More Emotional than Rational

In our era of skepticism, cold, unadulterated rationality is often valued.  Science has lifted the curtain on certain superstitions and wives’ tales.  Most people in the modern western world strive to be rational, and scientific.

We don’t want to be like our ancestors that believed diseases were cause by curses.  Most of the time we try to bring that rationality into our everyday lives, particularly our relationships.  But just how rational are we as a species?  Everyone knows that humans are biased, yet there is more to it than that.  I believe people are emotional first and rational second.

Whether we realized it or not, we are emotionally invested into the world around us.  I theorize that our emotional connections to things run far deeper than any of us realize.  Emotions are what drive us, what connects us to our beliefs, I wager far more than any evidence or rationality.

Emotions are not bad things and how they intertwine with our beliefs can be beneficial, for example it can drive us to learn why we believe what we believe.  Rationality too can intermingle with emotion and help us see whether we believe something simply because we want to or if there is evidence to support it.

Emotion, dare I say, contributes to our openness and willingness to accept rational thinking and beliefs.  If we have a strong emotional attachment to the truth, we I’ll search for it ourselves, despite what common consensus may say.  Therefore, being emotional beings isn’t always a bad thing, but I feel it is something we must be aware of.

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Blessed

If you live in a first world nation, you probably have a life the rest of the world would envy.  Sure, there are hardships, we lose loved ones, our jobs may not be fulfilling, and so on, but generally speaking those of us in such countries live blessed lives.  With bounty comes complacency and eventually misery.

So many people who live generally good lives complain or wish things were better or different.  We all know intellectually that there are people who live hard, painful lives full of starvation and disease but for those of us who do not see it every day it is easy to not process that reality in our hearts.

This is becoming more the case since being a victim is now something to be sought after.  On top of that we simply lose perspective.  Life will never be perfect, never be without pain or suffering.  Sometimes bad things happen for no reason no matter who you are and where you live.  I know those last two sentences aren’t news, but so many in America may know it but don’t live like they do.  This is what’s sad.

Any person living between the dawn of humanity and 1900 would love to live in a developed nation.  What we have is paradise compared to what they endured.  If you want brief examples do a search for “medieval sanitation” or “medieval medicine.” If that doesn’t conjure up some gratitude in your heart nothing will.

This may have a similar theme to past blogs I’ve written, but that is because I feel this topic is important.  If we continually have envy in our hearts, feel sorry for ourselves, and lack gratitude we will be miserable.  Not only will we be miserable, but we spit in the face of all those who are truly suffering.  It also opens the door for real evil.

Enough with the Love Triangles

Love triangles have permeated Young Adult fiction since the turn of the century.  I would argue it has gone beyond clichéd and it expected to be in Young Adult material whether we want it or not.

There is no denying that there isn’t anything inherently wrong with a love triangle subplot.  It can be done well, but the problem is it is nearly impossible to have a love triangle and not have something the audience has seen before repeatedly.

As stated before, this trope is beyond clichéd, it is something repeated far more than the “Dark Lord” or “chosen one” themes and anymore feels like a cheep way to add an extra layer of drama, despite the fact that it’s something we’ve all seen.

Just because a story features young adults doesn’t mean the characters need to pine over one another.  I would like to see authors and writers of TV series and films to come up with other ways to create tension or drama.

The thing is I’m certainly not the first one to point out this problem, many people decry the love triangle plot-device, yet it keeps popping up.  To be frank it feels like laziness on the writers’ part.  When it comes to this idea, we’ve been there done that so many times, but the problem is it still succeeds at conjuring up an emotional reaction.  We become invested in characters and root for one team to win the relationship or the other.

At this point love triangles detract from a story rather than add to it.  It’s time us writers find another way to handle relationships.  What do you think about love triangles?  Are you sick of them too or do you think they need to stick around?

Why Does it Always Surprise us When Book Adaptions are Different?

Ever notice how book adaptions, either movies or television, differ greatly from their source?  This happens so often that if a television series or film does stick close to the book they are based on it is incredibly rare.  Most people know this, however there is almost always universal outrage when a film dares to take liberties with the story.  Why is that?  Why are people surprised by this?

When we read a book, we set up certain expectations for the story.  Things look and feel slightly different in the story for each reader.  This individual experience creates an emotional bond with the characters and world created within the book.  That’s perfectly fine and to be expected if the author did his or her job correctly.

When the story is adapted into another medium there are changes and inevitably some people become disappointed.  Disappointment isn’t bad, and some adaptions of stories are indeed subpar.  I feel the constant backlash and surprise when an adaption differs is silly.  Film is a different medium than books.  A movie or television series due to the very means in which they tell a story must differ from a book or comic.

