Novel Progress and Confidence Update – [Writing Advice]

So after some work and some rest, I’ve been able to progress in character development and the lore of my world. I’m stuck on vampires again, but temporarily. One of my characters is my vampire and an exorcist. I’m basing her spirit work skills on exorcism techniques they used in ancient Japan.

For the record, working on a novel isn’t doing the same thing every day, at least for me. To keep the mind active and the inspiration flowing, I think it’s okay to take different approaches to your work. It’s a great confidence booster too when you create a different way of developing your story and it leads to progress, but even when you don’t make the breakthrough you hoped for, taking in that experience is a progress in itself.

My struggles with anxiety have surprisingly inspired me to fight for a confident attitude towards my work and myself. Shadow work during this time (shadow work is a self-reflection process many pagans/witches do through divination or other means, in case you don’t know) has helped so much. I did start a daily Instagram posting of one of my shadow work methods, but now I’m behind because of some mental health issues on my end. I’m still trucking on though and wanted to say that things are still moving forward.

To end, a little advice from a teabag tassel I got yesterday: The purpose of life is to know yourself, love yourself, trust yourself, and be yourself.

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Rewriting – Second Draft – Session 3

Progress: Page 8 out of 470

Every character should have purpose. I had to redesign a character today, who started off one way, but I had to make her the opposite of what she initially was to improve her presence in the story.

I hate side characters without purpose. I’ve seen main characters without purpose and they make me livid, but side characters are just as bad because you don’t want the atmosphere your main character is in to be bland or not memorable. A side character without purpose and depth to their design is a nuisance. Even if the character is the comedic relief or specifically needed as a plot device for a single moment, the character should have purpose.

Okay, I sound like a broken record, don’t I? A character with purpose is a character designed with significant attachments to the setting, themes, and plot of the story. This doesn’t mean the character has to “belong” in the world you put them in; it means that their attributes affect what is happening in your world or story for a goddamn reason. Like, imagine reading a romantic story where the protagonist and their love interest are destined to be, but a character who is literally a nobody, doesn’t even have a name, starts spewing out the protagonist’s darkest secrets for no reason just so the love interest negatively reacts and every time the protagonist somehow gets their love interest to accept them again, the nobody just appears again to spew their shit and vanish into the darkness until they’re needed again. And when you get to THE END of this romantic story, even though it ends with “happily ever after”, the nobody is never explained! No! I hate that! I’ve even read fanfictions like that! I’ll never accept this unless the story is avant garde af (but even avant garde has more purpose than an underdeveloped character and that’s saying something)!

I don’t know why I’m heated about this…it’s because I’m thinking about characters without purpose in other stories…maybe. I don’t know. I am sure as hell determined to give my character’s purpose though. If I ever create a pointless character, it will be done to prove my point in the most spiteful way possible.

First Draft Progress – 18 Days Until Deadline

Research Topics:

  • Weapons in science fiction
  • The history of alchemy
  • The fundamentals of alchemy
  • Greek and Egyptian History
  • The Egyptian afterlife and The Book of the Dead

Today was a fabulous research day! Today’s research topics helped me flesh out the history of two characters who, for lack of a better term, gave me major feels while writing them. Now that I’ve worked through their lives a bit more, I can continue writing their about their pain 🙂

Need Help Writing Dialogue For Your Novel? Follow These Tips from Jenna Moreci

First, let me just say I LOVE Jenna. Someone shared one of her videos on Tumblr and I just fell in love with the way she broke down her writing tips. She’s very frank and incredibly open-minded. I like watching a video from her or other authortubers before I jump into my own novel to get my head in the game. Enjoy!

Also, please consider checking out her book The Savior’s Champion and her other book Eve: The Awakening. I’ve added both to my reading list on Amazon. I’m ready to see her work for myself. FYI if you have Kindle Unlimited, Eve: The Awakening is free to read.

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Bad Habits Developed From Growing Up In An Authoritarian, Christian Household

To start, this post is not bashing Christianity. Many of us could blame Christianity or other religions for what happened to us as a child or why we deal with so much anxiety and pain to this day, but I’m discussing the habits that fuel that anxiety and fear based on our own perception of having Christian parents with authoritarian aspects. This isn’t about the religion itself, but rather, the destructive point of view one can develop if they don’t remember to show themselves compassion and forgiveness. Yes, a Pagan who was once Christian is behind this, but please hear me out. I speak about the following bad habits and my personal experience developing those habits respectfully. I blame no one.

