The Jewels of Fate series has two key locations: the magical kingdom of Acanesia and New York City. If you’re interested in learning how Acanesia was built, check out my author presentation on “How to Build a Fictional World.” Although Acanesia is a fictional world full of magic, New York has many remarkable characteristics that make it a great setting. Want to learn more about The Big Apple? Keep reading!
Did you know that New York is home to 8 million people? It’s a diverse city with residents from many different ethnic backgrounds and cultures. Five boroughs form New York: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. The main character in The Jewels of Fate, Chuck Kingsley, lives in the Upper East Side: a prominent neighborhood in the Manhattan borough. He also lives close to both Central Park and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which are just a couple of the tourist destinations New York is known for. It’s easy to incorporate these landmarks, shops and atmospheres into your story. For example, in The Sword of Sorenth, two of the characters are having a conversation in a coffee shop, loosely based on the hundreds you can find in Manhattan. Afterwards, a chase scene throughout the busy Upper East Side highlights the lifestyle and extreme busyness of this part of New York.
People Can Picture It
Maybe one of the reasons why New York is such a popular setting in stories is because it’s so familiar. It’s one of the most common travel destinations in North America. If you haven’t visited New York personally, you probably know someone who has. But for writers, New York’s popularity is such a huge tool. Your readers can easily picture the streets, skyscrapers, and greasy food carts lining the roads, allowing them to follow along with the plot much easier. Many different movies and TV shows will give a glimpse into New York life too. If you’ve seen Friends, Elf, Home Alone 2 or The Godfather, you know what New York looks like. No other city on the planet is used in film, TV or books as much. For instance, name me one book or movie set in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. I’ll wait.
While one could argue that this makes New York an overused setting, I’d say that it’s how you use the city in your writing that makes the difference. You must put a unique spin on it and try something no one else has done before.
My Personal Fascination with New York
I’ve always been fascinated with New York and have wanted to travel there since I was a kid. Partially because I’ve read a lot of books that take place in New York. Series like Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan and The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare inspired me to set my books in this vast city. I was supposed to finally visit New York on my Grade 12 grad trip, but a little thing called COVID cancelled that. Someday I’ll be able to go and be that tourist who pushes all the elevator buttons in the Empire State Building, just like Buddy the Elf.
So how is New York portrayed differently in The Jewels of Fate and The Sword of Sorenth?
With a few exceptions, nothing is different about New York other than the characters who live there. Since I already had an entirely made-up fictional world called Acanesia as the center of this series, I wanted to make New York as realistic as possible. In other series I’ve read though, New York is a changed version of the actual city. Maybe one of its iconic landmarks is the hideout of the main character, or perhaps it’s a dystopian version of the city after a war has occurred.
While most of my two stories take place in Acanesia, the city of New York becomes crucial even after Chuck travels across realms. This place is not just the starting point of the series but Chuck’s home that he fights to return to. It is not only featured at the beginning of The Jewels of Fate but is constantly mentioned throughout the rest of the series. New York becomes even more critical in The Sword of Sorenth, as Chuck now tries to defend his hometown against enemies from Acanesia.
Whether you live in New York, have visited it, or only know about it from books and TV shows, there’s a lot of features this city offers that can be used to make your storytelling much better.
Tips for Creating a Memorable Setting (RECAP)
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Tension is the part of a novel that makes the story memorable and is guaranteed to keep your reader frantically reading until the very last page. Whether or not the author uses this element of storytelling could be the difference between a "just OK" book or one that keeps you on the edge of your seat. For me, all of my favorite books have used different forms of tension to hook readers and their techniques have sucked me right in. While there is no strict formula that every author can use, here are few ways to create tension in your own novel.
Include a Ticking Clock
No, I don't mean literally to write about a clock; although many find the sound of a clock ticking very alarming and it can make people physically tense. But in terms of storytelling, countdowns of any kind can make your writing all the more exciting; if your main character doesn't accomplish their quest by a specific time, something terrible will happen. For instance, if the fantasy hero doesn't defeat the villain, the world will be conquered. Or, if the Western cowboy doesn't stop the train robbery, the little town will lose millions of dollars. Although the stakes might not be huge, the "terrible thing" that occurs should be personal to the character involved. In other words, failing to stop a train robbery might not mean the end of the world, as seen typically in sci-fi or fantasy genres, but it should feel that way to the protagonist. Deadlines also make us act differently and they should force your character into making some rash decisions. In real life, deadlines pressure us into working harder and making irrational decisions because we're not thinking clearly. Think back to when you were in school. How did you act when that massive term paper was due the next day? The more irrational your main character, the more tension there is in your story. The fact that your main character feels pressured to complete a task by a particular time will also urge your reader to fly through the pages. If your character has all the time in the world to achieve the quest, then your reader may subconsciously feel they have all the time in the world to read your book.
