My Blog Friends

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Well it is almost time for a New Year. This is full of New Year resolutions and goal making. I have decided that one of my goals is to finish a novel this year and to also post at least 4 times a week on my blog.

The idea of setting goals is important in not only allowing us to strive for something, but it also gives us greater feelings of self once we make it to our goals and accomplish them.

What are the goals that your characters set? How do they accomplish these goals? Do they plan them out or do they just go at it?

What are some of your goals for the New Year?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Looking forward to 2012

The following is a link to Forbes magazine:
Emily Lambert wrote the article about my financial woes and hopefully brighter future. This article is a little scary to put out there because it talks about all of my financial failings and how bad it has been. I hope that you see it as a hope for the future. Things don't always go how we hope, but we need to keep going and keep struggling even though it is hard. So this is an article of hope and looking forward to the future.

I hope that you enjoy. Looking forward to a brighter tomorrow  and enjoying the present :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I hope everyone had a good Christmas and hope that you have a happy New Year!!
We had a good Christmas visiting with family. The book project is coming along well. It is going to be bigger than I first expected, but I am really excited about how it is turning out. I will be working on it heavily next week and hopefully getting it finished by next week before school starts.

The holidays bring a different aspect of people that I haven't talked about already. It is interesting how we stay up later and wake up later, people begin to start getting more sensitive a little more on edge. This is due to not only the lack of sleep but also the change of schedule. There is more stress. This is one aspect of the holidays, but there is another side as well. People are happier and there is more time to relax.

Holidays have an important role in our lives and bring about changes in all of us. Hopefully you will take the time to observe how those around you have changed and how they act. Write it down and then incorporate it into your books. Our characters should also go through these changes in our books. It is also a good way of understanding how they may change due to schedule change.

Have fun writing and enjoy the holidays!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Love vs. Hate

Today's post is on the idea of love and hate. Do they lie on a continuum or are they just opposites. The way we generally think of love and hate is that it lies on a continuum and as you get closer to one you get farther from the other. This idea is not necessarily true. In fact love and hate may be much closer than we think. The way I think of love and hat are that they are on one end of the continuum as opposites and at the other end is apathy. So the closer we get to apathy the farther away from love and hate we get. In fact in my mind it is worse to have apathy about a person than hate (at least with hate you care about the person). A simple test of this is think about the people that we hurt the most in our lives it is those that we tend to love the most. This is generally speaking of course and does not hold true for all people.

This brings me to the importance of the relationship between the protagonist and the antagonist. These two ideas are closely related and play an important part in each other lives. You could almost say that you can't have one without the other. In our creating of our characters it is important to look at what is really happening within the lives of our characters and how they play on each other. Are they on a continuum or are they opposites on the same end of the continuum.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Checking In

Hello everyone,
I know that it has been awhile I hope that you have all enjoyed NaNoRimo and other great activities. I have been doing a lot as well including getting my draft in for my thesis in. This means all I have left is edits and then it will be time to defend it. I have also been working on my book project on "How to Diagnose Your Character." It is coming along and I have really been thinking a lot about what makes up who and what a person is. I have also been looking at what affects us as people and have begun to develop a diagram that I call the circle of influence. It is a circle that expands as it gets farther away from the person. I am excited about what it is developing into and look forward to getting it out there.

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and that everyone was safe. Thanks for your continued support I plan on checking in more frequently now that the project has begun in full and classes have finished up. Hope to hear from you!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gone for a bit

Well as you have probably noticed I have not posted in a bit. I could lie and just say I have been too busy, but the truth of the matter is that my weakness is self doubt. This means that I go through times when I wonder if it is worth it (by it I mean writing not life I am happy and enjoy life :) or if it really matters what I write or post for that matter. So this is not to gain sympathy only to let you know that I will get out of it soon and also to let you know that I have started a new project that I am very excited about. I have decided to get my name out there a little by writing a book entitled "How to Diagnose Your Character." It will be based off of my posts and other material and will  only be about 50 pages. I plan on self publishing it and seeing how it goes. It shouldn't take me too long to finish and when it is I would love to have some beta readers. Those who are willing to look at it from both a writer point of view and that of a non-writer let me know. So that will hopefully be happening by the end of this month or the end of the year. I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and that things are going well.

This will give all of my new followers a chance to go through my old posts and glean what they can :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Culture plays a huge role in who we are and how we behave. Whether we go against the cultural norm or we follow the cultural norm we are still being influenced by the culture that we were both raised in and the culture that we currently live in. Some things that culture influences are: interpersonal attraction, sex, touching, personal space, friendship, family dynamics, parenting styles, childhood behavior expectations, courtship rituals, marriage, divorce, cooperation vs. competition, crime, love, and hate.

Just like in many of the things that we have already looked at it is always important to take into consideration the culture in which a person lives in. A person can also have cultures within cultures such as a person may live in America (1), live in a particular state (2), within a county (3), within a city (4), within a particular part of town (5), within a family unit (6). This doesn't even take into consideration the religion of the family, did they move recently or live in the same place their entire lives etc....

Triandis et al. (1988) proposed that culture can be looked at in different dimensions. One dimension of culture is whether or not the culture is individualistic or a collectivism. The team listed several differences between the two types and then began conducting studies on them. The following attributes are a few of the attributes considered to be from a collectivist culture: sacrifice, self is an extension of group, group is paramount, greater conformity, "vertical relationships" (child-parent, employer-employee), shame, hide interpersonal conflicts etc... The following attributes are a few of the attributes considered to be from a individualistic culture: Hedonism, Self is distinct from group, self-reliance is paramount, less conformity to norms, greater value on money and possessions, prefer to confront interpersonal conflicts, horizontal relationships (friend-friend, husband-wife) valued more, Guilt etc....

It is important to note that these two types of culture are on a continuum on opposite ends and so individuals and cultures will generally lie between these two extremes.

When creating our characters and the worlds that they live in it is important to understand the culture in which they are in. It is interesting that in many stories the MCs are generally fighting against the culture in which they live and so there needs to be reason behind this. I feel like I have said this before but I will say it again. In order for our characters to be realistic there needs to be some reason why they are acting outside of the norm.

Tidbit: Just for fun I'll tell you about a character I am creating for a D&D campaign that we will be starting this week. It is going to be a gestalt character, Ranger/Spell thief. Now if you understand this tidbit you would then be a geek :)

Monday, November 7, 2011


Prior to the 70s it was believed that people were either male or female, black and white. Masculinity or Femininity were on a continuum and on opposite sides of that continuum. This means that if you were born as a man then you would want to be as far  to the masculine side as possible to be deemed healthy. While women should be as feminine as possible.

In 1937 Anne Constantinople claimed that masculinity and femininity are instead on two separate scales, low or high femininity and masculinity. This means that a man could love to go hunting play sports and still enjoy being home with the family and cooking.

This brings up an interesting point of our characters. Do they generally exhibit societies expectations of how they should act or do they go against societies expectations? Do we put our characters into roles that society expects them to be in or are we breaking society norms?

