Top Five Ways to Predict a Love Triangle’s End

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Romance writers like to pretend love triangles create this big mystery. Who will the protagonist choose? THE ANGST!!! But I’ve noticed some pretty good foreshadowing factors that are (almost) universally present.

1. Survival of the Hottest

Consider who is hotter. Who does the author most describe with words like “sultry,” “muscled,” “slender,” “lean,” shapely,” etc.? It is nigh impossible that they will be used equally between the love interests and you can always tell who has the hotness advantage.

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2. Tragic past

Next, look at who is most damaged, most unstable, and/or most in need of serious psychological treatment. Unhealthy coping mechanisms are a favorite of writers and generally include smashing things, taking out emotions on innocent bystanders, and/or murdering random people. (A horrible life gives you a free pass, apparently).

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3. NEVER the Best Friend

You know that sweet character who’s been secretly in love with the protagonist forever? Knows their birthday, favorite candy, and waits around for them even after he/she gets a boy/girlfriend? Yeah, they’ve got a snow ball’s chance in hell.

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4. Unrequited feelings

In a mutilation of the previous point, if the protagonist has feelings for a person with a boy/girlfriend, it tends to go the other way. That boy/girlfriend is automatically an obstacle and must therefore die.

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Okay, maybe not die, but the author usually makes them into a cheesy terrible or cheesy perfect person, both of whom we hate on principle (and not just for the love triangle itself).

5. Good to be Bad

Pretty much every romance series has a bad boy/girl. Even Jane Austen had bad boys. Writers love bad boys/girls. You can see the author’s teen bad boy/girl fantasies just bleeding off the pages 9 times out of 10. Typically, the jerk or shamed slut is redeemed by love (and usually life changing sex) , then subsequently made a “decent man”/“honest woman.” I might vomit just thinking about it.

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With one exception, I have always been able to predict the outcome of love triangles. Always. Because they are predictable and pointless and should be burned at the stake and bleh.

Can you usually tell how a love triangle will end? Was there a time when you were surprised and how did you feel about it?

How GAME OF THRONES made me a better Christian

Many people will ask, should Christians watch Game of Thrones? I honestly can’t answer. I’ve never seen the HBO series. The books, however, have played an interesting role in my perspective.

I got through A Game of Thrones this year and finally understand all the hype. It’s not the best book ever written or unlike anything I’ve ever read, but the sweeping storyline and, most of all, the character development sets it apart for me.

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It’s no secret that Game of Thrones has some questionable people, but they are still people. They grieve and bleed. They have their insecurities, secrets, and scars. It shows how we’re all so brokenly human, just as the Bible tells us.

Don’t get me wrong, there were characters I hated. I wanted a nastier death for Khal Drogo (pedophile, rapist, and mass murderer) and I won’t be crying over Joffrey, either.

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But even then, the story let me understand how others could still love them. To Dany and Cirsei, those loathsome bastards characters were a beloved husband and a son. More than anything, it helped me internalize how God could love those people, too.

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Christianity teaches that no one is better than anyone else. Even knowing this, it can be hard to grasp that God will forgive a repentant terrorist as quickly as a gossip.

A Game of Thrones influenced my faith for the better by letting me see the “worst” kinds of people differently. Every human is a creature God loved enough that He died (horribly) to save. A Game of Thrones also shows how every human needs salvation. Even the “good” people do horrible things.

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We all fall short of the glory of God and can never redeem ourselves. That’s why we need Jesus and that’s what I think of most while reading this series.

Top Ten Good Guys in Fantasy

Bad boys have been all the rage lately. In pretty much every book, film, and television drama, they’ve got us rooting for the rogues and the rakes. Ergo, I thought it was time, in no particular order, for a list of my favorite good guys in fantasy.

shadowmarchFerras Vansen (Shadowmarch series by Tad Williams)

Unrequited love from a selfless, loyal soldier just gets me. He’s faithful and dutiful and brave and kind and a shrewd warrior all the things the perfect man should be.