Let the Characters Have Disagreements
For those who enjoy watching reality TV, chances are you appreciate it because of how entertaining the arguments can be. Whether staged or genuine, audience views go up the more contestants fight with each other. The same principle applies to books. Most genres operate within the premise that the "good guys are fighting the bad guys". But the protagonists can also fight, or at least disagree, amongst themselves. So can the villains. Disagreements are efficient ways to create tension because they drive the story forward and make the reader want to know how things will play out. One of the best things to remember when planning a story is what a character wants and it will be achieved. Based on the protagonist's personal desires, they may ally with one character and become at odds with others. When you know what each character wants, it's easier to see how they interact with other personas. For example, a character who believes pineapple belongs on pizza might disagree with someone else who believes fruit has no place on pizza. Disagreements also make the characters and story more relatable because we've all had arguments with other people. Essentially, the more reality you put into your world, even when you're writing fiction, the more you draw readers in. You might be thinking, does someone need to win the argument for the conflict to create tension? In most cases, no. Nobody needs to be right and nobody needs to be wrong. Furthermore, the argument doesn't even have to be that relevant to the story. What is crucial is that it feels important to your character.
Play with the Idea of Plot Twists
Everyone knows that a plot twist is the part of a story where something completely unexpected happens. It can display itself as the big whodunit reveal, a central character dying, two characters suddenly falling in love, and so many other things. Nowadays, many people expect the unexpected and pointedly look for a plot twist near the end of a book. Whenever I read a novel, this is how I think - and I'm sure many others feel the same way. But who says there has to be only one plot twist? Who says it has to be at the end of the novel? Creating the unexpected is the best way to create tension and the best way to hook readers throughout the entire book. So if your readers expect a major plot twist near the end of the book, why not change things up? Many popular novels have used this technique to their advantage. Recently I read The Guest List by Lucy Foley. Her book has a clever and unique twist on the whodunit storyline. Not only are you reading to find out who the killer is, but you're also reading to find out who the victim is. Lucy Foley's choice to include two major plot twists enabled even more tension to be in her story.
So take a look at some books on your shelf and see how they incorporate tension into the story. Do they use any of the techniques mentioned above? Do they use something entirely different? The more you intentionally try to fill your writing with tension, the more likely you will draw readers in and keep them reading until the very last page.
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If you're not used to them, book reports can feel super scary. How do you write one? How long should it be? What kinds of things should and shouldn't be included? Even if you like creative writing, that doesn't necessarily mean you enjoy writing book reports. Since book reports are the predecessor to writing essays, it's essential to know how to write about the book effectively before trying to prove something. If you're in school, you know that it's the time of year when all those assignments are starting to come due. So, we wanted to give a few book report/ISU tips to help make your report or presentation stand out!
Tip #1: Make Notes While Reading
Making notes allows you to keep track of everything you're reading and highlights key scenes or chapters you might want to return to. You might have a good memory, but it's a lot harder to remember where a character said a specific line if you didn't write it down or mark the page. Finding examples in the book can also back up what you are saying. If you mention how you didn't like the novel's overly long descriptive paragraphs, maybe choose one and include it in your report. That way, your teacher and anyone else can see that extremely long paragraph themselves. Making notes also gives you an idea of what you might want to talk about in the first place. If you've highlighted six different plot twists that you didn't expect, maybe others will like this story because of how suspenseful it is!
Tip #2: Don’t Read The Book All at Once
Reading a book for school can seem like a big task, and it's super easy to put it off. "I'll start reading tomorrow" turns into "I'll start reading it next week." Before you know it, you're supposed to finish the book in two days, and you haven't even made it past the first chapter. Many people think that binge-reading the whole novel in one sitting is helpful, but it's the complete opposite. First off, you'll likely strain your eyes from reading that long, especially if you're not used to it. By scrambling to finish the book quickly, you'll rush and likely miss important things. It's recommended to read a little bit each day (maybe one chapter) and take the time to make those notes. It may seem slow and tedious, but trust me, you'll thank yourself once you've finished the book. Another factor to consider is your enjoyment. Depending on the class, you might not have a choice on what novel you're reading. But if you do get to choose, you'll be naturally drawn to a topic you enjoy, an author you've already read or maybe a cover that looks interesting. If you rush through the book, you definitely won't enjoy it, making writing about it much harder.
