10 Fictional People I Would Take On Vacation // link-up with My Lady Bibliophile

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Confession: I am starting this post exactly the same way that Schuyler did. Mimicking the greats and all that. ^_^

Confession 2.0: apparently I haven’t blogged in a month recently? *cringe* Obviously it’s hard to find the time lately (work and editing eats all the hours like a starving mammoth), but another problem is I have so many topics I want to post about that I struggle narrowing down my ideas. Yes, this is a legit issue. But looking on the bright side, it means I’ve not neglected Curious Wren for lack of inspiration, right? ALWAYS BE POSITIVE FOLKS. It’s very Important. So is lemonade + reading books until your head hurts (me on Saturday).

That being said, I’m going to stop internally panicking over the fact that I’ve blogged so little of late (life happens) and instead let’s chat about fictional charries I’d absolutely love to take on a (sadly) imaginary vacation/holiday/roadtrip with me.

(I am linking up with Schuyler of My Lady Bibliophile for this because she is a darling and you should all definitely follow/give her free chocolate chip cookies at the cyberspace cafes.)

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The Cook

Judy Plum (Pat of Silver Bush). She would be such a warm, cozy sort of person to have along on a vacation, and the descriptions in the books of her cookery makes me hungry every time. And she’s overflowing with whimsical Irish charm and many, many tales. She could double as Storyteller too.

The Storyteller

Cress (Winter). Her imagination is wild, and I can see her coming up with all sorts of fascinating stories about everyone and every place we encounter. Plus, she’s a lovable darling and could hack into allllll the things if need be.

The Musician

I rather think Sir Eanrin (Tales of Goldstone Wood) could fit this spot nicely. Hilarious. Quick-witted. Snarky both as a cat and as a human. His skill as a musician knows no bounds and as long as he steers clear of any songs about Lady Gleamdren he would be a welcome addition. (although, even if he did sing about her, I’d want him along. *fangirling*)

The Adventurer

Now technically Dustfinger enjoys being home more than he enjoys trekking about the wild, but I love him dearly so he’s definitely coming with. Every vacation needs a fire-wielder, methinks. ^_^

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It’s also probably cheating to bring two adventurers *coughcough* HOWEVER. Penelope Lumley (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place) is clever and practical but still adorably imaginative, and I’d be seriously thrilled to meet her in person.

The Comedian

Archie (Indiscretions of Archie). Dear, darling, well-meaning, irrepressible Archie. Just throw Bertie Wooster into the mix and you’d have the perfect recipe for hilarious shenanigans.

The Counsellor

Gandalf the Grey. Need I say more? And if he’s off on an adventure involving dragons or rings or dragons and rings, we could always take Jeeves instead. Right ho?

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The Defender

Kurt (Halo: Ghosts of Onyx). Being a Spartan he’s the natural choice for a warrior to protect this odd motley of people. Kurt shall always be my favorite of the characters in Ghosts and with his friendly personality, warm heart, level-headed thinking, and impeccable fighting skills, anyone might want him as a fellow vacationer. And I could see him actually enjoying a holiday which is not per the usual for Spartans. Ever.

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because this GIF is the most epic

The Medical Help

Rita from Unwind. Short of someone breaking their neck, she knows how to deal with injuries, and she could play gorgeous piano music if we ever got tired of Bard Eanrin’s singing. Also, I’d kind of like her for a best friend, just sayin’. *hugs*

The Mechanic

Han Solo. For obvious reasons.

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The Pastor

Well, he’s not technically a Pastor. And he comes from a fantastical world. Oh, and he is a squirrel. Brother Fir happens to be the most lovable and wisest and whimsical squirrel I’ve read about. He could keep Gwin (Dustfinger’s marten) company and teach him the ways of the creatures in the Mistmantle Chronicles.

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So, let me see here. We have an Irish cook, a brilliant hacker, a faerie Bard, a fire-wielder, a governess, two British gentlemen (good eggs, both of them), one of the Istari, a hard-core Spartan, an Unwind girl, a mechanic/hot-shot pilot, and a squirrel.

This. would. be. epic. And possibly a bomb waiting to explode. But definitely amusing and a riot of fun. Ohhh, yes. Anyone care to join me? We have jammy dodgers and iced coffee.

Should you wish to join in Schuyler’s link-up (which I recommend because BOOKS + FUN) click here.

Now then, readers and writers and ice-cream cake makers: how do you think my crew would get along? Who would be clashing every time they saw each other and who would be best friends? Who would suggest robbing a bank just for kicks and who would be raiding the library (besides me)?