Darmik (True Reign series by Jennifer Anne Davis)

I’m a sucker for the duty-bound, closet idealist types. He was so under appreciated and exploited by his family, I just wanted to protect him and keep him safe.


thlrdfthrn2003Faramir (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien)

This guy goes out to obey his father and battle orcs right after he basically says “I wish your brother was around instead of you.” Nobody gets better than that, nobody. Some girls crushed on Legolas, I crushed—hard—on Faramir right up until he made out with Éowyn. I’m glad he’s happy, but for the record, I’d still marry him. <3

 

Earic Goodwin (Knight Assassin by Rima Jean)

My favorite scene with Earic and Zayn comes at the very end, so I can’t really tell you about it. Earic is just so understanding and patient and…*sigh* He has to inhabit the fictional world because he’s too good for this one.


8176885Elend Venture (Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson)

Elend, my precious parsnip. Here we have an idealist bookworm nobleman—try and top that. Even when his idealism is proven too ideal, he doesn’t ever lose faith. How can you not love him to bits?

Torian (Souls of the Stones series by Kelly Walker)

I’m also a sucker for arranged marriage romance plots. Especially when they involve guys as gentle and noble and bloody sweet as Torian.

 

Erik (The Shadowlight Saga by Mande Matthews)

He was a tiny bit of a jerk in the beginning, but if the love of my life had been kidnapped and it looked like the fault of the girl my best friend kept protecting, I’d be cranky, too. But with his devotion to Emma, it was hard not to adore Erik anyway.

6320247Achan (Blood of Kings Trilogy by Jill Williamson)

Achan could have gone either way in the beginning, but he fell in with the right crowd. His character became so committed to always doing the right thing, I just want to hug him and tell him I’m so proud of my adopted, fictional baby brother.

Eddard Stark (A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin)

*sobbing* *wails* *deep breath* Say what you want, but Ned was awesome. Ned was perfect. End of discussion.

7896527Chaol Westfall (Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas)

Chaol is honest, honorable, kind, and humble. But apparently the author and fandom think a stupid, out-of-character “omission” storyline makes him worse than the dude who literally beat the heroine bloody on multiple occasions and is like twenty times her age. I’m not bitter. Not bitter. Not even a little bit. *punches wall*

Long live good guys! So what do you think of these noble dudes? Did I miss your favorite? Tell me in the comments. 🙂

Objectification is not the answer. Who knew?

The media has objectified women since there has been media. Whether it’s Greek statuary, books, movies, video games, music, or just about anything else, you can find examples of women portrayed as idealized embodiments of erotic fantasy, treated like commodities to be valued on their physical appeal.

emancipation-156066_960_720Thanks to feminism, there has been a shift away from this. Audiences have started to demand more for female characters and publishers and production companies have responded (thank you, capitalism). It still happens and I could rattle off a list of modern franchises I gave up on mainly for this reason, but there has been some improvement. If nothing else, people are at least conscious of it now. There is enough awareness that when objectifying material comes along, it gets called what it is. There’s room for improvement, but I definitely believe we’re on the upward curve.

We’re starting to have complex female characters who aren’t “drop-dead gorgeous,” female characters who don’t have that lingering close up of their bikini thong, actually have a storyline, serve a purpose beyond a love interest, lean toward more realistic body standards, and sexual objectification of men instead—wait, what?

(Disclaimer: If you read Romance/Erotica, you will hate me by the time you get to the end of this post.)

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(Was going to put the Magic Mike poster here, but, I just can’t pollute this blog like that. Google it if you must know.)

