skills matter

“why do you use crayola colored pencils and copy paper”

“why do you use ms paint and paint.net”

“why do you draw with a mouse and not a tablet”

“why don’t you use a good digital camera and not your laptop/camera phone”

“stop showing me a picture of an empty wallet”

You know what’s great? People acknowledging Fenris’ incredible intelligence instead of dismissing it because he’s illiterate.

People acknowledging Fenris as a polyglot (tevene, common, qunlot, definitely many more such as nevaran, anders, orlesian etc.)

Fenris as incredibly well spoken (in a second language no less)

Fenris as incredibly well versed in cultural and legal matters

Fenris as well versed in poetry, history, religion, philosophy, etc. do to being surrounded by them for years

Fenris as extremely resourceful and skilled in matters beyond being a warrior (you can bet your ass staying free for years took more than just strength)

Fenris as someone who has many creative and diverse skills

You can bet your ass that this man is absolutely a sponge for knowledge and revels in learning new things, both by necessity of having to be aware to survive, and because he enjoys it/is proud of it.

anonymous asked:

I don't know if you watch GOT, but how hard would it be to fight someone like the mountain hand-to-hand? (well, armed, like in the show). Does being big like him really makes for a better fighter?

Hand to hand is a bit different from armed, especially armored, but okay. The answer is pretty simple.

Start low.

Tall fighters, especially male fighters, have a rather serious issue that’s often overlooked: their center of gravity. It’s higher up off the ground than the average person, and a great many men (like the Mountain) do not drop low enough into their stances to compensate. The taller they are, the lower they need to go to counterbalance their size. Attack their feet, or their legs. Attack their center. Whatever you need to destabilize them. A lot of tall fighters have issues with their base. There are other flaws, but that’s often a big one.

Cutting the legs out from under of your enemy is a real tactic, or I should say: cutting them down to size.

Stab him in the foot. (Yeah, no, real combat tactic.)

Here’s a question: you ever hear the story about David versus Goliath? Probably, most people know the story of the shepherd boy who defeated the greatest, largest warrior in single combat with a sling.

The story is a parable, and a life lesson. It’s also a little more complicated than just brains over brawn. If you take anything from the story, the big one is going to be: never fight your enemy on their terms. Understand where their strengths are, where you’re strengths are, and change the rules.

What a big fighter has going for them is the intimidation factor, and mind games in combat are a huge deal. It’s not so much about physical prowess as much as what your enemy believes about your physical prowess. Or you believe about your opponent’s. What you believe will affect how you fight, how hard you fight, and how well you fight. Go into a fight believing you’re at a disadvantage or will lose and you’ll lose.

Assessing your enemy’s strengths for their weaknesses is the winning strategy. If never addressed, big fighters will have a lot of flaws because their opponents often cede them the field in their minds. This is especially true when in training, and training is the foundation of skill. When people treat you like you’re invincible, you’ll start to believe you are. And that’s how you get an over reliance on a natural advantage with no compensation for the flaws it brings.

The problem is that many people treat size and body types like they’re all or nothing. For every advantage one has, there’s a disadvantage to go with it. A fighter with a heavy reliance on what nature has given them (size, strength, what have you) often neglects more crucial skills if never addressed. You can have big fighters with exceptional levels of skill, but those are the ones who’ve realized they can’t brute force their way through every problem. When they don’t, their technique is sloppy.

Now, really, really, really big people often have to work doubly hard to develop their coordination because fighting with a big, lanky body is difficult.

The trick when you have (or feel like you have) the disadvantage is not to meet the enemy on their terms. The best fighters figure out how to exploit their opponent’s strengths in order to expose their weaknesses and fight with an advantage. The bad fighters are the ones who choose to fight at a disadvantage, who don’t prepare to face their enemy, and try to use the same tactics over and over. The smart ones change up, they are proactive, and understand the battlefield flows.

Ultimately, that’s what makes for the “best” fighter.

