motivation blogs

torpedoesarts  asked:

Hi there, and welcome to the new mods. :) Hope you're all doing well! I got a question about writing villains. I don't mind if it takes a long time to answer, so feel free to put this to the bottom of the list if you've got a backlog, I have a feeling it'll be a hard one to tackle - or if you don't answer it at all that's fine too! Here goes: I have a really hard time writing villains. I've read and absorbed loads of advice on how to write them well, that's not the problem. (1)

My problem is that I don’t CARE enough about villains. All efforts I make to flesh them out feel like a mandatory chore, and (like anything you write out of obligation rather than enthusiasm) it shows in my writing. No matter how much work I put into the villains, they feel flat, and you can tell in the narrative that I had zero enthusiasm for it, that the villain is only there at all because the hero needed an enemy. (2)

I care more about my heroes and don’t want to spend time with villains, and forcing myself to puts me in a rut and puts me off working on my story altogether. I also find most villains in other stories unappealing, especially the extremely evil, power-hungry types. Do you have any advice for how to tackle this problem, to get inspired to work on something your story needs, when you don’t want to work on that? PS. Sorry for the length of this, I didn’t realise it’d got so long! (3 - end)

Hi, love!  Thanks so much for your question :)

Many of us have felt exactly what you’re feeling right now.  Villains are such an integral part of a good story, yet they’re written so distantly (and often poorly) in modern fiction that it’s hard to get a good example.  Even the Harry Potter series, which can be hailed for many great attributes, left us wanting a bit when it came to Voldemort.  I always got that same impression from J.K. Rowling – she had all these amazing characters, but when it got down to the villain, it felt like she just thought of a menacing name, removed a random body part, and called it a day.

Originally posted by yerr-a-wizard-harry

The good news there is that, despite a somewhat two-dimensional antagonist, J.K. Rowling had no problem selling her story.  Antagonists are important, but they’re not going to make or break your story – so if this is an area where you need improvement, that’s okay.  Take it slowly and give yourself grace while you work through this :)


Writing Villains – What Makes It Difficult?

With that out of the way, I’ll address your problem.  It sounds like you’re having trouble connecting with villains, and it’s the root of that issue that interests me.  Ask yourself: what is it about a villain that feels uninteresting or unlikable to you?  What deters you?  Could it be that you struggle to write characters who…

  • are immoral or dishonorable?  You may not want to write your villains because their personalities or actions are abhorrent to you.  The more evil a villain, the more prominent this problem is – if you truly hate the antagonist’s actions, you may be reluctant to write them.  You may even feel gross when you get to their scenes.

If this is the case: I’d suggest you try to dig into the reasons why their moral compass has been compromised.  Think about the character’s past and personality.  Were there influences in their life that desensitized them to this type of behavior?  What inspires them to act this way?  The more human and realistic these reasons are, the easier it will be for you to understand their actions.

  • interrupt, harm, or conflict with your protagonist?  Sometimes when we develop our stories, we become attached to our protagonists – so much so that we begin to dislike any enemy or obstacle to the protagonist.  It may be that if you’re strongly in support of your hero and their goal, the idea of writing the antagonist becomes sour in your mind.

If this is the case: Think of how the villain’s actions will affect your protagonist positively.  Wanting to protect your protagonist from all evil (or just the really strong evil) may sound ideal, but it’s really denying your hero a chance to grow.  How do the obstacles and setbacks change your protagonist?  Does your hero grow into a more resilient person?  Do they meet new people who will change their lives forever?  Do they learn more about themselves?  If you find that the villain’s actions don’t change your character in the long-term at all, then you may have a plot problem.

  • are not relatable to you?  There can be two causes for this.  For one, we as writers naturally create protagonists who we can support, appreciate, and relate to.  So the next logical jump is to create villains who are the exact opposite of all those things.  You may need to diversify your villain – make their personality more complex, and not just bad bad bad.
    The second cause of unrelatable villains – when people do bad things in real life, others often struggle to understand why.  That’s the major question when tragedy strikes: why did this happen?  Why would they do this?  People with strong morals just don’t know how to think like that  They can’t rationalize how these actions benefit the villain, or how the villain can live with themselves afterward.

