All posts by joseph.a.montoya

Lazy update (6/17)

I’m not going to post anything too crazy this week. I’m very tired, so I don’t really have anything to talk about. Instead, I’m just going to do a small update.

Things are about to get a little crazy for me. Between taking multiple freelance jobs (which I’m so glad to be doing!) and some games coming out, I don’t have much free time. I’ve also been having sleeping trouble, so I’m dragging just to keep up.

Hopefully, I can think of some new topics for next week, but don’t be surprised if I miss a week in the upcoming months. That’s really all I have to say. Here’s to hoping that next week I have a real post. Thanks for reading and I’ll maybe see you then. πŸ™‚

An artist’s therapy

Have you ever heard an artist refer to their muse? What does the term muse mean? Well, it’s simply their inspiration. This can be any form of art including writing. However, there are several different types of muses. Often–especially with troubled artists–we turn the negativity in our lives into art. Sometimes this can be the brush strokes of a painter, that one lyric during a song, or a message portrayed through a slam poet. These topics can be dark. The worse the tragedy, the darker the content can be. I want to talk about how an artist uses their own work as a personal form of therapy. A warning that I’ll talk about something uncomfortable to some, but it’s a unique perspective into the way an artist thinks.

First, I’ll start with where this inspiration came from. The song is titled, “Therapy Session,” by the rapper NF. I’m not a big fan of the genre and know nothing about the artist, but a couple of his songs hit hard for me. I’ll link the song below, just know it is covering dark content, so viewer discretion is advised! Please only listen if you’re okay with this.

Therapy Session by NF

I added a link to his channel if you’d like to listen to more of his music. There is a hyperlink in the caption, so just click on his name.

“This is something that personally helps me as well. I’m not confused about who gave me the gift. God gave me the gift and he gave me the ability to do this. And he also gave me this as an outlet. And that’s what music is for me.” -NF

I left out the music video because there was content in there to match his song that could be disturbing to some people. I just want to think about the message NF is trying to deliver in this song. He talks about how, for him, rapping is his own personal therapy session. The thought of that intrigued me and I wanted to talk about it. He talks about people complaining that his music is too dark. Which, after listening to it, I understand. There are messages that artists try to convey and not every single person can handle hearing it. There is one thing that has been bugging me about this mindset. It is hard to listen to but, shouldn’t we listen to it? Our world is dominated by people who have severe mental problems. We’re so fast to turn our backs to it because it’s hard to see. I just can’t get over how big of an issue this is.

I was having a conversation with a friend the other night and it was about another form of art that gets disregarded because of the message. the book that is now the Netflix Original, “Thirteen Reasons Why”. It’s a very graphic book–or series–that talks about suicide. A girl who commits suicide and tells her reasons why she did it. Now I’ll start by saying I get it. That show screwed up my mental state during the first viewing of it. I don’t think it’s meant for everyone and there are blatant issues with the other seasons that don’t deliver as strong as a message. I want to focus mainly on the show’s first season or just the book in general. A story about a troubled girl who thought she had nothing else to turn to except suicide. The entire show you’re forced to watch as her fate inevitably comes true. As a viewer or reader, you know that’s what’s going to happen.

The show covers some heavy topics including suicide and rape which you see both of. These can be severe triggers if you’ve been through similar situations or simply hard to watch. A topic came up where we discussed how as a kid, I didn’t know any better. I had a very similar situation to Clay as he struggled with the fact that his friend killed herself.

I’m going to include one last clip. In this clip, Clay talks to his friend Tony as he finally gets to his tape which acts as a way to declare who was responsible for her death. This is a major spoiler to the entire series and the moment it was leading up to. There is heavy language and talks of suicide and rape in this season. If that bothers you, yet again, viewer discretion is advised.

I’m still going to talk about the scene, so there is still a spoiler warning in effect. As someone who has lost a best friend to suicide, I related to Clay. I remember feeling exactly the way he felt in this scene. The show has definitely not been perfect, but this scene, to me, is. I remember being angry like he was. I remember having a friend who wanted to help me. I remember blaming myself wholly for her death. In my head, I recalled that same question of, “What could I have done?”.

Does that question sound familiar to you? Have you ever asked yourself that? I did. I asked it a lot. My point is that I wish I knew what I was getting myself into by being so involved in my friend’s life. I’m not saying we shouldn’t help our friends, but I have no idea what mental health issues were. I didn’t realize that I was in an unhealthy relationship with this girl. I should have told someone in her family rather than taking it all on myself.