Fear is the biggest strength for someone who is massive in size, not their strength and not their bulk. When you are frightened, you become reactive, you cease to actively think, and fail to problem solve. The moment you are defeated in your mind, that is the moment you lose. It doesn’t matter how many steps it takes in the real world after the fact, cede the field in your mind and it’s over. Intimidation can win that fight before the battle ever begins, and the biggest kid on the playground is as natural as intimidation gets.

The Mountain isn’t great because of his skill, but the fact that he makes everyone around him afraid. His personal ruthlessness and cruelty back up that size, and strengthens his ability to intimidate. When facing the Mountain, you’re faced with fear over the (very real) consequences of what he’ll do to you.

He’s valuable because he’s frightening, not because he’s good at fighting. The good at fighting is the bonus that makes him more frightening.

Understanding the affect the mind has on combat is like 70% to victory. Understanding the assumptions made and why we make them is important to writing scenes with characters like this. If you put stock in the Mountain’s size, rather than the Mountain’s reputation then you miss where his strengths actually lie and why people are afraid of him.

The Mountain’s reputation is as a ruthless killing machine who delights in rape, murder, and pillage. Torture is his specialty. He does not abide by the code of chivalry or rules of knightly honor. He’s a sadist. For him, there’s no such thing as just warfare. He thirsts for blood and battle. He’s protected by one of the most powerful houses in the GOT universe, and he earns his pay as their enforcer.

His size is just a plus. He could be just as terrifying at 5″4, and then you’d have the joy of underestimating him before he put a knife through your eye. If he was small, he’d be even more terrifying because there’d be more bodies. His size doesn’t change who he is under the hood, it’s just one more attribute he’s utilizing to its fullest potential.

Stereotypes about tall and short people are just that. Stereotypes.

Every body type has its drawbacks, and their natural advantages can be made to work against them. Tall fighters are more gangly, their center of gravity is further away from the earth, their weight puts additional stress on their joints (especially their knees), and if they never work at addressing their issues they can be slower to start. You can also have overweight/heavy weight martial artists like Sammo Hung, where there’s virtually no difference between them and a martial artist half their size. Skill can close the gap. Understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses also helps. Knowledge is power. Training yourself out of society’s instilled biases is hard, but necessary. This is especially true if you perceive yourself to be the underdog.

Not automatically assuming bigger equals better is the first step. The second is realizing that the best warriors are not decided by outside metrics, but rather through an inward understanding of how to utilize their strengths and address their weaknesses.

On that note, I’ll leave you with a compilation of Cynthia Rothrock’s fight scenes. Cythnia Rothrock is a Hong Kong action star, a winner of world championships in the 80s, she has a wide variety of black belt level training in multiple martial arts, and is one of the most famous westerners to make it in the Hong Kong action scene.

Why end with this? Well, exposure to female movie martial artists runs the gamut between low to non-existent and that lack of exposure to different body types is where most misunderstandings about size come from.

-Michi

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Lacking social skills vs using social skills to hurt people

When someone is a jerk, they’re often pejoratively referred to as “lacking social skills”.

But being a jerk and having bad social skills are different problems. Learning stronger social skills won’t necessarily make someone a better person.

Jerks often have exceptionally strong social skills. Jerks use their social skills to hurt people effectively (and to get away with it.) Sometimes this involves performing stereotypes of social awkwardness — and being very careful to pick targets they can get away with hurting. If someone is hurting people on purpose because they want to, teaching them social skills won’t usually help. They have to change their values and decide to stop hurting people.

People who are jerks and want to stop being jerks may also need to learn new skills for interacting with people. But if someone is intentionally mean, lacking skills isn’t the primary problem.

At the same time, sometimes when people are hurting others, the problem *is* weak social skills. Some social mistakes can be really harmful. (Eg: Standing too close, not understanding privacy, not understanding the difference between different types of physical contact, not understanding which kinds of questions are considered sexual, saying slurs without realizing they’re slurs, etc.) When people are hurting others by accident, learning social skills can be really helpful.

