“Magic of Books” – Poem

Magic of Books Poem - Poetry about Stories

 

 

 

 

 

It took just one look, and I fell fast in love

With the magic of books, and the stories that they hold

Even the oldest survive, and live in my heart

The words come alive, and paint pictures in my mind

I can be a sprite, or a pirate, or a queen

While I lie awake all night, slaying dragons from my bed

I’ve traveled the world, from the comforts of my chair

As adventures unfurled, through text on a page

I’ll never tire, of the feeling that I get

When I sit back and admire, the magic of books

– Meagan Burgess

Creating Character’s Physical Description, Part 2

Last week, I talked about creating your character’s physical description. It’s a struggle for me to make sure all of my characters end up looking different. I shared with you that I discovered I could fix that problem by exploring Pinterest. By using photos of actual people, I was able to look at a face instead of trying to visualize one in my mind. The pictures makes it easier for me when it comes time to write the story.

So, you’ve explored Pinterest and you have a board filled with every character in your book. It may be easy to keep track of which character has a scar on his left cheek if you only have 3 characters, but what if you have dozens of characters and 5 of them have different scars? It’s time-consuming and often frustrating to dig through binders or Pinterest boards to try to figure it out.

I am writing a series made up of 6 books, which means I have a lot of characters to keep up with. I needed a way to quickly reference which character had the scar. I found that a spreadsheet works best for me.

Below is an example of the type of spreadsheet I use. I simply list all of my characters down the left side and list all the options on the top. I then fill in the boxes as necessary.

Character Description Spreadsheet Writing Tips

I found this method also works great for character personality. You can list faults, occupation, important background information and whatever else you may need.

You can be as simple or elaborate as you want with this method. I have separate spreadsheets for main characters, supporting characters, and minor characters. For each group of characters I have one spreadsheet for physical appearance and one for personality. Then inside each spreadsheet I have multiple categories. Everything from hair color to hobbies.

(Side Note: I have my Xs color coded, green for males and purple for females. It makes it easier to see whether all my female characters have blonde hair or if all my males have green eyes.)

The possibilities are endless with this method. I love it because it is easy to tell at a glance which main character likes sailing and which minor character has a fear of water. No more digging through documents to find out that little piece of information I need. I simply open this one document, find the character, and follow it across to the information I need.

I would like to note that I still use a character questionnaire for each of my main characters. I use the questionnaire for a more thorough and in-depth look at my characters, while I use a spreadsheet to easily access any of the physical or basic personality information I may need while I’m in the middle of writing my first draft.

I hope these ideas help you as you create your unique characters to populate your story. Keep writing!

Have any tricks you’ve discovered to help you keep your writing organized? Share by commenting below!

Creating Character’s Physical Description, Part 1

When people read your story, the last thing you want is for them to get confused because all of your characters look the same. Plus, characters that all look the same can be boring.

I struggle with creating characters that all have different hair and eye colors, different body builds, facial structures, and so on. I also have a hard time visualizing the characters in my mind so that I can clearly describe their unique features to my readers.

In this first of a two-part post, I’m going to share with you how I find the right look for my characters.

It’s a simple answer: Pinterest.

Pinterest has quickly become a popular social media tool for people to organize things they find online, everything from DIY to photography and much more.

One day while I was on Pinterest, I realized it was the perfect place to find my characters. It is full of portraits of all kinds of people, and Pinterest makes it super easy to search and save pictures I like by pinning them to my boards.

So, I began searching. Some characters I recognized immediately, while others I had multiple choices before finally narrowing it down to one. Once the faces were assigned to a character, I pinned the pictures to one of my boards so I could always use the photo as reference.

Now I finally know what my characters look like, and I have a face to look at when I’m trying to describe my heroine’s sea blue eyes or my hero’s unruly blond hair.

If creating character appearance is something you have a hard time with, I encourage you to try this method.

Don’t know where to start? Check out my Pinterest boards by clicking below.

Male Characters

Female Characters

Do you have any methods that help you create the physical descriptions for your characters? Share by commenting below!

Have you ever been overwhelmed trying to keep track of your numerous characters’ appearances? Check back next Saturday to read Creating Character’s Physical Description, Part 2 where I will share how I keep my characters organized and easy to access.

Write First, Edit Later

Push aside the editor and just write

I’ve always read that we have to turn off our inner editor while we write. Authors say just get it down on paper and edit it later.

This is really hard for me, because I am sort of a perfectionist. I am my hardest critic, and I want everything I write to be perfectthe first time.

However, one thing I learned during my writing class* is that, not only does my writing not have to be perfect the first time, it won’t be perfect the first time. There is a reason we call it the “first draft” and not “the finished manuscript”. Most likely, your favorite author went through many drafts before publishing.

I have finally learned that what works best for me is to just write. I have to get my words down on my computer and then later go back and edit my work. If I try to edit while I write, it takes me five times longer to meet my word goal, and I end up frustrated before I can finish.

