Good storytelling, a gateway to critical thinking

A good story can broaden our imaginations, our sense of wonder, and excitement. Storytelling is an excellent way to teach truths and encourage critical thinking and analysis that will remain with individuals far longer than what they learn in some classrooms.

Storytelling is a bridge between education and entertainment.

If I handed you a college textbook about military leadership and strategy, chances are you wouldn’t be too excited about it.

On the other hand if I gave you Ender’s Game, a marvelous Sci-Fi novel, filled with page-turning battles, compelling characters, and a message of tolerance, love, and understanding, you may be inclined to read. Then you may be surprised to know Ender’s Game is recommended reading for members of the U.S. Marine Corps precisely for the military leadership and strategy contained in its pages.

Good storytelling lets you take something from “boring” to “compelling.” Continue reading


Character Development : Original Thoughts

Let’s start with a thought experiment: Tony and Katie are having a conversation about politics and Tony says something about how to run a government. Katie responds negatively, “That’s pretty dumb” and attempts to break down what Tony said.

Tony tries to backtrack and says, “Yeah, I don’t really agree with it either. So-and-so said it.” Tony hasn’t demonstrated his own voice.

Often people will share an idea (that someone else said) and they think is good, only to quickly detach from it when others dislike it. What does that say about the individual? Continue reading

The Perfect Hero

I wanted to address this in my “How to Create a Character” post, but it really deserved its own article.

Everyone and their mother, me included, will tell you to put flaws into your characters, especially your protagonists. Why is that? Is there any good reason other than making them relatable? Do we just assume that’s the only way to make them relatable? I think so, yes. I think most people don’t know how to write the perfect hero while keeping them interesting. We back down and go with what we know because it’s safe. Boring! Continue reading

The Reasons for Writing

I’m not talking about why someone chooses a certain story or having certain themes and motifs in their writing. (That’s for another post.) But rather, the reasons we write at all.

The reasons someone sits and puts ink to their thoughts, creates worlds, and gives birth to characters will greatly influence their writing. As you see in many forms of media: music, videogames, or music; things tend to decrease in quality, or what made them great in the first place, when they “hit it big”, leaving early fans and followers to feel cheated. This leaves the impression that the creator “sold out”. Writing and storytelling carries the same inherent risk.

I never know each detail of my stories when I begin and, even if I think I have it figured it out, I’m always making changes and tweaking it, at least slightly. However, when I start writing, I do know why I’m doing it. My top three reasons for writing are as follows:

  1. For God. Every good thing I possess, every good quality I have, is because of God. He’s given me the talent and ability to write and tell stories. While I have been blessed with a natural affinity for writing, I know there are always aspects I can improve upon. I write to show my gratitude for the blessings I have. I know nothing I do could ever repay what God has given me, but I would be selfish if I didn’t acknowledge the source and share just a small part of what He has done.
  2. I write for my family and friends. I want them to be a part of my journey and to know how they’ve influenced me and helped me. Oftentimes for me, happiness is only real when shared, and what brings me joy is something I want to share with the people that give me joy.
  3. I’ve said it several times before on this site and quite often in real life, but I believe that stories can teach real world lessons applicable to all and give strength in times of need. I think back to when I was a child and the fictional heroes I grew up with who were people who exercised great compassion to others, lifted them up, and tried to show them how to have hope. They were people who stood alone against many to defend the innocent, even though it would be hard and they would be ridiculed or even killed. These were stories of never surrendering to difficult struggles.Wait a moment, those kinds of things happen in the real world almost every single day, don’t they?Big news or not, these people exist. Far too many real heroes are unsung, but their ideals, sacrifices, and bravery can influence limitless characters and become immortalized in fiction, thus honoring them forever.These are the things that have stuck with me and inspired me. I write to provide service to others. I’m not financially well off, I can’t donate millions or thousands to charities right now, but I can be a friend to someone and hopefully do something for them that will help with their difficult times.

This is why I write. Whenever I consider starting a story I ask myself, “Is what I’m writing reflecting my ultimate reasons for writing? Is this in harmony with my goals and desires?” If it is, I proceed. There’s been passages in my stories that I rewrite or remove altogether because I felt I didn’t do it justice.

I’m not saying everyone should have the same reasons for writing as I do; that’d be wrong of me. However, I will say:  find your own personal reasons and stick to those. Things that may appear small to you now, like, “I only write for my children”, will influence generations to come, starting with your kids.

Anything that is based in doing good, no matter how small, is just as important as supposed grand things. It is my belief that if you stay true to why you do something, having passion for it, you’ll continually produce quality work, develop and maintain intellectual integrity, and become the kind of person worthy of respect who will stand the test of time.

If you feel comfortable, I’d love to know why you write! Please share. 🙂

Maintaining and Understanding Relationships

This post is a bit different than the others I’ve done so far, because this is applicable to everyone and not just writers and storytellers. I’ll show at the end how a writer can integrate this into their creations.

As this is a broad subject, my focus is romantic relationships and how they can affect relationships with others.

Many will say a romantic relationship should be 50/50. Let me explain how this fails before we get to the meat of the post. Continue reading

Creating a three dimensional character

Nearly every character has a piece of the writer in them. Creating characters with differing vocabulary, values, beliefs, and attitudes can be a hard thing for a writer. For some it comes naturally, for others they struggle to create someone unique. Many people can create characters with different skills or abilities but when it comes to a belief system they get trapped. They’re too similar. They’re too much of the person creating them or in such stark contrast from each other it comes off fake. Unfortunately many think the differing of thoughts is solely between a protagonist and an antagonist. If that was the case with Frodo and the rest of the Fellowship then they’d all be pretty boring. Different opinions shouldn’t just be between the good guys and the bad guys, but all the characters. So how do you make everyone have depth? Continue reading

How to create a memorable character

Why is Cecil from the Final Fantasy Universe so beloved?  How did Harry Potter become one of the most recognizable characters on the planet? What makes a character so memorable? Is it the story? Perhaps. Let’s see if we can pick out just a few things to answer that age old question, “Why are they so cool?” Continue reading