Being a jerk is a different problem than having weak social skills, and it’s important to take the difference seriously. When someone is making social mistakes out of ignorance, the solution is often education and support. When someone is a jerk and wants to learn to be better, the solution often involves education and support. (A caveat here — the people who they’re hurting should *not* be expected to be the ones providing this support.)

When someone is hurting others on purpose because they want to, often the only solution is to deprive them of opportunities to hurt others. (Eg: by banning them from events or suspending their professional license or voting them out of office.). Teaching an intentionally cruel person social skills will not help, and can actually make the problem worse.

Tl;dr It’s obnoxious to use “bad social skills” as a way to insult jerks. Being a jerk is a different problem from having weak social skills. People with good intentions and weak social skills need nonjudgemental help. (From the community or a service provider; generally not from the people they’re inadvertently hurting.) When someone is intentionally mean, teaching them social skills isn’t likely to help — and being nonjudgemental is likely to make matters worse.

All About Writing Fight Scenes

@galaxies-are-my-ink asked,

“Do you have any advice on writing fight scenes? The type of scene I’m writing is mostly hand to hand combat between two experts. I’m definitely not an expert so when I try to write it, the scene ends up sounding repetitive and dull.”

Fore note: This post is coauthored by myself and one of my amazing critique partners, Barik S. Smith, who both writes fantastic fight scenes and teaches mixed martial arts, various artistic martial arts, and weapons classes.

I (Bryn) will tell you a secret: I trained MMA for seven years, and when I write authentic hand to hand fight scenes, they sound dull too. 

The problem with fight scenes in books is that trying to describe each punch and kick and movement (especially if it’s the only thing you’re describing) creates a fight that feels like it’s in slow motion. 

I write…

Lowering her center of gravity, she held her right hand tight to her face and threw a jab towards his chin. He shifted his weight, ducking under her punch. His hair brushed against her fist, and he stepped forward, launching a shovel hook into her exposed side.

But your brain can only read so fast. In real life that series of events would take an instant, but I needed a full eight seconds to read and comprehend it, which gave it an inherent lethargic feel. 

So, we have two primary problems:

  1. How do we describe this fight in a way the reader can understand and keep track of? 
  2. How do we maintain a fast paced, interesting fight once we’ve broken down the fight far enough for readers to understand it? 

(We will get back to these, I promise.) But for now, let’s look at…

Different types of “fight scenes:”

Keep reading

Fourth of July Do's and Don'ts

Do’s:
•Include people who want to be included
• Be understanding of others’ boundaries
• Realize that everyone celebrates differently or maybe not at all

Don'ts:
• Scare or chase others with fireworks
• Point fireworks in someone’s direction
• Look inside fireworks to see if they’re working
• Call people names because they don’t like fireworks
• Pressure anyone to drink alcohol
• Be a racist, fascist dick and call it “patriotism”
• Purposely make someone uncomfortable

My first ever OC was called Rogue, and she looked exactly like me but better and was badass and wore leather jackets and I wrote her into (really bad) yugioh fic when I was like 11 and I had the best time ever posting my shitty stories on ff.n

And no one ever sent me hate or flames, I got lovely reviews asking for more and telling me that they liked my story and honestly, I wouldn’t have got so involved in fic without the support of all these random strangers on the internet.

OCs and self inserts are fun. Alternate universes are fun. Writing a fic where you save the day and your favourite character loves you is fun. I still have an OC who obnoxiously reflects myself and maybe I know more now to develop them into a good character, but it’s FUN.

Please don’t ever be nasty to people who are having fun and hurting no one. There’s nothing wrong with posting stories online, no matter your skill level or execution.

Recognizing uniqueness is not a substitute for thinking about disability

Teachers who are really good at teaching typically developing kids sometimes have trouble understanding the significance of disability. I’ve heard a lot of things like “all kids are unique” and “I always individualize my approach for every kid” and “I don’t see the need to label any kids as disabled, it’s just a matter of finding what works for them”.

