Tag Archives: Character

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Characters I See Differently Now Than I Used To

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

Photo of a red barn and a red farmhouse. There is a grassy field in the foreground and a nice, big forest behind the house. The sky overhead is partly cloudy. I was only able to think of one answer this week.

Marilla Cuthbert

When I first read L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series as a child, I thought Marilla was far too stuck in her ways and strict with Anne.

I reread that series a year or two ago and was surprised by how much more I sympathize with her now. Marilla was a single, childless woman who had zero parenting experience and who had grown up during an era when children were supposed to be seen and not heard.

Of course she had some trouble adjusting to suddenly raising a stubborn, hyper, 11-year-old girl who never stopped talking! As much as I love Anne, I would be just as perplexed and overwhelmed as Marilla was in that situation. It would take time to figure out how to successfully parent a kid her age and with her past, especially in the 1800s when there were no social workers to call for advice and few if any parenting manuals to read.






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Top Ten Tuesday: Secondary/Minor Characters Who Deserve Their Own Book

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Surreal photo of dozens of people wearing suits and the same bowl-shaped hats standing in a neat row on a sidewalk under a stormy sky and next to such a thick layer of fog you can’t tell if they’re many miles up into the air on this surface or if there’s a calm little sea just below the fog. This has been a month filled with me having better luck finding fun stock photos for Top Ten Tuesday prompts than it has been with me actually coming up with ten answers each week due to how tricky I found most of the prompts. 

Sometimes things work out that way. But, hey, at least I’m having a good time in the process and I have the chance to feature some much older books this week that I usually wouldn’t include! 

Here’s the thing about secondary characters. In most cases, I understand why the author wrote them that way and don’t actually feel the need to dive more deeply into their lives.

There are a few exceptions to that guideline, though. I’d love to know more about the following characters for reasons I’ll share below.

Book cover for Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery. Image on cover is a drawing of Anne as a young woman whose hair is tied up into a bow. She’s standing outdoors and gathering yellow flowers on a spring day.

1) Dora from Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery 

Why: While her twin brother, Davy, gets into all sort of mischief at Green Gables, Dora just sits there and doesn’t influence the plot much at all. I know she’s a quiet, good child like I was at her age. Even quiet, good kids who follow all of the rules have hopes and dreams, though, so I would have loved to know more about who she grew up to be in the later books in this series.


Book cover for The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. Image on cover shows a drawing of a lion whose mane has been stylized to look like fire.

2) Susan Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis

Why: Yes, she was a major character in a few of the books, but she was quickly dropped from the storyline after that. I think she deserved better, especially when it came to her fate in the final instalment of this series that still irritates me.


Book cover for Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Image on cover shows a closeup of a white woman’s face as she looks off to the right with a little suspicion and fear in her expression. She’s concerned about whatever it is she’s seeing.

3) Miss Lucy (or any of the other Hailsham teachers) from Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 

Why: This is going to be difficult to explain without giving away spoilers, but I’ve always wondered why the teachers at Hailsham weren’t horrified by the fates of the students they looked after for so many years. It’s one thing to be fed propaganda but quite another to spend so much time with children you have been taught are disposable without having second thoughts about your line of work. Why didn’t any of the teachers stir up a fuss? Or did they and were their attempts to change the system futile?


Book cover for To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Image on cover is a drawing of a maple tree whose leaves have begun to turn colours in the autumn. The tree is growing on a hill and the sky behind it is orange.

4) Arthur ‘Boo’ Radley from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Why: He was described as someone who terrified the local children, ate raw animal flesh to survive, and had a long, jagged scar on his face. (I suspect many of the stories about him were exaggerated by scared kids, if not made up entirely). When I read this book, I was sure those details were going to be explained and his backstory revealed, but it never happened. He deserves to have his tale told, though. I think it would be a fascinating one.


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Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Character Relationships

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Five little paper boats sitting on a light blue surface. The one out in front is red, the two behind that one are blue, and the last two are teal. I had a bit of an adventure trying to find a good stock photo for this week’s post.

So many of the pictures under tags like friendship and relationship presumed I was only talking about romance or that I wanted to see photos of people laughing together without any context as to what was so funny.

There’s nothing wrong with those answers, of course, they just quite weren’t what I was hoping for this time around. Luckily, I eventually found something that left a bit more scope for the imagination as Anne Shirley would say.