Tip #3: Remember that Characters are Supposed to be Three-Dimensional
What will make your book report/ISU presentation interesting and stand out is also what makes the book stand out: the characters. Humans are three-dimensional. We have likes, dislikes, achievements, failures, flaws, and strengths. People in books are the same way. If a character seems flat, chances are the book is not good. You might not have enjoyed that action and adventure story but will be guaranteed to draw more people in if you emphasize how the characters are three-dimensional. Don't just talk about how they grew and what they learned; mention where they failed too. Of course, don't spoil the book. If describing their failures means revealing the ending, then that's probably not a good idea. Similarly, talk about the antagonist. They don't do anything for no reason, and they have desires too. Why does the school bully in the coming-of-age drama write mean notes on the main character's locker? Why does the fantasy villain want to conquer the kingdom? Why does the science-fiction overlord blow up an entire planet? If you can answer these types of questions, you'll make your report a lot more interesting.
Tip #4: It’s OK Not To Like The Book!
Many people think that they have to have liked the book that they're writing or presenting on. This assumption is not necessarily true, and it can cause plenty of problems if you believe this. It's much harder to write about a topic from the opposing side than the side you support. If you didn't enjoy the book, it's naturally easier to write from that perspective. The key is to articulate why you didn't like the novel, and if not you, who is it for? Every author writes for a particular audience. If the Western story wasn't for you, it was meant for someone else. At this part of the report, a comparison is a huge help. If you think Harry Potter fans would like the novel you read, then compare it to Harry Potter
Tip #5: Pictures Are A Huge Help
Don't let your reader/viewer wonder if the main character has brown hair or blond hair or if the antagonist is tall or short. Not only do pictures show what you're talking about, but they also make your work more engaging. Especially in a presentation, no one wants to stare at words the whole time. Generally speaking, including images is more accepted in ISU presentations, but if your teacher lets you put pictures in an actual report - go for it! Images are also used to show who the author is. Many writers have websites (like the one you're on right now) that likely include headshots of themselves. Websites are an excellent place to grab a picture of the author because you know it will be a professional image. If your book is well-known, any photo you find is likely either a still from the movie based on the book or fan art. Some authors, like me, have character drawings of their own that they use regularly. Also, if there is a movie, consider showing a scene or two.
By taking it one step at a time, book reports can be simple. Just because you're not a writer doesn't mean you can't ace book reports. If you thought these tips were helpful, then give them a try and see how much less scary those book reports/ISU presentations can be!
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There is no doubt that the pandemic has drastically changed how we learn and work. Education has moved primarily online. The majority of students now work solely on a computer and meetings or socializing is done in the digital world. But technology was a massive part of our lives long before the pandemic had us social distancing. Many high schools, like mine, did a lot of online projects and taught material from online courses. Taking your laptop to school became as normal as bringing a pencil to class. However, working so much with technology has created some heated arguments on whether typing is superior to writing by hand. I don’t think either option is better than the other. Instead, the trick is knowing the best times to print by hand versus type on a computer.
Lecture Notes - By Hand
Many people argue that writing lecture notes by hand is better than typing on a computer or tablet. It’s true - you retain up to 40% more information by printing the information than typing it. Remembering what your professor or teacher is teaching you is kind of important, since you know there will be a test at some point. I’ve heard the debate that many students can keep up with the teacher’s pace easier if they write notes digitally. However, with most information being accessible through the web, the subject details can likely be found online anyway. Many people take notes differently and when writing by hand, you have the option to format your work how you like. You can create subcategories, break down information using dashes, stars, circles, squares - whatever shape you want to mark important points. Written lecture notes are also more easily retrievable for most students. You can transfer them directly to your binder, rather than needing to search through files on your computer.
Assignments - Typing
When you have a deadline, it's best to make sure you’re doing the most efficient work in the shortest amount of time. This logic is why it’s probably smarter to use a computer for any significant assignment. Now, I’m not talking about the fill-in-the-blank type worksheets. I’m talking about those massive essays and reports. Most teachers want you to hand them in online anyway, so why would you retype what you’ve already written by hand? There are also lots of tools on the Internet to help with editing, which can be a huge lifesaver. For instance, Grammarly goes through your work and flags any grammatical errors and suggests how to improve your writing quality. Whether you're editing online or with a printed copy, a typed document makes it easier. Red pen marks and notes in the margins make your work a little more legible when editing typed text. Overall, typing on a computer is faster, easier to read and gives you have a better chance of catching mistakes.
Brainstorming/Making Lists - By Hand
While some people might use the Notes app on their smart phone to write a grocery list, I think most of us use sticky notes. Handwritten notes are easier to manage, since constantly reopening your phone to check the Notes app can be time consuming and annoying. When you’re brainstorming or writing a list, the ideas are spontaneous and writing them by hand helps other ideas flow easier. Basically, if you write your grocery list by hand, you're more likely to remember that you need to buy eggs. And if you love eggs, this is very important! As for brainstorming, did you know JK Rowling plotted the first Harry Potter book on a napkin while travelling on a train? Of course, this was back in 1990 when cell phones and computers weren’t as popular as they are today, but it worked. It also makes sense to write lists or brainstorm by hand on paper because your brain is likely used to doing similar activities in school.
