Writing

Behold…Some Useful Tips for Worldbuilding in Writing

Image from Pixabay

Do you currently write or want to write speculative fiction stories? Yes to either? Then let’s get rolling.

But before that, if you don’t know what speculative fiction is, it’s science-fiction, fantasy, and horror. For you, horror fans out there, unfortunately, I am not fond of it. Therefore, I don’t know much about creating horror fiction. However, these worldbuilding tips I am about to provide can apply to all speculative fiction genres. So, without further ado, here are some helpful tips for worldbuilding.

1: Be original as much as possible, but also incorporate believability

The second part of that tip is, perhaps, the most important. If you write any genre of fiction, everything should be believable. Of course, you can still have unrealistic elements, like magic, if you’re writing fantasy. But even then, there has to be limits on what things can and can’t do. And your characters should handle the situations the way real people would.

As for originality, it should sound like it comes from you. It’s still okay to use existing elements, like aliens, elves, and so on, depending on your story and intentions. However, a good number of people are tired of certain types of characters, archetypes, and tropes. That is when they’re considered cliches. When I developed the fantastical elements in my books, I actually made up pretty much all the enchanted creatures. The only types I used that were already existing were wizards and a skeleton. Obviously, all the characters are my own creations. But I think you should get the idea at this point.

2: Have limits on unrealistic elements

If you’re writing fantasy, for example, have limits on what wizardry can and cannot do. If you can’t fit them all or even any in a section of your work, then say, at the very least, that there are limits. Otherwise, readers will make their own assumptions about the magic laws in your story, including that there are few to no limits. This actually happened to me with a couple of editors. One thought the only limits in my book’s world were the ones I mentioned. Another thought that there were none at all and obsessed over it during several pages of when I introduced magic laws into my first book, just because the possibilities happened to be relevant. But that is not true at all. I even told that editor that there were lots of limits. They just were not relevant at that point. Then they said that I didn’t need to mention the limits up front, and they thanked me.

It is pretty annoying for readers to make their own assumptions over things not specified, especially since they don’t own the stories. In fact, I think it’s kind of dishonest. I don’t think they should do that at all. Sadly, people do things they shouldn’t do, and very often. But no one’s perfect. So, when you develop your speculative fiction world, remember to state that there are limits.

3: Be creative

As a writer, you should have a creative mindset. Yes, there will be times when you experience writer’s block. But when you don’t, you can use as much as your imagination as possible as long as you consider the above tips. Also, think about your own passions and if you can incorporate them into your work.

For example, I love fantasy, but I also love modern technology and life. So, I combined both elements in my books, where wizards use enchanted technology. Of course, I make it believable and give it limits.

So, there you have it. If you’re a novice or beginner in these genres or writing, give yourself some time. These tips will take years for you to execute well. But you will get there as long as you practice as frequently as possible.

If you’ve been writing great content for years, then you might already know these. But it wouldn’t hurt to expand your horizon.

movie

Let’s Get Rocking with This Review of “School of Rock” (2003)

I just watched this movie at a friend’s house, recently. I didn’t know much about it before. But now here is the review.

A man named Dewey is performing with a rock band at a club. He jumps into the crowd, but gets hurt. After a little time has gone by, Dewey’s roommates wake him up to complain about the rent situation, which is due soon. But Dewey is defensive about it. Shortly after that, his band votes him out of the group.

When Horace Green Prep School calls for a substitute teacher position, asking for Ned Scheebly, Dewey claims he is Ned and takes the position. He teaches the children his own curriculum, though, and trains them to be rock band performers. He also has the students hide their music from the principal, Ms. Mullins, who is pretty strict and sophisticated.

I must admit how great this movie was, especially the humor presented. I laughed my brains out several times, particularly since Dewey acted so chill and unprofessional in a funny manner. Jack Black did a fantastic job with the comedic portrayal of a substitute “teacher”. Aside from the immature questions he asked Ms. Mullins, Dewey also took a student’s sandwich and ate it. Obviously, that would not be funny in real life.

Besides the slapstick, the film also taught some things about rock music, which was pretty interesting. The advice was also useful, too, like to use your mind and other important parts of your body, both external and internal, to improve your music and singing skills. I feel like a good number of those could apply to learning rock in real life.

There were also a lot of neat twists and turns, especially later in the movie. I won’t spoil them, though. But some of the content was a bit predictable, too.