So what should we do to spread awareness? Well, using the theme of this blog post, as artists we should express ourselves through our creations. Tell the world how we feel through our art. It doesn’t just fuel our inspiration but helps express ourselves. At times, it may also be the therapy we need to get to the next day.

However, that’s not everything we can do. I think parents should start sitting their kids down and having talks with them. I never got a talk about depression or mental health. I don’t think we should turn our eyes away from it, but we should use it to show how bad it can be. Show our kids that this is real and they will most definitely experience it. I’m not saying to have a family night and go sit down and load up Thirteen Reasons Why on Netflix. I’m suggesting we sit them down, show them how horrific this world can be, but then reassure them that it’ll be okay. Express how important it is to get help when you need it or to get other people help even at the risk of destroying your friendship.

Leave the real therapy to the professionals and allow artists to express themselves however they need to. Even if you’re not comfortable doing the things I suggested, try your best to stop closing your eyes to what’s going on around you. It doesn’t have to be mental health, it can be anything. People are suffering. The sooner we open our eyes, the sooner that we can help them.

That’s all I got for today. Thank you so much for reading and I’ll see you next week! πŸ™‚

let’s talk about #blm

The past weak has been, for lack of a better term, insane. If you are inside of the US right now, I don’t think I’ll need to explain, but for those who don’t know, I will.

George Floyd

On the 25th of March, something shocking came to light. The death of a man named George Floyd swept the nation and the citizens of our country were disgusted by what they saw. Evidence surfaced of how a cop knelt on the neck of George Floyd after in an attempt to detain him. This resulted in his death because of a lack of asphyxiation. He even told the officer that he couldn’t breathe and his please were ignored. Floyd was a 46-year-old African-American male and this was a perfect example of how African-Americans have been victims of cop brutality. This isn’t anything new to the world, but after this event, the response escalated to the point where it could no longer be ignored. To people that tried their best to turn their backs on the situation, the protests that started because of this made it impossible to look away. This exploded and became a movement telling the rest of the world that black lives matter. I’m here to talk about my thoughts, personal experience with this, and ways you can help even after the protests die down. It’ll be a long-winded one, but I will put my heart and soul into this. I will say everything that I’ve felt over this past week and, for once in my life, will voice this opinion as loudly as I can. If this bothers you, then I advise that you don’t look away. This should bother you and it should bother anyone who reads it because the way things are now, we should not accept it, and we never should.

My Personal Experience

I’m going to talk about my personal experiences first. I am a 25-year-old half white and half Hispanic male. I take after my mom so I look like your average white male. If I took after my dad, I could’ve seen my life being different. Growing up in Oklahoma, I lived next to another Hispanic family and became childhood friends with my neighbor. As a kid, I never questioned the color of anyone’s skin. I even went to a school where white kids were the minority. Thinking back on it, my first experience with racism was with a cop. My dad got pulled over and my mom was in the car with him. I distinctly remember how that cop treated my mom differently than he treated my dad. Back then I didn’t realize it, but now I see that he saw my dad’s skin color and assumed the worst. Upon seeing my mom, his attitude changed and we were let go without a ticket. Over time, I moved away from our city (Oklahoma City) and moved to another one that was less diverse. Racism became clear to me and slowly I started to understand. I had friends who feared cops just because they weren’t white. I didn’t understand it at the time and even to this day, I can’t understand it. Not that I don’t see what’s going on, but because I look white, I have never had to experience that fear. I can stand behind people who have and support them, but I can never know what that’s like.

My Thoughts on George Floyd

So what do I take from recent events? I am absolutely revolted by not only how our government has treated this situation, but also how the world has. I have seen videos of cops throwing tear gas at innocent peaceful protestors and stories of them macing a 10-year-old kid! Who does that? A cop is supposed to serve and protect us and they are willingly harming us to quiet our voices. Over this past week, I’ve seen countless atrocities highlighting how prevalent our corrupt system has become. We’ve elected a president who is obviously racist and has allowed it to seem okay to be racist yourself. We allowed a horrible person like Trump to be in office and lead our nation destruction. The world has literally been on fire and he was hiding away in a bunker or tear-gassing people so he could get a photo op in front of a church!