If this is the case: Rewrite the outline of the story through your villain’s perspective, as if this is their story.  Think about those big scenes where the villain succeeds, fails, plots, attacks – imagine them through their eyes.  What are they feeling?  What are they gaining and what are they losing?  What do they want, and why do they want it so badly?  Why are they doing what they’re doing?  If you can’t answer these questions, that’s your problem right there.

  • aren’t as extreme as you feel they ought to be?  For any number of reasons, many writers wind up “softening” their villains before the final draft.  For some, they feel they’re “wasting space” on the villain or letting the story become too dark or dramatic.  For others, they just feel uncomfortable unleashing their “inner evil” like that.  For some still, they never let their villains get too extreme in the first place.  Either way, if you’re writing a muted version of a true villain, it’s going to wind up boring you!

If this is the case: Let them get nasty.  Get some paper and just brainstorm the worst possible things for your villain to do (while staying true to their character and motivations).  For a second, forget about the age rating or demographic of your story.  Think of terrible things.  Think of actions that would change your story, change your protagonist’s life, in irreparable ways.  Don’t hold back!  Even if you don’t use most of these ideas, get them out there and see how they taste.  You’ll feel more freedom when the antagonist is on the page – the true sense of power, knowing that your villain (and you, by extension) could do anything and no one can stop you.

  • you know are going to fail?  Writing a story can be like watching a movie when someone’s already spoiled the ending for you.  You know exactly how things end up, and the only decision left is, are you going to take part anyway?  Is the journey important enough that you’ll watch, even when you know the endgame?  And most importantly, will knowing the ending affect how you experience the journey?  Logically, you should be able to just make the decision to watch the movie.  But it’s not that easy.

If this is the case: Consider the ending.  Is the villain truly going to lose in every way?  Are they going to come away with any kind of victory, even if they ultimately fail or die?  And even if they don’t find happiness or victory, how can you improve their journey to make it worth the time?  How can you make an interesting enough villain that you can write their story, even knowing exactly how it ends?  This is a true problem of any character, of course, but it’s the most challenging for villains, who often wind up with the worst endings.  This is, in my mind, the most challenging hurdle when writing villains.


Of course, there are other less common reasons to struggle with villains, so if none of these address your concern, send another ask and we’ll get back to you.  I hope you can find the cause behind your problem! :)

Happy writing!

- Mod Joanna ♥️


If you need advice on general writing or fanfiction, you should maybe ask us!

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23 // June // 2017

blue blue blue ~ doing some revision of first year stuff before going back to uni, because I feel like I have forgotten so much stuff from the first semester lol! so what better topic to start with than the most relevant topic rn: memory! oh also!! I decided to make a studygram! you can follow me @ sensiblestudy // I’ll probs be posting more often in a few weeks time, since atm I don’t have a huge amount of time to be working.

To thank you for 3,000 followers, I am finally doing the highly requested blog rates! To participate:

  • be following me (cause I want to thank my followers!)
  • be a studyblr, appblr, langblr, etc.
  • reblog this post
  • send me an ask about anything! ask a study-related question, for non-academic advice, tell me about your day, or your favorite school subject, it doesn’t matter! just specify somehow that it’s for blog rates, you can just throw “br” at the end or something :)
  • if your studyblr is a side blog, just specify the url of the blog you want me to rate in your message 

I’ll do them as long as I get them! I’m just going to rate with numbers (1-5) because it’s easier for me and I don’t really like the “meh” and “OH MY GOD I LOVE IT” scale things haha. I am looking for more blogs to follow, so there’s a good chance I’ll follow you if I like your posts! I’ll tag all blog rates with #acasapphicrates so you can blacklist.

  1. url
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  8. following: no, sorry | yes, now I am | i already was
  9. compliment:
SHOUTOUT TO NERDY GIRLS

Reminder to girls who are afraid that they won’t ever find someone who’ll love them because of their intelligence or capability:

Don’t let this thought stop you from gaining more knowledge or working at your dream company. Never ever think “I wish I wasn’t this clever and capable”. You’ll find that special someone eventually, maybe just not now. One day, that person would barge in your life and show that you don’t have to be smart or clever or capable in front of him/her. You just need to be you.