In my society there are expectations for males and females and when they break those expectations they are punished in some way. This needs to also happen in our books with our characters when they break the expectations of society.

Another interesting point is how are our characters internalizing those expectations? Is it affecting them to be going against the expectations of society? How do they view others who go against societies norms and expectations?

TidBit: Going along with going against societies expectations. When going to school for undergrad I would often stay home and take on the traditional feminine roles such as taking care of kids cooking cleaning etc.... While my wife would go to work to pay the bills. This worked for us but I always felt the pressure of not working and of my wife working.

Friday, November 4, 2011

How much control do our characters believe they have?

This next subject is kind of an interesting one to me because it isn't about what is true but more on what a person/character believes. In a study conducted by Julian Rotter in 1966 he designed a scale that would evaluate how much a person believes he/she is in control of his/her fate. The scale was called the I-E Scale, I for internal and E for external. The closer the individual was to the I the more likely they felt like they had control over their fate. The closer an individual is to the E the more likely they felt they had little control of their fate.

"I" people tend to bet on sure things where as "E" people tend to be riskier. "I" more likely to influence the attitudes of others and less likely to be influenced, whereas the opposite was for "E" people.  There was some support that "I" individuals have more self control than "E" people. Further, it was found that "I" individuals achieved more and are able to conform less.

It is worth noting three things that Rotter reported as possible reasons people become an "I" or an "E" individual: Socioeconomic Status, How the individual was parented and culture.

Characters will believe a certain way and if they believe they have control then they will act differently than if they don't feel that they have control. Also I feel that that belief can change in either direction. This will of course lead to stress which we talked about in the last post but it will also influence and change they way they react to situations.

Tidbit: I am the fourth child of seven.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What Stresses You Out?

The next study that we will look at is one conducted by Holmes and Rahe in 1967. In this study the researchers wanted to find out if life stresses could be measured. They sent out a survey with 43 life events with marriage being a reference point having a score of 50 points. The respondents would then rate the life stresses dependent on this point either marking them higher or lower.

The top ten events were: Death of spouse, divorce, marital separation, jail term, death of close family member, personal injury or illness, marriage, fired at work, marital reconciliation, retirement. The bottom ten were: Minor violations of the law, Christmas, vacation, change in eating habits, change in number of family get-togethers, change in sleeping habits, small mortgage, change in social activities, change in church activities, and change in recreation. You can go here for a full list
 The researchers also point out that in each of the situations it requires some sort of change, adaptation or coping on the part of the person. This is why even though an even may be positive it still causes stress. The researchers went on to show that this stress directly relates to illness, hopelessness and other things.

This leads into how we look at stress with our characters and what is affecting them. How do the changes in their lives stress them? How do they cope with it? Make a list of the stressors your MC's are being affected by and then calculate that stress. If it is high make sure the story is showing this and how that character is dealing with it.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Hi Everyone I am still here but I will make a  quick post just to keep in the habit:)
Things went well we sent our kids out by themselves for Halloween for the first time. It was so nice.
Helped out at a carnival and had fun at parties.

I hope everyone else had a great day!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award

I want to thank WilyBCool for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award. It is so much fun to be recognized by such an amazing blogger.

The rules in accepting this award: Thank the person who nominated you. Tell 7 things about yourself so that your readers may learn more about you and nominate 7 other newly discovered bloggers and let them know you nominated them.

1. I love to game my favorite being Guild Wars.  (I am so anticipating the second one coming out soon).
2. I was in a musical 7 Brides for 7 Brothers.
3. My first car was a Nissan Maxima when I was 21.
4. I was a teller for a bank.
5. I was an IT guy for a software company.
6. I owned my own computer business.
7. I wrote my first story 2 years ago.

7 Versatile Bloggers:

1. Logopaedics- This is my wife's new blog or not so new but I really love how she is trying to share with others  more about speech issues.

2. Em Dashes and Ice Cream - I really enjoy the stories and advice she gives.

3.Vive le Nerd- The name speaks for it self :)

4. Miranda Hardy- I love her fun posts and comments. Plus she is participating in nanowrimo!

5. Christine Rains - Writer- She has the coolest picture for her giveaway!!

6. Empty White Pages- She does some really cool Musical stories.

7. My Life with Zane- Very cool blog about her son who was diagnosed with Trisomy 18.

There are so many amazing bloggers out there and I have met many new ones recently. Thanks for all of your continued support and congratulations to all the of you!!
Have a safe and fun Halloween!

Tidbits: see above :)

Friday, October 28, 2011


I will make a quick note of a study that I decided wouldn't be good to go too deeply into due to its content. However, it is very applicable to our characters and needs to be mentioned. It was a study that looked at human sexuality. It was conducted by Masters and Johnson in the 60s. It explored a very important fact about sex and that is that it is as much or more a psychological experience as it is a biological one. It is also important to note that we may not use sex in our books but we need to use the romance in our books because that is a huge part of our lives. Every one gets a crush and falls in love. It is a great tool to get our readers involved and sympathetic to our characters. Romantic tension is one of the best ways to get a reader truly involved in our books.

How many stories have you read that had no romance in them? How can we ruin a book with romance?

Another thought along this line is who is more romantic men or women?

Tidbit: I am definitely the romantic one in my marriage :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Power of Responsibility

Langer and Rodin in 1976 theorized that by increasing control and power an individuals happiness and health should increase. They conducted their study at a resting home and gave half of the participants increased-responsibility treatment while the others were left to the normal routine. The results of the study showed that by giving these participants this training the participants health and happiness increased. After the researchers returned 18 months later another significant thing occurred. 30% of the participants not involved in the treatment had died, while in the group that had received the treatment only 15% had died. Keep in mind that the demographics and characteristics of the groups were the same. Personal power and control over one's life is key to how happy and productive an individual will be.

On the flip side another study that came out of this was the idea of having too many choices can decrease happiness. Iyengar and Lepper in 2000 conducted a study in which participants where given the option to buy jams and chocolates and to do an extra credit essay. One group of the participants was given 6 choices while the other group was given 24 or 30 choices. The results showed that when fewer choices were presented a significant amount of participants would buy the chocolate and write the essay. It was also found that those who had fewer choices were more satisfied with their choices.

In writing about our characters they will be presented with choices and decisions to make generally they can choose to accept the quest or not choose the quest. However, it would be interesting to write into our stories more choices for our characters to choose from. More ways to slay the dragon. Show that the characters have the ability to choose and that they have responsibility for that choice. Also it would be interesting to see how they would react when given to many choices. There is a story about some Russian women who came to the U.S and were taken to the grocery store to see how they would react. Many of the women became upset and wanted to go home. There were to many choices for them to make. How do our characters behave coming out of orphanages (or a number of other confining institutions) and into a new world full of responsibilities?

Tidbit: I love all kinds of music (except for RAP never have liked it) some of my favorite is actually "scream" (in very very very small doses). I like the contrast actually and the emotion that is in it. Below is a youtube video of  another type of music that is definitely at the top of my list. I don't know the name of the genre but it is when orchestras play rock. I hope you enjoy this piece it blew me away :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How much love do we need?