Another big problem people seem to have is the rioting and looting. What is my take on this? Well, I am never going to be someone who advocates for violence. I am a pacifist at heart, but even then I can’t fully stand against them for that. People have responded with anger and violence because they feel that they have nowhere else to turn. I am aware that not everyone standing against how George Floyd’s death was handled is a rioter. There are people who are using this as an opportunity to loot and cause destruction. I cannot approve of those who would want to cause chaos just because they can and not because they are hurting. Everyone will remember this moment in the future and the rioting just puts the world on red alert which is what, I believe, makes this something that can no longer be ignored. I don’t want the voices of those revolted by George Floyd’s death to be snuffed out in six months. This needs to be a wake-up call that is screams we will no longer allow this to go on. Even if that cop is fully prosecuted (along with the others involved) we need to make sure that the rest of the crooked cops are off our streets. When someone wears that badge and takes an oath to protect us, we need to make sure that they are there to protect, not harm. We need a president who doesn’t threaten a military presence because he’s afraid of the power that the people have. To everyone who walks the streets in protest, please stay safe, and continue allowing your voices to be heard. The world cannot know peace until there is justice for what has happened.

What Can You Do?

My last point will be one I’m sure you’ve heard before. How can you help? If you want to protest, then pick up your signs, and allow your voice to be your weapon. They may use rubber bullets and tear gas, but our words are just as powerful. With a pandemic still on our hands or fear for your own safety, I understand those who stay inside. Just because you do stay inside, doesn’t mean you can’t help. Use whatever influence you have to spread awareness and voice your own opinion. Whether you’re someone of color or if you’re white, your voice can be heard. If you are of Caucasian origin, just make sure that you are supporting those who have been hurt, and not making this about yourself. Stand behind and not in front. Add your voice, don’t drown other people’s out. Show the world how it should be and don’t give in to how it is.

Finally, there is one last thing you can do. You can sign petitions, donate, and reach out the best you can in other ways. I’ll provide a link below filled with resources. Financially, I haven’t been able to contribute, but I implore that you do if you can. Petitions are always a solid way to contribute as well. You’ll find plenty of them to support those who are victims. Regardless of your situation, there are always ways to help. Now is not the time to close your eyes and stay quiet. We need to do everything in our power to fix these injustices. Stay strong and keep pushing as hard as you can. Don’t stop until the world has changed.

Ways To Help

https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

Character spotlight: Piper

This week, I wanted to try something new. Every writer struggles with something. We’re all just human, so we’re going to have shortcomings. However, creating solid characters has never been an issue for me. I won’t be doing these posts on a weekly basis, but I think doing one every other week would be fun. We’ll see how this first one goes, then I’ll continue from there. This week, we’ll talk about one of my favorite characters to write.

Piper

Piper serves as one of the main cast of students and also goes through the most development in the first book of my series Heroes and Vigilantes. She has one of the best relationships to Ellie who is the closest thing this book has to a protagonist. If you’re a bit confused on why she’s only close to being the protagonist, then you can read up on my unique writing style here. Moving on, what makes this character such a strong one, is because of her journey throughout the book. She makes a good first impression as the brightest character in this series. One of those characters you just instantly fall in love with based on just how nice she is. She contrasts Ellie’s more abrasive personality, which is what makes the duo work well. At the same time as being nice, Piper isn’t afraid to call Ellie out when she starts acting out of line. Surprisingly enough, she’s actually one of the stronger fighters in the series, because of her home life.

Many kids in my book have gone through a lot before enrolling at the high school of their dreams. Some have high expectations placed on their shoulders because of their last name and others grew up without a family. What Piper goes through isn’t something that’s happened before, but what’s currently going on in her life. A bit of a warning past this point, I will be talking about a serious topic. If abuse makes you uncomfortable, then I fully understand if you want to not keep reading.

Piper is a victim of child abuse. She’s grown up in a household with a parent who believes that superpowers are bad. He takes a strong stance against using them, and has hit Piper anytime she’s used her power. He validates his actions by believing that if she associates pain to using her power, she’ll stop wanting to use it. Of course it clearly doesn’t work on Piper as she’s still using it during orientation. I don’t want to give too much away about what she goes through, but I will talk about why I write a victim of abuse in the way I do.

Unfortunately in our world today, this is a very serious problem. Every day there is someone out there who is getting abused but is too scared to say something about it. I want to start off by saying get help if you need it. One of the reasons I write Piper in this way is to show that an abuse victim can move forward and become stronger because of it. The main focus for Piper is that I wrote her as kind. By a mile, she’s the nicest person in the series. She takes everything in stride and adds a positive spin to it. Someone who has such a dark home life focuses on only the positives. I write her this way because she’s seen how bad the world can be, so she doesn’t want anyone else to feel that pain. She has a natural desire to help people and in doing so, this makes her one of the most headstrong students. I want Piper to give people who have suffered from similar circumstances hope that they too can persevere.

