Tag Archives: opinion

What Makes a Successful Blog Post?

Writing a post that both grabs your reader and then keeps them interested can be tough.  A good title is a good place to start…but after that?  How do you know that people are even reading the 250+ words in between the title and the last sentence?

Several of my posts have been EXTREMELY successful.  Most popular would be To All New Bloggers Out There and The Reason Why People “Like” But They Don’t Comment.

After reflecting on the posts mentioned above, I started to wonder, what makes a successful blog post?


Image result for this is important meme

This first point I cannot stress enough.  If you don’t write about anything that your readers care about, your article will be MAJORLY overlooked.  It doesn’t matter how perfectly you proofread, how perfectly you word each sentence; if your audience doesn’t care about the subject of your article, it’s just another post in their news-feed.

A big part of “Relevance” corresponds to having integrity…meaning that you consistently write about the same things, you target the same audience, etc.  For example, if you love blogging about anime, a review of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice MIGHT appeal to some people, and some of your followers MIGHT be interested…but if your audience comprises mostly of fellow anime-watchers and bloggers, your article may seem downright irrelevant.

Have integrity.  Blog about things you KNOW your followers will appreciate.  This is the first step to creating a post that gets the attention it deserves.


Image result for simplicity is bliss

This depends on your audience, if I’m being honest (and I prefer to be honest 😉 ).  However, when in doubt, try to keep your posts neat and simple; easy to read and friendly to the eye.  No one likes opening up a post only to see massive, 500-word paragraphs, with no pictures or subtitles.

Think about what YOU want to see or what keeps YOUR attention when you read an article.  Chances are, you aren’t reading something that looks like a science textbook (and even those might have pictures!).  Keep sentences uncomplicated and to the point, and speak in a voice that is inviting and human, not so sophisticated you sound like a Victorian robot.

Have A Point

just as planned

Seems like a no-brainer, right?  But it’s true.  Your article should ALWAYS have a point, instead of being a collection of ideas that don’t relate to one another.  If you’re trying to say something to your reader, make sure you say it.  Sure, if your blog is the type where you like to vent and let off some steam, maybe “having a point” isn’t necessary.  But, sooner or later, your readers will like to know that your thoughts (as wonderful as they are) are actually going somewhere!

It Doesn’t Stop There…

There are plenty more things, I’m sure, that go into a successful blog post.  Have you ever written an article that just NAILED it?  Any advice you’d like to share?  I love hearing your thoughts.

What do you think?

To All New Bloggers Out There…

So I’ve been noticing that, now more than ever, there is an influx of new bloggers.  What’s more, many of my most recent followers seem to be bloggers that are just starting their journey here on WordPress.

To all of you, welcome!!!

thank you gif

A lot of you seem to be very attracted to my more educational posts, like “The Reason Why People ‘Like’ But They Don’t Comment”.  So I thought I’d write another “educational post”, particularly geared towards you new bloggers.

The First Thing You Want to Do…


Identity yourself to yourself.  What does that mean?  It means that, as you start writing, as you start reaching out, networking, meeting other bloggers, targeting specific audiences, you need to know first and foremost WHO YOU ARE as a blogger.  You can only reach the audience you want once you decide what kind of blog you are going to run.

So identify yourself to yourself.  What do you think you’ll write about?  Do you review books or movies?  Write about sports?  Cooking?  Are you trying to promote a book or a business?

You need to figure this out.

The truth is, it’s obnoxious as a reader to visit a blog about book reviews, only to find they decided to go off on a cooking tangent.  Centralizing what you write about is important to maintaining and developing a community around yourself.

However, if you’re the kind of person who likes to blog about anything and everything, disregard this completely! 😀 😀 😀

Next: Identify Your Audience

Sig and Armstrong

I cannot stress this enough: once you discover and surround yourself with like-minded bloggers, blogging becomes so much more FUN!

