Angie | Miseducated

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Hints for Creating Realistic Fictional Characters

Fictional characters are mysterious beings. They have no real life but to us, they can be very real. People talk about them as if they were real and the things they did actually happened. To make a character that will live in the imaginations of other people, they first need to mean a lot to you as their creator. It’s true that a great character is what keeps a story going (and keeps you reading) so if you want to tell a memorable story, you will need to think up a great character. How do you do that?

Combine things you love to make a character you care about. If you’re interested in the Victorian era, maybe your hero/heroine is from this age in history? Be prepared to do some research to make your character believable. If you’re into science fiction or fantasy, you will have more creative freedom, but you will need to do some “world building”, and create your own setting around your character.

Name your character. The name of your character is more important than you might initially think. It gives your reader the very first impression of their age, personality and where, or when, they are from. A character that goes by a nickname like “Chip” or “Bruiser” already gives you a pretty clear idea of what they’re like.

Give them physical characteristics. Not only looks like eye color or height, but individual mannerisms, how they move and how they talk. Look at real life examples that you’ve noticed in other people. Maybe they overuse certain words or phrases or maybe they walk with a shuffle?

What are their strengths? Memorable characters have a lot of inner strength, a saving grace or a talent or two. Make your characters determined in the face of opposition, sad but still strong when they feel unloved. Give them a sense of humor or a need to help others.

What are their shadows? To understand shadows, it helps to look at yourself and the not-so-lovely things about your personality. Don’t make your character a carbon copy of yourself or someone else, but it helps to build ideas from real life. What are your character’s shortcomings and include some quirks. Its important to make your characters saving grace/s outweigh their shadow… unless you’re coming up with a villain. Still they need some part of their personality, a very small one, to be sympathetic.

Give your character loved ones and foes. Most of the time, your story wouldn’t be much without at least a few other characters. Give them a best friend, a mentor, an ex that dragged them through the mud, someone that stands in the way of their goals, or a love interest. These other characters should have a great influence on your main character.

How will they evolve? No character should stay the same throughout the course of a story. Your hero or heroine needs to have learned something and changed for the better, even after you put them through hell.

How to Write a Love Poem

Expressing strong emotions through poetry will never go out of style, and even if it does, who cares? It’s all about making someone feel as special and beautiful as you see them, as they truly are. Want to know a secret? You don’t need to have any kind of talent to write a poem, just say what you feel! The best poems have come about when someone was feeling something intense, especially the adoration for another person. If you don’t know how to begin, here are a few techniques and hints.

Do Some Free-writing

Put a picture of your loved one in front of you, or just sit somewhere where you won’t be disturbed for a while and think about them. Start writing down everything that pops into your head, without worrying
that it sounds silly. It won’t look or sound like a poem yet, and that’s okay—you’re getting your thoughts and feelings down in words. It also helps to get in “the mood” by lighting a few candles and putting on some music (just be sure you don’t subconsciously copy some of the lyrics to “Need You Now” or something!)

Take Your Time

You may or may not write your love poem in one sitting, so take it easy and don’t push yourself. If you rush, it might not sound as good as if you took a couple of days or weeks to let it come to you. Keep a notebook or your phone on you so you jot or type down whatever pops into your head that might sound good. Remember, this is something you will use to impress the one you adore, so take your time!

Find the “Beat”

You don’t need to write a sonnet full of “thees” and “haths” or even something that rhymes. Most poetry does have a “beat”, however, which is what distinguishes it from prose. Read some good love poems to get a feel for the beat of poetry, and all the different ways it can be written. Here is an example to get you started:

“i carry your heart with me” by E. E. Cummings

“i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)”

The lines break it up so that there is a subtle rhythm as you read it. The poet also creates a beat inside the lines, and he repeats the main line of the poem to draw it together at the end. You can also distinguish a brief pause in a line with punctuation.

Here is an example of how a poet writes in rhyme and line-groupings called a “stanza”:

“Love at the lips was touch
As sweet as I could bear;
And once that seemed too much;
I lived on air”

~ From “To Earthward” by Robert Frost

Start experimenting and using some of your best lines from your free-writing and see what you can come up with.

Other Poetic Elements

Use some metaphors, similes, alliterations (All ambitious alligators adore alliterations!) and strong adjectives and verbs to paint a picture with your words. There are many other elements of poetry, such as allegories, personification and allusions. You could also just get literal and say what you feel, straight out! The poetic elements are just different tools to use.

This is just an intro to writing a good love poem—just to let you know that this is something anyone can do if they try. A love poem written from the heart is more valuable than a diamond ring and means so much more.

An Introduction to Colorful Art Mediums

Sometimes getting your hands (your clothes, your surroundings…) messy and covered with a rainbow of colors is part of the art/crafting experience. I’ve gotten pretty familiar with several different mediums and I’ll give you a little run-down of why I love them and how I use them. If you haven’t used some of these before, I hope I can inspire you to try them! Note: I’m not an art expert, just a lover.

Oil Paints

Creamy, dreamy, vivid. I love working with oils because you can do so much blending (they dry slooowwly) and the colors are so rich. In school, we got to stretch and prime our own canvases ourselves. You can go to the art store and buy a canvas all ready to go, but you can get some satisfaction out of doing it all yourself. The only thing I didn’t like was the fact that you have to use turpentine to thin them and get the paint off of your brushes (it smells), but its a small price to pay.