My other focus will be on her relationship with Ellie. She plays the role of Ellie’s closest friend in the class. Having a best friend has always been such an important thing for me. Being someone who has lost someone I considered my best friend, I know the pain that comes along with that. I make it a big point to highlight this friendship because of my past experiences with this. I believe having a close friend is just as important as having a boyfriend or girlfriend. They say that sex sells, but I’m an avid believer in having close platonic relationships in my writing. It shows that you don’t need to be romantic with someone in order to be close. Piper needs Ellie as much as Ellie needs her and there’s beautiful poetry to that. Their friendship develops just as much as the characters themselves.

I don’t want to get too far into detail so I’ll only add those two points to this spotlight. Certain characters will have more detail than others depending on their relevance to the plot.

To finish this character spotlight, I’ll add an excerpt from a recent chapter she was in. I think this quote perfectly sums up the character.

“We’d all like to wake up and be a better version of ourselves, but every day we have to struggle just to achieve that. I don’t think I’ll be ‘cured’ tomorrow, so I’ll just have to try as hard as I can starting today.” -Piper

If you’ve made it to the end, just let me know if you’d like to see more character spotlights! If you do, you can also let me know which type of character you’d like to hear about next. A villain? Another student? Maybe a teacher?

Regardless, thanks for reading! I’ll see you next week. πŸ™‚

Be A Man

First of all, don’t ask why I used Steve Rogers for the featured picture. I was thinking about potential pictures and Captain America just happened to pop into my head. I have a little more free time, so I’m going to try my hand at one of the ideas I’ve had stirring in my head. This week I’m going to talk about the phrase, “be a man”.

Most likely you’ve heard this phrase before–especially if you were born male with the gender expectations that came along with it. However, in a society where gender has become more of an identity for yourself rather than how you were born, these words don’t hold as much impact. My generation has expanded the term and even the official terminology has changed. Also, in the past, depending on what gender you were born as, how you’re expected to act has changed. Men no longer need to be afraid to act sensitive and women aren’t limited to motherhood or being open to their emotions. A woman can be bad at showing her emotions and a man can be bad at holding theirs back.

Now let’s shift our focus back to being a man and what that really means. This phrase is often tied back to what is becoming known as toxic masculinity. This can result in blatantly outdated sexism to being unable to accept yourself because you believe you aren’t acting as you should because you’re a man. Sexism is a huge problem in our current society. Even in 2020, there is still a pay gap between the two sexes and no matter how hard you try, sexism will still exist. This goes to men and women alike. Telling someone to be a man sounds like a now sexist term; or is it? I’m going to quickly share my ideas on how the phrase can be spun in a different way.

First, let’s think about a couple of instances where you can be told to be a man. The most common one is when you’re a male and you’re acting in a disappointing way with the stereotypes placed on your gender. You didn’t act strong enough or maybe you didn’t keep your last name after marriage. With how society has labeled it, you haven’t lived up to your expectations of manhood. You’re talked down upon because of this and that doesn’t feel too good, does it? It makes me think back to all the times that I was bullied in school because I was quiet or too small. I spent time in the library or hanging out with girls. (Keep in mind, this was in grade school. I’m sure if I only hung out with girls in high school, I would’ve had different assumptions about me.) Early on, I knew I was too small or timid to be seen as a “man”. With that thought in mind, let’s move onto my second point.

There are a lot of bad dads out there. Dads who walk out on their responsibility or do worse things. I’ve personally been blessed with a father who stayed in the family as well as two grandfathers in my life. (Even if that’s just down to one now.) In my mind, I’ve always equated being a man to taking responsibility. Doing what’s right and being responsible for your actions isn’t always easy. I don’t see being a man limited to your sex. If I compare it to doing what’s right, then a girl can also be a man in a situation. With same-sex couples and people now identifying as nonbinary, those words can mean something else. No matter what your gender is, I think being a man doesn’t need to be a sexist term. If you own it then maybe one day it’ll become something else. This isn’t meant to give excuses for those who say it as an insult, but an alternate way of thinking. After all, our words do have a way of changing how people think. That’s the main reason I wanted to write this post.