Perfectionism

Although we are most likely told in Christian upbringings that we make mistakes and that we’re imperfect creatures that simply need to repent for our sins, we may believe otherwise. An early introduction to the Christian god and his power can add a type of pressure that appears to demand not just repentance, but performance. Some of us may strive to become sinless by trying to gain validation from our parents; they are the ones who introduced us to God after all. Here’s the truth: as long as you’re human, you’re going to make mistakes and the most important type of validation is from yourself. Inevitably, it’s up to us whether we let our mistakes punish us or help us grow. You may feel inclined to exact a type of judgment on yourself to understanding who God is, but you’re still doing that to yourself. Perfectionism is a ridiculously high ideal. It’s not meant to be reached. Neither is reaching a level of sinlessness at God’s level according to Christian belief. You may sin, repent, be saved, then sin again, repent, repeat…Why not accept that sinning or making mistakes is part of the human experience? It’s wiser to consider your life as a learning curve than placing yourself in a position where you’re starving for acceptance. Accept yourself, flaws and all.

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Judging Prematurely

Here’s the thing about judgment: it’s all projection. Judging someone or something prematurely and rashly is very common in religious circles. If you live in an authoritarian household with a Christian view, the last thing you want is for any type of judgment to fall upon you. In fact, it may pass down from your parents on to you and then you want to relieve yourself of it so badly that you pass on your judgments to your siblings, friends, classmates, coworkers, or whoever. Premature judgment is a projection of fear. It’s a subconscious way of dodging a bullet you think God is itching to point at you on judgment day. If you feel your parents are judging you and using the bible to add on extra weight, it’s not just unhealthy to carry that, but it’s just as bad passing that on to others. Consider being open to other’s life stories and gaining the whole truth before coming to a conclusion about them. If you feel you can’t understand the whole truth or you just flat out don’t want to, then mind your own business. Reflect on what’s happening within you and why judgment from your parents, fellow churchgoers, or God encourages you to apply the same pressure to others in your life. Christian circles often come off as one big family. Toxicity like gossip can tear families apart and damage who you are as well.

(Quick side note: The book above, Running on Empty by Jonice Webb is absolutely EXCELLENT. My first therapist recommended I get it and it woke me up.)

You Believe Your Needs Aren’t As Important As God’s

How quick are you to dismiss whether your needs or desires aren’t as important as someone else’s? If you grew up with authoritarian Christian parents, you were probably often told what held the most importance at the time. I don’t mean being told you need to eat dinner before dessert so your appetite isn’t spoiled. I mean being told if God would want you to do something the way you’re thinking of doing or if God wants you to hang out with the friends you’re wanting to hang out with. God constantly interjects into your life decisions, which is part of the Christian lifestyle. However, your self-reliance and self-trust should NOT deteriorate while you’re living a Christian life or any lifestyle for that matter. According to Christian belief, understanding God completely is near impossible, but with the guidance of the Bible, you should be able to know what you should and should not do, but in the vastness of humanity, the millions of perspectives that exist, we probably don’t all see the Bible the same way. So if your parents are pushing you to see something their way rather than encouraging you to understand God on your own, that can summon a lot of self-doubt as an adult. It is not healthy to diminish your own self-trust and I feel many Christians would agree that God shouldn’t be used in derogatory means anyway. 

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You Have To Fear Everything That Isn’t Christian

I truly hope this one doesn’t offend anyone, but as someone who was once Christian, this was one of the hardest things to break away from. If you combine the three previous points, perfectionism, judgment, and lack of self-trust, you have all the ingredients for pure paranoia. It doesn’t have to be this way. If you have self-acceptance, an open-mind, and a strong ethical stance you trust yourself to follow as a Christian, you won’t feel inclined to be in a state of fear of everything that appears as “secular” or “unholy”. I have friends who are Christian who often have nothing but love to give. They may not understand why I’m Pagan, but they do know me beyond my own belief system, just as I know them and we decide the parameters of our friendship respectfully so we have interconnectivity, a network of understanding founded in compassion. If you grew up in an authoritarian Christian household, you may have thought fear was healthy. I’m not talking about the type of instinctual fear that lets you know when danger is around, but the deep-sinking fear amplified by anxiety, hypothetical punishments, harsh self-judgment, and limited information. The fear that encourages you to fear life even with God being there is not healthy. Period.

Conclusion

I know what it’s like growing up in a Christian household that is practically militant. You don’t want to step out of line and face consequences, you don’t want to accept any type of judgment you don’t fully understand, you don’t want to suffer for being human and so you aim to be otherwise. You may think I’d want to blame my parents for this, but that wouldn’t be fair. They have their lives and I’ll never know wholly how they grew up and what exactly they passed down to me. Ultimately, they love me and what I can do in response to their choices about my upbringing is decide what is or isn’t healthy for me to hold on to.