This sounds positive, but it can be a disaster for kids with disabilities.

We talk a lot about uniqueness, but a lot of effective teaching depends on understanding ways in which kids are similar to each other. Developmentally appropriate practice means understanding how kids the same age are similar to each other — then being flexible in ways that recognize kids’ unique humanity. We develop a sense of what the range of difference is for kids of a particular age.

Kids with disabilities are more different than that, and we need to take those differences seriously. Disability matters, and practices based on typical developmental milestones don’t account for it.

For instance:

Developmental milestones tell us:

  • Two year olds don’t have the motor skills to support handwriting.
  • Early education helps two year olds develop the motor skills that will eventually support handwriting.
  • Ten year olds do have the motor skills to support handwriting.
  • If they’ve had appropriate education, ten year olds should be able to write.

Developmental milestones don’t tell us:

  • How to teach ten year olds who don’t have the fine motor skills to support handwriting.
  • What early literacy and pre-writing instruction looks like for young children who are unlikely to develop the motor skills needed to support handwriting

It’s also important to understand the difference between unusual and unique. Disability means having unusual differences. But not every difference is unique. Some differences are shared by other people with disabilities. Those shared differences are important.

We need to understand the disability-related similarities. Part of that is having the right words to describe them. Calling disabilities by their right names isn’t about labeling, it’s about breaking isolation and making important things speakable.

For instance:

Braille:

  • Braille exists because blind people need it to exist
  • The differences between sighted people and blind people are a reason that braille needs to exist.
  • (And a reason that Braille is better than raised print).
  • The similarities between many blind people are a reason that braille *can* exist as a standard way of accessing literacy. 
  • If each blind person was completely unique, there would be no way to create a reading and writing system that would work for large numbers of blind people.

Some other examples:

  • Wheelchairs.
  • Ramps.
  • Large print.
  • Cars with hand controls and/or wheelchair lifts.
  • Text-to-speech communication devices.
  • VoiceOver and other screen reading software.
  • Signed languages.
  • Medications that manage symptoms.
  • Supportive seating.
  • The ADA, Section 504, IDEA and other disability rights laws.

People with disabilities are unique, and not interchangeable with each other. Similarly, kids the same age are unique, and not interchangeable with each other. Both the similarities and differences are important.

Tl;dr Sometimes progressive educators are uncomfortable with the concept of disability, and want to instead just see every kid’s uniqueness. That doesn’t work, because disability means having unusual differences — and because the differences aren’t unique; they’re shared with many other disabled people. Recognizing uniqueness isn’t enough — we also need to understand and accommodate disability.

Even MORE reasons to smile

Someone could’ve just perfected their skincare routine

Someone could’ve just been asked to prom for the very first time by a genuinely nice person

Someone could’ve just renovated their room

A second grader could’ve just won their first
spelling bee competition

Someone could’ve just sold their first piece of artwork after months of struggling

A dancer could’ve just placed first in their division AND overall

A shy student could’ve just participated in a class discussion for the first time

Someone could’ve just met their soulmate

A dog could’ve just had the best car ride of their lifetime

A patient could’ve just woken up from a successful surgery

Someone could’ve just ran their first mile

A traumatized individual could’ve just let go of repressed/internalized anger and pain

Someone’s eczema could be clearing up

Someone could’ve just made it past the $1000 mark in their savings account for the first time

Someone could’ve just found the confidence to wear THE thing

An alcoholic could be attending their first AA meeting

Someone recovering from a eating disorder could’ve just made it to a healthy weight

Someone could be starting their hormones today

A depressed person could’ve just gotten out of bed to enjoy this beautiful day

Someone could be hearing their first, “I’m proud of you”

How to Care Less about What Other People Think

1. Know what matters to you, personally – what you stand for, and what your values are .

2. Don’t be anxious about breaking social norms. The more often you do this, the less it bothers you.

3. Decide not to live as a people pleaser, or to get upset and take rejection personally.

4. Hang out with people who are self confident, who know what they believe in, and what they want from life. You’ll find that their self-confidence will rub off on you, too.