Short Story (2-5 pages) - By Hand
This may seem surprising, but it’s considered better to write a short story by hand. Often, you write short stories for fun and have no thought of actually publishing them. Maybe this is how you got started with writing or perhaps it was just a fun hobby for a little while. Whatever the reason you start, typing a short story makes it seem like an actual job and you become less "creative." A creative person tends to pull out a pen and paper and start writing when bored. When writing a short story by hand, you can keep it as a keepsake. Then ten or twenty years down the road, you can pull it out again. It will probably be all yellowed from time passed but have an artistic feel to it. Many books have been created from old handwritten stories. Also, after using technology so much, we know that it can be unreliable at times. There’s always the chance that the file might get deleted or become damaged, and then you've lost your first short story about the barnyard animals who left the farm and went on an adventure! It makes way more sense to keep a short story that was written when you were 10 years old tucked away in your closet or somewhere safe in your basement.
Novel - Typing
Novels are much longer than short stories, so it’s way more efficient to type a book on your computer. You can get a novel finished much quicker by writing it digitally than by hand. If you’re writing for a living, you probably don’t want to wait ten years between each book. Typing means that you can edit as you go, without worrying about smudge marks from your cheap eraser. If you don’t like what you see, you can delete text and replace it with something else. Getting a friend or colleague to edit your typed work is much easier as well. We’ve all been there - someone gives us a piece of handwritten work to read and we can barely understand it. Fonts through Microsoft Word or Google Docs are generally easy to read, so you won’t have to worry about people asking what a certain word is. When editing, a red pen also shows up easier on typed text than grey pencil. The biggest and maybe the most important factor to consider is people who type on a device don’t suffer from hand cramps. Students, we’ve all been there - we scribble down four pages of lecture notes and then our hand kills! Can you imagine doing that for a 300-page novel?!
When it comes to typing or writing by hand, there’s no right or wrong answer. One is not better than the other. But there are different times when it makes sense to write by hand rather than using a computer. At the same time, certain situations call for a computer, not a pencil. It’s important to consider which tool to use in order to be the most effective and efficient at the task you are doing.
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We have reached the final month of 2020, and I’m sure many of us are ready to see this year go. However, let's try to focus on the positives. Staying at home so much has helped me to find so many amazing books! With Christmas around the corner, I’ve been thinking about some of the books I’ve read this year and how they would make great Christmas gifts. So if you know someone who’s putting books on their wish list (or you are that person), here are Tyler’s Top 5 Books of 2020.
5. The Threshing by Tim Grahl
Synopsis: After firestorms devastate the earth, the government must ration the little food that’s left. Factions must compete in the Threshing to win enough food to last a year. Jesse is chosen as her faction’s competitor and master coder but soon learns she is unknowingly part of a conspiracy to rebel against the corrupt government.
The Threshing is marketed to fans of The Hunger Games, but anyone who enjoys dystopian worlds will appreciate this book. The Threshing is an interesting take on virtual reality, and the plot kept me guessing until the last line. The Threshing is Tim Grahl’s first fiction novel, and the book proves that he’s just as good a fiction writer as he is a non-fiction writer!
4. Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
Synopsis: After losing his best friend, Tristan is sent to his grandparent’s farm to recover. While there, he falls through a hole and into Alke - a magical land governed by African gods. Before he can return home, Tristan must search for Anansi, the only being powerful enough to fix the hole that Tristan created.
This book had a perfect blend of action with developing diverse characters. It’s easy to feel Tristan’s pain as he loses his best friend, a unique way to start a fantasy adventure. The action scenes are well written and unexpected. I honestly did not know what would happen at the end, and the book set up a surprising plot twist. Kwame Mbalia also doesn’t follow the typical “quest” pattern. The majority of Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky takes place in a reasonably small area, and many of the locations are revisited instead of just passed through. Similarly, the main protagonists meet characters who join them on the quest instead of simply showing up for a scene or two.
3. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Synopsis: After Starr Carter watches her best friend Khalil get shot by a police officer, she is forced to stand up against the police officer responsible and fight for justice. While people question and argue over what happened to Khalil, racial tensions begin to rise, and Starr realizes she might be the only one who can stop the violence.
I don’t usually read a lot of contemporary fiction, but I really enjoyed The Hate U Give. Despite its length, the book was easy to read, and the chapters flew by. Angie Thomas did an incredible job dealing with racial tension and contrasting it with everyday life from different racial groups. Starr Carter goes to a primarily white high school but comes from a black community. Showing two opposite worlds and their impact on the main character makes the world of the story so much more realistic.
2. Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas
Synopsis: After surviving the brutal contest to become the king’s champion, Celaena Sardothien travels to the land of the Fae, where she learns to control her magic while trying keeping a dangerous secret hidden from everyone.
This book was super long, but the ending was well worth the wait. If you enjoy a series that leaves you on a massive cliffhanger at the end of the book, Heir of Fire is for you. The story is different from the first book in the series, so it might not meet your expectations if you enjoyed Throne of Glass. On top of that, this is absolutely not a standalone book, and the first two books in the series should be read first to understand what’s going on. The book has multiple POV’s throughout, all mysteriously connected and all building to that massive cliffhanger ending.
1. Monster by Michael Grant
Synopsis: The same radioactive material that created The FAYZ is now hurtling toward earth in meteor form. Instead of being contained inside an impenetrable dome, superheroes are now being formed all over the world. Heroes are fighting villains, and a world-wide war is brewing between those with powers and those without powers.
I’ve never read a book I enjoyed more than the original until I read Monster. It’s the first novel in Michael Grant’s sequel series to the Gone books. While the Gone series was amazing, Monster takes the world of the FAYZ to a whole new level. The premise is slightly different, as it’s no longer about every adult mysteriously vanishing from this small community. Instead, it almost mocks the superhero genre. Having powers is illegal and terrifying to the public, regardless of your morality. Unlike Heir of Fire, Monster can be read separately from the original Gone series and follows its own storyline. It’s fast-paced, easy to read, and each chapter leaves you wanting more. There are a few central characters that continually evolve throughout the book, but in ways that you don’t expect. The cameos from the original series also serve a unique purpose, continually pushing the story forward.
If any one of those books sounds interesting, give them a try! I’m sure the authors would be excited to know that their book is going under the Christmas Tree this year!
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Happy Halloween! Although this year looks very different, we can still celebrate a day full of pumpkin carving, cool costumes and lots of candy eating! Want to know who loves celebrating Halloween? Charms wizards! They love every part of this day, especially the tricks. If you're a Charms wizard, like Daqua, you have a tendency to prank others just for a laugh - and get away with it too. Let's check out the other reasons why it would be so awesome to be a Charms wizard.
Charms wizards make the best costumes
It's been proven repeatedly that you don't need to buy an expensive costume from the local Halloween store to look good. Charms wizards are known for whipping up something great just from what they find around the house. And with magic, it's so much easier! Charms wizards are masters at the Illusion Spell, so they can look like whoever, or whatever, they want, if they really tried. Although it takes a lot of practice and concentration to hold a costume for an entire night of trick-or-treating, it's a great money saver, and their costumes look so realistic!
They can easily impress an audience
This one's pretty obvious but very accurate. If you were able to look like Batman, or maybe a fairy, with the snap of your fingers, wouldn't your friends be impressed? People like Daqua make it look easy. Not only that, but Charms wizards can turn an apple into a flying pigeon and make someone forget where they are. They're a hit showing up to Halloween parties and the life of the party too! Charms wizards are also known for using the Invisibility Spell, which makes them disappear. Unless you already know someone who can vanish at will, you have to admit that would be pretty impressive.
Charms Wizards never have to worry about getting caught
Speaking of the Invisibility Spell, it's the reason a Charms wizard will never get busted for the mischief they get into. If you were going to do something that could land you in detention at school, would you stay visible if you had the choice? Not a chance! Instead of sticking around the crime scene, Charms wizards turn invisible until they've reached a safe destination. Invisibility is also useful for stopping monsters or Zeels. We've all seen movies where the character sneaks up on someone but steps on a branch, and suddenly they're caught! Even if a Charms wizard did step on a twig, that monster still wouldn't be able to see him coming.
They can win a fight without lifting a finger
Sure, Combat Magic wizards can shoot fireballs, and Combat wizards can single-handedly lift a boulder. But why break a sweat when you can win a fight by causing your enemies to hit themselves in the head? Someone like Kimi would argue that this is cheating, but there's not a rulebook for fighting Oglaturantas and Zeels.
Charms wizards get discounts at all the best resorts in Aquana
Aquana, the best vacation spot in Acanesia, gives a 50% discount at every resort to anyone who can prove they are a Charms wizard! Why? Well, Charms wizards are most susceptible to the Fun Charm, which affects people in Aquana. Basically, the longer you stay there, the more you want to have fun, and then you start to forget about your problems. When your only concern is having fun, you tend to spend more money on things you might not necessarily need. Even though Charms wizards get into these resorts for half price, they will likely spend way too much money at the gift shop.
So not only is it amazing to be a Charms wizard, but it's also beneficial to have one around. They're useful in fights, are a fun source of entertainment, and have access to some of the best places in Acanesia. Imagine how boring life would be without them!
Does this sound like you?? Take the "What's Your Field of Magic" quiz to find out if you're a Charms wizard!