Harry Harlow in his study The Nature of Love looked at how monkeys reacted in different situations. In his experiments he had baby monkeys in cages with either a cloth monkey that would deliver food to the baby monkey or a wire monkey that would deliver food to the baby monkey. In the study it was found that the monkeys in both cases ate the same amount of food and gained the same amount of weight. However, the monkeys that had the wire monkey mom had problems with digestion and problems with diarrhea. Further, these monkeys were tested by putting them in situations that would frighten them and they would run to the cloth monkey but when the cloth monkey was not around they would freeze.

Another interesting fact that came from this experiment was that when the monkeys were taken away from the cloth monkeys for several days when reunited they would play with the cloth monkey ignoring other objects in the room that the monkey had normally played with.

Harlow points out that the key to successful parenting is contact comfort which means that both parents need to be involved.

In creating our characters we need to understand where our MC get there contact comfort from and explore how this looks in our characters if they have had to much or to little.

Tidbit: I have four wonderful children!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Recalling of Events

Elizabeth Loftus (1975) conducted several experiments examining the ability of people to recall events. Her experiments revolved around the common thought during her time that eyewitnesses are a reliable source of information. In her experiments she specifically looked at how the wording of a question influenced the recall of an event. An example of this would be "Did you see the children getting on the school bus?" as opposed to, "Did you see a school bus in the film?" By inserting the word "the" into the question it promotes more affirmative answers.

The reason this happens is that memory is not like playing back a recording like when we play a movie. Memories are made up of events that occur over time and when we recall them they are intermixed with not only the event that we are recalling, but any new information that we have taken in since that event. This causes the memory to be reconstructed based on the new information. By using the word "the" the questioner is giving new information to the person recalling the event and that person reconstructs the event based on the new information, assuming that the questioner is correct about the event e.g. there was a bus even though in actuality there wasn't.

By understanding this we as writers can play upon the retelling of events when our characters are informing the reader. We also must understand that when a character is retelling an event it is not always going to be accurate, but it will have some variance to what actually took place. There will be little parts that one person will see or imagined seeing that another character will not have seen.

Tidbit: I was engaged to my wife two weeks after meeting her and married two months later and yes we are still happily married after 12 years :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Slacking :(

So today my post is coming very late and I want to apologize for that. It has been a good day of working very hard but I wanted you all to know how much I appreciate all of you and also the hard work you put into your blogs. I find them fascinating and informative as well as great stress relievers. Thank you for your continued support.

I have also decided that it might be fun to start giving tidbits about myself so that you can get to know me a little better. I hope you find these interesting :)

So for the first tidbit about me is that I love to learn about religion. I find religions to be fascinating and amazing source of both joy and regrettably, sadness at times. I think that it is amazing to look at the similarities they share and how they have one very important message in general, to be the best you can be and to treat others with kindness.

Have a wonderful night I will see you tomorrow with some more studies on human behavior!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Giveaway Winner

I have randomly selected the winner for the giveaway!

The Winner is Domestic Ventures!! Congratulations!

Thanks to all of you who participated I wish I could have given all of you something.

I have had reports of people not being able to comment on my blog and I want to get a number of how many are unable to do this. Please if you are unable to comment email me at and let me know.

Everyone have a great day I'm off to have my eyes checked :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cogito Ergo Sum part 1

Rene Descartes a French Philosopher is probably best known for his statement Cogito Ergo Sum (I think therefore I am). This statement means that if a person is even wondering about his/her existence then they must exist. There must be an "I" doing the thinking therefore they are.

So far we have talked a lot about the behavioral studies that look at stimuli as  the motivator behind everything we do. The ABCs (Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence) of our lives; those behaviors that can be directly observed. During the 1930s and 1940s this was the way everything was looked at and there was little to no thought given to those things that were unobservable, what a person was thinking and feeling.

Tolman, E. C. (1948) is known as the father of cognitive behaviorism. He proposed that not only do humans and animals think but that it can be observed, if indirectly. He created rat maze experiments that proved this point. You can read more about that here. In a nutshell he said that we have cognitive maps that help us get to point a to point b even if blocks are placed in our usual path. So imagine if you were heading to your local grocery store and there was some construction in your normal path. Most of us would be able to determine an alternate path to get to that point. This is how a cognitive map works.

Tolman then expanded this to thoughts on society. If a person has a narrow strip map, meaning they have little perspective (trapped in their box) then they can become prejudice and negative human conditions. While on the other hand, others have broad strip maps and can expand there thinking and include or at least understand other ways of thinking.

This brings us back to the original statement by Rene Descartes "Cogito Ergo Sum". Our characters need to think through situations understand the broader meaning of what is happening around them rather than just reacting to stimuli.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Giveaway and Picture

The day is almost over and I wanted to remind everyone about the giveaway that will be happening this Saturday. So far there have been very few who have signed up. If you want to participate now is the time to do so. Look on the giveaway page for details. Remember this is a giveaway for $40 software!!

The other part of this post my family and I went up into the hills and took family pictures today. It was amazing and we had a lot of fun. I had my wife take a couple of pictures of me so I could update my picture. Let me know if you have a favorite :) They are below. I hope everyone else is enjoying the beautiful fall weather and colors.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

IQ and multiple intelligences

This is a very interesting debate between psychologists, can intelligence be narrowed down to just one number or do we have multiple intelligences. Gardner, H. in 1983 proposed that we have multiple intelligences which was a very different idea than what had been practiced up to that point. During the 20th century an individuals IQ was measured and was referred to as "g". However, during the 1970s and 1980s researchers began to question this idea that "g" was all there was to intelligence and in fact it is still highly debated today.

In Gardner's theory intelligence is not based off of one thing but several different areas can be looked at which would have a different intelligence. Further, he explains that different parts of the brain are responsible for different aspects of intelligence. Gardner came up with eight intelligences:
1) Linguistics:  Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling, Dr. Seuss, Woody Allen
2) Musical:  Mozart, Lauryn Hill, Andrea Boccelli, Paul McCartney
3) Logical-Mathmatical: Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, Marie Curie, B.F. Skinner
4) Spatial: Picasso, Frank Lloyd Wright, Leonardo DaVinci, Van Gogh
5) Bodily-kinesthetic: Charlie Chaplin, LeBron James, Serena and Venus Williams
6) Interpersonal: Ghandi, Abraham Maslow, Oprah Winfrey
7) Intrapersonal: Plato, Hermann Rorschach, Helen Keller, Bill Gates
8) Naturalist: Charles Darwin, Jane Goodall, Rachel Carson

The idea is that we may be low in one intelligence while another may shine out. Also we may have several areas that shine out.