5. Try and work on becoming more competent in the skills and areas that matter to you. That will naturally enhance your self confidence, and develop a self image that is strong and positive.

6. Travel, and spend time with different kinds of people. That will show you how diverse attitudes and outlooks are. That is, there’s no one way of being – so find, and be, yourself.

So dark side of dimensions...

Kaiba would rather build a space station, create and task a robot with incredible ai, to assemble the millennium puzzle in zero gravity…

Than to go across the street to the sweetest boy alive and ask him to do something he knows how to do by heart.

Imma be honest, most relatable Kaiba moment ever

We are the suicide kids
The generation between x and y
Who saw the end of world but didn’t know what it meant
Who have more slit wrists and psych appointments then opportunities
I wish this was a brighter poem
But we are the kids who hid from the abuse behind masks of false smiles
We know how to work harder because we’re competing with people twice our age and skill
And no matter how much training we can’t fix it
There’s more drugs then hope
And everyone knows a drug dealer, or 6
We are the abused that became abusers
Giving each other mental scars I’m not sure will ever heal
We are the kids who don’t know what’s behind the mask
Because we never got a chance to explore
I’m not blaming our parents
They did the very best they could in a world that changed so drastically
I can’t say I’d do it any different
I tried to grab on to the remnants of what I thought our identity was
But it got lost somewhere between the lines of the people we want to be and who we are
A generation that’s so sick of having to carry knives and pepper spray
Who know what it’s like to sit silent in a room full of predators
We aren’t perfect
But our killjoy noise stains the flag
Most of us have fallen into some kind of hell
We call it home easily
Always know someone who lost their war
We are comfortable at graveyards
At ease in church halls from funerals
Have a list of songs they can’t play anymore
And maybe this time we’ll do better
But this is all we’ve got

Here’s some motivation to finally call back that place that’s hiring

To quit that job that’s tearing you down

To end a toxic relationship

To make the first move on someone you’ve been avoiding for weeks

To start something new after months of telling yourself you’re not ready

To treat yourself to that shopping spree

To call up an old friend and smile again

Today is the day to everything that you’ve ever procrastinated on. To achieve those goals that you never believed you could achieve. To push yourself to get that one thing done. You can do it. Don’t ever tell yourself you can’t ever again.

I’m rooting for you.

anonymous asked:

So I have a character who learned how to use a longbow when she was a child to hunt. My question is two-tiered: one, in what ways would that impact her physical development; and two, would this help her if she needed to use a bow against people?

Strong shoulders, strong arms.

In all honesty, the bow is a weapon you build to as a hunter. The first weapon she’d have learned was the sling. More useful for small game, and you can be deadly accurate with it. The David versus Goliath story in the Bible isn’t actually a joke or overblown. A child taking down a grown adult with a rock and a sling is entirely plausible if said adult isn’t wearing a helmet. The sling is the weapon of children everywhere, shepherds and hunters. In many parts of the world, they still use it. It’s also better for small game. Katniss would’ve done better braining the squirrels with a sling rather than a bow, like children do.

As a child, she’d be trained on a child’s training bow and work her way up the different types of bows practicing on a single target. The longbow is a weapon that requires a fairly hefty amount of upper body strength to wield, and she’d have to work and train up into her early teens before she was allowed to use it for hunting. The amount of strength you can draw dictates how far the arrow flies and how deep it penetrates. Depth of penetration is important, as is how far the arrow flies. Both define how close you need to be to your target in order to be successful. Herbivores don’t stand around waiting for a predator to kill them, and carnivores might just decide turnabout is fair play.