A book’s job is to show, not tell, to be descriptive while allowing room for the imagination to fill in the blank as much as possible.  A film still needs to show, but relies much less on imagination than a book.  Subtle details are impossible to avoid in a movie and on top of that it must hold the viewers’ attentions and leave them with wanting more.  Sometimes, the source material doesn’t go very deep due to its target audience and film makers want to flesh out one-dimensional characters.  The movies may not succeed at their goal, but I can acknowledge their intent.

The Hobbit films are often criticized as terrible adaptions.  It is a trilogy of movies based off a short novel written for children.  There are quite a few deviations from the book, the same can be said of the Lord of the Rings movies as well though, which are not criticized nearly as much.  This isn’t about defending The Hobbit films, I respect why people don’t like them.

They are a perfect illustration for my point.  They are films that are very different from the book they were based on.  The book was written before The Lord of the Rings and had a very different feel to it.  The elves were silly, the goblins were less-than threatening, and you have talking animals.  The entire tone changed so much with its sequel that it leaves quite a bit of continuity errors.  I adore Tolkien, but the explanation that Bilbo wrote the first book and Frodo wrote the sequels is something I’m familiar with and feel it’s a bit weak.  The Hobbit films tried to rectify that in some areas, some of which I feel they did a good job, while others not so much.

Whether someone agrees or disagrees with me is fine, but anyone would have to admit there are more factors going into the disappointment The Hobbit films wrought than merely not being true to their source.  These films made a bold decision to draw out the story longer than it was, and show other sides to characters, and because it didn’t meet many people’s standards they are maligned.

Perhaps we need to stop being so surprised when film makers take liberties?  Movies and Television are different means of telling stories, and we should expect as much.  The option is always to stick with books because they are generally better than any adaption anyway due to their ability to go deeper and not be constrained to a certain time frame.

Do We Crave Less Freedom?

That may seem like an odd question.  Why would people crave tyranny?  No rational person would desire to have less freedom, would they?  Most people hate being told what to do deep down, even if they know it’s good for them.  The answer is in the other part of human nature, laziness.

As an author, it is my job to pay attention, close attention to the little details in current events and history.  In turn, I can use these things to inspire my stories and make them more realistic.  A general theme I have seen in history is that there is freedom and slowly those freedoms are chipped away until there is nothing left but tyranny.  Sometimes power is seized and there is a sudden switch from freedom to fascism.  However, other times power and freedom of the people is handed over to a government with less than good intentions.

In this post, I will not delve into all the historical examples, that will come later.  Right now, I want this theme to be in the back of our minds as we consider what is happening in the world.  We need to consider the possibility that sometimes people hand over their liberties in exchange for a false sense of security.  The obvious example of this was the rise of the Nazis.

When Ben Franklin was asked what sort of government America would have, he answered, “A republic, if you can keep it.”  Republics don’t have a good track record of lasting historically long periods of time.  This isn’t a political piece and my intent is not to make people afraid.  I simply implore my readers to pay attention, to listen, and to remember the past.  Remember that once we hand control over, we might not get it back.  It is something to think about as tensions rise in America and globally.

The Unexplained: Paranormal Experts?

This is going to be a slightly different post than normal for this series.  Typically, I explore unexplained supernatural or paranormal events and creatures, this week I want to focus on those who claim to be experts in this field.

The paranormal or supernatural are areas steeped in mystery, especially since many people don’t believe they exist.  Now I believe there are ways to test whether a supernatural/paranormal event likely happened, such as consistency in eye-witness accounts, photographs, and videos.  Yes, none of these are exactly empirical because photos can be faked, and the human memory is fragile.  I concede that, though I find this explanation to be weak when it comes to dismissing ALL unexplained sightings/encounters.  Needless to say, the realm of the paranormal is almost completely unknown.  This is even true if you are like me and believe in God and that the Bible is the Word of God.

Scripture speaks of angels and demons rather frequently, particularly in the New Testament, but even there it can be ambiguous, save for making it clear what the natures of these two groups are.  One puts God’s will first, and the other wholly rejects Him.  Concerning Heaven and Hell we are given parables and allegory, but again full descriptions are intentionally vague.

So, depending on one’s worldview, even in the best of circumstances where there are concrete references, the supernatural world is still incredibly mysterious.  If one rejects the notion that God is real and that Scripture is a holy text (or any religious text for that matter) then there are even less concrete sources.  Therefore, I feel the notion of paranormal experts to be absurd and paradoxical. I would estimate that %99.9 of the supernatural and paranormal are unknown, even if you believe in divine inspiration.