This is one of the worst methods of attempted feminism I have seen. We can all (at least I certainly hope we can) agree that women shouldn’t be objectified, but…men should??? Consider films such as the Magic Mike franchise *tries not to vomit* or just take a look at the covers in the romance aisle at your local bookstore *vomits*, both of which are tailored to a female audience. It’s basically an exposition of abs and biceps. It is also a direct defiance of feminism. *bashes head against desk*

Feminism is the radical ideology that men and women are equally valuable human beings who should be regarded as human beings. (Crazy, I know.) How are we supposed to treat a human being? The short answer—with respect. That’s a person, not a sex toy or living fantasy. Whether that person—male or female—is willingly being objectified or not (some of them get paid very well to look like that), they still deserve to be treated and viewed like a person. 

(And if you want to talk about the whole sexual empowerment thing…that’s a whole other blog post.)

For some reason, a lot of women get upset (and rightfully so) at blatantly sexualized female characters (do I need to list examples?), but then drool over Chris Hemsworth’s latest photoshoot. That’s pretty much a textbook example of hypocrisy. This is one of the main reasons I generally disregard the entire Romance genre with very few exceptions—it’s hollow wish fulfillment and basically porn marketed to women.

tumblr_mbfgjxIRG01qg8gy8o7_r1_250Saying it’s alright to have certain expectations/treatment of one gender, but not the other is discrimination, period. The solution to female objectification is not male objectification, that is just redistributed sexism. Sadly, many people seem to take the slew of female-oriented erotic content as progress, but it’s just presenting misandry as the solution to misogyny. Basically, we’re trading smallpox for anthrax.

Objectification is wrong no matter who it is being objectified and it solves nothing.

Conflicted Loyalties: Villains vs. Heroes

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A soft spot for villains.

All too often, I find myself watching a movie or a series for the sake of the villain, because I care more about him/her than the “good guys.”  If you go on Tumblr or any other fan site, you’ll see that villains in pretty much every genre and media garner massive followings, sometimes even larger than those of their heroic counterparts.

This led me to the inevitable question—why? Are the heroes just too boring? Are the good guys too good? Is it that the villains are a means of expressing our frustrations and resentments by proxy? I’m sure there’s a psychology dissertation in that somewhere.

The double standard.

Firstly, I notice that villains get away with a lot more by virtue of being villains. If a hero abducted and poisoned children or slaughtered entire armies defending their homes, he would be condemned by the readership rather quickly. Yet the villain gets away with it because we expect that. After all, he/she is a villain and villains by their nature do villainous things, but if a hero has so much as one selfish moment and yells at the wrong character, suddenly we’re all over him/her with pitchforks and torches. (But if the protagonist is too perfect, we’re still not happy.)

When a hero monologues about traumatic events in their lives, they too quickly come off as whiny complainers. When a villain discusses past trauma, however,  people are generally more sympathetic. Villains also tend to talk about past traumas less often and I wonder if that has something to do with it as well—we don’t have to listen to many sympathy-garnering speeches.

The perspective factor.

Interestingly, there seems to be more villain-centric fans in films and television series. Personally, I find heroes more relatable and easier to empathize with in books and I believe other people do too. It probably has something to do with being thrown into the hero’s psyche, sometimes exclusively, leading us to develop more attachment to him/her.

Even in multi-POV books, the hero has the most “screen time” and the villains are usually secondary or tertiary if their perspective is there at all. This means a certain amount of distance from the villain and a buffer zone of attachment, if you will.

In the end, this subject could probably span a few more blog posts plus that dissertation I mentioned. I’m just trying to tap into what makes all characters—villains, heroes, and everything in between—lovable.

But in the end, it’s still an art, not a science.

Things you DO NOT need to be a “good” character

It’s probably a bad idea to watch a movie with me. When I watch movies, I tend to criticize the character development and the writers’ standardized methods of relaying a character’s “strength.” I do it with books, too, there’s just usually no one around to hear me griping at my Kindle. There are five things that especially bug me, hence I have decided to whine about them in a blog post accompanied by Taylor Swift GIF’s because everyone likes Taylor Swift.