So, most of her childhood was spent on dummy duty with her bow as she learned to clean and care for it. Learning to stand, and that’s a whole series of lessons. Learning how to string the bow, learning how to hold it, learning to draw before she was ever allowed to shoot.

What whoever was training her would set her on before that is the other skills, and she’d act as a gopher for them the way all apprentices do. Following behind the older hunter, carrying their equipment, watching them and acting under their direction. You can’t hunt if you can’t find game, and you can’t eat it if you can’t clean it.

Hunting comes with a necessary subset of skills which allow the hunter to work. They don’t just go out into the woods and kill shit then come back. It requires patience. It involves waiting in one place for an animal to come by, sometimes for days. Traps, tracking, reading sign, learning to move through the underbrush without disturbing it, hiding your scent, etc.

Your hunter will catch more food that they eat on the regular with snare traps set for rabbits and other small game than they will with the bigger game like deer. Bigger game takes more investment, more energy, and a lot more luck. There’s also a higher chance of injury.

There are plenty of herbivores that won’t go down quiet, deer included. If your hunter hits wrong and they sense/smell them, there’s always the chance they won’t run and will come right in after the hunter. Animals have “fight or flight” too, and a doe can gore you just as well with her hooves as a buck can with his antlers. Any poor soul chased up a tree by a moose or just gut checked by a horse can tell you, herbivores are assholes. On an unlucky day, they’ll kill you just as well as a carnivore and that’s if you can find them at all.

The chances of managing a “one hit kill” with an animal like a deer are low and, even if you land a killing blow, they’re not just going to fall over dead. You’ve got to be able to follow it, recover the body, and kill it as it lies there bleeding out on the ground if necessary. You’ve also got to have some way to carry it back. Then, there’s the risk you run with whether the herd animals will return to the same place or move somewhere else if too many of their number die. If they do, and they’re your primary source of food, then you’ve got to move with them. Nevermind that there are quite a few animals a bow is simply no good for, like bears and boars. Where you need other tools like dogs and spears.

Hunting is a complicated business, and it doesn’t come with any guarantees.

Now, those skills do translate over well on a certain level to dealing with humans. Though, it’s not the weapon skills so much as the other less flashy ones. Many scouts in medieval armies, for example, were hunters of one sort or another. As were the foragers tasked with feeding them. The ability to tell how many people passed, where they passed, and what they brought with them from the tracks left on the roads or in the hills was a valuable ability. The ability to move through the woods without being seen, to hide your passing, to tell who is breaking trail, and to find their camps was also helpful.

The Ranger class in DnD is built on the hunter. You want a character who has more in common with Aragorn than Katniss. Aragorn uses a bow, but it’s not his only weapon.

The reason for this is that the bow isn’t a great weapon for close quarters. More importantly, it takes time to prepare. You don’t travel with it strung, as that wears out the string. If the string is no longer taut when strung then you can’t fire the bow. You don’t travel with the wood left to the elements. It needs to be wrapped, and packed away. Constantly be oiled to maintain its elasticity/limberness so it can be drawn. A dried bow is a bow you can’t pull, no matter how strong you are. You also can’t get it wet. It’s a weapon which takes a lot of prep in order to be used, a lot of care, a lot of maintenance, more than average, and a lot of hard work.

When you’re in, say, a military or part of a raiding force that knows its attacking then that’s great. Or someone who is on watch for certain periods during the day and will be relieved by another, that also works. Or when you’re sitting alone in the woods waiting for an animal to come by. However, the necessary prep time a bow requires is a lot less helpful when you’re taken by surprise.

By the time you’ve taken it out, unwrapped it, strung it, you’re dead. The enemy was also probably too close for the bow to really be of help anyway. Its a weapon which requires distance. Awesome when you’re pegging people from the ramparts, halfway up a tree, or fifty to a hundred feet off. Less so when they’re standing over you, axe in hand. The traditional role of archers in a military structure is artillery, and not that different from how we use the modern one. Their purpose is bombardment, they soften up the enemy so the vanguard can break their lines and kill them.