With that, that’s all I got for this week. Hopefully, it was better than the previous few.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week. πŸ™‚

An Update (5/6/2020)

This is going to be an extremely short update post. First I’ll talk about how I’ve been sick for quite a few days and only just started feeling better, so I decided to skip on an actual entree this week. Instead, I’ll just do a small update on how I’m going to do things from now on. The biggest change will just be the day in which I post. I’m moving from Tuesday to Wednesday because I’m now taking Tuesdays off from work and on my days off, I’m more likely to forget about the upload. I’ve already tried and I’ll schedule a post here and forget to share it on my social media pages. Moving to Wednesday will guarantee that I don’t miss a post. The next topic I want to talk about is work. I’m not working on just a single project, I’m now working on two projects. This means my time is very limited and that’ll reflect on my posts. I may have a handful of decent ideas in my head, but I if I can’t find the time, I won’t do them. This may mean shorter posts when I don’t find the time for longer ones. There really isn’t a final point, I think that’s about everything I needed to talk about. I’ll wrap it up for now and I hope to write more meaningful entrees in the near future.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week with a real post. πŸ™‚

finding my style

I’m not sure when I’ll be able to do longer posts, because I’ve gotten quite a large workload. Usually I think of a handful of topics over the weekend and write something on Monday. The last one I wrote I did put a bit of feeling in; this one I thought up on the spot. I was between two and I settled on talking about my process of creating my own style for writing. Now when I talk about my style, I mean how I write my novels. When I’m at work, I have to keep the style consistent with the other stories, so there is a bit less creativity when it comes to how I write. However, when I sit down to write my own stories, the style is completely up to me.

When I first started writing, I tried to adopt other styles that have proven to be successful. This is how We Stood Alone is written. I remember that at the time the Divergent series is what inspired me. Back then, I didn’t have nearly as much experience as I do now. Somewhere down the line, I felt like there was no creative spark inside the style. An artist’s brush strokes are unique to them just like the words I put on a page. I know that’s an unorthodox way to put it, but the way you write should reflect your own unique style. What makes your style stand out? Is your style too niche to become popular? These are questions I’ve asked myself and I’ve found a simple solution.

What Style Do I Use?

Before I talk about the solution, I want to talk about my own style. In my book series Heroes and Vigilantes I’ve created a unique style. It took a lot of practice and tweaks before I came up with a solid concept. I’m fully aware that it won’t be accepted by a large group, but I think there will be those who realize it works. The unusual thing about my book is there isn’t a defined protagonist. There are a lot of characters and each chapter seems to jump into a new character. (This isn’t guaranteed as I do stay with one character across multiple chapters when it’s necessary) Tackling the questions that I asked earlier; what’s my solution? Well, after I came up with my style I had to ask myself one more question: why? Why did I choose that style? What does it add to my story? I mean, I could always just make one of the multiple characters my protagonist and call it a night. To answer this I’m going to pull something from one of my previous posts. The post talking about writing female characters. (You can find that post here) I mention this post because I’m going to talk about a series that I bashed in that post. My inspiration from this style comes from Fairy Tail. Where I think the female characters are written poorly, I can’t deny that that series is fantastic at writing character backstories. It seems like each character has their own big moment. That has always been something I’ve wanted to do in Heroes and Vigilantes. I want each individual student to have their own moments and ambitions. If I focus on just one student as my main character, then the reader is tethered to that person. For example the closest character in the first book is Ellie. She gets a lot of development in this book, but if I stuck the readers inside her head and only her head, then you’d never experience any of the other kids’ experiences. To answer the question of why it’s to tell the stories of multiple characters. I’m sure there will be issues with there being so many perspectives, but I think it works. There’s a flow to my style and I hope readers don’t discredit it upon seeing how different it is.

I wanted to make this post short and sweet. I can’t promise that they will get more in-depth over the next few weeks. I got a big workload on me, but I’m going to keep my promise to update weekly!

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week πŸ™‚

Tackling serious issues

After a rather eventful week for me (and playing way too much Persona) I completely let my mind slip about this week’s blog entree. It wasn’t until I saw a specific video that I had an idea of what I should write. It’ll probably be shorter, but this week I’ll talk about tackling serious issues in writing. These can often be relevant topics to what’s going on around us today or issues that may seem out of place when it comes to your usual style. The perfect example comes from the comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine in the episode titled Moo Moo. Despite the show’s rather comical nature, this episode tackled a real world problem in a tasteful way. Where there are jokes sprinkled in, the issue isn’t overlooked. It’s surprisingly serious tone at the end shows that the writers gave the message the attention it deserved. I’ll link a video down below to show exactly what I’m talking about. Hopefully it skips directly to the moment I want. If not, start around 2:24 in the video. The scene I’m talking about ends around 3:06.