Whether or not the theory is true or if it is just redundant is besides the point. The fact is that when we are creating our characters we need to look at their particular strengths and WEAKNESSES. Often we forget that Heroes shine in certain areas but they also always have a weakness. Superman and Kryptonite is a off the head example. Maybe we create someone who is extremely athletic but is not very good at being introspective. Or a person who is a genius who needs support because he/she can barely move (i.e. Raistlan and Carman in Dragonlance series). As authors we need to make the MC as believable as possible so that our readers will attach to them. Often I forget about the weakness that my MC has because I want her/him to have none because I want them to be perfect but, I can't do that :)

What weaknesses and strengths do your MC's have?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

In an experiment by Rosenthal, R., & Jacobson, L. in 1966 it was found that expectations of teachers influenced gains by students. Specifically several students were identified as bright students to their teachers when in actuality they were randomly assigned. By the end of the year on a test score the students in younger grades (1st-4th) gained as much as 30 points on the test while the control group gained around 12 points. The experimenters found that when a teacher expects a student to do well then they will do much better than if the teacher expects them to do poorly. This has been studies and evaluated many times and still holds true.

Another interesting story is about a horse called, "Clever Hans." This horse was able to do simple math, read and write. After studying further it was found that the experimenters conducting the tests to see if it was true were giving subtle hints to the horse. One was after they asked the question they would look at the horses hoof for an answer queuing the horse to start stomping his hoof. Second when the horse was approaching the correct response they would look up slightly, once again queuing the horse. The horse was able to read the subtle movements and "expectations" of the experimenters thus getting the answers right.

Think about the stories and movies that we read and watch. The MC almost always has someone who believes in her or him. That person expects the MC to succeed. In my book the MC's parents expected him to be good and do great things and more importantly he knew these expectations. Near the end of the book my MC has another experience in which he is given a choice and the person giving the choice expects great things of him and so he chooses in the way that is expected of him. Of course there is something with in the MCs that makes them strong and choose correctly, an inner strength but, think about where those inner strengths come from.

Who expects your MC to succeed? How does your MC react to those expectations? What are the subtle hints that readers can catch onto that will make them expect certain outcomes? By answering these questions the readers are also trained to think a certain way which will draw them deeper into the story especially if you follow those expectations. A thought, what would happen if we are putting out subtle hints and then go against those expectations? My thoughts are that this could be really cool if done correctly but it could also very easily backfire on you so be careful when dropping hints :)

BTW: I made it through the blog hop it was so wonderful seeing all of the new blogs out there and I look forward to visiting them all again. Welcome again to all of my new followers and thanks for the support from those who have stuck with me!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Aggression learned behavior by modeling

This next study by Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S. A. in 1961 looked at if aggression was learned or could be transferred from one subject to the next. It was proposed that if a child saw an adult acting aggressively that child would "learn" that behavior and do likewise. The experiment was setup so that a child was taken into a play room where an adult would then enter and beat up on a Bobo doll. Other children the control group had an adult come in who did not beat up the Bobo doll. There were both female and male models. The children where then taken to another room where there were more toys and the Bobo doll. The children were observed through a one-way-mirror and it was noted each act of aggression that was displayed by the child. Before taking the children into this next room the experimenters first aroused anger in the children by not allowing them to play with some toys.

The results where very interesting. The children exposed to the violent acts imitated the acts. Boys' violent behavior was more influenced by the male model than the female model and 3rd boys were more violent than girls. The results were mixed on whether the non-aggressive model had an opposite effect on aggression.

This study showed that through observation, in this case violent ones, behaviors could be learned. The next thing they showed that is interesting is that male aggression was more acceptable than female aggression. Other studies have looked at this and they have found that the farther away from realistic models the models are the less likely the children will model this aggression.

How does this help us develop our characters further? By understanding how behavior is learned through observation it is important to teach our characters in the same manner. It is also important to look at the societies that we build within our stories to make them realistic as well. When we have models for our characters especially ones than could be seen as authority figures we need to show how the models behavior affects the character. Do we have an "evil" model for our character. If so does that character learn the behavior or parts of the behavior. Maybe the character becomes the hero of our story but has hints of the behavior that the "evil" model had. Maybe the MC has to stop himself from killing someone as he flashes back to the cruelty of his father. In our societies who is the dominant sex. Is it okay for a male character to beat another person to death or is that viewed as unacceptable. How about a female character is it improper for her to walk away from a fight or is it improper for her to defend herself?

When looking at our characters we need to be aware of the learned behaviors that they do not even know about and how the models around them affect their behavior.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Giveaway and blog hop

Welcome to all of my new followers I hope that you find some good information. I think the bloghop was great and I met a lot of new people with great blogs. I'm still working on getting through the list and hope to complete it by tomorrow. I have a family event going on this weekend so I'm not getting around as quickly as I would have liked to have.

Just a reminder to enter the giveaway only one week until the drawing occurs. Check out the giveaway page to find out the rules. Comment on this post to let me know how many entries you have. For some reason the giveaway page is not letting me allow comments, GRRRRR.

Have a great weekend and have fun checking out the amazing blogs out there.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pay It Forward Blogfest

Today is a pay it forward Blog Fest check out the official announcement here.

Here are the three blogs that are a great source of information and fun:

EA Younker Great stories, Reviews and Monday writing tip each week.

Unbagging The Cats If you need a laugh this is the place to go.

Waystationone  Wonderful poems each and every day.

The rest of the wonderful blogs are listed below check them out. It was so hard to narrow it down to three but there you have it. Have a great Blogfest today!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Milgram Studies Revisited

Today is a revisit from a past post in which we discussed the Milgram studies. This re post is due in part to an assignment I had in class and just how fascinated I am with the fact that we as humans follow orders from Authority. That authority can be a person, an institution, a country, or even an idea. Recently the Milgram studies were replicated by burger in 2009. There are three youtube videos showing the experiment with the actual participants being filmed. It is fascinating and scary to watch. Here are the links:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

These videos show that even today in our "highly sophisticated" society we are still going to conform to what we are told to do. I think a really good exercise to do on this is to do some more people watching, but this time pay attention to what they do when they don't think anyone is watching and when they do think someone is watching.

How do your characters behave when no one is watching?

Note I realized that my page on the giveaway is not accepting posts. I have tried to fix this but it is not allowing it. If you want to be in the contest just post below and put in the number of entries you deserve. Sorry about that I will continue working on it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Today I decided to talk a little bit about regrets. As I was walking to school today I was thinking about things that I have not done and wish I had done or things I had done differently. It is interesting how things affect us at different times and how they can help us understand ourselves better.

Often I hear about the regrets of things we wish we hadn't done that would have made our lives better like I wish I wouldn't have skipped school so much or I wish I wouldn't have... (you fill in the blank their are numerous answers far more than we could imagine). There are also the regrets of things I wish I would have done. Like I wish I would have stayed at a particular job longer, I wish I would have traveled more, I wish I would have.... (Once again too many things to fill in the blank).