There is one kind of single combat the bow is useful for: stalking.

The bow is a silent weapon, and when used in a hunter-stalker mode, can be terrifyingly effective. It’s a stealth weapon, meant for ghosting in and ghosting out as you pick your enemies off. However, this kind of combat requires a proactive mindset and a willingness to get your hands dirty.

It’s also vindictive and, from the perspective of most modern morals, it’s cruel.

Humans are no more lucky than animals when it comes to hunting. The bow is the slow death. No character, no matter their skill level, is going to be guaranteed clean kills. However, what they do get is debilitating blows. An arrow through an arm, a leg, or better a lung, is going to take enemies out of the fight and if they’re not dead yet then potentially another one with them. Harassment is the order of the day. The slow path of carving off opponents, damaging them so they can’t fight back, following as they try to run, before moving in for the kill.

It’s a predatory style of combat, it is (really) just hunting. Hunting humans instead of animals. The terrifying form of combat that haunts so many horror movies. It’s psychological warfare.

However, it’s the kind of combat that takes time, patience, and a strong stomach. It’s up to you to decide if that’s the kind of combat you envisioned for this character to participate in. Or the kind of story you want to tell.

People embrace the Predator and Lara Croft from Tomb Raider (2013), and countless others that have this particular combat style.

It might, however, behoove you to consider coming up with other weapons this character has familiarity with. From knives, to traps, to fishing lines, to other more improvised weapons built on the fly. This character has a range of options within their skillset, and there’s no need to stick to just one.

Also we have a bow tag, and an archery tag for past discussion on this subject.

-Michi

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Q&A Lord of Shadows (mild spoilers)

ihatethecoldpeace said: 1.How did you create Julian? He’s my favourite character, and I’d really wanna know how did you create his personality and weaknesses. And how not to cry every time you think about him. 

 It’s hard to separate out Julian’s creation process from that of the whole Blackthorn family. I knew I wanted to write about a big family with lots of siblings, and I figured out early on that Julian was going to be the one in charge. But I also knew that I wanted Julian to have other things going on as well—his art, his feelings for Emma, the ruthless streak when it comes to protecting the people he loves. I see Julian as an example of someone who has dealt with extremely adverse circumstances in ways that were pretty effective, especially considering how young he was when he took charge. But part of the plot of TDA is that no one can manage everything, no matter how skilled they are at scheming and manipulation. The situation that the Blackthorns were in was precarious and unsustainable. Eventually something was going to give. That loss of control was not an accident—I always knew it would happen, and that it would be formative to how Julian (and all the other characters) continue to grow and learn and change, which you’ll get to read about in Queen of Air and Darkness.

There is also a general rule of mine I often try to put into play when creating characters: say you have to pick one overall word to describe your character. They seem in general to be kind, fun-loving, angry, caretaking, etc. So most of the things you know about them, from their habits to their interactions with others, will lean in that same direction as their major characteristic. In Julian’s case it was caretaking: making pancakes, being generally gentle, artistic, loving, baby-cuddling, etc. (It was part of gender-flipping Emma and Julian, making her the revenge-seeking warrior and him the nurturer.) Then he has this one other major characteristic that we find out about as we get to know him, which is this fairly intense ruthlessness when it comes to protecting his family. That characteristic cuts against the grain of the others, complicating his character — and we all know complicated characters are the most fun and interesting, right? :) I try to do the same work with most major characters, and I usually break it down as an exercise before I even start writing them. It’s a reminder that real people often have directly oppositional personality aspects, and so should characters, and that what we love most about them is often exactly that space where the opposing parts of their personality meet (Magnus is fun-loving and freewheeling — but also deeply serious, wise, stable, and cynical.)