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While it would be amazing to have any one of the five Fields of Magic’s cool abilities, there’s something about Combat Magic that is so appealing. Maybe it’s the thought of threateningly waving a Conjurer in your enemies' faces and having them cower in terror. Or perhaps it’s because of all the powerful spells. How great would it be to generate fireballs and ice balls at will? Or blast enemies across the room? Let’s break down some of the other reasons why it would be so awesome to be a Combat Magic wizard.
They’re Not Afraid of Danger
There’s a reason why people in Combat Magic make the best Magical Court members. If your job is to protect an entire kingdom, you need to not be fazed by fear. Magical Court members are up against all kinds of trouble, like Oglaturantas, Zeels, and even those pesky Zamps. Although some Combat Magic wizards falsely believe they’re invincible, they never run at the sign of trouble. Take Chuck, for instance. He willingly boards an old bus driven by a Hyna who badly needs deodorant and a toenail clipper. If you’re not instantly grossed out by this scenario, you may be a Combat Magic wizard!
They Use the Best Spells
Ah, yes. The reason everyone wants to be a Combat Magic wizard. Although other Fields of Magic are perfectly capable of performing spells, if you’re in Combat Magic, you’re much stronger at specific enchantments. Imagine being able to start a campfire by throwing fireballs. Or freezing something during the hottest weather. If you play hockey, how about an ice pond in your backyard - in the middle of summer? And if people knew you could use the Blasting Spell to send them flying across the room, no one would ever mess with you again! Combat Magic wizards are naturally gifted at these types of spells, which makes them powerful protectors.
They Have a Better Chance at Becoming a Magical Court Member
Magical Court members are the most powerful wizards in Acanesia and are sworn protectors of the kingdom. Plus, there are all sorts of benefits to joining like fame, fortune, and even dental coverage! Other people in other Fields of Magic can become Magical Court members, but they wouldn’t be as good at the job. Most Charms wizards would never take the task seriously, and Combat wizards would just focus on the perks. However, Combat Magic wizards have all the skills needed and usually the right personality to protect Acanesia effectively.
They’re Good with Directions
If you’re in Combat Magic, you must be good with directions because of all the quests and adventures you go on. Combat Magic wizards know the importance of being on time, so they understand that when people pull over and ask for directions, they probably want to get to their destination as soon as possible. Drivers don’t want to talk for an hour about wherever they are going, like Power of Knowledge wizards do. They also don’t want to listen to you brag about the car you drive, the way people in Combat can do. The absolute worst is when you think you’re going in the right direction after asking for help, but it turns out to be completely opposite of where you want to be because it was a Charms wizard who gave you wrong directions!
So think about yourself for a moment. Are you easily scared or grossed out? Are you good at giving directions? Would you be able to handle the responsibility of being a Magical Court member? If your answers are "no, yes, and yes", you might be a Combat Magic wizard!
Take the "What's Your Field of Magic" quiz to find out if you're a Combat Magic wizard!
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Let’s be honest. We’ve all walked into a bookstore like Chapters and seen the massive table filled with Harry Potter memorabilia. We’ve looked through Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and failed to pronounce the many creatures’ names in the book. It’s no secret that the Harry Potter series is a worldwide success or that JK Rowling makes money off way more than just the books. But what does make the Harry Potter series so successful?
Multiple Genres for Multiple Audiences
If you’re a kid, you know that adult who’s a proud Gryffindor. And if you’re an adult, you know that one kid who knows every Dumbledore quote like the back of his hand. There’s something about Harry Potter that appeals to all age groups. Of course, not everyone loves Harry Potter; but it wouldn’t be too hard to find someone from every age bracket who does. This could be due to the characters. Although the book’s main characters are teenagers, many adults are also in the spotlight, such as Hagrid, Dumbledore, and Voldemort. The book also falls under many different genres. The books are mainly fantasy, due to the magic and the creatures. But action and adventure, mystery, and even romance are also present in the series. You can’t have a story about a group of teenagers without love showing up somewhere! Harry Potter might also be considered a coming-of-age story, as we see Harry grow from a little kid into a mature adult.
The World Is Full Of Detail
If you’ve read Harry Potter, one of the first things you remember is the massive Hogwarts castle. It appears on the movie posters, some of the book covers, and you can even build it out of Lego! JK Rowling put a lot of thought and effort into making the Hogwarts castle as realistic as possible, despite it being a fantasy place where teenagers learn to blast each other across the room. Although its concept is unrealistic, it feels real because there are so many details and history behind this one building. Similarly, JK Rowling has created dozens of different creatures in the Harry Potter universe from the sometimes invisible Thestrals to the hedgehog looking Knarls. Another factor that makes this series so realistic and engaging is the laws and rules that are regularly referenced throughout the series. Although they revolve around a fictional world full of magic, some of them are similar to the rules in our society, making them slightly more believable. For example, it makes total sense that a wizard can’t use magic at home before they are 17 years old, because they are probably irresponsible with a wand.