I’m going to talk about a couple of points that I pulled from the writing in this scene. When writers (especially comedy writers) have to talk about a topic that has a more serious tone to it, they tend to ruin the message with badly timed jokes. It’s a way to talk about something serious, yet keep up with the lighter tone that they’re going for. Marvel is known for doing this. They are in no way known for their comedy (outside of maybe Guardians of the Galaxy) yet they find themselves taking you out of a scene with a badly timed joke. That’s something that doesn’t happen in this scene. For the next thirty seconds, we feel the emotion behind the scene and it isn’t killed with a badly timed joke. Terry conveys his anger for the situation that is, in our world, a real problem. As Terry puts it, bad cops do in fact exist. They do racially profile people and as someone who is mainly Caucasian, it’s something I’ll never understand. I’ll never get stopped on the side of the street because of the color of my skin. However, as a writer that shouldn’t stop me from talking about the issue. As writers, we can make a difference with our words. If there’s an issue we can speak about and spread awareness, then we should. When we do talk about these issues, we also have to respect them.

My last point will be about how I handle talking about these issues. Well, the things that I believe in I make themes in my stories. I show and not tell. I show kids who deal with trauma or abuse and their journey of overcoming it. The point is to instill hope to those who might need it. I also talk about racism and the benefits of standing against it without using violence. I believe it’s our responsibility to our readers that we tackle these issues. When we do, it should be done tastefully.

Alright, I think that’s all the time I’ve got for today. Sorry for the rather short post. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me this week, but I hope I can give you more next week.

As always, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next week. πŸ™‚

What makes a good villain?

Oh boy, this has been an interesting idea that’s been marinating in my brain all weekend. I really hope that you guys enjoy this one since I put a little extra work into it. It’s one of my favorite topics to write and talk about. I won’t waste any time–let’s get into my thoughts on how to create a well crafted villain.

I want to start off by explaining a bit of the backbone of this entree. I’ve recently started playing the new Final Fantasy VII remake. This doesn’t have to deal with the game at all, so don’t worry about spoilers. There will be spoilers for other series as I talk about different antagonists from a handful of other works of fiction. The reason I started thinking about this is that it was an interesting topic of discussion with a friend of mine. We were talking about the game, but eventually evolved into talking about villains. What makes a good villain and what makes a bad one. That’s what I’ll be talking about today. This entree will include two different examples from two very different people. I asked them a simple yet complex question.

Who is your favorite antagonist?

It’s such a loaded question, isn’t it? Fiction is such a splendid world that writers can let their minds wander to some fantastic places. Some of these worlds are bright and filled with hope, while others can turn quite dark. These characters that I’ll be focusing on aren’t just antagonists, they’re villains. What makes you like these characters despite all the depraved things they have done? Why are readers so intent on loving these people we should hate? What makes them so satisfying to read in a book or watch on the big screen? That’s what I wanted to find out and I picked two of my friends’ best answers. Without further ado, let’s begin.

The Crooked Man

The Crooked Man from The Wolf Among Us

I wanted to start with a character that can be a bit topical. Personally, I have never finished the game he comes from. What caught my attention from this character was his relatability. Writers love to relate characters to real life–even in works of fiction. What’s more horrifying than a character that could and probably does exist somewhere in our world? These types of characters have a habit of jumping off the page and into our reality.

What makes this man so evil? To put it simply: he takes advantage of people he’s oppressed. The setting this story takes place in is called Fable Town. This town is filled with people who struggle just to survive. There aren’t jobs for everyone and each citizen barely scrapes by while their government ignores them. In response to these poor living conditions, what does The Crooked Man do? He offers people jobs and financial relief. In return, these people live under his thumb. He knows poor citizens have no choice but to come to him for help, so they are all willing victims to his schemes. On top of all that, he has a rather convincing argument of his innocence. He goes as far as to get people to commit murder for him while absolving himself from all blame. After all, he didn’t pull the trigger. You don’t get arrested for someone else killing with your gun.

You might be wondering how this could possibly be relatable. Ask yourself this: have you ever had a crappy boss who holds power over you? It’s a little extreme, but it falls under the same category. I would stake my entire career on the fact that there are people like The Crooked Man in our world. The government’s shortcomings are a popular topic with everything going on. It’s not a new trope of displaying the evils of the government in characters. The Crooked Man might not be the government in Fable Town, but he definitely represents a crooked politician who can use his power to get away with anything–even murder. Doesn’t the sheer thought of people like him existing make the character scarier? I know I wouldn’t want my debt collectors to make me murder someone.

Emperor Nadav

The Cor Chronicles

We talk about someone relatable, so let’s shake it up by talking about my other example. Let’s talk about someone I hope doesn’t exist–Emperor Nadav.

When I asked my friend for his favorite villain, I just knew he’d give me one crazy answer. He’s an avid reader so he’s read his fair share of antagonists. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when he gave me his answer, but I’m glad I asked him. The Cor Chronicles is not a series I’ve ever heard of before he told me about it. Leave it to him to give me probably the most depraved character description I’ve ever heard. It’s so horrible that I won’t go too far into detail about the character to keep it clean. Instead, I’m going to talk about why I think this type of character works for a villain.