The number one word that captures the essence of blogging is COMMUNITY.  And to build and enter the community that you want, you have to find the right people.

So identify your target audience.

A while back, I wanted to target an audience of anime-watchers.  Why?  I’m writing a book that is very anime-esque (among other things).  So I tried to write about anime, to reach out to other people that liked anime…but it just wasn’t working.  Why?  Because I don’t watch enough anime to connect with other people.

Although I thought anime fans were my target audience, it took me a while to understand that I was wrong.

So I took a different approach: I started targeting fellow writers.  And let me tell you, that made a big difference!!  I discovered my community in them, aspiring and self-published authors like me.  And suddenly, my blogging world truly became alive.

Identifying your audience is important, especially if you’re trying to promote something.  But, in the end, it’s even more important for the sake of creating a community…which, once again, is what blogging is all about!

Stick With It

tired squidward

We all struggle with this from time to time.  We lack motivation because life gets busy, our blogging efforts seem fruitless, or other bloggers seem to be doing so much better.  Believe me, I get it.  I’ve been blogging for three years and I only have 420 followers.  To some of you, that might seem like a lot, but it’s not.

The goal is to keep at it.  Fight through the dull moments.  Keep on writing.

Believe me, if you stop writing, you’ll accomplish nothing.  I know that seems like an obvious statement, but it couldn’t be more true.  If you stop writing, you’ll accomplish nothing.

So you must continue to write.

I hope these tips were helpful!  As always, Let me know what you think!

Like the way I write?  Check out my new book Elithius on Amazon here!  The Kindle version is only $0.99 for a limited time only!!  Get it now!

Cover art by Elizabeth M


Promoting Yourself–How To Get People’s Attention

pay attention

Note: this is a throwback post!  I believe that this topic, however, is always relevant!  Enjoy!

There are plenty of people in the blogosphere trying to get attention.  Every now and then, I might run into a person who says “I don’t care how much attention I get; I’ll still blog and write.”  And that’s a great mentality to have.  You shouldn’t let everyone else’s opinions stop you.

But still, at times, it feels like everyone is trying to promote SOMETHING.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Some bloggers are trying to “promote” their emotions, the outcome of their relationship, how their weekend went, etc.  Similarly, other people are “promoting” advice, or a message like religion or political philosophy.

Others are simply sharing their love of something by promoting that something.  For instance, some people review books, TV shows, movies, etc., just for fun.

But all of this involves promoting yourself too.  You won’t be able to promote anything unless you promote yourself.

And promoting yourself can be a big deal when you’re like the majority of bloggers out there…when you’re trying to promote what you write.

Take It From Me

tired squidward
Sometimes…this is me

Take it from me: there’s a lot of competition.  I’m sure most of you have realized this.  Everyone wants people to be interested in what they’re selling.  If you’re an author and a blogger, then you’re a marketer.  It’s that simple.

Unfortunately, I can’t lay down a “road map to success” for any of you.  In order to do that, I would need to find that road map first!  But I can pass on some advice I got.

Allow me to tell you a story:

Image result for pic of a college

I’m a senior in high school.  I’m sure most of you remember this time in your life where you had to start making adult decisions, particularly concerning your future.  For me, this involved what I was going to do in college.  I already have a free ride to an amazing college (thanks to my awesome, hard-working dad), so the question was, “What will I study in college?”

I’m not going to go into too much detail, but, basically, my parents were strongly pushing me to make a decision based on my financial future.  As I’m sure most of you know, I would like to pursue a degree that has to do with writing and literature.  But my parents were advising me to do something that could get me a nice job; a job that I could use to support a family.

I also happen to be pretty smart when it comes to things like math, physics, etc.

So I thought, “Well, I could be a math major.  Or a physics major.”

In the end, I ended up texting my older brother who had graduated from the same college with multiple degrees.  He’s a physicist, a mathematician, and an engineer (I know, smart guy!).