And of this odd gang, who would YOU want to hang out with?

How To Write Lovable Protagonists — Guest Post by Schuyler McConkey

I have a special treat for you today, Wrenlings! My dear friend Schuyler has ever so sweetly agreed to guest post here on Curious Wren, and I am doing cartwheels of joy about it (but not actually because I would probably crack my skull and then I could no LONGER READ OH HORRIBLE THOUGHT).

Schuyler has some of the best main characters I’ve encountered amongst my various splendiferous Human Writer Friends/Acquaintances, which I am slightly (fiercely?) envious of in a Oh-Genius-Why-Do-I-Have-It-Not sort of way. Honestly, Roo is such a sweetheart I want her for a real-life buddy, and JAERYN. *momentary mad fangirling*

BUT. As you shall see she has a method to her madness. So, find a comfy toadstool to sit on and make sure to take notes! Cheerio, darlings.

Schuyler? You’re up.


(via)

Protagonists are pretty important. Where would we be in the world of literature without colorful main characters like Frodo Baggins, Lizzy Bennet, and Ebenezer Scrooge?

Writing a loveable protagonist is fairly easy with your first book. You know them inside out, and generally for a longer time, then any other character you’ll write. You put all your hopes, dreams, and favorite things about literature into them. But writing subsequent characters can get tricky. If you’re published, you have to write them a little faster (ten years isn’t an ideal timeline after book one), and you have less time on the front end to get to know them. Some people have the knack of creating vivid, lovable characters (personally the characters are my favorite part of the process) while others struggle to connect with their characters, and feel like they come across stiff and unreal on the page. Whichever camp you fall in, I hope this exercise will help you learn how to create loveable protagonists, by drawing from protagonists in literature you already love.

Step #1: Make a List of Protagonists From Other Authors.

Take out a piece of paper or open up a Word document and think for a moment about your favorite protagonists in literature. Who are they? Write them down. Now think of the favorite protagonists you’ve written. Write a couple down. You won’t need a long list, but a fair handful from a variety of genres will really help in the following exercise.

From literature, I chose a handful of my favorite protagonists. I passionately love these people, and have read the books they’re in multiple times. I would write fanfiction about them. I would have them over for a party in two seconds flat. It would be incredibly, deeply special to actually get to meet them. (I know, they’re fictional. But STILL.) I chose Cadfael (The Pilgrim of Hate), Linda Strong (Her Father’s Daughter), Jane Stuart (Jane of Lantern Hill), Erroll Stone (A Cast of Stones), and Wilberforce (Amazing Grace). This group comes from a variety of ages, life conditions, countries, and genres.

Step #2 Evaluate What You Love About Them.

Now take your list and jot down what you especially love about these characters. It could be what they do, a profession they hold, a physical quirk they have, a relationship they have, or a personality streak. Here’s my list:

Cadfael: What I Love

Justice, independence, humanity, the way he mentors young people, sarcasm, friendship with Hugh, matter-of-fact perspective that’s open to the miraculous.

Linda Strong: What I Love

Sensible, loves to write, pursuing her dreams in spite of difficult relationships, loves her dad, great with guy friends.

Jane Stuart: What I Love

Loves her dad, loves keeping house, strong sense of imagination, stays true to who she is in harsh atmosphere, strong protective/caring instinct, loves life’s little pleasures.

Erroll Stone: What I Love

Acknowledges personal weaknesses without self-pity, sense of irony, fights hard to overcome flaws, struggles with people using him as a pawn.

Wilberforce: What I Love

Cares for poor and oppressed, does meaningful society work within his Christian worldview, works for years being defeated without giving up, great spiritual strength in spite of physical weakness, relies on friendships for ideas and strength.

Step #3 Pick Out Recurring Things You Love

See how some similar ideas travel through all those characters I like? Look at your list and see if you’re finding some recurring themes. Here are some of mine:

-big hardships to overcome (mostly relational)

-have to work hard to rise above, often sacrificing the deepest part of who they are

-colorful and close friendships with others in the book

-sense of sarcasm/humor

-sense of care and compassion for the oppressed

-dreamers who love the beautiful, everyday gifts and cling to the hope of better things

Your list might look a little different. That’s as it should be—we need a wide variety of protagonists and personalities in literature! But what you love best will become your brand of protagonist. The themes that resonate with you as you read should be the themes that carry through into your own protagonists.