I would rate “School of Rock” 5 out of 5 stars. If you love slapstick, and especially rock, this movie would satisfy you very much.

art

Why I’m Not Doing Much Art These Days

Image from Pixabay

Throughout my whole life, I have been doing art. I would constantly draw from when I was a small child to my adulthood. I even earned a BFA in fine arts when I graduated college in 2017.

However, since then, I discovered something different about myself. That is—I am doing more writing then art. Perhaps, I am enjoying writing more.

Don’t get me wrong. I still like doing art. But I would rather keep it as a hobby than take a career path in that field. I did a lot of research on careers in art and design. Although many of them looked exciting, the salaries didn’t satisfy me. Plus, I’ve been working on more writing projects during the past few years.

One thing I’m concerned about, though, is if my artistic skills are deteriorating. I hardly ever drew or painted anything this year. And no, not because of the pandemic. But when I drew a picture recently, even though it was supposed to be very simplistic, it didn’t come out too well. My shaky hands could have contributed, however.

I actually don’t think it’s too likely I am losing my ability to draw. Yet, I do think it is important for me to keep up with it, even if it remains just for pleasure. So, I will make some time to go back to my art.

art

Character Design: What I Learned and Even Discovered Recently

You haven’t seen an art post in a while. That’s because I haven’t been doing a lot of it these days. However, there is something about it that I discovered quite recently. Obviously, it’s about character design. You want to know what it is?

It’s how I was better at it at age 13 than at age 23 in 2017. Okay, you may be looking at me like I have 4 heads. And at the time 3 years ago, when I was 23 and finishing college, I didn’t realize or think of it. But I could portray characters more accurately, based on their personalities, when I was just 13 years old.

Well, they weren’t my own characters. They came from the “Harry Potter” series. At that age, I enjoyed the franchise very much to the point that I did fan art of it. But most of it was silly and the characters did things they would never do. However, that’s a different story.

Aside from the wackiness, I also drew the characters alone, with facial expressions based on their personalities. Below is an example.

I must applaud myself for drawing (movie) Snape pretty well when I was 13. I also liked to use arrows to direct at the characters, which I don’t think is conventional in character design. But I could be wrong for some companies or designers.

Ten years later, in my final semester of college, I took an illustration course. One of the things we had to learn was character design. However, I just drew characters in stock poses. The example below is a replica I did of when we had to design characters for a comedic live-action TV show since I don’t have the original anymore.

It wasn’t this sloppy. I just did it from memory. Plus, I haven’t been doing a lot of art these days. I’m hoping my skills aren’t deteriorating.

Anyway, that above is supposed to be Megan from “Drake and Josh.” I used a simplistic style since I felt it was appropriate for a slapstick comedy. But when we did a class critique, somebody pointed out that I could have given her a more sinister look based on her personality and traits.

If you’ve seen “Drake and Josh,” you know that Megan pulls pranks on her older brothers, but her parents find her innocent. So, a wicked smile would have been more suitable.

Another assignment we had to do was illustrate a story that Disney did not adapt. I picked “Perseus and Medusa.” Just like with the other assignment, I drew the characters in stock poses again. Even though I don’t have it anymore, I illustrated Perseus with a default smile on his face. That was when I learned not to do that anymore.

So, from that point on, I portrayed the characters more accurately based on their traits. Below is an example of another character from the same Greek myth.

For those who don’t know, Polydectes was an evil King in “Perseus and Medusa.” This is why I drew him the way I did.

If you are interested in learning character design, it is important to know as much about them as possible for you to illustrate them for whatever project you work on. Even if it’s only for personal use, these tips could come in handy.

movie

Disney Princess Mystery: How are the Princesses Educated?

I have thought about this for quite some time. I know education doesn’t usually play roles in Disney Princess movies. But I still get curious about it.

I’ve read that Aurora was homeschooled by her fairy guardians. Belle and Tiana must have also been educated. Belle loves to read and Tiana loves her job as a waitress. Since they became princesses by marriage, it is possible that they attended normal school, especially Tiana. She lives in the early 20th century Louisiana. While child protection and education laws were different at that time in real life, they could have been more satisfying and unique in “The Princess and the Frog” universe.

As for those like Snow White and Cinderella, I wonder if they received little to no formal education. Not just because of their decisions and behaviors, but also how their stepmothers treated them. Cinderella was forced to be a servant to her unkind stepmother and stepsisters. Even though I am unaware of how she learned things when her father was around, I can’t imagine that her stepfamily would arrange her an education. Snow White was abandoned in the woods by her wicked stepmother. Like Cinderella, I don’t know a lot about Snow White’s life before her stepmother took over. But if she was left in the wilderness, I don’t think her stepmother would even think about getting her educated. Maybe she wanted to keep Snow White uneducated. There was even a scene where she said to wild animals, “Don’t be afraid,” which I think someone her age is too old to do. However, maybe she never learned about wild animals fearing humans. Of course, later, they are not afraid of Snow White.