If you don’t believe in divine inspiration, then I don’t particularly understand how one could have a supernaturalist approach and either claim to be a paranormal expert or consult one.  Where would one become an expert when there is so much mystery?  Sure, a person could draw conclusions as I do based on the evidence of each particular case like eye-witness testimony and how consistent it is.  However, at best that makes one a scholar or an enthusiast, but certainly not an expert.

It is impossible to be an expert on something when we don’t even know for sure what all these things are and how many even exist.  This extends to psychics, let’s say everything they say about a haunted location does indeed coincide with what the owner’s experience.  How does anyone know if the psychic isn’t being deceived?  Perhaps a spiritual entity disguised itself to look like a lost little boy who didn’t know he is dead.  The truth is when it comes to the supernatural we have no idea what we are really dealing with.

Disappointment in Sequels

Why are sequels so often disappointing?  If we watch a film or read a book and find that the story pulls us in, we are left wanting more.  We wonder what adventures the characters may have after the end of the initial story.  Do they continue to fight evil or do their lives become mundane and boring?  Do they have families or continue to be warriors?  These are the sorts of questions that plague us, but when the sequels come, we are (sometimes) left disappointed and wondering if the storytellers should have bothered at all.

What I’ve observed is that part of the problem with sequels is they often play it too safe and simply repeat plot points from the previous story, but with a new spin.  Sometimes the disappointment comes when we see character growth during one movie or book, and it may continue into subsequent sequels and is later completely scrapped in a later story (looking at you Han Solo).

Sometimes sequel disappointment is as simple as the story not living up to our imaginations.  Often with films, sequels raise more questions than answers, further compounding the disappointment.  Another factor we must consider is that typically sequels are written for a larger, casual audience not necessarily the die-hard fans.  This is particularly true of movies and TV series.

Sometimes sequel disappointment comes from poor decisions on the writer’s part.  There is one series (I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t name it) where the main character fights for the affections of a woman, and when he ends up in a relationship with her he ends up being unhappy and cheats on her.  This character we were supposed to see as a hero ends up seeing women as something to conquer instead of being people.  This behavior felt like it was the antithesis of how he developed as a character and made him to be unsympathetic while giving his relationship an anticlimactic ending.

What are your thoughts on sequels?  Do you enjoy them?  Do you feel good stories should be left alone?  Let me know your thoughts!

Lost in a Good Story – A Note From the Editor

I often get lost in good stories. They suck me in so far that I have trouble pulling myself out. However, I have also read stories that I could not possibly finish and I wonder how they became “classics.” For example, Harry Potter sucks me in, but even though I love King Arthur legends, I have never been able to finish The Once and Future King.

I was first introduced to Goandria in 2008, and I saw a lot of potential in it, but it still had a ways to go. After several years of revisions, I read through it again, and I was amazed.  As an editor, I try hard not to get pulled in so deep that I miss spelling and punctuation errors, but it was really hard for me on this one. I find that I can relate to several of the characters in different ways, that I can actually feel what they are going through. I laugh and cry with them because they are real to me. It makes editing quite the challenge, but it gives me hope that readers may feel the same way.

I am glad that you can read the stories of Goandria for enjoyment, and I hope that they suck you in as they did me. I anxiously await the completion of the next story so I can find out what happens to the characters. It may just take a bit longer to go through several rounds of editing so I can enjoy the story at least once.

Are You a “Real” Writer?

Writers may seem vain, but many of us struggle with self-doubt.  We ask ourselves “Are we really writers?” regularly.  This is particularly true of independent authors, or traditionally published authors who struggle to find their audience.

Being a writer simply means writing regularly.  If you strive to be a writer and write daily, then you are a writer.  It doesn’t matter how big your audience is because that is something that takes time to grow.  Working on your goals and bettering yourself everyday is something you have direct control of and doing it every day makes you a writer.

This doesn’t mean you have to settle for where you are.  It is good to desire to become better than you are and to grow.  Do you have 500 followers on your blog?  Shoot for 1000!  Do you have 100 fans of your books?  Set a goal of 150 within the next year.

There will be times when you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere.  We all feel that way.  The only way to get out of that rut is to continue writing, learn, and take constructive criticism to heart.

Doubt can also creep up when you continually get rejections from literary journals, agents, or publishers.  It can make you feel like no one wants you.  We all know this is normal, but it can be easy for us to wonder if we will ever be good enough.

I would offer a word of caution, becoming too content in where you are as a writer isn’t good either.  Sure, if you blog as a hobby and don’t aim to turn it into a business, fine, but those of us who desire to have a more professional approach should be weary of contentment.  Staying the same will not gain new followers/readers in your craft.  We all make mistakes, and that is fine, but we shouldn’t be too accepting of these mistakes that we keep doing it.

Do you fear you aren’t a writer?  Do you struggle with self-doubt?  What do you do to combat these feelings?

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