The new regrets that I had never thought about but make up who I am are regrets that would not have necessarily made my life better but I wish I had experienced. These regrets are much more personal because they bring out the bad side of who I am but who I have pushed down so as to have a healthy life. These regrets are the ones that we are taught by our parents not to have such as hitting other kids. One regret that is a "bad" regret that I have is I wish I had hit the bully that picked on me. Hitting the bully may or may not have made my life better but it was always taught by society to not hit and so I didn't hit. I regret not hitting him. This is a more grey regret I understand but hopefully you get my meaning without me having to spill my soul :)

I think about our "perfect" main characters who always seem to do what is right and never think bad things or regret taking the quest instead of staying home in the nice comfy bed. I think to make our characters more alive and real to our readers we need to give them regrets that are bad as well as good. Meaning the character should regret yelling at his mom and regret not kissing his best friends girlfriend.

So there are my thoughts on regrets. What do you think? How have you used regrets to shape your characters?

Just a reminder not many have signed up for the giveaway. Even if you do not want to participate I would appreciate all the help and mentions you feel you can give :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Little Albert

Just a reminder to go to my Giveaway page to enter into the contest.

This next study was conducted by Watson & Rayner (1920).  They were wanting to find out where emotions come from and so they setup a study to find out. They proposed that behavior is generated outside the person (these are your nature folks). Further, they proposed that we learn our emotions. In fact he made a statement that said that everything is learned, "Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own special world to bring them up in, and I'll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant, chief, and, yes, beggar man and thief" (Watson, 1913). Watson theorized that if presented with a stimulus that produced an emotion and then coupled with another stimulus the person would start to equate to the new stimulus (Just like pavlov's dog but with emotions this time).

In the experiment they put a rabbit with Albert and he was not afraid of it but then they coupled it with something that Albert was scared of (a loud noise) and soon Albert was afraid of the rabbit. This proved two of Watson's thoughts first that all human behavior stems from learning and conditioning and second that behavior stems from unconscious processes. This was done in part of course as we have looked at our nature vs. nurture already.

So how does this apply to writing? I think that once again it goes along with how does our characters become who they are? Did they learn it or were they born with it? Do they have a strange response to something because of a past stimuli? What about smells do they get happy when they smell Christmas smells (I know I do)?

How does your character react?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Giveaway for My memories suite software

This Giveaway has ended thanks to all of you who participated!!!
I was approached by My Memories Suite to do a giveaway of their program. I have looked at the software and think it is a great idea. Very easy to use and fun. They have a great video on youtube on how to use it and what it is all about. Take a look at it. Now they did give some stipulations an that is that you need to visit their site. The following are the ways to earn points for the giveaway:

1 point for following (Must do to enter into the competition)
1 point for going to My Memories Suite (Must do to enter into the competition)
1 point for tweeting about my blog
1 point for blogging about my blog
1 point for google + mention
1 point for facebook mention
2 points for each person that follows me because of your recommendation

Please go to the Giveaway page on my blog and let me know how many points you have earned. Also in order to get the 2 points for additional followers they need to let me know who referred them so have them post that along with their own points on the Giveaway page.

Good luck to everyone!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pavlov's Dog

Most of us have heard about Pavlov's dog but, a quick run down. Pavlov created a situation in which he was able to study and condition a certain response from his dog. He was able to condition a dog to salivate by simply hearing foot steps . He did this through several steps. First he used an unconditioned stimuli (food) this caused an unconditioned response (salivation). 2nd a neutral stimulus (foot steps) was introduced with the Unconditioned stimuli (food) and we got the unconditioned response (salivation). Step three was to repeat step 2 over and over. Finally you get a conditioned stimuli (footsteps) that leads to the conditioned response (salivation).

Pavlov then applied this to human behavior to show that we have conditioned responses to certain stimuli. An example of this is when my father got home from Vietnam he was walking down the street and a car backfired sending him to the ground. People around him did not dive to the ground because they did not have the same conditioned response to a conditioned stimuli. Another part to this example is extinction. If a car backfired around him now he would not dive to the ground, he would flinch but not dive to the ground. If a conditioned stimuli is not reinforced then eventually it goes away.

When we are writing we need to understand the different unconditional responses and unconditional stimuli that are affecting our character as well as the neutral stimuli that may be turning into conditioned stimuli. An example of this would be that a character has just experienced a traumatic event in which he now cowers from events that are similar to the traumatic event. Eventually the character will get used to similar events (extinction) but in some cases they may never get used to it (PTSD).

What are some ideas you have about using this in a story?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Animal Research and Human Empathy

So today's post is long it is a paper I needed to write for class. The long version is below, this is the nutshell version. Human's have empathy for other species. The further we get away from species that look like and act like us the less empathy we have for them. When writing we need to build on this empathy and recognize few readers are going to fall in love with a main character that looks like a cockroach. If you want more read below :)

While reading these articles the question that kept coming up was, why do we not want to do animal research? Festing and Wilkinson (2007) explain in their article “The ethics of animal research” that if animal research was done away with “it would have enormous and severe consequences for scientific research.” Overmier and Carroll (2001) recall the many benefits that science has provided for our societies and race. Further, they explain that many of the comforts that we have today are due to the scientific studies that have been conducted in the past, many of which included animal “models.”
            So, the question, why do we not want to do animal research, comes back to mind. Saucier and Cain (2006) also looked into this question and set up a study in which they examined the beliefs of individuals in why they would or would not want to do animal research. They came up with several reasons why people believed the way they believe. It seemed to me that the beliefs centered around knowledge of the individual about the procedures and necessity of the research conducted on the animal subject.
            Festing and Wilkinson (2007) discuss the importance of knowledge and how the public should be made more aware of the process in which animals are used to further research. In a past class the professor discussed the importance of educating the public on the projects that are being conducted. The example that was used was a facility that was going to be used to store toxic waste in Arizona. The project was part of a plan to work with several states in order to meet requirements of storing hazardous wastes including nuclear. Those in charge of the project did not educate the public on the project and so it was protested by those against the project using scare tactics that eventually ended the project. To date, nothing is being done with the wastes in the state. If the public had been made aware of the entire details then they would not have fought against the project because they would have realized that the most dangerous waste, nuclear, was going to a different state. This is how I think we, as researchers, get ourselves into trouble because we do not educate the public about what we are doing.
            Still, the question comes back, why do we not want to use animals in research? It may seem strange that I keep coming back to the same question but I think it has something to do with what the articles are talking about, education. I think about the general public and what they believe. They trust the internet more than the professional, the guy on Dr. Phil more than the psychologist they have been seeing for years and the late night radio host talking about aliens than what is right in front of them. This gets me to the point of why I think many people are against animal research.
            I have never been against animal research but, I found myself questioning this while reading the articles, and like I said earlier, the question why kept coming up. I realized, for me, that it was a matter of putting myself in the animals place. How would I feel if an advanced race, aliens, came, invaded the earth and decided that I would be a good “model” for their research. Images of movies flashed through my mind as I envisioned myself lying on a steel table unable to move. Yes, it is ridiculous, but it is also what I perceive as a great strength of the human race, empathy.
            As humans, we have the ability to empathize with not only others of our kind but also other species. The further we get away from a species that we can identify with, the less empathy we have for that species. Such as a cockroach, I can smash it without thinking twice. However, to smash a bunny, I don’t think I could do it. This ability for empathy of similar species is well known to writers. A writer needs to gain the audiences’ sympathy for the main character or the book will fail. In order to do this the main character must be similar to the reader in not only psychological characteristics but, also physical characteristics. A good example of this is Avatar, even though the alien race was not human they looked very human and we could identify with them.
            This takes me to the main point of what I am getting at. We identify with animals because of our fear and empathy. We can picture ourselves, our parents, and our kids in similar situations. For this reason it is so important that researchers educate the public on how and why the studies are being conducted. They need to help the public become more aware of the benefits of the research. However, more importantly, educate the public on the costs of not doing the research. I don’t think anyone would want to go back to the days that Overmier and Marilyn (2001) describe, “…infant and mother mortality rates were very high. Those children who did survive were battered by a variety of fatal or debilitating diseases (e.g., whooping cough, measles, rheumatic fever, and infantile paralysis).”
            Animal research, at this point in the history of man, is a necessary evil, but that does not mean that it cannot be done humanely. It is also important that we as future researchers understand the importance of educating the masses on what we are doing and more importantly why we want to do animal research.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Risky Decision Making