Watercolor Paints

Of course, the first kind of paint I ever used. They aren’t just for kids though, as you can do so many different tricks with them! Since you can re-wet the paint once it is dry, you can blend existing colors. If you want to layer different colors without disturbing the layer underneath, you can use the next kind of paint on the list…

Acrylic Paints

I’m a big fan of acrylics. You can use them to paint many other things besides canvases. I’ve used them to customize wooden boxes, journals, jewelry, and I’ve painted wall murals with them. They dry very quickly and once they are dry, you can’t re-wet them like watercolors.

Oil Pastels

Messy, bright and beautifully blendable! These may be my favorite of all to work with. I keep some wet wipes handy to clean my fingers if I’m going from a dark color to a light color. I also like to use an in-between color to blend two other colors together. Blending them with my fingers is a lot of fun and makes me feel like I have even more control over the colors.

Colored pencils

They can do a lot in the way of blending, if you vary the pressure, use strokes in different angles and layer the colors gradually. The kind of paper you use will also determine how your picture looks. I like using paper with a smoother “tooth” (roughness), but if you like the gritty, textured look, a rougher tooth is the way to go. The more rough the paper, the more your colors with stick and, consequently, the sooner you will need to sharpen your pencils. Make sure your paper is acid-free so your artwork lasts longer!

Make Your Own Beads Out of Sand

This perfect summer craft originates from the Bahamas and other tropical places where they are blessed with beautiful sandy beaches. Die-hard jewelry makers will use just about anything to make jewelry with, even the beach itself! If you are lucky enough to live by the beach and have access to any department store or craft store, then you can make your own sand beads from scratch. It is a bit time-consuming to roll and shape all of your own beads, but its worth it in the end when you have tons of colorful beads to make all the jewelry you want!

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You Need

Fine sand (from the beach or from the store)
All purpose flour or papier-mâché
Elmer’s Glue
Wax paper
Vegetable oil

If you got your sand from the beach, sift it through a cheese cloth or a window screen to separate the larger grains from the fine stuff. Pour the fine sand into a bowl and mix in the flour or papier-mâché and mix it together well. You need to use equal amounts of flour and sand. Coat your hands lightly with vegetable oil so the sticky paste that you’re about to make won’t stick to your hands. Pour in your Elmer’s Glue slowly and knead it with your hands like bread dough. If it starts to harden before you’re done mixing, add more glue. If your hands get too crusty as you work, rinse your hands off and apply more oil. Also, if you are using beach sand and you want to add color, mix in some acrylic paint.

Break off pieces of the sandy dough and roll them into your beads. This is where you use your imagination to create the beads you will use for your jewelry. Make many different colors and sizes, or make a series of the same kind for a long beaded necklace. You can also make short tube-shaped beads, square ones and irregular shaped beads.

Set your beads on a piece of wax paper and let them dry overnight. Use a large sewing needle or any other sharp metal skewer (be careful!) to poke a hole through the middle of each bead. You need to do this while the beads are still slightly tacky, but not so soft that you squish the bead. Let them dry all the way.

Coat them with clear acrylic varnish to make them glossy and protect them, if you want. Now you can make your homemade jewelry for yourself and your loved ones!

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More Ideas

Substitute half of the sand (or less) with fine glitter to make sparkly beads.
Swirl different colors of the sandy dough together to make multi-colored beads.
Make beading kits with your left-over sand beads and give these kits away as gifts.
Add other natural beads like shells and tiny pieces of drift wood to make a real beachy necklace.
Sell your sand bead jewelry to people at the beach.

Make a Flower Accessory with a Hawaiian Lei

Feeling crafty? Are you not sure what to do with the Hawaiian lei that you’ve had for years but, its so pretty you don’t want to get rid of it? Make a cute accessory with it! Its fun, easy and you only need a few materials…

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You Need

Fabric Hawaiian Lei
Scissors
Needle
Thread
Clear nail polish
Hot glue gun

Get a container to put all of your loose flowers in and cut the string of the lei. Keep them so you can make more later, because your friends will probably want one too. Pick out about five or six loose flowers and a leaf (if your lei has them) if you want to incorporate it.

Stack the loose flowers on top of eachother, with the leaf at the bottom. Try to stagger the petals so that they aren’t perfectly lined up (like in the picture) and slip one or two pins through to hold them together while you work.

Run a few small stitches through the middle of the flower. You don’t need to do very many, just make sure its secure and the thread won’t come loose. Try to make sure your thread is the same or, close to the same color as the fabric so it stays invisible. If you have to use a different color (like I did) it won’t be too bad, just try to stay close to the center.

Now you can make your flower look more three-dimensional, like a rose or a peony. If you like the flat look, you can skip this step. Starting with the petals on top, fold one side over and run a few small stitches close to the center. Work your way around on different layers, repeating this step until your flower has the shape that you want.

Swipe a little clear nail polish along the edges of the petals so that they don’t fray any more than they may have already. You can also use your scissors to trim any strays.

Now you can attach your flower to… pretty much anything! Use a hot glue gun or your trusty needle and thread to tack it onto a pin, barrette or head band. You can also attach it to a hair tie or wear it around your wrist like a corsage. Decorate a plain hand bag with colorful fabric flowers!

More Ideas

Run some fabric glitter around the edges of the petals, or make “rain drops” in random spots.
Attach a button, pretty bead or cabochon to the middle.
Hot glue some some crystal rhinestones on the petals to create the “rain drops”.
Add other embellishments to the bottom of the flower like ribbons or lace.

If you make one, feel free to post it in the comments!

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