Let’s not forget about Elsa, who has to hide from pretty much everyone growing up, including her sister, Anna. If she can know that people can’t marry others that they just met, then she must have been educated. Maybe her parents slipped her some parchment under her door and would only come in if she needed help. Who knows?

So, aside from plot convenience, do Disney princesses received formal education prior to the events in their stories? Or when they’re off-screen? Do they end it earlier than 12th grade-level, depending on their ages? The movies are set in historical time periods, so the answer to the last question could be a yes. I would assume that those born into royalty are homeschooled. But I could be wrong.

fiction, movie

Harry Potter Mystery: Are Wizards Not as Concerned About Safety as Muggles?

One thing I noticed about the “Harry Potter” series is that wizards and witches don’t seem as concerned about safety as muggles do. It is constantly said that Hogwarts is one of the safest wizarding schools in the world.

However, like many, I kind of have to disagree. People have pointed out the numerous dangers Hogwarts has. There is the forbidden forest with deadly creatures that Harry and his friends are forced to go into for detention in their first year. There are also dangerous beasts in the school, such as the basilisk and the three-headed dog, a whomping willow on the grounds, and even the moving staircases. As fun as Quidditch looks, it’s also perilous. And let’s not leave out the Tri-wizard tournament. Yes, they had an age restriction. But even when Harry, who was underage at the time, was somehow entered (he didn’t do it), he still had to participate.

Regardless of the dangerous activities students can do without permission from their parents or guardians, they do need parental consent to visit the village, Hogsmeade, just a short, and safe walk from the school. People have pointed out how illogical that was. But that’s a different story.

Back to this. Although I don’t remember if it was stated in the book, in the “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” movie adaptation, the first-years don’t wear life jackets when on the boats to Hogwarts. The school also has the second task for the Tri-wizard tournament in the black lake, in February. Are wizards immune to hypothermia? Even if charms that prevent it exist (I’m not sure) and they’re in the black lake, there certainly couldn’t have been any in the pond Harry jumped into in “The Deathly Hallows.” And he took his clothes off, but came out okay.

It’s not just Hogwarts that doesn’t seem to be as concerned about safety as muggle schools or society would. In “The Chamber of Secrets”, Harry almost falls out of Ron’s dad’s flying car. If he just had his seatbelt on, that wouldn’t have happened. Plus, he was raised by muggles—the terrible Dursleys. As much as they despised him, they must have made him wear seatbelts in their car.

So, there you have it.

movie

That’s How You Know This “Enchanted” (2007) Critique Will Teach You My Thoughts on it

Warning: contains spoilers***

The story starts off with a princess named Giselle who longs to meet her prince, which is a usual fairytale. However, the evil sorceress and queen, called Narissa, forces Giselle into a place where there are no happily-ever-afters. That is real-life New York City. Giselle looks for help, and is found by a man named Robert. He lets her stay with him.

Now onto the moments I admired.

1: The musical numbers

The songs were fantastic. I enjoyed the “That’s How You Know” scene, especially the Calypso drumming moments done by the park musicians. The other numbers, such as the one at the beginning that Giselle sings, were also good.

2: The Plot Twists

One notable example is where Giselle rescues Robert from the Queen Narissa after she turns into a dragon. I appreciate fairytale twists straying away from the traditional approaches. In this instance, the princess rescues the male.

Another interesting twist is the ending. Although I didn’t think Nancy was so bad, Robert’s 6-year-old daughter, Morgan, doesn’t really like her. She enjoys Giselle more. So, Giselle ends up marrying Robert and Nancy weds the prince instead. I particularly loved when Nancy’s phone went off in the cartoon fairytale world and she acknowledged how she somehow received signal.

3: Giselle’s development

She starts off as a stereotypical Disney princess who acts very strangely, but grows into a different person when in the real-life world. She learns about dating, how love takes time, and develops feelings for Robert rather than the prince, whom she originally wanted to marry.

And now onto the parts that could have been improved.

1: Robert’s reactions to Giselle’s behavior in his apartment

Giselle does some pretty naughty things in Robert’s apartment, such as make clothes from his curtains, sing to call animals to do the chores, yet end up with bugs, rats, and pigeons, and more. But Robert’s reactions were too casual and relaxed. He would have kicked her out and reported her to law enforcement in real life. However, plot convenience mattered more.