I asked for his advice, if he could see me as a mathematician or a physicist, and he replied with a simple question: “Why not an engineer?”

I didn’t really get the point: “Why?” Why would it matter?  All three majors were basically the same, right?

Math majors and physicists have all the skills to do what an engineer does, as far as I could tell.  In a lot of cases, they took similar classes, but for different reasons.  All that was really different was the degree you got.

That was what I thought.

But then my brother told me something that I believe applies to waaaay more than just college and choosing a degree.

He told me that no industry/employer/company needs mathematicians or physicists anymore.  They need engineers.  Why?

Because engineers have something to OFFER.

Image result for pic of engineers

You see, engineers are able to USE their knowledge of math and physics to create PRODUCTS.  They don’t just have the knowledge, they can USE it.  And this is what people want.  My brother wasn’t saying that mathematicians and physicists are good for nothing.

But people want someone that can be useful to them.  That’s the way the world works.

How does this apply to writing and promoting yourself?

You have to become something that people want.  Or better yet, something that people NEED.  Be useful to other people.

This is the best way to promote yourself; by offering something that people want.  Sometimes this means not talking about yourself.  Maybe this means sharing advice, writing a review for someone, or something else entirely.

Whether we like it or not though, this is the way the world works.  People will want you if they need you.  So develop the skillset and gather to yourself what people need.  The best way to promote yourself is by promoting what people actually want.

That’s just the way it goes.

Thanks for reading and I hope this helps!

What do you think?

Wanna support me as an author?  Check out my fantasy novel here!  For a limited time only, the eBook costs only $0.99! Don’t miss out!





Why Do We Enjoy The Action/Violence in Stories? (Part Two)

fate stay night pic

I feel as if I must write this.

Two days ago, I posted an article about how disturbing it is that we humans, as a society, have a twisted appreciation for violence.  I was condemning the fact that we enjoy watching violence and stated that violence desensitizes us, thus making violence more acceptable in society.  I wanted to know why we felt this way.  Why do we enjoy violence?  We do we even, at time, crave seeing it?  Why does it feel good (say, from a contact-sport perspective)?

One blogger, Karandi over at 100WordAnime, challenged me in the comment section, stating that she disagreed with me.  Most people are not desensitized by the violence in movies or video games, and their feelings of real violence vs. story-violence are quite separate.

Now I don’t know if I agree with Karandi entirely, but I had an experience this morning that caused me to consider her words in greater detail.

If the following makes you feel uncomfortable, please forgive me.

I’m in college and I live in an apartment with my sister and one of her friends.  We noticed, to our dismay, that we have a bit of a mouse problem.  So we bought a mouse trap–the sticky/glue kind, that traps the mice but doesn’t kill them.  My sister forgot to buy mouse poison to place on the glue traps, so, while the mice would be stuck, we would still have to do the dirty work of getting rid of them.

Being the man of the house, I stated quite calmly that I would be happy to “finish the job”, in the event that we caught a mouse.

Well, I walked downstairs this morning to find not one but TWO mice caught in a trap.  One of the critters was smack-dab in the middle of the trap, the other one was caught only by the tail.  Grimly satisfied that we had caught them, I proceeded to get the broom…but then I decided that the broom was too soft, and I probably wouldn’t be able to kill the mice.

So I went back upstairs to get my shoe.  After pulling the mouse trap out, I looked down at the two little things.  And hesitated.

I wasn’t sure what made me pause.  Maybe it was the fact that, with a shoe, I would have to get close to them in order to smack them.  Maybe it was because, when they saw me, they started panicking, and writhing, trying to get away.

Did I feel bad that I was going to kill them…?  Was I just afraid of them?

Image result for ed elric we kill it

I didn’t really get it.  I watch plenty of violent shows; some of my favorite anime are very violent.  I imagine myself as the characters, taking down Homonculi, Titans, you name it.  I’m positive that, if I were in those same circumstances, I would be powerful, strong, determined, and fearless.

