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Magic

Magic.

What first popped in your head upon reading that word? Was it a magician pulling a rabbit out of his hat? A girl showing off a card trick? An acrobat seemingly twirling in thin air high above a circus ring?

Perhaps your idea of magic is a wizard creating fire from a wand carved out of the bark of an oak tree, or a hero with flight and super speed saving the world from an impending meteor.

Maybe magic to you is the first snowfall of the Christmas season, light, fluffy flakes freewheeling to cover the ground in white. Maybe it’s the jingle of your baby’s first laugh, the spine-tingling sparks of your first kiss, the bittersweet feeling of your heart piecing back together after it was shattered, knowing that everything will be alright.

It could be the words flowing in unison to share a tale to all.

What’s magic to you?

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Posted by on August 23, 2016 in Home

 

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A Side Character’s Story

In between writing and work, Rachel and I have been playing video games. In particular, the game that we’ve been sweeping through is Paper Mario, a gem from the old Nintendo 64 era which we have on our Wii’s virtual console. Even non-gamers, I’m sure, know the Mario name. The guy’s been around since 1981 in the arcade game Donkey Kong when he was known as “Jumpman,” a year before he earned his familiar Italian moniker while playing the antagonist in his next game appearance. Being in over 200 games since then, Mario has become a well-known hero in the video game world.

The games in the Mario series are populated with all sorts of fun characters of all sorts of different species, from Mushroom Kingdom’s Toads to the colorful Yoshi dinosaurs to the shelled Koopas to the plant-like Piantas. Paper Mario is no exception, especially if one considers all of the partners and side characters that Mario helps and is helped by in the game. His partners are all helpful and have a purpose, both in and out of battle, but one of the side characters particularly amuses Rachel and me.

Kolorado and his snazzy mustache

Kolorado is a world-famous archaeologist in the console Paper Mario games. He frequently travels the world for history and treasure (much to the frustration of his wife). Mario meets him fairly early in the game at Chapter Two, and he just seems like a fun little character with a British accent. Later on in the game he actually accompanies Mario into one of the dungeons, an island volcano on the verge of erupting.

As creators, we populate our stories with so many characters to boost our antagonist’s and protagonist’s virtues, flaws, and goals. At times, promoting aspects of the main players of the story is the only purpose of the side characters. Many fall into cliche stereotypes, such as the mother hen, the dumb jock, or the brainy nerd, and are only there to push the hero (or villain) along.

Kolorado smashes through those stereotypes, proving that he’s more than just a simple side character. From his introduction into the game, the players are given a brief overview of his personality from meeting his wife, who complains about him not being home. He’s rash, always exploring, never settling down during his quests for treasure. Upon finally meeting him a little later, players find that he’s a friendly, curious sort. Even later still, he provides comic relief while courageously (or foolhardily) risking his life in an active volcano for Mario (and treasure).

Here is a character that has his own dreams to pursue rather than just being a plot device for Mario’s adventure. Here is a character whose personality is as well-rounded as a novel’s protagonist, with both virtues and flaws. Here is a character who is living his own life, even though the story’s spotlight is not on him.

Kolorado reminds us that every character, no matter how small a part they play in the novel’s overall story, has a tale of his or her own. He knows who he is, what he wants, and how to achieve his goals. Sure, he’ll help Mario if and when he is needed but, for the most part, he’s busy doing what he has to do for his life. Kolorado’s background and personality helps shape his story and his interactions with Mario which, in turn, help shape Mario’s story.

When sketching out a side character, don’t only figure out what he or she can do for your protagonist or antagonist. Figure out his or her character. What is their history? How did they get to where they are now? What made them the cheerful girl next door or the wise old man? What are your side characters’ dreams? What are they doing to achieve them when they are not interacting with the main characters? How do their goals shape them?

The main characters may be the heroes of your story, but every side character is the hero of their own.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2015 in Home

 

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Feeling Lost

I’m actually typing this from my mother’s laptop since my beloved laptop is dying. In lieu of flowers, please donate novels, notebooks, and stationary supplies.