4

I can agree. Mental illness in the black community gets overlooked and swept under the rug. And because of that we tend to self medicate and find other ways to cope. Drug abuse, alcoholism; mentally or physically abusing others are just some of the ways some black people cope. It becomes generational cycle/curse. When it comes to children and teens, black parents don’t understand and they don’t know how to help. They feel as though we are immune to mental disorders, which is not true. There are many kids growing up around the country, from wealthy families to broken and impoverished homes with depression and other mental illnesses. Mental illness does not discriminate, it can effect any and everyone.

4

My dear newbie yarn benders,

I love you. You’re wonderful and fabulous and energized about seeing a cool project on the inter-webs and have finally said “yes! I think I could do that! This is the one that will get me into knitting/crochet” With all the excitement and joy in the world you go to the craft store, grab the coolest looking yarn (in the best color, duh) and the cheapest needles/hook you can find (If if needles are too intimidating, you opt for the knitting loom. It comes in a 3 pack! score!). You follow the instructions as best you can with dreams of your project turning out exactly like the professionally taken photograph. Oh my naive, beautiful newbie yarn bender, you are on a craft high. Head so far in the clouds that you don’t realize what has happened until it’s done. We’ve all been here at some point, no matter how skilled a person is. 

My lovelies. Please learn from the mistakes that have already happened. Take the time to learn about gauge and value the materials needed. I am most definitely NOT saying buy the most expensive stuff. I am saying that skien of yarn that is one dollar more will likely make you enjoy the finished product bounties more than the value of one dollar. 

Take the top picture. This was most definitely made on a knitting loom. Im personally not a huge advocate of these. They’re great for learning how knitting works. Not great for endless feats of creativity. You’re limited by the size of the loom which limits you to the size of the yarn as well as the size of the object you make. For something that will not ladder (the long horizontal bits between the “V” stitches) you need yarn thick enough to touch the stitch next to it when wrapped around the loom. In the case of the photo, yarn far too thin was used. 

The next picture looks like it could be arm knitting. Which was a fad I loved. Can we bring this back instead of those pony tail hats? The larger the needle, in this case your arm, the larger yarn you need. The original appears to have multiple yarns being used. Perhaps our newbie knitter didn’t realize that’s an option? Lesson here: Larger needles, larger yarn. Smaller needles, smaller yarn. 

The last picture. This crocheted hippo went through the stretcher! oh no! This is a case of right yarn, wrong size hook. When your needle/hook is larger than your yarn and you put it under tension (in this case, stuffing it) the created fabric will stretch (more-so demonstrated in the first picture). Amigurumi is also hard as shit. The people who do it very well are incredible talented. We should all bow before their prowess. Please don’t try an amigurumi (small figurine knitting/crochet) as your first or even 5th project!

General rule of thumb: if you don’t want holes in your work look for yarn and needle/hook approx same size in diameter.

Alas, you have returned for the craft store. Heading the advice you’ve gotten complimentary yarn and needle/hook. TIME TO START THE CRAFT JUICE!

NO.

NOT YET.

“but whyyyy?” you whine

Because we must first test the yarn.

“But tests are boooooring” says the yarn. 

I agree, talking yarn. Tests are boring and terrible and holy crap tell you if you’re doing something right or wrong. This is useful information to know before creating something beautiful with your HANDS

Also my dear newbie yarn bender, practice makes a better yarn bender. Resist the urge to pump out something fast. Pinterst lied to you. It’s not going to take 1 hour. It will take at least 3 hours and two trips to the craft store. Accept this now. Knitting/crochet is slow ASF. Accept this now. Or find a different hobby. 

So loop on some stitches and knit or crochet your joyous heart out. Then measure it once you get around 5 inches. Count the stitches horizontally and vertically. Then refer to the chart above and make sure everything agrees. Got 12 stitches per 4 inches and using DK (3) yarn? Time to change needles sizes or get your gorgeous self some bulky yarn. Or get yourself some bulky yarn anyhow. Treat yo’self. 

i love you newbie yarn benders! Go forth and create and learn

<3 Stitch