This next post is from a study done by Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1979). It is an amazing study that looked at why people make risky decisions. The found out that people make decisions based on losses and gains as opposed to the probability of those losses or gains. An example: 
"Imagine your country is preparing for the outbreak of a disease expected to kill 600 people. If program A is adopted, exactly 200 people will be saved. If program B is adopted there is a 1/3 probability that 600 people will be saved and a 2/3 probability that no people will be saved." 
In this example more people chose option A (72%) because the example is presented in gains. The same example just presented in terms of loss: 
"Imagine your country is preparing for the outbreak of a disease expected to kill 600 people. If program A is adopted, exactly 400 people will die. If program B is adopted there is a 1/3 probability that no one will die and a 2/3 probability that 600 people will die."
Here more people chose option B (78%).

So from the examples we learn that people don't really care about the odds but are more concerned with how it is worded or in other words what are they going to lose.

When writing our stories we need to see how we are presenting ultimatums. Are we looking at them from the perspective of odds or from gains and losses. The character is more likely going to make the choice depending on how it is presented rather than the odds of success or failure.

Monday, October 3, 2011


When we sleep we go through different stages. When we first fall asleep we are in stage 1 which is a light sleep and progressively we move into deeper and deeper sleep (stage 4). We then cycle down until we approach stage 1 in which we enter a different kind of sleep Rapid Eye Movement (REM). It is in this stage in which we begin to dream. We then go back and forth in between REM and NREM (when we don't dream).

Something interesting happens when we are in REM, our bodies become immobilized which is a protection from acting out our dreams. Also a study was conducted by Dement that showed that we need to dream and in fact if a person goes without dreaming the next night they will end up dreaming more than usual. Also in the study it showed that there was a slight increase of weight gain by not being allowed to dream.

As we write sleep into our characters lives we need to understand their sleep patterns and how they work. Are they getting deprivation of sleep and/or dreams? They should be having the "big" dreams in the morning when more people have dreams or is this what makes the dream unique because it happens immediately upon falling asleep.?. Dreams can be a great way to move our characters and to give insight into our story to our readers. It is also a great way to show foreshadowing.

How do the dreams affect our characters? Do they believe in the dreams they are having? Are they grouchy for the rest of the day? You know the days I'm talking about you wake up after dreaming about fighting with significant other and you are angry at them for the rest of the day.

Keep in mind the sleep patterns of your characters and how all that sleeping on hard ground is affecting them. How do you interpret your dreams?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Our Perceptions

So i'm reading my book about studies and came upon a cool part of human ability that I often leave out of my books. That is perception. Now I'm talking about physical perceptions no abstract perceptions. So, let me explain a little. So we have senses (hearing, feeling, smelling, seeing, tasting) that we are constantly taking in. Pause for a moment and try and think of something you are sensing at this moment from all five senses. Go ahead I'll wait.....Ok did you pick one out for each sense. It is amazing how much we sense and equally amazing how much our mind ignores. So our perceptual processes are doing three general things: 1) selecting the senses to pay attention to; 2) organizing these senses; 3) interpreting this organization and making sense of the world around us.

Our brain uses several tricks to make sense of this: 1) figure-ground (this is where we can focus in on one thing and ignore the other things. Think about the picture of the old and young women. Some see the young and some see the old but then they are able to switch it as well); 2) Perceptual Constancies (that is knowing and perceiving objects the same even though our senses are giving us new information about the object. For example as you walk around a chair the senses are telling you new things about it but you still see it as the same object);  3) Size Constancy (This is being able to tell that when you are 5 blocks away from a bus you know that it is not a toy).

The question is how much is learned and how much is innate, nature vs. nurture. This study talks about a man who has lived his entire life in a jungle and when he leaves he sees a mountain for the first time over a distance. He does not know how to comprehend it and can't tell if it is a mountain or a cloud. Later he sees a buffalo from a long way away and wonders what kind of insect it is. He has not learned how to perceive the size constancy outside of the jungle.

Okay so how does this apply to writing. First we need to understand the senses that are around us. As an exercise spend 5 minutes a day becoming aware of the sensations that your senses are telling you about then write them down. Remember all 5. Second when we write about our characters going into new environments and  places how are their perceptions reacting to those new places? Are they able to comprehend the things around them?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Brain

So today I received a book called "Forty Studies that changed Psychology" by Roger R. Hock. The first study that he looks at is "One Brain or two" which was a study conducted in 1976 by Gazzaniga, M.S. In this study the researchers were wanting to better understand how the two halves of the brain worked. There are extreme cases of seizure in which a surgery is conducted in which the corpus callosum (this is the structure that connects the right and left hemisphere together) is cut to prevent or reduce seizures. So the researchers conducted tests on these patients to see how they would respond.

What they found is that the left hemisphere of the brain is superior to the right for speech while it seemed visual spatial abilities were more proficient with the left hand which means it was tied to the right hemisphere of the brain (you see as the nerves go from some parts of our body they cross over and so the left side is controlled by the right and vice verse).

So what does this all have to do with our characters and understanding them better? This is an extremely small taste of the research that has been conducted on the brain. I think the more that we as authors understand the brain and how it works we will better understand characteristics of our characters that are unique to them. In this study I could then look at a character who has a brain injury to a certain side and understand how it might affect that character. Or perhaps he gets clubbed in the back of the head and goes blind for a day or two (the rear part of our brains is where I sight is processed). By understanding the brain we can better understand how our characters act and respond to the environment.