Depravity is a common trait in an antagonist. A corrupt sense of morality. When a character does something so horrible that you feel a pit in your stomach just by witnessing it. Those moments where you have to put the book down or even turn off your screen. What could possibly be so redeeming about these types of characters? Why do they appeal to us? I don’t think it’s because we can relate them to our world, but quite the opposite. We love the fact that they stay on paper and in our imaginations. We’re supposed to hate them and hate them we do. The hatred for these characters makes it that much more satisfying when they finally get taken down.

What makes Emperor Nadav so special? In my personal opinion, it’s the way he’s introduced. For two books the readers were conditioned to hate someone else. Another depraved individual and when Nadav comes in, he not only makes a big entrance but shows you someone worse. By doing this, the writer turns it up a notch leaving the audience in a state of shock. It gives off the feeling of having the rug pulled out from underneath of you but in all the right ways. From the sounds of it, this author does a fantastic job at one-upping his previous villain. Writing an antagonist can be like pushing a boulder up a hill. The longer they exist in the series, the heavier that boulder gets, so each push needs to be stronger than the last. Eventually, you get to the top, but you need to make sure the pay off is worth it.

What’s My Point?

After presenting you with two very good villains, what am I actually trying to say here? I wanted to present you with two examples of what makes a villain good. The depravity of Emperor Nadav and the relatability of The Crooked Man.

When it comes to creating these horrible characters, the ultimate question I liked to ask is: were they worth it? Do their actions upset the reader and throw off the entire balance of the story? Did the set-up conclude in a satisfying way? Did you give the audience something to chew on or something that falls to ash in their mouth? I’ve witnessed my fair share of bad villains who leave me with a steaming pile of disappointment. After reading two other books, giving a reader a disappointing primary antagonist can destroy your momentum. It’ll grind the story to a sudden halt and can ruin the entire series. A solid antagonist can make or break your story.

Personally, I like to give insight into my villains. What drives and motivates them to do these horrible deeds. At the same time, don’t be afraid to make a character evil just for the sake of being evil. Not every single one needs to use the sympathy for the devil trope. We don’t need to always make the reader feel bad for the villain. Keep adding strength to every push until you stand at the very top of that hill. When you get there, make sure the ride was worth it. Give us a character we love to hate or hate to love. This goes beyond what you put on paper, it applies to our everyday lives. Have a goal and make sure you’re pushing your way towards it even if that boulder gets heavy sometimes. I think that’s the reason we love a good villain. They represent a roadblock for your protagonists just like life throws roadblocks in front of us. These characters find strength when they finally triumph over evil and through them, we can find our own strength. Keep on pushing, because that goal is closer than you might think and it’s waiting for you.

I think that’s all I got in my tank for this week. I hope you all enjoyed me rambling on yet again. Oh, I guess I never said who my favorite villain was. It is and always will be Negan from The Walking Dead. One last thing before I go. If you made it to the end, I have a simple question for you. Who is your favorite villain?

Thank you for reading and I’ll see you next week. πŸ™‚

My Writing Process

Last week’s entree I put a lot of thought into and I’m hoping to more posts like that; so I thought about doing a similar post for this week. I’ve been asked a couple of times about my writing process and how I keep myself motivated to write. To put it simply: writing is hard. You’re taking something inside of your own head and putting it down on paper (or a word document) and that’s easier said than done. How do I write consistently? That’s what I’m here to talk about and I hope what I put helps you. Just read with a grain of salt, since this is my way to keep at it. Not everybody is the same and you should strive to find your own way. As some would say, cut your own path. (Only some will get that reference and I love you if you do)

My Morning

Now I want to start by saying that I get paid to write. I haven’t been getting paid to do this for very long, so a lot of this is new to me. However, for me, I’ve noticed that just rolling out of bed and writing never has worked. This takes a lot of brainpower, so I’ve always had to give my brain some time to boot up. Some people can just start their day running at max capacity, but I’ve never been able to do that. For normal people that aren’t me, I would assume a good breakfast is a great way to get your brain working. I’ve never been a big breakfast person and that results in me needing caffeine to get going. On top of not being a breakfast person, I also hate coffee. The taste of it is just putrid to me and I can’t stomach drinking the stuff. This means I take the unhealthy option: energy drinks. I’m not suggesting that because it’s incredibly unhealthy, but it’s what works for me. Once I’ve got caffeine pumping through my veins, I begin to get to work.