Book cover for Waswanipi by  Jean-Yves Soucy. Image on cover is a photograph of a lake and a small range of mountains (or large range of hills) that are part of Cree territory. The sky above is blue and mostly clear. The scene is placid and there are no people around.

1. Waswanipi by  Jean-Yves Soucy

This memoir was never finished, but the portion of it that could be published provided such an interesting glimpse into what Cree life was like before Europeans disrupted it. I enjoyed seeing how every member of the tribe relied on others to survive and how they came together to work on problems. That’s really all I can say without giving you too many spoilers, but the relationships between the folks mentioned in this book were beautiful.


Book cover for A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk & Robot, #1) by Becky Chambers. Image on cover is a drawing of a winding dirt road through a forest that the viewer sees from above. There are multiple trees and bushes next to the road that begins on the bottom left with a person pedaling a little metal home around. And, at the end of the path, a robot waits to greet them!

2. A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

Yes, I know I’ve mentioned this book on many other Top Ten Tuesday themes before. If you’re curious about this series but haven’t read it yet, maybe all of this repetition will convince you to give it a try. Hehe.

Sibling Dex (a human) and Mosscap (a robot) didn’t seem to have much in common at first glance, but I loved discovering all of their similarities and seeing how their friendship blossomed.


Book cover for Don't Cry for Me by Daniel Black. Image on cover is a painting of the side of a black man’s face as he stands next to an empty yellow road and stares at something the viewer cannot see. The road disappears over the top of a hill, and you can see a setting sun in the distance.


3. Don’t Cry for Me by Daniel Black

This is sort of an unusual choice for this prompt because of how lonely and isolated Jacob was as he neared the end of his life. The relationship aspect comes in when he recalled his difficult childhood and how his older brother protected him from their sometimes violent grandfather. Those sorts of bonds can last forever.


Book cover for The Necessity of Stars by E. Catherine Tobler. Image on cover shows an unsettling painting of a garden where strange, spindly blue and white flowers grow. In the distance, a reptile-like alien hides in the mist.


4. The Necessity of Stars by E. Catherine Tobler

The protagonist of this novella was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. As she struggles to remember the present and sometimes mixes up the past with her current life, she also discovers aliens living in her backyard.

The friendship she strikes up with them was as unexpected as it was mesmerizing. If only this one had a sequel.

I look forward to reading all of your answers!


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Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Character Traits for Heroines

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

I’m tweaking this week’s prompt a little bit so I can take a meta approach to the topic. Heroines come in all shapes and sizes, of course, but the reader’s expectations of how she should behave probably wouldn’t be the same in the historical romance genre as in a contemporary horror novel or a cozy mystery set on a lunar space station 500 years in the future.

With that being said, here are some character traits I love to see in heroines across many different genres and settings.


Black and white photo of a white woman wearing a black one-piece bathing suit. She’s crouching on a barren rock that’s surrounded by water and placing a black flag on the rock. The waves around her are gentle, and it appears to be a nice day outside although the sky is not visible. 1. Healthy Boundaries

Here in North America, girls and women tend to be socialized to be peacemakers and endlessly accommodating to other people’s needs and wishes.  This can encourage some of us to have trouble setting and recognizing appropriate boundaries, so I love seeing examples of characters who can both set boundaries and respect other people’s limits, too.

2. Meaningful Flaws 

No one is perfect. I like it when heroines have flaws that make a meaningful difference to the plot and to their daily lives. That is to say, I prefer realistic protagonists who procrastinate too much, or who have a bad temper, or who give too much unsolicited advice (or what have you) over ones whose biggest problem is that they’re a clumsy dancer but are otherwise pretty perfect.

3. Common Sense and Street Smarts

I  prefer heroines who remain aware of their surroundings and take reasonable precautions before rushing into an unknown situation. It’s one thing to be caught off guard after doing everything right but quite another for a heroine (or a hero) to ignore multiple red flags for the sake of plot development.


4. Frugal 

As much fun as it can be to read about characters with limitless budgets, I find it easier to relate to the ones who know that they only have so much money to last until the end of the month. There’s something comforting about seeing characters juggle bills and figure out how to afford what they need when the plot requires it.


5. Calm and Quiet

This is not to say I expect characters to behave this way all of the time, only that I think we need more characters who have easygoing personalities and aren’t the life of the party. Think of all of the interesting things that happen in the corners of a room and out of the attention range of the loudest and flashiest partygoers. There are so many folks hanging out quietly on the perimeter who are worth getting to know, and I’d love to have more stories about their lives.