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history notes medicine on the western front today we had an awe-inspiring speaker come in from imperial college london: she really motivated me to become more immersed in the field i want to study at university (linguistics) and now i’m researching courses for next year. tomorrow i shall be visiting a school, which i’d very much like to attend for sixth form, to see the environment; the admissions process is really competitive but i know i have the drive and intelligence to succeed! ⋯

PLANNING YOUR MONTH

The early bird gets organized

  • Start 2 days before the beginning of the next month . If you’re scrambling to organize everything you have to do for that month the day the month starts, you’re already behind.

PICK A LOCATION

  • It can be your planner, your bullet journal, or your bedroom/ dorm room wall. But pick a location where you will use your monthly plan, and see it often so that you’re acclimated with it.

COPIES???

  • What if the only monthly plan you made suffers severe water damage? Then you’re screwed for an entire month. I i m p l o r e you to please PLEASE make a copy of your plan. Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody has those days. Don’t let that DAY ruin your MONTH.

Start with your academics

  • Starting with academics not only keeps your priorities in line with where they should be, but it permits you to get all your ducks in a row for your classes. Find out when they are, if you don’t have the same courses every day, so you know what to be prepared for on which day

Follow up with assessments

  • Academics and assessments go hand in hand. Now that you know what day everything is for this month, and when you will be having your classes, find out what assignments you have in those classes. Knowing your assignments in advance allows for more preparation, and more consequent success

Prioritize those assessments!

  • If one assessment is your final grade for a mandatory course, and one assessment is a vocabulary quiz, the final grade assessment needs to be prioritized over the vocabulary quiz. Make sure you are highlighting the more important assessments, so you know their value!

Do the same with homework!!!

  • Homework is often seen as less important that assessments, but you still need to get it done. If you know in advance what assignments you will have, put those in!

Got projects?

  • Projects are the bane of every individual’s existence because you think you have all the time in the world to get it done, and then they due date sneaks up on you like the plague. Not only should you WRITE IN THAT DUE DATE but separate the tasks that you have to do for that assignment and assign it to yourself as homework.

Make your appointments!

  • Figure out what appointments you have that entire month, and preferably before the month starts. That way, you can ensure there are no conflicts and go in with ease.

Extracurricular obligations!

  • Find out what obligations you have for your extracurriculars before they sneak up on you. No one wants to be out of compliance for an extracurricular, but you don’t want it to conflict with your life either.

Fit in some F U N.

  • Don’t make your monthly plan just boring this, and plain old that. Incorporate some hang-out sessions with friends, or a personal day (maybe two). Everyone needs that R & R.

DO IT AGAIN

  • Repeat it the next month. Soon, you’ll be in a habit of planning. I promise, this will make your life s o m u c h e a s i e r.

anonymous asked:

Hey, you're awesome, thanks for existing, basically ^_^ Anyway, I wanted to know if you have any tips on how to write different personalities? My characters (all of them) always end up with the same default personality that I fall back on. Thanks!

Thanks for your question, darling!  I think most of us have struggled with this – after all, we’re conditioned to one way of thinking, feeling, and acting for as long as we live.  That doesn’t necessarily mean we write characters like ourselves, though.  In fact, many of us have a “default character” that’s sassier than we are, sweeter than we are, or in some way different enough from us that we still feel like we’re writing a character.

The problem, then, isn’t that we can’t visualize a different personality than ours.  On the whole, we can.  What we’re missing are the small details that make it feel whole – otherwise, it’s like painting the same room six different colors and trying to pass it off as six different rooms.  Different dominant traits can’t hide the fact that you’re working with one template!

So the question we’re left with: what are the traits we’re missing?  And how can we change them to create a unique and whole personality?


Three Types of Character Traits

There are, as the title suggests, three major categories of personality traits as I see it: fundamental traits, acquired traits, and detrimental traits.  A well-rounded character needs some of each to be three-dimensional and realistic.