What are your thoughts on writing and editing at the same time? What method works best for you?

*I took a three-month writing class, Build Your Novel Scene by Scene, through Writer’s Digest University.

Take Up Your Cross Daily (Luke 9:23)

And he was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” — Luke 9:23

Daily.

That one word radically changes this verse. I remind myself of this verse quite often, but I think I’ve missed that one word.

Daily.

That doesn’t mean we can simply say a prayer one time in our life and we’re good. Taking up our cross daily means every day we decide to give up our desires and follow Christ. It means every single day we decide to make God the focus of our day. “Daily” means it’s something we have to do every single day of our lives. Being a disciple, being a Christian, means every day we have to make the decision to take up our cross and follow God.

Skydiving

I have been on a lot of adventures this year. I’ve been on cruises, skydiving, white water rafting, and more! I’ve gone on so many adventures with family and friends that I have fallen behind in posting them. So, here it goes.

For my 18th birthday this year, I wanted to go skydiving. It’s something that I’d been talking about for a long time. I was terrified and excited at the same time.

My dad, my cousin and his wife, and one of my friends all went with me. My sister also went to hang out with us and watch, but she is to young to skydive. Because of the bad weather, we had to wait over 7 hours before we could finally jump. It was so worth the wait though.

By the time it was our turn to jump, I no longer felt nervous. I had been waiting all day. I was ready. We got suited up with harnesses and headed out to board the plane.

Boarding the plane to go skydiving

Boarding the plane to go skydiving

The plane took off…

…and we went higher…

…and higher.

That’s when I started getting nervous again. Looking out the plane window, I could not wrap my mind around the thought that I was actually going to jump out, and we weren’t even at the jumping height yet. I was terrified.

We reached a height of 12,000 feet, and the plane door opened. My jump master positioned us at the edge of the opening. There was no backing out now. Before I knew it, we were falling towards the earth.

Skydiving with the Sunset

The sunset in the background made the wait worthwhile.

Free falling towards the earth at 120 mph was the most unbelievable feeling. I cannot describe what it felt like. I looked around at the setting sun, the world thousands of feet below us, and tried to grasp the fact that I was actually falling back down towards the ground.

Skydive Free Fall Picture

Free falling with my jump master

I have never done anything as terrifying and amazing as skydiving. I am so glad I did it, and it was great to be able to experience it with family and friends. I would definitely recommend skydiving, and I would definitely do it again.

What does it mean to be Jesus’ disciple?

When you hear the word “disciple”, the first thing you might think of is Jesus’ twelve disciples. Twelve young men who followed Jesus while He was on earth. They learned from Him, spent time with Him, and ate with Him. After Jesus returned to Heaven, the twelve disciples spread the news about Him. Some even went on to write some of the books of the Bible.

But are they the only disciples? Certainly not. As a Christian, we are called to be Jesus’ disciples. But what is a disciple? What does the life of a disciple look like? These are questions that I have been trying to answer along with a group of college students that meet to study God’s Word and grow more like Him. The following is what I have learned while having discussions with the group, studying different scriptures, and seeking God’s guidance for my life.

First, what is a disciple? The word can be defined as a student. Jesus’ twelve disciples learned from Him during His ministry on earth. After Jesus returned to Heaven, the disciples went out and made disciples of other people by teaching them about Jesus. We are students of God’s Word, and we are called to spread the news about Jesus and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). But before we can go out and make disciples of others, we must first learn to be a disciple ourselves.

If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” – Luke 14:26-27

So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.” – Luke 14:33

These verses are pretty clear that if we value anything, even our own life, more than following God we cannot be His disciple. That word “hate” used in Luke 14 actually comes from the Greek word for “lesser love”. The scriptures are clear that we are to love one another (Romans 12:9-10). What God is saying in these verses is if we love our family, our own life, or our possessions more than Him, we cannot be His disciple. Jesus was calling His disciples to be so devoted to Him, so in love with Him, that their love and attachment for anything else would seem like hatred by comparison.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” – Matthew 16:24

I have thought about this verse for the last couple of weeks asking God to show me how to live it out. I kept asking, “What does someone’s life really look like if they took up their cross and followed Jesus? What would it look like to sacrifice my own life, giving it completely to Him?”

When I started meeting once a week with a group of young adults, this was what the leaders talked about. We talked about what a disciple was and what the life of a disciple would look like. I was amazed that we began talking about the very thing that I had been thinking and praying about for a couple of weeks. God is amazing.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. – Romans 12:1

We talked about the cost of being a disciple and the sacrifices we must make. In Luke 14:26-33 and Matthew 16:24, Jesus is clear that there will be a cost to following Him. He never once said that it would be an easy, free ride. It will cost us something. Matthew 16:24 says that we must deny self and take up our cross. We must sacrifice all the desires of our flesh and follow Jesus. We must surrender whatever control we think we have over our own lives. For each person, the cost to follow Jesus will be different. Some may be called to leave their family behind and move to another country, or they may be called to sacrifice an unhealthy relationship. Others may be called to give up some of their time to serve and help others. The possibilities are endless. God won’t ask us to surrender just one small part of our life. He wants our whole life. He wants you and me completely and fully devoted to Him.