The Themes Draw People In
Although Harry Potter is mainly meant to entertain, there are a few lessons that can be learned from the series. The biggest one is friendship, shown by Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s continually evolving relationship throughout the seven books. They may be close but their friendship has been tested in different ways. For example, in the fourth book, Harry and Ron have a massive fight as Ron starts to feel jealous of Harry’s success and attention. Another huge theme in the Harry Potter series is good versus evil. Harry is a hero, while Voldemort is a villain. The Order of the Phoenix is helpful, while the Death Eaters are harmful. This can even go as far as animals in the books. Fawkes, Dumbledore’s phoenix, is gentle, while Nagini, Voldemort’s snake, is dangerous. These themes are universal and most of us are naturally drawn to stories revolving around them.
Harry Potter’s Character Arc
Harry Potter is a compelling character because of his character arc, which follows the “Rags to Riches” storyline. In The Philosopher's Stone, Hagrid and Dumbledore leave Harry in the care of his aunt and uncle, who hate both him and his parents. Because of that, he is neglected and scorned, making most of his childhood miserable. It’s only when Hagrid shows up again and tells Harry that he has magic, does he consider a life outside of the one his aunt and uncle have provided for him. He is taken to Hogwarts, where he proves to be a very talented wizard, more exceptional than others his age. As he grows older, he meets people who care about him and help him on his quests. This arc may speak to some people because they might not be satisfied with their own life and want to be the hero in their own story. In the end, Harry beats the villain, showing that you can overcome the challenges life throws at you.
Harry Potter Has Huge Marketing Potential
There’s no doubt that JK Rowling makes money on a lot more than just the seven books. The series led to a spin-off series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which has been quite successful too. Aside from making money off the movies themselves, she also makes a profit from the screenplay, which is available as a book. On top of that, those tables in bookstores are filled with everything about Harry Potter from costumes to board games. Think back to Halloween - how many 10-year-olds have you seen walking around with glasses and a fake lightning scar on their forehead? Probably a lot! And if you weren’t aware, there is a massive theme park dedicated to JK Rowling's books at Universal Studios. Because of the diverse work she created, JK Rowling has had many opportunities to expand the Harry Potter universe.
So if you’re a writer, take a look at your own work. Does your story have the same components as the Harry Potter series? Can you use the elements of your fictional world to market it effectively? If so, maybe someday you’ll have a table filled with games and costumes about your series in bookstores!
Staying at home during COVID-19 can be hectic and crazy. With everyone now under one roof, it can be hard to find a quiet place to work. While you’re enjoying the extra time with family, maybe you’re also missing sitting at Starbucks and cranking out a few hours of writing or other work. Perhaps you’re a writer, whether for career or hobby, looking to find a new place to finish that draft. Maybe you’re a student looking for a quiet room to complete that English assignment.
Here are five tips to make writing easier while at home.
1. White Noise
The power of white noise is incredible. Many people don’t realize that it’s thousands of sounds entering your ear at the same time. Science has proved that the more sounds you hear simultaneously, the more it affects your brain. Certain sounds allow you to focus on your project and block out any extra noise. TV static works best, but you can also use a quiet radio or even a running shower! According to a study done by the Journal of Consumer Research, white noise at a level of 70dB is the sweet spot for sparking creativity. Any higher than that, it starts to become a distraction. If white noise is too loud, your brain starts to notice the patterns that exist within whatever sound you are using.
2. Mimic The Coffee Shop
Coffee shops are great for writing because they have a sense of community, but at the same time, you’re less likely to be bothered. Just buy a drink, set yourself up at the corner table, and work away. People talking around you can also act as white noise, which can help increase your productivity. Just because you’re at home, doesn’t mean you can’t simulate this same experience! Grab a sweet treat, pour a cup of coffee, put on some background music, and you’re on your way! I always found that coffee shops know just the right volume to play their music. Too loud and you can’t think. Too quiet and you can hear the guy at the next table talking about how the Toronto Maple Leafs loosing another game.
3. The Kitchen Table
This tip is for all the food-lovers out there. If you rely on a snack to boost your energy, then why not work where the food is plentiful? Your fridge probably has more healthy snack options than your local coffee shop too. I love a good piece of chocolate cake but foods like blueberries, broccoli, and nuts can increase brain performance way more than those sugary delights. You’ve probably heard that dark chocolate can improve your mood, but did you know that it enhances creativity as well? Dark chocolate contains compounds called flavonols, which can lower blood pressure and make people calmer. When you’re relaxed and satisfied, you’re more likely to think clearly, which is when all the good ideas show up. No wonder Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory was so elaborate...
