0YJ_5Aq7g4bil7bnGi0A8gTsawu&index=5

So unknowingly the fictional world that I made could reasonably have its own imperial forces that spread culture, power, and conflict. But to properly build my fictional empires, I had to take a look at real world empires. So along with Wikipedia I also found another site: http://empires.findthedata.com/.

Thanks to this site I have to share with those who are making their own imperial powers some things to think about:

Founder

The Leader who brought the empire into existence and declared it either through political consolidation or military conquest. Think a bit about their personality and could make a story about how they came up with power on their own

Peak Leader

Leader who accomplished the empire’s largest size. Could be the founder but for a long running empire, they often could

Size (Square Kilometers)

Land (in kilometers squared) controlled at the empire’s peak. Now you might not have to write down the actual size but its a good idea to think about how far particular powers reach within your world, even if you don’t like map making.

Year (at peak size)

Year the empire was its largest.
Again, the numbers aren’t important for everybody (unless you have a timeline for your story) but use this to think about which monarchies and leaders exist at the same time and how they will interact and play off each other at their strongest and weakest.

Government Type

Self-explanatory:

  • Hereditary Ruler
  • Authoritarian
  • Republic

 

Reason for End

A short explanation of what caused the empire to fall. Going from the most to least common:
  • Conquest
  • Rebellion
  • Leader Death
  • Civil War
  • Incorporated into New Entity
  • Voluntary Withdrawal from Territory
  • Revolution
So far I’ve been using these to create my own imperial powers in the Arcane Realm and I hope this could be useful to people building worlds or historical writers or anyone who finds this interesting.
Thanks to Extra Credits and Find The Data.com for getting me interested enough to make this post.
Andrew McDowell

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