If I talk about a Dickens protagonist, or a G.A. Henty hero, or a Gene Stratton Porter heroine, there are many to choose from, but all of them have the stamp of the original author. They often love the causes and act in the way their author could resonate with most deeply. Your protagonists will be the same. They’ll have different careers, time periods, ages, and relational status in each book—but at their core, they will be who you love most. Making a likeable protagonist doesn’t merely mean throwing together different personality traits and life circumstances from your last story. It means carefully weaving in what you love and along with those things.

Step #4 Evaluate The Protagonists You’ve Written

Now that we’ve looked at protagonists in literature, take a look at your stories, and choose a couple of protagonists you’ve written or want to write that you especially love. For the sake of this article, I’m going to choose Jaeryn Graham, a colorful Irish agent in my WW1 spy novel, and Roo, a sweet ballet teacher who lives in modern day New York. Very different people, right? Let’s see how they compare to my favorite protagonists in literature:

Jaeryn Graham has a fierce desire to be treated justly, and will risk anything to achieve the object he wants without worrying about the consequences. The justice theme in Jaeryn’s arc also appears in all the characters in the above list in different ways, and is one near and dear to my heart. He’s also kind to the oppressed, though sometimes he chooses to oppress them himself to achieve a necessary object. Realizing the importance of close friendships is a huge part of his story as well.

Roo couldn’t be more opposite. She cares deeply, is sweet, loves nothing more than taking deep joy in daily life with friends, and doesn’t need grand things to feel fulfilled. But like Jaeryn, she cares for the hurting, even though she’s unlike him every other way. Roo’s spiritual strength comes from stories I love like Wilberforce, she’s great with guy friends like Linda Strong, and she loves life’s little pleasures like Jane Stuart. Friendships are a very key theme for Roo. I didn’t consciously copy any of those things from the above characters. But because they resonate in what I read, they also resonate in what I write.

I’m about to write my favorite protagonist ever, and already some clear and classic Schuyler themes are emerging. A sense of passion for relieving oppression. An irreverent sense of humor. Some really cool friendships. Those are my core values. They make the writing process fun for me, and what I love can in turn be what someone else loves too.

Do you like your protagonists? Do they carry some of the themes you already like in books you’ve read? If you don’t like your protagonists, or feel they’re lacking something, is it because you haven’t given them the relationships and personality traits you love most?

One Extra Step to Bring Them to the Next Level

Once you have core themes for your protagonists worked out, there’s one more thing you can do that takes your character from good to great. That is simply to know them like a real person. I refer to characters as my fictional friends very intentionally. I have shared sorrow with them, shared work and laughter, shared the deepest parts of their soul. To maintain that same level in each story, as soon as I start a new story, that new protagonist is automatically moved into personal friend. I take them shopping with me and notice the foods and flavors they would like. I pick out their favorite restaurants as we’re driving, make them playlists on Spotify, take them to the concert or watch a movie and register their likes and dislikes. I imagine them in a very vivid way—allowing them to be deeply passionate about big and small life things that might get in the story and might not. The point is not to go story scouting all the time; the point is simply to get to know them on such a deep level that no matter what time period or profession they are actually in, I know exactly what they like. My sister often whispers to me at social functions, “What would so-and-so be doing right now?” And she and I can both tell what they’d be doing, because they have been our friends for so long.

In summary, the important parts of a lovable protagonist are real personality, real life, and real relationships. Those are most easy to write and most colorful on the page when you determine the relationships and personalities of already published protagonists that bring you alive. Put those resonating aspects into your own work, wherever each story takes you—and you’ll be giving the protagonists a piece of your own real, living heart to turn them from flat to 3D.

Schuyler McConkey is a novelist and Bright Lights ministry leader living with her parents and two siblings. She authors a blog, My Lady Bibliophile, where she writes book reviews and articles evaluating classic literature. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to Irish love songs, learning Gaelic, and reading too many Dickens novels.

Monthly Recap — September // bloggy news, all the books, and pretty photos.

Lots of exciting things happened in September: it was my first month of blogging, I got together with two lovely writing friends, I started scribbling a new book about cats, and faeries, and steampunkish things, and Autumn began!

–> Curious Wren bloggy Stuffage <–

  • I did my bookish tag and Emily’s launch tag in one fell swoop, and rambled on about pretty quotes and book covers and favorite teas and charries and all that good stuff.
  • I wrote an emotional thing about my memories of 9/11.
  • I chatted about some books I’m dying to get my paws on.
  • You were given a teensy sneak peek of my light sci-fi re-telling of Beauty and the Beast.
  • I talked about what makes the perfect Autumnal TBR and shared my list with you.
  • Also, I had a writish interview with a sweet gal, Heidi.