4. The 20 Metres Rule
We all have people in our lives who sound like a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant when they walk in a room. They mean well, but they’re yelling when they think they’re talking at an utterly acceptable volume. I believe those people are the inspiration for the 20 metres rule. It works like this - when you’re over 20 metres away from someone, you can’t hear the person audibly, unless shouting is involved. So obviously, if you want to write where it is quiet, you need to be at least 20 metres away from that person. It’s best to find a low traffic area within your home, where people are less likely to come within 20 metres of you. So, in this case, the kitchen table probably wouldn’t be the best option.
Music is a great way to zone out and zone into what you’re working on. Studies have shown that music helps lower blood pressure, increases productivity, and can even improve your mood. Back in the olden days, listening to classical music was the Spotify of their time. Many inventors, who created technology we still use today, used classical music as their brain boost. However, any form of music will do. Many writers have recognized that music has helped several others before them and are reaping the benefits for themselves. Think about it - how many times have you felt a lot better once you’ve listened to that new song from your favorite artist? Why not feel good when you’re cramming to meet that deadline?
Hopefully, you’ve learned some cool things about writing at home that you may not have considered before. So what are you waiting for? Leave that dull office space and find a new place to spark that creativity!
Many people will say that, for the most part, the book is always better than the movie. There are so many reasons why this is true - you can visualize the character in your mind and there’s usually more story in a book than a movie. Sometimes movies disappoint us because they weren't accurate to the book. Despite that, there are a few books that we feel would do well as a movie.
Here is our Top 5 list.
1. Gone by Michael Grant
Gone is the first book in a six-part series by Michael Grant. The story is unique and has a cool premise. What happens when all the adults disappear from a small little California town called Perdido Beach? The answer - kids take over and rule everything. Some are less honorable than others, and it’s not long before everything descends into chaos. The book is slightly graphic, so it would have at least a PG-13 rating, should it make it to the big screen. Despite that, throughout the book, many of the kids develop special powers that would be super cool to see, such as laser hands, cancelling gravity, and teleportation. All the main characters are teenagers, so famous young adult actors could easily play the residents of Perdido Beach.
2. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Rick Riordan is a famous middle-grade author who has written many different series. The Lost Hero is the first book of his sequel series, following the events of the original Percy Jackson series. If you remember (or maybe you’d like to forget) his first two books, The Lightning Thief and The Sea of Monsters received a movie adaptation, with mixed reviews. Although The Lost Hero does feature Percy Jackson, he is not the main focus of the story anymore. The Lost Hero follows three new characters - Jason, Piper, and Leo - who all realize they are descendants of Greek gods. They must travel across the United States and defeat an army of giants raising havoc. There aren’t many books that blend fantasy and humour cohesively, but The Lost Hero effectively does, which is something that Hollywood needs more of on-screen.
3. The Dogs by Allan Stratton
The Dogs is categorized as a psychological thriller, and the first book on this list to lean more towards horror over fantasy. The Dogs is about a boy named Cameron and his mom, who are repeatedly on the run from the boy’s abusive father. After relocating to a small house in a secluded rural area, they think they’re safe. But it’s not long before Cameron begins to see things in the backyard that live in his nightmares. The book has elements similar to Steven King and would be a movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The novel features more real-life situations, rather than fantasy fiction, but it is still exciting and suspenseful.
4. Exo by Fonda Lee
Exo is another story with a unique premise. What happens when humans try to live in harmony with aliens? The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where the aliens won and are running society themselves. Many humans feel oppressed, which causes them to form hate groups, such as Sapience. Others have accepted their new world and have begun integrating alien technology into their bodies to protect their world from other external threats. If this book were a movie, there would be plenty of cool special effects to light up the screen. Exo is also a fresh twist on how a young boy finds his true identity in a dystopian world.
5. Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined by Danielle Young-Ullman
Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined is a comedy, adventure, and a coming-of-age book all rolled into one. The story revolves around a girl named Ingrid who gets thrust into this extreme wilderness survival camp unexpectedly. She must bond with teenage criminals who have been sent to this camp as punishment and survive to the end, so she can go to her dream music school. Through flashbacks, we see Ingrid’s relationship with her opera singer mother and how it impacts the person she becomes on the wilderness trip. A privileged character who then learns to fend for herself is prevalent in Hollywood movies. There are plenty of female actresses who could be perfect for the role of Ingrid. Also, because her mother is a famous opera singer, this could be an opportunity for a well-known musician to be part of the movie, such as Celine Dion who has already been involved in many movie productions throughout her career.
So who knows, maybe some of these books will eventually make it onto the big screen someday. Perhaps one or two will be made into a Netflix series. But for now, we just have to be satisfied with the fact that they are great books.