Motivation

How do I stay motivated? This is a difficult question to answer since motivation is a hard beast to describe. I’ve battled with motivation before and I know how hard it can be to stay motivated in your daily life. On top of that, not everybody gets paid for writing and money is a large motivator. Think about it; when your boss threatens to write you up at work for doing a poor job, aren’t you motivated? The same exists for me. I know that if I don’t do a good job, then I could wake up tomorrow with my writing career out the window. Before I got paid I found my reason to continue writing slipping through my fingers. What always brought me back was reading or watching the thing that motivated me in the first place. If you want to be a playwright? Then watch that piece that made you want to become one. A film director? Great, go rent your favorite movie on Amazon. How about a New York Times Best Seller? Go to the library and check out that book that you adore–if you don’t have it in your own personal collection. I’ve always made it a thing where I absorb the media that inspired me in the first place. This includes anime, visual novels, and books. Remind yourself why you want to write and remember the goal you set for yourself. I know that I need a constant reminder, so don’t feel bad if you do too.

The Process

I’ve covered my motivation and my mornings, so it’s time to talk about how I actually write. I usually write using Google Docs. I’ll seriously show you how much of a mess it is below.

I’ve censored some of the pieces I can’t share, but as you can see I have a lot of documents. If I kept scrolling, I would have had a lot more to show off. That isn’t even my work documents, those are just my personal ones. Every day I have a solid plan on what I need to write. Some days I work on projects for work and others I work on my blog entree like this one. I’m in the middle of writing right now and that makes explaining my process that much easier.

I start by opening my playlist on Youtube. I’d share it, but out of fear of getting judged by my weird writing music, I’ll keep it to myself. Just like before, I’ll show a quick screencap below to convey how much effort I put into my writing.

I ended up naming the playlist after my main series since that’s when I use it the most–when writing that book. As you can see, I have almost 400 songs dedicated to writing alone. I’ve found that having certain music that inspires specific scenes helps me tremendously. At the same time, this allows me to build a decent-sized playlist of music to write. Now, you might be different. You might not be able to write with such loud music. If that’s the case, there are plenty of calm playlists that’ll work a lot better. I find that listening to this playlist cuts me off from the outside world. I can’t hear the conversations going on a floor above me or my cat trying to bust her way into my closed door. I can isolate myself and get my writing done. I use Youtube’s paid service so I don’t have to deal with advertisements to make distractions minimum. Cutting myself off keeps me on track. For the last part of my process, I flick a switch in my head. I have a brain that’ll go a mile-a-minute and if I don’t turn it on and off, then I’d never sleep. So as soon as I open my documents, I let loose and allow my brain to explode.

That’s the bulk of my writing process. It definitely won’t be the same for you, but maybe you can take some ideas from how I do things. I’m nowhere near good enough to offer you advice, so please don’t think of me as a simple amateur trying his best to help. If you want some of the best advice I’ve studied, then I suggest a Youtube page called Author Level Up.

Notorious Writer’s Block?

I figured I would save the elephant for the final part. Writer’s block; have you heard of it? If you’ve written for more than a week, then you probably have. Simply put, it’s a block we put in our own minds to keep us from writing. This doesn’t just include writing, we block so many things in our lives. We block making up with someone to repair a damaged relationship and we also block working on homework. It’s my personal opinion that there is no cure for this since it’s a state-of-mind. How do you get over procrastination? You just do it. There are tips to help, but ultimately it starts with you. My personal experience with this is stopping for the day if I’m finding myself blocked. The best way to describe it is maybe a foreign reference. I’ve met a lot of my friends through playing a game called Destiny. In this game, there is an in-game activity that requires 6 people and a ton of teamwork. After a while, we’d find ourselves at a block and consistently failing. Even if we knew how to do it, we’d fail to the point of exhaustion. When it got that bad, we always stopped for the night and picked it up the next day. It’s funny how after so much failure, we could come back and finish it first try. That’s something I’ve used for my own writing. If I find myself struggling and forcing words out, I would stop for the day. Then, if I don’t find motivation in the middle of the night, I’d finish the next day. Take a deep breath, it’ll be okay. When you pick it back up, come out of the gate with twice the energy you had yesterday.

Conclusions

Well, this one went on a lot longer than I thought it would. I wasn’t sure I’d have the words to make a complete post. I hope this gave you a bigger insight into how I do things. I leave you all with one last piece of advice: keep going. No matter how bleak it may seem, just keep going. Who knows; maybe you’ll have a breakthrough.

As always, thank you all for reading and I’ll see you next week. πŸ™‚