And now I’m looking down at two mice, trying to be a man, but afraid to finish the job.

I didn’t have my contacts in, so these things were just two brown fuzz balls.  There was no sense of empathy as a result.  Honestly, I believe my hesitation simply arose from the fact that killing them was going to take deliberate action.  I didn’t feel “guilty” for what I was about to do.  I think that, at heart, I was afraid to kill, simply because…

…well, just because.

There’s something about killing that I find scary.  Even if I’m killing two pesky mice that keep on eating our food.  Once you kill something, it’s gone, and you are responsible.  It doesn’t matter that it was for a perfectly good reason.  There is still something scary about hitting something until it’s dead.

Well, once I reasoned that they could possibly escape, I did it.  I was, after all, the man of the house.  It would’ve been wrong for me to leave the dirty work to my sister or her friend.  We also had another woman and her 5 year old sister sleeping over.  I had to finish the job before any of them could wake up and witness the dirty work.

After I hit the mice once, any hesitation thereafter was nonexistent; it seemed nicer to end it as quickly as possible.

Once the deed was done, I felt satisfied with myself, but I was also shaken.  It wasn’t death that bothered me, but killing specifically.  I find it interesting that, although I thought I would’ve had no problem killing them, I ended up feeling disturbed.  Even though I thought violence was cool and empowering, I really didn’t have it in me to behave in such a manner.

And…well, that’s my story.

Violence, I suppose, oftentimes IS separated from what we see in movies or anime.  We are not what we watch.


Everyone Wants to Win, But No One Wants to Play

pay attention

It’s a frustrating truth: everyone wants to win, but no one wants to play.

What am I talking about?

Everyone is trying to sell something.  There are plenty of bloggers out there who are trying to gain support and traffic for their brand, their product, their work of art.  And I understand that; heck, I’m doing the same thing!

But you know what makes being a seller REALLLLLY hard?

Having nobody that wants to buy.

In today’s world, it’s so easy to be “double-sided”.  It’s easy to “go through the motions”.  I’ve had several people act excited about wanting to buy my book and read it…but then they never did.  I even asked them about it.

Their response?  “Uhh…I don’t have money to spend on your book.  Sorry.”

“It’s 0.99 cents”.


See what I mean?

Look, I have no problem if you don’t want to buy my book.  If you aren’t interested, I’m not going to blame you.  But please…PLEASE don’t lie to me.  That hurts way more.

As bloggers, we need to have a sense of community.  And that community will never exist if we continue to form this false sense of security–this false sense of companionship.  If everyone pats each other on the back, but without actually caring…there will be no community.

Please, let’s just all be honest with each other.  I understand that, at times, it can be hard to tell someone the truth.  I really do.  But that doesn’t mean lying is the answer.

Everyone wants to win.  Everyone is selling something.  But in order to sell something, you need buyers.

And sometimes, to get buyers, you need to buy.

Sig and Armstrong

Be a part of a community.  Take a chance with someone else’s work.  Believe me, it’ll work wonders for you and your community.

Recently, a duo of blogging brothers published a new story on Amazon.  What did I do?  I bought it right away.  Was it my kind of story?  No.  But did I at least give them a chance?  Yes.  And that’s what matters.

Be a part of a community.  Participate.

That’s how you win!

What do you think?

How To Determine Who Your Real Followers Are

Image result for pic of supportive followers

Sooner or later, whether you like it or not, you’re going to find yourself wondering, “Who are my real followers?”

Sometimes I see these blogs where the author has gained a following of 2,000…or 20,000, or even 120,000.  That’s a LOT of followers, and I dream of having that many.  That being said, it’s interesting to note that these blogs only merit about 15-70 Likes per post.  You might think, “What’s wrong with that?  70 Likes is a lot!”  But compare that to the number of followers.   If you have 10,000 followers, and you only get 70 Likes…wouldn’t you be disappointed?  Shouldn’t you be getting…hmm, maybe at least a couple thousand Likes, assuming that other few thousand weren’t online that day?