So what interesting facts have the rest of you learned about the brain? How have you applied it to your writing?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Society vs The Individual

This is a big question in my mind lately. What is more important the society that a person resides in or the individual. Today in our ethics class we discussed a fictitious vignette about a study on cancer. The researchers were studying a hypothetical drug that was curing some kids but others were getting sicker and dying. All of the kids were terminally ill. The question is do we stop research because of the few terminally ill children that are dying sooner than expected even though the drug is beneficial and saving others. This is the whole idea of what is more important society or the individual.

When we are creating our characters we need to understand their viewpoint on this. We need to know what they would do in certain ethical dilemmas. Would they stop the study because of the harm being done to the few or would they continue because the benefit outweighs the cost of the few. This can greatly influence how they react in certain situations. Will they forget the world because their family is in dire trouble or will they say it is more important to save the world. We see this all the time in the different shows that we watch.

I suggest to truly get to know our main characters we should put them in hypothetical situations where they need to make ethical decisions. Make sure that they are not easy dilemmas to solve but that they make you really evaluate the values of your character.

What ethical dilemmas do you find your characters in?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What I have been doing?

Hello to all of you who have been wondering where I have been and to those who just may not care :) I apologize for my absence and want all to know that I am doing well. I plan on starting to post again and have missed the wonderful interactions that I have had with all of you. So today's post is a catch up of the past month.

First I proposed my thesis and passed. Yeah!! This is very exciting because now I can start working on the data that I have. My thesis is looking at juvenile drug courts and comparing those who graduate and those who do not graduate. This is going to be interesting because hopefully it will help selection teams to either look at who they are selecting and/or change their program to better fit those who are not graduating.

I am also working on another project that will be evaluating the studies that have been done over the years. Specifically I will be looking at how have they changed after the Institutional Review Board (IRB) came into existence. The IRB is the reviewing board for all studies that are conducted. They evaluate the ethics behind the studies to ensure that the cost/benefits are inline and more importantly that studies like the Milgram project and prison experiment do not happen again. I will be evaluating how studies are benefiting society now or if they have become to stifled because of IRB restrictions. This whole idea comes from my wonderings of what is more important the society or the individual. Is society hurting because of our emphasis on the individual? Have we gone far enough to protect the individual from society? So this is a big theme in my life and in fact a lot of my books look at this question.

School has started again and this semester has been overwhelming as you can tell by the lack of posts. However the exciting thing is that I am in practicum and so I am actually working in the schools once a week.

I also have queried my book to a couple of places and one of them even requested a full. This is very exciting because it means that they enjoyed the first three chapters enough to want to read more.

I went to League of Utah writers conference and it reinvigorated me to write again. I have been working on my WIP and I have developed the magic system and the technology. I have also been playing around with Dragon Age's portrait creator to make pictures of my main characters. This is a wonderful resource BTW.

So that is life in a nutshell. How are the rest of you doing? Any exciting and earth shattering news? Is there anything that you want to hear about? Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Studies on Human Behavior Part 4:

Solomon Asch conducted several tests involving peer pressure to conform. This experiment is related to other experiments that we have already looked at, Stanford Prison and Milgram experiments. Asch wanted to see how peer pressure would work on people giving incorrect responses because peers were giving the incorrect responses. The experiment involved 8 people sitting around a table with only one of them being the actual subject the rest were confederates. The 8 participants answered a simple question of which line was longest or which line was similar to a reference line. The confederates would at first get answers correct and then start to get them incorrect thus giving Asch a reference point to see how much the subject was influenced by the other people.

The results were very interesting and showed that peer pressure could have a measurable influence on answers given.  In the control group where everyone gave the correct responses there was only 1 incorrect response out of 35. On the other hand when "peers" were giving incorrect responses over one third of the subjects gave incorrect responses. At least 75% of the subjects gave the wrong answer to at least one question when the "peers" were giving incorrect responses.

Follow up experiments showed that with more confederates and the more forceful they were made a difference in the results. One confederate made little difference but influence increased as two or three were added. Also if one confederate disagreed with the other confederates it improved the likely hood that the participant would choose the right answer.

Some things to keep in mind is that the experiment was conducted on all young men who are more impressionable than older adults. However, younger subjects would most likely be more influenced.

This is a great study that shows that people can be easily peer pressured into doing things even if they know that what they are getting pressured into is wrong. People want to fit in. Very few people want to stand out from the crowd. In fact society generally punishes those who stand out, think about your "nerds" and "geeks" in elementary school.

So tell me how this relates to characterization.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Studies on Human Behavior Part 3:

Okay today we will be looking at the Robbers Cave Experiment conducted in 1954 by Muzafer and Carolyn Sherif. In this study the researchers were looking at prejudice in social groups. This study was conducted in a 200 acres summer camp surrounded by the Robbers Cave State Park in Oklahoma. In this study 24 twelve-year-old boys with similar backgrounds. There were two buses with twelve boys in each and they were taken to two separate areas in the camp. There were 3 phases: In-group formation, Friction phase, and an integration phase.

None of the boys knew each other previously yet hostilities towards the other group were observed within days of first contact. The friction phase commenced but ended quickly because the boys became too hostile with each other and so the researchers believed they were unsafe to continue so phase three commenced. After phase three the groups worked together and wanted to be friends to the extent that they all insisted on riding home together on the same bus.

If any of you have seen "Lord of the Flies" you have seen this experiment in movie form. It is the idea that in-group hierarchy takes place as well as out-of-group hierarchy. In realistic conflict theory this means that inter-group conflict arises between groups as they compete over the same limited resources. They suggest that this could be a possible cause of prejudice and discrimination.

So this is a little broader than just our characters but also includes the societies that our characters live in. What is the hierarchy of our societies? Where do our characters fit into this hierarchy? How does it affect them? Does our character fit into the mold or are they breaking the mold? If they are breaking it why, what is their motivation?
I hope you are all enjoying these fascinating experiments as much as I am :) Yes I know they are unethical but still fascinating.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Studies on Human Behavior Part 2:

I'm back, hopefully a few people noticed :) Sorry for the long time since writing and no excuses will be given other than one word, thesis.

In the second study on human behavior I chose the Stanford Prison Experiment. I will not give all the details here but for information on it please refer to this link. In a nutshell Phillip Zimbardo, in 1971, wanted to expand upon the the Milgram study that we discussed last week. Zimbardo decided that prison guards and inmates would be a good place to look to see how humans behave in stressful situations. So, he had 24 participants half guards and half prisoners. The guards gained to much power and became inhumane and abusive and so the study ended in six days rather than the scheduled 14 days. Many of the prisoners began to show signs of extreme stress and anxiety. Five of the prisoners began to experience problems that they were released from the study even sooner than the 6 days. Keep in mind that these participants were Stanford students with no criminal behavior, lacked psychological issues and had no major medical conditions.

So another study showing how human behavior under extreme pressures can cause humans to do things that they normally would never do. I think that this study also shows what happens to people that are put into adverse situations (prisoners) and what will happen to them and how short a time it takes (only 6 days some less) for them to break down. This also makes me think of "hardened" criminals. How do they withstand the same psychological breakdown, or do they?