Fundamental Traits

The fundamental traits of a person’s character are not as simple as interests and preferences; they are the very base of all decisions and desires.  They are either learned in early life or developed over a long period of time, rooting deeply into the personality.  A few examples of fundamental personality traits include:

  • Upbringing – The word choice here is conscious, as upbringing encompasses many different aspects of a person’s development.  Consider who raised them, and with what morals and practices they were raised to adulthood.  Consider their influences, both familial, social, and in media; consider the relationships that were normalized during their development, as well as the living conditions (financially, emotionally, environmentally, etc.).  The people, places, emotions, and conflicts made common during a person’s developmental period are essential to their personality in adulthood.  This is why psychologists often draw present-day problems back to a person’s childhood memories – because those formative years can subconsciously dictate so much of a person’s future!
  • Values – These may not coincide with the values a person is raised to hold, but upbringing certainly has an influence on this. A person’s values will direct the course of their life through every decision, large and small.  You don’t need to outline everything your character believes is important – every moral and every law they agree/disagree with. But those values which stand above others will give your character purpose.  A few of my favorite examples are: Jane from Jane the Virgin (whose initial storyline is heavily based on her religion and desire for a beautiful love story, as well as her childhood influences who inspired these values) and Han Solo from Star Wars (whose character development rested upon his values shifting from money and gratification to more honorable things).
  • Beliefs – Different from values, beliefs are a more general set of guidelines for how a person believes things are supposed to be.  Beliefs can also be a source of great conflict, as a character tries to stay aligned with their beliefs despite other values or desires.  These beliefs can be established systems, like religion or politics; they can also include more personal belief systems, like nihilism or veganism.  A characters beliefs, like their values, can change over the course of the story – but even if a character is questioning one system of belief, like religion or pacifism, they should have other belief systems in place to govern some of their activity.
  • Reputation – A lot of human activity, whether consciously or not, is dictated by how others perceive them (or how they believe others perceive them).  There are two types of reputation: personal and passing.  For instance, a woman named Sally who gains a personal reputation of sleeping around will behave in reaction to this reputation – either sleeping around because everyone already expects it of her, or specifically not hooking up because she wants to shake this reputation, or developing a thicker skin to deal with the rumors until it passes.  A man named Billy who, because of his tattoos, bears a passing reputation as an intimidating man will either try to soften his demeanor with strangers, own up to the image, or at least learn to expect judgment from strangers as a consequence.
  • Self-Image – Also relevant to a person’s behavior is the way they perceive themselves, which can often have little to do with their reputation.  A lot of self-image is based on definitive moments or phases in the past.  For instance: for several years after I started wearing contacts and cutting my hair, I still saw myself, in dreams at night, with long hair and glasses.  One of my friends, similarly, could not seem to notice when boys would flirt with her during sophomore year – because she still saw herself as an awkward middle schooler with braces, and not as the charming cheerleader with the great smile.
    Inversely, self-image can be inflated, causing character to behave as though they are funnier, smarter, or more prepared than they truly are (see: the rest of my sophomore acquaintances).  This can be an overlooked character flaw opportunity – or flawportunity…

Originally posted by alliefallie


Acquired Traits

Now we move on to the acquired traits of personality, which are the ones you’re more likely to find on a character sheet or a list of “10 Questions for Character Development”, alongside a million other things like their zodiac sign and their spirit animal.  But the traits I’m about to outline are a little more relevant to a character’s behavior, and more importantly, how to make this behavior unique from other characters’ behavior.  The following traits will be learned by your characters throughout their life (and their story), and are more likely to shift and grow with time:

  • Interests – I know, I had to reach deep down into my soul to think of this one.  But it’s true!  Interests, both in childhood/adolescence and in adulthood, are an important part of a character’s personality and lifestyle.  Childhood interests both reveal something about the character (for instance: my nephew loves trains, Legos, and building, suggesting a future interest in construction or engineering) and create values that can last for a lifetime.  Current interests affect career choice, social circles, and daily activity for everyone.  Forgotten or rejected interests can be the source of pet peeves, fears, or bad memories. There’s a reason I’ll never play with Polly Pockets again, and it 100% has to do with bloody fingertips and a purse that wouldn’t open.
  • Sense of Humor – This can be a little hard to define, understandably.  If you were to ask me what my sense of humor is, I’d probably start with a few stupid memes, pass by Drake & Josh on the way, and somehow wind up telling you bad puns or quoting Chelsea Peretti’s standup comedy. A person’s sense of humor can be complex and contradictory!  Sometimes we just laugh at stuff because someone said it in a funny way.  But anyway, to help you boil this down to something useful: take a look at a few kinds of comedy and relate it to your character’s maturity level.  Do they laugh when someone lets out a toot?  Are they the kind of person to mutter, “That’s what she said,” or simply try not to laugh when something sounds dirty?  Can puns make them crack a smile?  Do they like political humor?  Do cat videos kill them?  Is their humor particularly dark?  Can the mere sound of someone else laughing make them laugh?  Figure out where your character’s sense of humor is, and you’ll feel closer to them already.
  • Pet Peeves – For every interest a person may have, and everything that makes them laugh, there’s something else that can piss them off, large- or small-scale.  Are they finnicky about their living space and neatness? Do they require a lot of privacy? Do certain sounds or behaviors drive them crazy?  What qualities are intolerable in a romantic interest for them? What kind of comments or beliefs make them roll their eyes?  If you need help, just try imagining their worst enemy – someone whose every word or action elicits the best eye-rolls and sarcastic remarks and even a middle finger or two – and ask yourself, what about this person makes them that mortal enemy?  What behaviors or standards make them despicable to your character?  That’s all it takes.
  • Skills – Everybody has them, and they’re not just something we’re born with.  Skills can be natural talent, sure, but they’re also cultivated from time, values, and interests.  What is your character okay at?  What are they good at?  What are they fantastic at?  Maybe they can cook.  Maybe they have a beautiful eye for colors.  Maybe they have an inherent sense of right and wrong that others admire. Maybe they’re super-athletic or incredibly patient or sharp as a tack or sweet as a cupcake.  Maybe they know how to juggle, or maybe they’re secretly the most likely of all their friends to survive a zombie apocalypse.  Where do they shine?  What would make someone look at them and think, “Wow, I wish I were them right now”?
  • Desires – A good way to “separate” one character from the next is to define what it is they want, and then use every other detail to dictate how they pursue that goal.  Every real person has a desire, whether they’ve defined it or not – whether it’s something huge, like fame or a family of five with triplet girls and a beach house on an island, or something small, like good grades for the semester.  These desires can cause a person to revise their values or forsake their morals; and these desires can conflict with other people’s desires, influencing how people interact with each other.  Remember that every character is living their own story, even if it’s not the story you’re telling.
  • Communication Style – A majorly overlooked character trait in pop fiction is unique communication styles.  Having every character feel comfortable arguing, or bursting out with the words, “I love you,” is unrealistic.  Having every character feel paralyzed at the idea of confronting a bully or being honest to their spouse is also unrealistic.  There should be a healthy mix of communicators in a group of characters. Some people are too softspoken to mouth off at their racist lab partner.  Some people wouldn’t see their girlfriend kissing another guy and just walk away without saying something.  Some people just don’t react to conflict by raising their voice; some people enjoy sharing their opinions or giving the correct answer in class.  Boldness, social skills, and emotional health all have a part to play in how people communicate their thoughts – so keep this in mind to create a more realistic, consistent character.
  • Emotional Expression – Along the same lines but not the same, emotional expression is more focal on feelings than thoughts.  If you’ve ever heard of the fight-or-flight response, the different types of anger, the stages of grief, or the five love languages, then you’re aware of different “classifications” of emotional expression and management.  Read up on some of those things, and think about how your character handles emotions like happiness, sadness, fear, anger, loneliness, paranoia, and so forth.

