Showing posts from 2015

How Should Christians Approach Secular Literature?

Originally published on
Recently, one of the discussion prompts in my English Literature course asked how Christians should approach secular literature. I find this to be a particularly relevant question. My mom is a high school English teacher, and has enlisted my help in cataloging books she has in her classroom and recommending books for a reading list across all high school grades. I have found that much of classic and modern classic literature contains messages and content that is highly questionable from a Christian worldview standpoint. Thus, the issue of how such literature should be approached—if at all—is a pertinent issue in my life and the lives of others.

For example, the Great Gatsby is considered to be superb literature (rightly so) but presents a problem for Christians as it seems to reflect a somewhat Deist, hopeless worldview. On the other hand, the book also shows hollowness of materialism and glam and the consequences of bad choi…

Naming Characters

Choose a Name that Fits People often make judgments based solely on an individual’s name—it’s a natural thing to do. You can use these stereotypes to your advantage—names can be an easy way to give a lot of information about a character without having to say very much. We assume Brutus is muscular, Aiko is a sweet Japanese girl, Chad is a jerk always on the lookout for a hot date, and Agatha is an old lady (or else a mystery writer). If you choose a name with even a moderate stereotype, this is bound to reflect on the character in your readers’ minds. Everyone has different associations with names based on their own experiences and culture, but there are some more universal typecastings. For example, the names Hillary and Britney are often considered excessively girly or even bratty and would likely be considered incongruent for a shy conservative girl. Of course, you could use this incongruence to make your story more interesting. Google It Be sure to do a quick Google search to mak…

Mary Sue: Analyzing a Hated Character Type

Originally posted on Young Writers' Treehouse
She's probably the most bashed character in the writer-world...but who exactly is she? And is there a place for her anywhere in literature? Who is Mary Sue? "Mary Sue" is a term used in the world of fiction to represent a certain type of character. It is most commonly seen as a bad thing, but there are also some characters that fit the description who are seen as well-written. There are many attributes that can make a character a Mary Sue and there are a lot of variants so it's hard to define, but I’ve boiled it down to 4 of the most frequent aspects.
Special Even if they have humble beginnings or “normal” attributes (and they often do) Mary Sues always have something special about them—more special than anyone else in the story. For example: he is The Chosen One...she is an amazing singer and gets noticed by a talent scout...he has a heart so pure that even though he is an average guy he’s loved by extraordinary girl…

The Ultimate Guide to Free Educational Videos

These videos vary in level, complexity, and length. Something for everyone!Preview videos before showing them to your students to make sure they align with your personal standards and values.If you find that any of these links are outdated please let me know.If you think something should be taken off this list, let me know.I'll continue to update this list when I run across more great videos. Suggestions welcome!English Literature:Crash Course Literature
TED-Ed, Literature Yale University, Literature

TechnicalHowcast, English Grammar Basics Howcast, Essays and Research Papers EngVid, Grammar and Pronounciation

OtherTED-Ed, Writer's Workshop
TED-Ed, Language
Annenberg Learner, Literature and Language Arts
Creative Writing, A Master Class
Howcast, Writing Fiction and Poetry YaleCourses, Modern Poetry
MathKhan Academy, Math
PBS Math Club
Annenberg Learner, Math
Gresham College, Applying Modern Math
Gresham College, 19th Century Mathamatics

EconomicsKhan Academy, Economics and Finance

Choosing the Right Main Character for Your Novel

Originally posted on Young Writers' Treehouse

Classic Hero The classic good guys. Sure, they slip up, learn things, and grow, but overall they try to do what's right and often end up saving the day. Examples of these types of Main Characters (MCs) are Luke Skywalker, Frodo, Captain America, and Elizabeth Bennet. These characters are what most people think of when they hear the word "protagonist." The reader always roots for them and wants to see them come to a good end. There is a danger that these MCs will be goody-two-shoe Mary Sues if they are TOO moral and noble to be relatable but they are popular because they win reader's hearts by pursuing worthy goals and desires that the reader begins to care about.
Observer This character isn't really the main focus but serves as a window into the world. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Watson a prime example of this, with Sherlock Holmes being the main focus. Doyle's The Lost World also follows this format, with a j…

Reading Tag

I was tagged by my friend Lisa...

1. Name three of your favorite books and tell us a bit about them. - The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I grew up listening to the audio books and now everytime I read the books or listen to the audio again I notice some new awesome thing. All the books are so unique but have common threads. It means a lot to me and has great messages and inspires my imagination.

- The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Most people know this from the musical, which I like...but I probably don't even have to tell you: THE BOOK WAS BETTER. This book had everything...exictment, humor, romance....I found it to be unique.

- The Theif Lord by Cornelia Funke. I loved the characters...especially Scipio. It made me fall in love with Venice and I felt like I had been there myself. Even though I sort of didn't like the ending, this book gave me a lot of feels and stayed in my mind constantly for days...something few books do. So, that's how it gets a place …

The Key to Writing Romance Readers Will Love

I'd like to address an element that has been bugging me for some time that can make or break a romance storyline. The thing is, all too often characters are purported to fall deeply in love with each other for no apparent reason and without ample time to even do so. Thus, there is a plot thread or even an entire novel wrapped around a relationship that has very little basis--which causes readers to care very little about the story. Admittedly, this has been a flaw in my own writing whenever I try to insert a romantic thread and have only recently discovered the true problem with boring, dispassionate love stories.

When I'm watching a poorly written chick-flick on the Hallmark Channel or browsing through romance books online, too often I wonder, "Why are these people in love? Why do they want and need each other so much? Why should I care?" An example of such lack of "chemistry" and basis for romance would be the movie Love Comes Softly--in my opinion, at l…

Art Feature: Traditional

First, a great song to listen to while browsing this feature:

Click here for artist credit