What’s going on here?

All right, I’ll admit, we could get crazy with the statistics of blogging; maybe it’s not fair for me to say that only 70 people care about your blog when you have 2000 followers, just because you got only 70 Likes.  Maybe those 70 Likes consist of 70 different people each time you publish a post, so from that perspective, you really might have a huge following, depending on how many people are online on different days.

Whatever the case, that’s what this post is about: recognizing that Likes aren’t love, for better or for worse (I just made a political pun and a marriage pun right there!).


When someone Likes a post of yours, they don’t necessarily need to View it.  You don’t need to go far to see what I’m talking about.  In your Reader, you can see that–without having to click and OPEN a post–you can press the Like button.  And you don’t even have to know what you’re Liking.  You can appear to be a faithful follower, but in reality, you’re just going through the motions.

People can and have done this to me multiple times.

How do I know?  How do YOU know?  Well, go to your Stats page.  Heck, just go to your “Blog Posts” page, where you can see your most recently published articles.  You should be able to see the number of Likes, Comments…and yes, Views!

Does the number of Views outweigh the Likes?  If it does, then great job!

Image result for wordpress symbol for views
the image is not mine

Now, the people who Liked your post STILL might not have Viewed it.  We can’t tell if the people who Liked also Viewed.  But still, the number of Views is more important, because in order to tally Views…well, someone has to actually open up your post!  Which means it’s more likely that they read it.  Which means it’s more likely that they care.

And bingo.  You’ve found your true followers.

You’re followers are the people who read your posts, not Like them.  Because you can Like without reading.  

Monitor your Views.  If they are lower than your Likes, try to change that.  Work hard to make posts that are attractive and that really draw people in.  Make your writing desirable and View-worthy.  It’s easy to Like something.  It’s harder to View.  Which means Views are worth more.

What do you think?

I. Am. A. Writer.


Have you ever been able to tell that to someone? “Yeah, I’m a writer.”

It feels awesome. Naturally, we don’t like to share things about ourselves with people we don’t know. That being said, telling people about our love of writing seems like something we all look forward to. I know I do. I’m proud of what I love, and, if you’re like me, you’re dying for someone to listen to you talk about your writing experiences.

So maybe we like telling people “I’m a writer”.

But do we even realize what we’re saying?

If you really are a writer, analyze what I’m about to say with a writer’s eye. By saying “I am a writer”, what verb are you using?

“Am”. It’s a verb of being.

Do you realize what you are saying?

Some would say that you are defining something deep about yourself…something so deep, it’s akin to your very nature. What is the definition of nature, as ascertained by philosophers that are way smarter than me?

“Nature-Essence at its center of activity: a thing’s fundamental function”

To say that you ARE a writer implies that it is your nature. It is your fundamental function.

I dare you. I DARE you. Ask yourself a simple question:

“Am I really a writer?”

(“Or do I just write from time to time?”)

Does writing define who you are? Do you need writing? Is writing your fundamental function?

I’ve read a lot of stories about the experiences of successful authors. What those stories had in common was how much those authors had to dive into a lifestyle of writing, whether it was easy or not. They made writing their fundamental function. It was write or die.

My dear followers, are you willing to do the same?

Are you a writer?

If the answer is “no”, then what are you willing to give?

If you want to be successful, if you want to be true to yourself, don’t just write.

Be a writer…

…so that you can say this and know it in your heart: “I. Am. A. Writer.”

Now go for it, and apply this to any part of your life that involves (or should involve) passion.

This post is dedicated to Cristian Mihai, the awesome author of The Writer.  If you haven’t already, check out his blog and pick up one of his books.  You won’t regret it.

What do you think?