2: Why did Giselle’s hair have to be cut?

When Giselle first appears, her hair flows to the waist and hip area. But when she goes to a ball near the end, it’s mid-back length. Yes, Morgan teaches her about neatness and makeovers. However, I don’t see the significance of Giselle’s haircut and why it needed to happen. I can’t imagine that it would have messed up the storyline had she not cut her locks.

I hope you enjoyed this critique. I would rate “Enchanted” 4.5 out of 5 stars.

travel

My Experience with Museums

Image from Pixabay

All right, you’re probably wondering why I’m posting this during a pandemic. Some museums near me are open, but with lots of restrictions. Therefore, I won’t go to them, not until the pandemic is over and all restrictions are lifted.

However, we won’t live like this for the rest of time. Eventually, the pandemic part will be irrelevant and my experiences will matter when the time comes again. So, here they are:

1: Going to a museum alone might be worthless.

Well, maybe not for everyone. But for me, it was. Unless you’re an expert or super-passionate about the items in the museum, it’s better to go with at least one other person. That way, there is some socialization and you could possibly educate the other person about what you see, or vice versa. This happened to me when I went to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City alone. I left after twenty minutes or so.

2: Going to a museum you’ve been to many times might bore you, no matter how interesting the theme is.

This happened to me when I went to the Museum of Natural History, also in New York City. I enjoy natural history very, very much. However, I’ve been to it so many times, that I left before I could visit a certain exhibit at my scheduled time. This was another instance where I went alone, which brings the part about it not being worthy here, too.

3: Museum food may be delicious, but it’s expensive.

I love the café at the Museum of Natural History. The food is delicious. And who doesn’t remember the dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets? However, it’s pricy. So, if you’re budgeting, try to eat food in museum food courts sparingly. Also, you could get tired of it if you consume it often.

There you have it. Hopefully, my (and maybe even your area, depending on where you are) area will be pretty much pre-pandemic normal before March 31st, at least by 75 to 80 percent.

cooking

Lemon Meringue Pie: Delicious!

I’ve first discovered this pie when reading “Amelia Bedelia” as a young child. However, the pie never appealed to me…until recently. I saw a post about it on my Facebook page. That triggered me to want to make it.

It’s kind of involved and not too easy. You have to temper egg yolks into a preserve-like mixture and not end up making scrambled eggs by mistake. That made me kind of nervous, but I succeeded with the tempering.

You also have to blind-bake the crust. What that means is you make the pie dough, put parchment paper on it, and pie weights on it. That will bake some of the crust, but not the whole thing, especially the bottom. It makes the pie crust just right, not too soggy or hard. This is essential with lemon meringue pie.

The process took a while, and to the point where I didn’t experience hunger while cooking it. In spite of never making or eating it before, it came out delicious! In fact, it became addictive. I would eat a few slices a day. I also got excited to tell others about it, including my friends.

One thing you should take seriously, though, is letting it chill several hours. I mean that. Otherwise, the lemon part will be liquid-like, and a bit messy, as in the picture above. I sliced it too soon. If you keep it refrigerated overnight, it’s even better. The pie will look like a pie.

I believe I got the recipe from “Sally’s Baking Addiction”. You can Google something such as, “Lemon meringue pie Sally’s Baking Addiction” and try it. Patience and care are important, though. Take your time with the steps, and hopefully, you’ll enjoy it.

fiction

Today is Where My First Book Review Begins: And it’s Called “Unwritten” by Tara Gilboy

Up until this point, despite being a writer, I haven’t read a lot. However, I am reading more these days and am trying to get myself back into it. So, now I am going to post book reviews here. Let the thoughts come out.

“Unwritten” by Tara Gilboy

Twelve-year-old Gracie longs to know about her life before living in the real, typical world. She and her mom left it when Gracie was a baby. However, her mother refuses to share information about it. And she strictly forbids her to see the author, Gertrude Winters. Regardless of her mom’s demand, Gracie sneaks out to the bookstore. She not only meets Gertrude Winters, but also tries to receive more information about the book she wrote where Gracie came from. Gertrude Winters disappears, and it makes it to the news. From then on, things don’t go well.

I enjoyed this book as well as the characters. I didn’t like when Gracie’s mom was unfair to her in the beginning, though, as I don’t like adults treating children that way. But the writing kept me engaged and wanting to know what happened next.

That being said, there were some passive writing moments at times. But that didn’t keep me from giving up. I still would recommend this book.

I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.