The leaders asked everyone in the group what God was calling us to sacrifice. For me, I knew God was showing me that I needed to sacrifice my own wants and desires. I knew He wanted me to give up doing whatever I wanted to do and instead do something that wasn’t necessarily fun. Something that would help someone else. But even more than that, I knew I should do those things gladly and with a cheerful heart. It’s one thing to help my family with something and do it with a bad attitude. What kind of message would that send about me and about God? Not a good one. Our actions and the choices we make reflect back not only on ourselves, but on God and what people may think about the Church. So for me, I know that means I need to work on looking out for opportunities to serve others even when it may not be the thing that I really want to do and do so gladly.

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, preserving in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another, do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:9-21

I found these verses while studying the first couple of verses in Romans 12. I had been asking God to show me what a life fully devoted to Him looks like, and there it was clearly written out in Romans 12:9-21. God’s instructions for following Him and being His disciple are not limited to these few verses though. We can find clear instruction and examples of people who followed Him all throughout the Bible.

As I mentioned at the beginning, a disciple can be defined as simply as a student. As Jesus’ disciples, we are called to have a close and intimate relationship with Him through prayer and diligent studying of His Word. It is through studying His Word that we can learn more about our loving Father, what He requires from us, and what it means to be His disciple.

I want to encourage you to seriously think, study, and pray about what it means to be a disciple. It is not something to be taken lightly or done blindly. What does being Jesus’ disciple look like in your own life? What sacrifices is God calling you to make?

A Painting from my Grandmother

Incorporating photography into your painting and adding pictures in art workMy grandmother painted this for me, and I thought it was so neat that I wanted to share it. My grandmother is a great artist, and I’ve always enjoyed seeing her artwork. This one that she made for me is special though. That butterfly on the lower right-hand side is actually a pin that belonged to my great-grandmother. The other butterflies are actually photographs that I took. My grandmother cut them out and incorporated them into her painting. How awesome is that? It is a beautiful piece of artwork. Thank you, Grandma.

You can see my butterfly pictures and my other photographs on my photography blog, A Moment to Capture.

Rejoice!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” – Philippians 4:4

This word “rejoice” comes from the Greek word chairo. It means to rejoice exceedingly, to be glad, to thrive. How can we have joy and be glad during the tough times in life?

When school finals are approaching and we can’t see the end of them, it’s hard to thrive. When a family member or friend dies, it may seem impossible to find joy. Or when you have one of those days when nothing seems to be going right, how can you be glad?

We can continue to rejoice and be glad because our joy doesn’t come from anything in this world. Our joy comes from God. Philippians 4:4 says to “rejoice in the Lord”. We rejoice because no matter what is happening in our life, God is always there. No matter how bad life may seem, we can still be joyful because Jesus Christ died on the cross for us. We can be glad because we have an all-knowing, loving Father, and He wants us to have joy.

This verse is a great reminder to me to not search for joy in anything here on earth. It reminds me that true and lasting joy can only come from my heavenly Father. I can, and should, always rejoice in Him.

Characters with Minds of Their Own

I’ve heard some people say that characters will write themselves. Just sit down with them and have a conversation with them. Let them tell you their hopes, dreams, and fears. Honestly, like it’s ever that easy! I find myself laughing at this idea. If only it happened that way.

For me, creating characters can be one of the hardest things about writing a story. Then again, what part of writing a story isn’t hard? Anyway, it’s challenging for me to create characters that are all different from each other. For whatever reason, I keep trying to create the same main character for every story. So, I have to work extra hard to make sure my characters don’t all start acting the same way.

Right now I’m working on a Fantasy Series. I’m creating six stories, figuring out how they link together, and trying to create characters for all six books. Since beginning this massive undertaking, it seems like I’ve had this whole “characters writing themselves” thing happen to me more than once.

My characters keep surprising me. At least, that’s what it feels like. Here I am writing about my newest story idea when suddenly I realize something new about my character.

For example, a few nights ago I was organizing my ideas about the different love stories in each book. Then all of a sudden I realized something shocking about one of my main characters. He falls in love with someone. This was shocking to me because he is actually my bad guy. He has always been the bad guy. It felt like I just discovered that this guy fell in love. It felt like that was a part of his past that always existed, instead of a part of his past that I created.

I’m beginning to understand what writers mean when they say let the characters tell their stories. Because when you’re writing about your character, and you suddenly come up with a crazy idea, it really does feel like you’re character told you about their little secret.

Have you ever had a similar experiance while creating your characters?