I Must Believe


The power of the mind is incredible.  The power of our own emotions, our own imagination, is incredible.  We take in so much information around us; ever since we were fetuses, ever since we were babies, we were able to process information.  And we continue to do this constantly.

The mind is incredibly powerful…so it’s not surprising that your mind can turn against you.

Sometimes we learn things from our surroundings.  We process things without needing to think about it.  I can see the doorway ahead of me, therefore I head there, and not into the wall.

However, sometimes things happen in which we do sit down and ponder “What just happened?  What does this mean?”  And that’s when our mind really becomes powerful.

Because we can influence ourselves, depending on the circumstances or the information we have…or the information we think we have.  And the more powerful our mind grows, the more we start to analyze and think about what’s wrong…what’s wrong with ourselves, what’s wrong with this situation, or this event, or that person.

And it so happens that, because our mind is so powerful, but our spirits are weak…we start to doubt.

We doubt ourselves.  We doubt the people around us.  We don’t even dare to hope, that’s how much we doubt.

Are you powerful enough to overcome your own mind?

Your mind is telling you to doubt.  You can’t do it.  You’ll never make it.  You’re not good enough.  The world won’t let you.  God won’t let you.  This is what your mind is constantly telling you, because you’re so smart, because this is how you processed the information, or how you interpreted the happenings of this or that event.

But are you willing to be stronger than your own mind…and BELIEVE?

Are you willing to have faith?  Are you willing to care, even when your mind says it’s stupid?

The mind is strong.  So make your spirit stronger.  Have faith.  It is a quality that all writers must have.

What do you think?

Does Blogging Accomplish Anything?

Sig and Armstrong

It depends on who you ask.  Or it depends on who you choose to look at as the epitome of a successful blogger.

Does blogging accomplish anything?

It’s something we all want to know.

The short and easy answer is “Yes”….depending on how much effort you want to put into blogging.  How much effort is enough though?  And what exactly are you trying to accomplish?

The truth is, successful blogging will always depend on what you’re trying to accomplish.  Want people to hear your political views?  Well, you might have a lot of competition, but that shouldn’t be too hard.

Want to connect with other people that love making sushi?  So long as you Tag your posts properly, that should be easy enough.

What about promoting an online jewelry business?  Things just got a bit more difficult.

What about trying to promote your latest novel?  I can testify that this is also very hard.

pay attention

Accomplishing some things with blogging is easy, whereas accomplishing other things is hard…what’s the common thread that unites all successful blogging?

Believe it or not, I believe that successful blogging involves one key factor:

Being a good follower/engaging your audience.

As ironic as it might seem, I notice that people who are most successful in the blogging world are also those people that actively engage their audience.  This involves Liking and Commenting on OTHER peoples’ posts, as well as responding to comments and blogging about things that people can relate to.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of following blogs I’m not interested in.  I’m not saying you should follow someone’s blog JUST BECAUSE they followed yours.  All I’m saying is becoming a successful blogger means having something to offer to your followers, and this can involve being an active follower towards them.

A Challenge for You

If you’re the kind of person who asks, “Does blogging accomplish anything?” then this challenge is for you.

Think of the ways that you can be a more active follower.  Think of the ways that you can engage your audience more.  Think of the ways that you can write something that means something to your FOLLOWERS, not just yourself.

And go put those thoughts into action.

Blogging is only fun and meaningful when you help make it meaningful for others.  Go be a part of the community and stop waiting for the community to serve you.

If put all of this into action, yes, blogging will accomplish something.  Maybe even anything.

I consider myself to be a master of logic.

If you like the way I write, you should check out my fantasy novel here.  It’s called Elithius.  It’s pretty awesome.  Why waste your time doing other things when you could be reading my book?

See, a master of logic.

And here’s the cover because it’s awesome:

Cover art by Elizabeth M

Do Some Stories Have Characters That are TOO Human?