When it comes to reflecting on my thoughts, emotions, and decisions, even as a child, I still must address my accountability. Yes, all children are impressionable, but we do make certain choices whether our parents try to influence them or not. Even with the parents I had, I snuck a Harry Potter book, I read occult books in the library, I looked up telekinesis and witchcraft online, I found “secular” rock/metal/goth bands that I still listen to today. Yes, there were times the pressure of authoritarian parenting shook me to my core and God in the mix of that amplified my fear, but my ability to choose was never really restrained. Free will and all that, right? To be honest, I feel lucky compared to some other children, and I’m a pastor’s kid. With them and myself in mind, I guess I wrote this as a way of saying it’s not too late to break away from the unhealthy habits you developed during childhood. You don’t have to change your religion. No need to be angry at your parents. You should simply change and be patient with yourself through the transition. Bad habits like these die hard.

Thanks for reading. Referring back to my novel, my protagonist grows up in a theocracy because these are the bad habits I’d like to address. I consider this “research” for the sake of character development and world building.

Also, there’s a second part to the previous book I mentioned before. Check it out if you’re interested.

What is Hamartia? Literary Terms 101

Hamartia: “The error, misstep, frailty, or flaw that causes the downfall of a tragic hero. Sometimes called the tragic flaw… bad judgment, ignorance, accident, inherited weakness, or plain bad luck…Whatever the error or defect, it results in action (or inaction) that leads to disaster. – NTC’s Dictionary of Literary Terms by Kathleen Morner and Ralph Rausch (1991).

I strongly recommend getting this dictionary if you’re a fiction writer.

My Take on Hamartia In Writing

Hamartia must appear in every story, if you think about. It’s necessary conflict (internal and external). How else is your character going to develop if they don’t endure some sort of issue that is placed upon them or self-perpetuated? Many authors understood that any type of tragedy or disaster makes audiences feel pity, fear, or satisfaction for the character(s) affected by it. One example off the top of my head is (vague Game of Thrones spoilers ahead!!) is Hodor who just…had to hold that damn door and shatter my heart into a million pieces.

I’ve seen tragedy hit the whole spectrum of archetypes, even though this definition focuses solely on the tragic hero since the Greek Classics have most protagonists fail due to their prideful nature. It has to happen because that’s what makes a plot work; that’s what makes characters relatable. Audiences want to see the character confront disaster, whether they survive it or not because it echoes reality, you succeed or you fail. However, tragedy is not that black and white. Some rise from the ashes of their suffering and some don’t, but transformation is inevitable. Even when a villain faces disaster in death, and I mean a well-crafted villain with backstory, motive, and ambition, you see them as more than just the bad guy who got what they deserved. If anything, it should poke at the audience’s moral compass encouraging them to question their ethical boundaries (because pitying a villain is strange to some and accepted by others).

Additionally, adding a little metaphysical take on this, the act of manifesting or weaving your own destiny is common in stories and hamartia plays in the mix of that. Most of us prefer calling it “reaping what you sow”, but in the metaphysical community, we call that “The Dark Night of the Soul“, where you’re in a place of complete sacrifice or surrender and come to terms with whether you’ll endure what’s happening to you by trusting yourself to survive it or choose to despair and desperately mourn that you didn’t reach your ego-based expectations. I don’t think hamartia is enticing if it becomes the definite annihilation of the character where they’re damned for eternity for their purposeful or accidental sin and that’s it. A choice must be made. Hamartia exudes its greatest effect as an inevitable, destructive force that shows no bias to any archetype and shouldn’t be considered “evil” or “just”, “bad” or “good”, but simply destined to appear before you and demand you make a choice, which can be taking action or being inactive.

I’ll be sharing more literary terms in the future, but seriously, get the dictionary of literary terms. Maybe I’m being a lit nerd and pushing too hard, but it’s just…fun to read. Especially if you like learning random new things.

Research: How My Knowledge of the Chakras Helps Me Write Better Characters

My novel in progress, Spirit Strings, explores several metaphysical concepts, one of them being the chakras. Chakras are centers of energy that follow the spine and are often correlated with kundalini energy. I feel like hearing about the chakras is something that everyone relatively knows about, but delving into the intricacies of what they are and their origin gets a bit overwhelming. 

That’s why when I write articles on the chakras, I try to keep it general, yet blunt. However, I want to discuss the details of the research I’ve done so far and how it’s helped me be more thoughtful about characterization.

(Disclaimer: the chakra pictures aren’t mine. I don’t take ownership of any of them.)

Root Chakra

from loner wolf

My article titled “Root Chakra and Grounding Crystals and Gemstones” has a list of stones for those who already know what the root chakra is, are into crystal healing meditation, and want to become more grounded. The metaphysical properties of the stones have some common themes: protection and balancing (specifically yin/yang or feminine/masculine energy). 