Lame jokes aside, my laptop has begun showing the dreaded “blue screen of death.” The laptop had a good run, being in the family about five or six years. With all the technology leaps and bounds we’re making with computers and such nowadays, the laptop did pretty well. The laptop had actually been my older sister’s laptop, but once she got a new, smaller one that fit her computing lifestyle, I took it over. My first laptop still worked, but it was even older and needed a new battery. With its age, I figured might as well keep it as an emergency back-up and move on by taking over my sister’s laptop.

I was seriously thinking of getting a new laptop soon anyway, but I was hesitating because my laptop was still in fine condition. Then the BSoD appeared more than once a couple of days ago and made my decision for me. Fortunately, the majority of my important documents and pictures are safe on my flash drive.

With that said, it’s so weird not to be writing regularly on my laptop. I had a good habit forming, working on my Camp NaNo project (which I’m now about 3 days behind), drafting up some blog posts, just writing every day. Now I feel lost without touching the keyboard for a day or two. I’ve been reading (got 2 out of the 3 books on my April list read!) and writing in notebooks (which is always fun and refreshing), but it’s still odd.

I’ve been glancing at different types of laptops, mostly from Dell because that’s where my family’s always gotten their computers, and I’m trying to decide if I should invest in a laptop that has more power for gaming as well as my usual go-to programs like Office. The Sims games are a guilty pleasure and I would love to try out games like Star Trek Online, Minecraft, and DC Heroes on my laptop. I’m more of a casual gamer when it comes to the PC, but if time ever allowed it, I would love to play more!

Any suggestions? 🙂

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2015 in Home

 

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Scribble: 26 Sentences

Prompt: Write a story in 26 sentences, with each sentence starting with the respective letter of the alphabet.

Allison sighed as the sounds of bullets going through the store windows echoed in the shop. Becky was not going to be happy. Cannonball had broken the windows last month, and they had just recently been replaced by the insurance company.

Dust exploded above Allison as one of the bullets hit a vase that had been long-forgotten on a shelf behind the register. Eric held onto her arm to pull her down, and the pair huddled behind the register’s counter, the sounds of the robbers pilfering the goods from the store’s shelves. Fingers, rough and dirty, groped around the cash register, probably trying to find a button to open the drawer. Gently, Allison reached up and pressed the worn panic button that was hidden under the register, doing her best to stay out of reach of the robber’s hand.

“How long do you think it will take them to get here?” Eric whispered.

“I don’t know,” Allison said, “but probably not too long. Jason timed them during the last robbery, and it only took them about six minutes.”

Kneeling on the cement floor wasn’t easy on Allison’s legs, and after about two minutes, she was wishing that the cavalry would arrive on the scene. Laughter made her look up, and she swallowed hard when she looked into the barrel of the robbers’ guns pointed at Eric and her. Mentally praying for help, Allison stood up on shaking legs and slowly raised her hands in surrender, with her coworker mimicking her movements. Normally she wouldn’t have been so nervous, what with living in a city that was overrun with villains and superheroes alike, but she had never been standing at gunpoint before. Outbreaks of thieves and burglars were common in this city, despite the numerous heroes that patrolled the area.

Plastic hockey masks covered the faces of the robbers, and they wordlessly directed Allison and Eric to the back wall of the store. Quietly, they obeyed, but Allison couldn’t help but sneak a glance out the bullet-riddled windows. Rush, at the very least with his super speed, should have been at the scene by now, or even Gigabyte with her swift electricity should have arrived.

She felt her stomach drop at the idea that Eric and she were in this alone, that maybe the superheroes of the city were too busy to deal with an armed robbery. Together, Allison and Eric would have to figure out how to get away from the robbers. Until backup arrived, either in the form of heroes or the police, they would be on their own.

Vaguely, Allison realized that the robbers were trying to get Eric to open the cash drawer for them. With all of her strength, she grabbed a nearby thick folder of paperwork and smashed it over the head of one of the robbers. Xeroxed copies of “Guidelines for New Hires” snowed around the group, prompting Allison to grab Eric’s hand, and the two raced for the door. Yells from the robbers did not slow them down, and they made it out of the shop as the police were arriving.

Zero costumed heroes made it to the scene that day, but Allison realized that simple people like herself could be heroes when they needed to be.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2014 in Scribbles

 

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