Detrimental Traits

While acquired traits are certainly more enjoyable to brainstorm during the creation process, detrimental traits are as important – or even more important – to the character’s wholeness as well as their role in the story.  Not only do these negative or limiting traits make your character realistic, relatable, and conflicted – they create a need for other characters and their strengths to move the plot forward.  A few examples of detrimental traits include:

  • Flaws – Character flaws are probably the first thing that came to your mind while reading this, but they’re the essence of the category.  Flaws in a character’s personality, morality, or behavior can be a source of character development; they set an individual on their own path and provide a unique motivation for them.  Having Character A struggle with sobriety while Character B learns to be a more patient mother can do a lot to separate their stories and personalities from each other.  Even if certain flaws don’t reach a point of growth, they create a third aspect to personality and force us, as writers, to be more creative with how our characters get from Point A to Point B, and what they screw up along the way.
  • Fears – Everyone has fears, whether we’re conscious of them or not – and I’m not talking about phobias or “things that give you shivers”.  Just like everyone has a primary motivation throughout life (romance, family, success, meaning, peace of mind, etc.), everyone has a fear behind that motivation (loneliness, failure, emptiness, anxiety).  We all have something we don’t want to happen places we never want to be and things we never want to do.  We’ve all been in situations that mildly bothered others but wildly affected us at the same time.  For me, it’s a lack of autonomy, or in any way being forced to do something or be somewhere against my will.
    What does this mean for me?  It means that when other people have nightmares about being chased by an axe murderer, I have nightmares about being kidnapped and locked up.  It means that I’m continually aware of my “escape plan” if something goes wrong in my living situation, and I’m hypersensitive to someone telling me, “You have to do this.”  It means I struggle to follow rules and usually don’t get along with authority figures because I have to assert my independence to them.  It’s irrational and continual and doesn’t just affect me in one situation; it subconsciously directs my steps if I let it.  That’s how real, guttural fears work. Phobias are only skin deep, and they don’t make you feel any closer to the character.

Originally posted by giantmonster

  • Secrets – Even goody two-shoes Amber from the swim team, with her blonde blonde hair and her good good grades, has a secret.  Everybody does, even if it’s not a purposeful, “I have a deep, dark secret,” sort of secret. We have things we don’t tell people, just because they’re embarrassing, or painful, or too deep to get into, or they don’t paint us in a good light.  While the secrets themselves tell a lot about a person, so do the reasons a person keeps a secret.  Hiding something out of shame suggests a person is prideful, or critical of themselves, or holds themselves to a higher standard than they hold others.  Hiding something painful suggests that the person struggles to handle sadness or regret, or that they feel uncomfortable showing raw emotion in front of loved ones. And so on and so forth.
  • Conflict – Whether internal, interpersonal, legal, moral, societal, or what have you, conflict will limit your character’s actions at every turn.  A story is nothing without conflict driving the plot in different directions and causing your character to rethink both their plans and their lifestyle.  Without Katniss’s moral conflict over killing other tributes, The Hunger Games would be the story of a girl who entered an arena, killed a lot of people, and lived the rest of her life rich and comfortable.  If Luke Skywalker didn’t have interpersonal conflict with Darth Vader, Star Wars would be the war-story of a guy who joined a rebellion and then… yeah.
  • Health – Physical, mental, and emotional health is a huge limiting factor for characters that often goes untouched, but it’s valuable nonetheless.  Not everyone has a clean bill of health and can jump off trains without pulling a muscle, go through a traumatic life experience without any hint of depression or anxiety, or watch a loved one die in gunfire and shove right on without emotional repercussions. Consider creating a character who’s not perfect – who isn’t perfectly in-shape or abled, or neurotypical or stable day-to-day, or completely clean and clear of residual heartache, unhealthy relationships, or bad emotional habits.  Don’t define them by these traits, of course – but don’t feel that you can’t write a character with health issues without writing a “sick character.”

So this post got ridiculously long, but I hope it works as a reference for you when creating unique characters.  Remember that you don’t need to outline all of this information to create an individual, realistic character.  These are just some relevant ideas to get you started!  It’s up to you, as the writer, to decide what’s necessary and what’s excessive for your creative process.

Still, I hope a majority of this is helpful to you!  If you have any more questions, be sure to send them in and we’ll get back to you :)  Good luck!

- Mod Joanna ♥️


If you need advice on general writing or fanfiction, you should maybe ask us!