Writing advice: Conflict is so important for our characters, whether it be internal or external, so they’re relatable and their development throughout the story is actually intriguing. You also gain this secondhand empowerment when they assert a sense of identity after the trials they go through or when they solidify any new or old philosophies they had about the life they live. That’s what grounding is all about, really. 

Sacral Chakra

from Chakras

The next article in the chakra series is “Sacral Chakra and Emotional Health Crystals and Gemstones” where the metaphysical themes the stones have in common are: stability and embracing personal power. I also like to mention any metaphysical/new age vendors that sell crystals/gemstones for chakra balancing. If you happen to be one, send me a message, please! I’ll mention you! 

Writing advice: Similar to conflict, instability can be intriguing in stories too. Some of us like the over-emotional characters or relate to the ones that are insecure to a fault. They’re versatile in any genre and can be sculpted in any way. When I think of a character who has a blocked or overactive sacral chakra, I think about what they’ll need to go through or what events in their environment need to happen to encourage them to realize their purpose and get themselves together. A character tapping into their own creative power, especially when that power is triggered by an emotional hook is pretty mesmerizing. (However, I do think this can also be overdone when “the power of friendship” makes someone invincible. Like really? Kill this cliché.) 

Solar Plexus Chakra

from Awaken Mindset

Then, I wrote about the “Solar Plexus Chakra and Self-Esteem Crystals and Gemstones” , which gives a list of stones who had these metaphysical properties in common: cleansing and purifying one’s willpower.

Writing advice: Think about the last person who made you feel great about yourself. Now think about the last person who made you feel like shit about yourself. Yeah, so humanity is interconnected and the human will does sort of an ebb and flow with our confidence. It’s all based on action. So when an event or a character causes something, there is a reaction and action to follow. Similar to the sacral chakra, events of causation encourages the embrace of personal power, but it also helps differentiate if the people we are acting for are bringing that personal power to its purest state of authenticity or transforming it into something else. Willpower can be manipulated, which is why my article offers stones that help people contemplate what kind of karmic hooks are in their lives. Characters in stories have to do the same (I know my main character does! She gets manipulated into joining a cult!). 

Heart Chakra

from loner wolf

The last chakra stones article I have up for now is “Heart Chakra and Self-Acceptance Crystals and Gemstones“, where the metaphysical properties of the stones provided have these common themes: harmony and healing.

Writing advice: The heart is where our dreams either prosper or wither away. Many writers talk about how it’s important that your characters have goals and ambitions. It’s important because it is the most relatable aspect of a character, if you ask me. Whether the goal is noble, selfish, mundane, or extravagant, their goal is what encourages the audience to follow the character on their journey. As they pursue that goal, there are some people they’re going to harmonize with and some people who are going to kick their ass (literally and figuratively). They may even be the same people. For someone to harmonize with who they are and find others they connect with, they have to reflect, heal, and cope with the pain they’re enduring. The desperado archetype often goes through this as they’re running from their past, but end up running into something or someone that makes them face it. They’ll probably hate it, but desperadoes are already mopey, so a little more angst won’t hurt. 

That’s all I have for the stones. I still need to write a list for the throat chakra, third eye chakra, and crown chakra. However, I want to mention that those seven chakra aren’t the only chakras AND IT DRIVES ME NUTS THAT PEOPLE DON’T TALK ABOUT THEM MORE! There are subpersonal or transpersonal chakras that are fascinating to learn about. I recently wrote an article called, “The Chakra More People Should Talk About: The Earth Star Chakra“. I shared it with the chakra subreddit and, not surprising, some people had no idea what it was. Guess how it helped me with writing characters?

from scataloguest

Writing advice: I called this the “learn from history” chakra in my article because it’s the energy center that not only gives you the insight to identify harmful patterns in your life, but also encourages you to apply the knowledge you gain from learning about your past to your present reality. Isn’t this exactly what most of our characters are expected to do? And when they don’t learn, the circumstances of their actions screw them over again. This is not only relatable, it borders on cliché. It’s one of those “good” clichés I think because audiences often expect characters to stop making stupid decisions that disempower them (unless it’s quite funny and they cleverly escape out of the crappy situation they put themselves in). But honestly, the earth star chakra is all the lower chakras wrapped up into one and it’s an energy we all resonate with, which is another thing the earth star chakra does! It’s an energy many of us understand and you connect or harmonize with those who get that as well, just like a main character crosses paths or journeys with characters that get them. 

All in all, chakras are awesome. I can’t wait to write more crystals and gemstones like the rock-loving freak I am, but I wanted to share this because the study of metaphysics and the philosophies that come with it are mesmerizing. It’s the heart of my science-fantasy novel, truly. Go to my homepage if you want to read a summary of the story. Hope you enjoyed this read. I’ll share the findings behind more of my research soon! 

If you read my articles on the chakras, thank you so much. Every read and tip I get supports me financially.