All right, let’s face, we ALL love it when characters are human.  Nobody likes it when characters are so perfect that we can’t relate to them.  We want characters who have realistic struggles, realistic emotions, realistic anger, feelings of hurt, love, lust, revenge, pride…etc.

(Hopefully) we want to see these characters rise above their weaknesses and flaws.  But, we also can’t deny that we…enjoy the fact that they have these flaws.  We enjoy watching the struggle.

Perhaps we enjoy the struggle of a character who can’t seem to find a decent girlfriend; we watch him go through relationship after relationship, and we enjoy the ups and downs of his story.  It’s much better than a happy, perfect love story that has no drama at all, right?

Or perhaps we enjoy the feelings of determination, anger, and vengeance of a certain heroine that has lost EVERYTHING, and she focuses all her energy on getting back at the people who hurt her.

Perhaps we even love listening to the depressed ramblings of a divorced, lonely character, who watches the world through a window and just thinks.  Perhaps we can relate to this person in some shape or form, and it eases our pain.

Human characters are great.  But when do they not become great?

The Analogy

I’ve been reading this book about the life of Pope John Paul II (now Saint John Paul II).  Don’t worry, I’m not going to start writing about tons of religious stuff.  This great man just happened to say something really smart and wise (he was a pope, after all!), and I thought I would share it with you, since I believe it applies to writing and “human” characters:

“Without the Gospel, man remains a dramatic question with no adequate answer”-Pope Saint John Paul II

Image result for epic mikasa ackerman
Mikasa Ackerman from Attack On Titan is a character that seems to live her life as a question with no adequate answer.  She’s a boss, yes, but she lives with a constant sense of distrust towards others.  She has grown so protective of her friends that she lacks any sense of joy or hope, and has a cold sense of “killer-instinct” which comes out quite often.  Are there any other characters you can think of that might be “a question with no adequate answer”?

Why is this quote helpful and meaningful to understanding the problem of “too human” characters?

Let’s break the quote down first, starting from the end and going back to the beginning.

“…no adequate answer…”

The way I see it, this part of the quote refers to the part of “human” characters that we love.  We love the complexity of characters that have flaws and problems; at times, it doesn’t seem like those flaws or problems have any answers.

There’s an element of mystery, wonder, and even awe in regards to the intricacy of the human person.  We cannot seem to grasp the true depth of each character’s train of logic, his or her emotions, or his or her view of life.

Our mystery-craving, awe-inspired minds relish in the fact that a person can be considered a “question with no adequate answer”.  It’s exciting.

Which brings us to the next part of the quote.

“…man remains a question…”

Once again, there is an element of mystery that surrounds every person’s thoughts, words, and actions.  Also, every difficult, morally ambiguous situation we find characters in present the characters–and ourselves–with that question of who we are and what it means to be human.

Every character with flaws, with skeletons in the closet, with childhood scars, with seemingly impossible endeavors, is a question unto himself or herself.  And this is another part of “human characters” that we enjoy, that we take delight in…because we often feel like a question ourselves.

We can all feel like a question without an answer.

Get Your Head Out of the Gutter…

Anyone remember when Katniss is “running on hatred” in Mockingjay, or when she votes to have a Hunger Games for the Capitol children?  Yes she’s been through a lot…but she’s also wallowing in her hatred and own self destruction.

In my mind, characters become “too” human when they start to wallow in their own flaws, problems, habits, etc.  This is perfectly realistic, as real-live humans do it too…but it isn’t in any way a good thing.

Trust me.  Anyone here listen to songs by Twenty-One Pilots?  Adele?  How about Linkin Park?

So many songs that these artists write are about inner struggles, inner demons, past regrets, etc….and I get it.  Maybe these artists want to vent what they’re going through.  But there comes a point where it’s not venting anymore; it’s living in your problems and making everything, even your hobby/calling, all about your struggles.