–> All things bookish <–

I read a grand total of thirteen books this month. My awesome friend Amanda had the brilliant idea of doing a read-along of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. It was a first read for the both of us and we cried over it together — it’s a heartbreaking and beautiful story. So that happened.

Right now I’m doing a read-along of Great Expectations with my Mum and sisters (goodness, I could shake Pip currently!) and I have at least two more read-alongs scheduled for October. I am immensely fond of buddy reads in case you hadn’t noticed that yet. ^_^

(ignore A Tale of Two Cities. That was a Goodreads glitch.)

Not pictured is Monster which made me cry all the tears and feel all the feels (despite the distressing book cover). Also, They Came to Baghdad in which I guessed the villain (oh, the cleverness of me!), Postern of Fate (disappointingly dull), and Anne of Windy Poplars, a delightful re-read.

And, incidentally, I reviewed Leviathan. 

–> all things writish <–

This month I experimented with 2nd person, present tense; a style I’d never tried before. Her (part one) and Her (part two) were the result of that. I’m thrilled with how they turned out, and I still hug all your amazing, encouraging comments to myself occasionally (all the love to you nice humans!).

Currently I’m scribbling like a small maniac on a newish side-project I started in the third week of September. It’s called Blood Thread, written in third person past tense, and it’s all steampunkish and fantastical and stars a black cat named Tarquin who has a High Opinion of himself. He’s snarky and adorable and I love him to pieces. There are roughly 6,000 words written right now which is good since I intended for it to be a short project in-between I am Juliette edits. It’s so good to be writing fantasy again, because I HAVE MISSED IT LIKE IT IS A DEAR FRIEND.

Speaking of I am Juliette, a blog post properly introducing it should be forthcoming in the future, methinks?

–> life glimpses <–

At least every Thursday this month was a beach day for us. I read copious amounts of Wodehouse and Agatha Christie, soaked in the bright sun, tried to find the perfect way to describe water, roamed the shoreline, and ate far too much icecream.

I had my first flea market experience with my older sister and a good friend. We people-watched, ate Amish-made donuts, investigated ancient books, and I bought a tiny teacup.

We celebrated a niece’s birthday. Our church had revival meetings and they were incredibly convicting, and encouraging. #thankfulforChristianfellowship

Autumn began, and we’ve been preparing all our vegetables for the winter (I can’t wait to make jam!). Fall cleaning has started (ish).

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D season 3 premiered yesterday, and it was a smashing, solid beginning to the season. Don’t mind me while I cry in a corner over the science babies (a.k.a. FitzSimmons). I am not prepared for another season of emotional trauma! Who am I kidding, I love having my heart crushed like a grape.

We also watched Cinderella and Beyond the Mask, both of which are wonderful new family favorites. I should review them — thoughts?

Also, I am knitting a pair of gloves for winter (so cushy soft) and I’ve tentatively begun coloring more often — I have Fear of White Paper, apparently. Artistic, Annie is not.



The highlight of my month was getting together with Emily and Schuyler. Emily is a dear on-line friend, and meeting her in person was wonderful; Schuyler is just a darling human that I still can’t believe I’ve been privileged to spend so much time with. The three of us had a glorious time chatting of “shoes and ships and sealing-wax and cabbages and kings.” It was wonderful and uplifting and I’m blessed by their friendship.

–> around cyberspace <–

–> Coming in October <–

  • Age of Ultron comes out on DVD on Friday and we’re having a family party together since it’s our first time watching it. I am incredibly excited and I CAN NOT WAIT TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED WITH HAWKEYE DURING CAPTAIN AMERICA 2. ALSO I AM DYING TO MEET THE TWINS.
  • Hanne-col is starting a new blog series — which is under wraps — and it’ll be great!
  • Aimee is celebrating her first blogversary which is epic. *runs around in circles of happiness*
  • I am planning to finish Blood Thread by the middle of October, and after that I’ll be prepping for NaNo IF I decide to do it.
  • There will be several writing articles on the blog, a snippets posts, more reviews (including one of Go Set A Watchman) and all that good stuff.
  • I’m making an exciting announcement around the end of October so stay tuned!
  • Also, if I reach 500 followers on Twitter by the end of the month I’m going to host a bookish giveaway over there. Spread the word!
  • I’m doing a read-along of The Phantom Of The Opera with three of my friends. Excitement much?

All in all, September was a good, full month. It was hard…. but beautiful.

How was your September, my friends? Did you read anything incredible? DID YOU SEE AGENTS OF SHIELD OR BEYOND THE MASK? What are YOU excited for in October? *gives out many chocolate chip bags*