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Top Ten Tuesday: Character Traits I Love

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Wooden figurine posed to look as if its grieving, despondent, curious, and happy. This was such a fun and easy prompt to do.

The stock photo attached to this post made me think of all of the different emotions the same character may show in the same story.

1. Intelligent

They don’t have to be geniuses, but I do enjoy reading about how bright characters see the world.

2. Warm and Affectionate

There’s something about characters with this personality that make them irresistible to me. I can appreciate many different types of flaws in a character so long as they start from this base.

3. Active

I exercise regularly and enjoy spending time outdoors. It’s nice to read about characters who are also into staying active.

4. Cautious

There’s something to be said for thinking things through before rushing into a possibly dangerous situation.

5. Quirky

I was about to put the term strange here, but maybe quirky is a little bit more accurate. Characters who wander off the beaten path of life are alluring.

6. Easygoing

While I  can and do also enjoy stories about people who can be high-strung, I generally prefer to read about folks who take a more relaxed approach to life.

7. Bashful

There aren’t enough books out there about folks who are quietly amazing but who will never be the life of the party. For example, I would have loved to read a chapter or two of Anne of Green Gables from Matthew Cuthbert’s perspective. He was honestly more interesting to me than Anne was because of how shy he was about sharing his feelings.

8. Innocent

Honestly, I’ve grown weary of reading about shady protagonists who may not be trustworthy. Retaining some innocence is a good thing no matter how old someone is.

9. Thrifty

That is, it’s nice when characters take care of what they own and are mindful of how they spend their money.

10. Creative

It doesn’t matter how that creativity is expressed. I’m always interested in reading about people who can take an ordinary moment in life and find the beauty in it somewhere.



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Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I Wish Existed

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

I rarely if ever meet characters like the ones I’m about to describe to you, but I dream about reading about them someday. If you know of books in any genre featuring characters who match these descriptions, please do speak up!

A Hero Who Doesn’t Succeed

No, I’m not saying the antagonist absolutely must win. Maybe he or she could win! Or maybe someone else in the storyline defeats them instead. Either way, I’d be quite interested in meeting the Chosen One, investing in their journey, and then seeing what happens after their best shot at winning doesn’t work.

A Genuinely Unlikeable Protagonist

Think of someone who is not only an antihero but who just doesn’t seem like they’d be a pleasant person to spend time with in general. Perhaps they regularly meddle in other people’s affairs, have low emotional intelligence, or regularly offend people by never thinking before they speak. I don’t know why I’m so interested in reading about such unpleasant characters at the moment, but I am.

A Non-Canine Animal Protagonist

I’ve read several amazing books like The Art of Racing in the Rain that show the world through a dog’s eyes so convincingly that it almost felt as though actual dogs had been consulted during the writing of it. I wonder if there are any books out there written as though a cat or some other creature was telling the story?

A Magical World Based on Science

Okay, so obviously there is no scientific basis for magic in our world. I’d still love to read a fantasy, sci-fi, or similar book about a world where magic has a scientific explanation that is explained to the audience and that logically works with the particular physics/chemistry/biology of whatever planet it is set on.

Magic is an incredible thing to read about….I just wish the mechanics of it were explained better. To tie this better into this week’s prompt, maybe the main character could be a scientist who also performed magic?

Ideas, anyone?


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Personas Aren’t People

The next chapter of After the Storm is taking a little longer to write than I had anticipated, but it will be posted tomorrow evening. Today I’m responding to a blog post about public personas.

My golden rule when looking at a celebrity is to ask myself whether or not I would like to be friends with them if I knew them in real life. I ask myself, “Would I be proud to call this person my friend if I knew them? Would I add their number to my contacts list?”

From Ellen Degeneres.

This was such a thought-provoking blog post, but I was struck by how differently the author and I think about celebrities.

One of the benefits of growing up a preacher’s kid is that I learned early on that personas aren’t people. The similarities between the expectations average people hold of pastors and of celebrities are actually quite interesting.

People in both professions are held to a higher standard than other families, and their spouses and kids are included in these inflated expectations. The problem with this is that perfection isn’t possible. Everyone makes mistakes eventually, so what families living in this fishbowl must learn to do is keep their public faces on even when they think no one is watching.