I’m guilty of this too.  I’m tempted to make my own characters from my story so steeped in problems, so filled with flaws, just so that I can feel okay with my own.  But guess what?  That’s going to help nobody.

eren yaegar
Eren’s (Attack on Titan) answer to every problem is…violence.  And turning into a monster.  He forsakes his humanity to win his battles.

When we see characters wallowing in their sins or crises–whatever it may be–instead of rising above them, the act of wallowing in our flaws becomes NORMALIZED.  It’s NORMAL to allow hatred to consume you.  It’s NORMAL to let your previous, abusive relationship ruin your current one.  It’s NORMAL to make out with someone so that you’ll feel whole inside.  It’s NORMAL to become the bully because you were bullied as a child.

Image result for agent melinda may
Agent May from Agents of SHIELD is another character that wallows in her own depression and regrets…so much that she’s become rigid and driven by anger.

It’s NORMAL for every character, every real-live person, to be “a question without an answer”.

And you’re right.  It IS normal.

But only “without the Gospel…”.

The “Gospel”

fate stay night pic
When you possess the “sense of the ‘Gospel'” that I’m about to talk about….

Following the quote-analogy that I’ve been using, we must discern the phrase, “Without the Gospel”.

“Without the Gospel…”

For the sake of the analogy, insofar as we apply it to characters, I take this to mean “Without a sense of right or wrong” or “without a sense of truth”.  Or “without a sense of hope” or “without a sense of faith” or “without a sense of love” or “without a sense of mercy”.

Because all of those things–right and wrong, truth, hope, faith, love, and mercy–is what the Gospel is all about.

Rewrite the quote now:

“Without a sense of right or wrong, truth, hope, faith, love or mercy, man remains a question with no adequate answer”

Why does this fix things?

Because the flaws and struggles of characters will only ever drown them if they don’t have this sense of “the Gospel”.  Without this sense of “the Gospel”, there IS no answer to man, who is a mighty question indeed!

Anger will have no purpose or end.  It will only lead to more anger.  It will lead to revenge.  There will be no satisfaction.

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Scar (specifically FMA 2003 version) wallows in his anger.  His anger eventually turns into a state of hopelessness which leads him to sacrifice the lives of hundreds of soldiers.  He believes that death is the only way he will find peace.

Lustful, steamy attractions will just go on and on and end in heartbreak after heartbreak.  There will be no love, no romance, no happy ending.

Depressing moods and streams of consciousness will have no meaning without hope.  Without mercy.  Without faith.  There will only be despair as the mind slips into a state of constant resentfulness and quiet brooding.

anime rage
Ichigo Kurosaki’s (Bleach) whole identity is consumed by darker and more “powerful” versions of himself.  He wallows in a desire for power, and obtains it by going deeper and deeper into darkness in order to get what he wants, even if it is protecting the people he cares about.

This “sense of the Gospel” that I speak of is the only way that we, as writers, as bloggers, as authors, will be able to create characters that do not keep humanity down in the dumps.  We must acknowledge how broken humanity is, how destructive we are unto ourselves…but we must also acknowledge that, by our art, we have a duty to strengthen the world around us by proclaiming the truth.

And what is the truth?

Humanity is a broken, fallen race, that will never be able to rise above its flaws and sinfulness…

…without the Gospel.

But with this sense of the “Gospel”, everything falls into place.  Everything makes sense.  Anger is satisfied by justice.  Sadness is satisfied by love and comfort (not depression).  Doubt is satisfied by faith.  Despair is satisfied by hope.  Longing and attraction are satisfied by love and sacrifice.  Confusion is satisfied by the truth.

And humankind, a question unto itself, is satisfied with an adequate answer: the “Gospel”.

This took me a long time to think about and write…so please let me know what you think in the comments!!!

If you like the way I write and the things I write about, you’d really enjoy my fantasy novel, Elithius!

Cover art by Elizabeth M

It’s only 99 cents on Kindle and only $12 as a gorgeous paperback.  Please check it out here if you’re interested!