A temper

Tempers are not awesome. It is one thing to have righteous anger over injustice or cruelty, but quite another to overreact and resort to violence. Writers moved away from this one for a while, but I’ve noticed it coming back—mainly in female characters because men and women should be held to different moral standards (not).

A long list of ex-lovers

Some of my favorite characters of all time are, shall we say, romantically prolific, but the fact remains that being desired and/or sexually active are not the hallmarks of a strong persona! It’s okay to not have a significant other or regular one-night stands, but you wouldn’t know it by the way mainstream media handles it. Tay❤️

Modern literature and film seem to think it makes a character interesting, relying on sex as a plot device rather than using something crazy, like a storyline. There are plenty of shows I could list where if the writers weren’t allowed to incorporate sex involving the main characters, they would run out of material in about two episodes.

A tragic backstory

Tragic backstories are about as common as mud. I have used them quite often myself, but lacking some horror in your past does not make you any less of a character or your input to the story any less valid. Despite this, characters without tragedy in their pasts are usually portrayed as the naive innocent that gets killed first or gruesomely victimized, but that’s just a sign of lazy writing.

A set of fighting skills

I prefer for my own characters to have fighting skills (because fight scenes allow my inner ninja to play), but they aren’t necessary to a solid character—male or female. I wish I could find more portrayals where it’s okay to not be a warrior, but it’s been becoming rarer, especially in fantasy books.

A postmodern mindset

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It may sound like a contradiction to some, but it actually is possible for one to believe in traditional gender roles without being sexist. It’s also possible to firmly believe in one’s own religion as the sole truth without hating others and I could go on. However, the characters who are more traditional in their views are generally cast in a negative manner, which is a travesty, because it is an incomplete picture of what real people with similar opinions are actually like.

And that wraps up my rant for the month, but there’s plenty more where that came from. 😉

(As a side note, if you guys can think of any fantasy books that defy these tropes, I’d really like to hear about them.)

Three Action Heroines I actually liked

I’ll be blunt, I usually despise females in warrior roles. Why? I feel like they aren’t characters at all, just cardboard cutouts. They either aren’t allowed to have flaws or their flaws are excused by virtue of femininity. (Whole other blog post in that.) Anyway, here are the first three action heroines that come to my mind when I think of my favorites and they are my favorites with good reason.

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Angelina Jolie as Evelyn Salt in “Salt.”

Evelyn Salt (Salt, 2010)

I keep seeing all these people whine about the lack of female action heroes and I want to hit them in the face with this. Salt is an incredible portrayal of a female spy/assassin who is not invincible, makes miscalculations, gets knocked down, but always gets back up. She basically leads a one-woman war against two governments and is pretty much as hardcore as they come. She’s probably my favorite action heroine in film, but not many seem to have heard of her (and judging by their mewling online, that includes Feminazis).

2115046Vin (Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson)

If we’re talking vulnerabilities and relatability, Vin takes the gold without batting an eye. Insecurity and softness mixed with awesome power and a capability for terrible destruction, Brandon Sanderson really set a standard here. It is impossible to be in possession of a heart and not want to protect Vin, even though she’s the character who tears through 300 soldiers and comes out with nary a scratch (seriously, that happened once).

Tabrett Bethell as Cara in “Legend of the Seeker.”

Cara the Mord Sith (The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind/The Legend of the Seeker, 2007-2009)

Cara is pretty much all the things I usually dislike in a character—sassy, sarcastic, dominant, sometimes outright cruel. But the author (and the writers of the television series) spent huge amounts of time humanizing and sympathizing the Mord Sith order as a whole. The reader/viewer is shown how much pain these women are in (physically and emotionally) every second of their lives. We see Cara cry and regret and mourn, then turn right around and level entire an entire battalion while dragging an evil sorceress by the hair.

I really wish there were more action heroines like this. Not one-dimensional tropes like Black Widow in Iron Man 2 or Andromeda in Wrath of the Titans. These three ladies are characters that feel real and I think that’s what all characters should be.