Personas can be influenced heavily by your real personality and identity, but at the end of the day your public face isn’t the real you.  By its very nature the range of emotions a persona shows is limited by what others expect of it.

I’m a fan of Ellen’s comedy routines and TV show, and I really appreciate the messages she teaches about kindness, tolerance, and playfulness. I share many of the values Ellen discusses on her show, and in no way am I insinuating anything about who she is when the camera stops rolling. There’s no way for me to know this information because I don’t know her personally.

But how well I think I’d get along with entertainers isn’t something that consciously affects what I watch or listen to. Public personas are simply another tool singers/actors/comedians use to draw in an audience, and I don’t expect famous people who are known for X to actually necessarily be X in their private lives.

Readers, do you form strong opinions about entertainers based on their public personas?

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Post Hoc and the Good Person Question

Lorena had a great question on her blog last week. For those of you who aren’t interested in following the link, she has a friend who said the following and she wanted to know how other non-theists would respond to it:

I had a classmate in high school. He was a pastor’s kid and did all the right things. He was courteous, loving, kind, friendly, etc. If religion can make a person like that, then I see nothing wrong with religion.

Here’s what I would say:

  1. That sounds post hoc. There are wonderful and terrible people in every religion. That doesn’t mean that one causes the other.
  2. Are some individuals influenced to become better human beings by their beliefs? Of course.
  3.  I’ve also seen some people’s beliefs lead them to act much less loving, kind and compassionate than they would otherwise behave.
  4. Is either phenomenon limited to Christianity? Heck no. Any group with more than one member is bound to include at least one jerk.
  5. What about people whose behaviour isn’t tied to what they believe? Some of us have (de)converted to other labels without growing horns or a halo.
  6. There’s nothing wrong with being religious. There’s also nothing wrong with not being religious. What matters is how you treat people. Everything else is neckbearding.
  7. The only time I get irritated with other belief systems is when they’re shoved into areas in which they don’t belong. See: every U.S. presidential election I can remember.
  8. Why is everyone arguing about this? Let’s all go out for lemonade and cookies instead. My treat. 🙂


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Change of Heart

I wasn’t planning to share another short film so soon after discussing The Maker with all of you last week but this was a great story. There is a more traditional post coming on Monday for those of you who aren’t interested in short films.

A quick synopsis for everyone who couldn’t/didn’t click play:

A husband and wife both had multiple sexual partners before (re)committing their live to Allah and marrying one another. When an old friend runs into them on the street the husband becomes jealous of his wife’s past and storms off. Even though he wasn’t a virgin either he feels that it’s somehow worse for his wife to have had previous lovers than for him to have that experience.

Double standards are a funny thing. What is slightly annoying if ultimately excusable when you do it becomes an obviously pre-meditated act of obnoxiousness when someone else does it.

Or at least that’s the thought process I’ve been guilty of more than once. It’s so much easier to point out what other people are doing wrong than to offer them the same grace you want for yourself.

Maybe my readers are better human beings but I still haven’t figured out how to not participate in this merry-go-round of mismatched expectations. 😉

Any ideas on how one can stop doing this?

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How to (Start to) Forgive Yourself for Small Mistakes

Photo by Richard Smith

Forgiveness has been on my mind this fall. It’s so much easier for me to forgive someone else for making a dumb mistake than it is to forgive myself.


There’s no possible way for me to control the decisions other people make. I can ask them to do (or not to do) something but ultimately it’s up to them whether or not they want to listen to me.

I can control what I do, though. In the past I’ve been pretty hard on myself over what ultimately turned out to be small bumps in the road. These things never should have stressed me out as much as they did. I don’t want to sound like I have this all figured out – there are still days when I expect much more from myself than I would anyone else. But I am learning to relax a little.

Here are a few questions that help you figure out if it really matters:

1) How would you react if a friend or family member did this? Usually my response would be a warm hug and something like, “it’s really going to be ok. Everyone makes mistakes.”

2) Will it matter in six months? And will you even remember it then? Most of the time there’s a world of no in both of these questions.

3) Is there anything you could (realistically) do to avoid similar events in the future? The answer to this one varies. Sometimes certain mistakes can be reduced or eliminated in the future by double-checking your work. At other times, though, short of developing superhuman abilities there’s nothing a reasonable person could have done to avoid whatever it was that happened.



Do you have trouble forgiving yourself? Is there anything you’ve learned that helps one feel less guilty for small mistakes?


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