Our characters need to have something that keeps them from breaking. Is it their inner resolve to do what is right? Are they supported by others? Are they slowly immersed in the situation so that they become used to it (the crab in boiling water)? What makes them so resilient when the vast majority of us would break? or do they break and because of that break does it change them forever due to guilt, resolve to do better etc.?

Let me know what you think.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Studies on Human Behavior Part 1:

I wanted to start a series on several studies that have looked at human behavior. The studies I want to look at are the ones done earlier on in psychology and probably would not get approval in today's world, but I think they are valuable in helping us as writers to better understand how humans behave in extreme circumstances. 

The first study that I want to look at is one by Stanley Milgram in 1961. The Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures was an experiment in which Milgram wanted to better understand the willingness of participants to obey authority. Milgram wanted to better understand why people will do horrible things such as the things done in concentration camps by people who normally would not do those type of things. He asked the question "Was it that Eichmann and his accomplices in the Holocaust had mutual intent, in at least with regard to the goals of the Holocaust?" In other words, "Was there a mutual sense of morality among those involved?” The results from the testing suggested that the millions of accomplices were just following orders.

The study was setup so that the participant was taken into a room with another person and they were told that they would be helping another person learn by shocking them when they made a mistake. The participant could see the learner through a one way mirror and they were told that the student on the other side of the mirror could not see them. The student was an actor in actuality and he was not shocked during the experiment although he acted as if he was. So the instructor told the participant that if the student missed the question he must shock them and the amount of shock would be turned up for each missed question. As the actor was shocked he began to complain of heart problems and would even bang on the wall. Most participants said they wanted to check on the actor after this but the person in the room with the participant assured the participant that they would not be held liable and that they must continue the test. If four verbal prods were given and the participant wanted to stop the experiment would stop otherwise they would continue until the full 450 volts had been administered.

The results showed that 65 percent of the participants administered the full voltage. That is 26 out of 40 would have killed a person when instructed to do so by an authority figure. They all questioned it but they still continued on. Milgram said, “Stark authority was pitted against the subjects' [participants'] strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects' [participants'] ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not. The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation.

Okay besides being really scary this tells us a lot about human nature and authority. So the million dollar question is why does your character buck the system and go against authority? What is special about your character? 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Parenting Styles Part 5:

Over the past couple of days we have discussed the negative parenting styles and I wanted to end on the good parenting style, the Authoritative parent. This type of parent is both demanding and responsive. This style is also called the assertive democratic or balanced parenting. In this parenting style it is child-centered and holds high expectations of maturity. These type of parents understand their children and look for ways to help them with their problems. They support them emotionally and help them regulate their emotions. Parents with this style have clear rules and boundaries and consequences for those rules if broken. At the same time they allow verbal give and take. The rules are established together. These type of parents are not as controlling allowing their children to explore more freely. This allows the child to mature and learn to make their own decisions.

When giving out punishments the child knows why they are being punished and what is expected. The child knows that they have broken the rule. Parents are attentive to the child's needs and instead of punishing will forgive and teach when a child falls short. This does not mean that they get away with things like we learned about the permissive parent.

Children coming from these homes generally have higher self esteems and independence. These children I do not generally work with and you don't generally see them getting into problems.

This does not mean that these children will turn out perfect they still may have many other situations that come up in their lives that will cause problems. It only means they have the support needed to get through life's challenges.

When looking at characters I think about 'Awesome' on the show Chuck. These are the characters that can make it through tough situations. In my book the MC had great parents and so when very tough things come up for him he is able to go back to his memories of his parents and make it through them. Characters will have an inner strength that gets them through dark times if they had parents with this parenting style.

So now that we know all about parenting styles how are you going to use it in your books?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Parenting Styles Part 4:

This next parenting style is the one I like to call the "yes" style. It is the style where the parent feels like saying no is a bad thing. It is called the Indulgent parenting style.

The indulgent parent is very responsive but not demanding. The extreme is the free-ranger parent, anything goes. This style is also known as permissive, non-directive or lenient.  The parent has few behavioral expectations for the child. These parents are nurturing and accepting of their children they are supportive and most people see them as great parents. The problem is that they do not require children to regulate themselves or behave appropriately. The child tends to end up being a spoiled brat or spoiled sweet depending on the behavior of the children.

So what happens to these kids. It seems like the perfect scenario and it seems that it is almost the trend lately. A recent study found that children with the indulgent parent have nearly triple the risk of participating in heavy drinking. Children with strict parents have double the chance of heavy drinking. So you see in this scenario it is better to be the Authoritarian rather then the indulgent. Children that have these types of parents tend to be more impulsive, and as adolescents may engage in more misconduct and drug use. These children have a hard time of learning to control their behavior and always expect to get their way. On the other hand these kids may turn out to have better emotional security, more independent, and mature quicker.

So what type of characters would we write about that have parents like this?

I plan on doing the fourth parenting style tomorrow so stop on by.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Parenting Styles Part 3:

The next parenting style we will look at is the Authoritarian parenting style. I have to admit that I feel I have to be most careful with this style. This does not mean I spend all my time here I just know that if I am not careful I can more easily slip into this style, especially when I am tired. This style probably fits best with the super ego thought process if we wanted to compare it to something Freud did. The reason I say this is because it is the idea that the law must be followed no matter what we must be strict. However it is even more intense than that if we go very far. 

The Authoritarian parent is demanding but not responsive. The extreme is totalitarian parenting, my way or the highway, no ifs, ands, or buts. The parent expects children to conform to their rules with little to no open dialogue between parent and child. The parent expects a lot out of their children but do not explain the reasoning for the rules and boundaries. This type of parent will spank their child rather than talk to them (we will discuss spanking some other day but just so you know there have been studies showing that spanking is effective and isn't as bad as we have made it out to be). 

The child will have less social competence because they are told how to act and respond. The child is not given room to make choices. An interesting thing about this style is that in some cultures kids have positive outcomes. An example is Asian culture. I would also think some religious cultures have the same effect. The problem though is that when a child is pushed to much there is a good chance that they will rebel, break down, or run.

So if we want a character that has bad social manners or who is overly submissive then we could use parents of this style to explain that to the reader. It would also be a good reason of why a character runs away from his family. These type of characters may be broken or they may be the complete opposite completely rebelling against any type of authority. These are our anarchist perhaps. Once again people who have gone through this type of parenting could be perfectly normal with little to no problems. They may have even had a good childhood. 

What are your thought? What type of character could you explain who comes from this parenting style? 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Parenting Styles Part 2:

First off I want to thank everyone who took the time to look at my first two hundred words and gave invaluable feedback. I hope also that you saw the differences from the two postings (and that the second one was better).

Parenting is an amazing gift and responsibility. I have four kids of my own and have strived to parent them to the best of my ability. Am I perfect?  Not even close.  Do I Strive every day to be a better parent?  Most definitely. The point of this is I feel that generally parents are doing the very best job they know how to do. Generally speaking parents love their children and want them to be the very best they can be. So during this I hope that we can all learn together and better understand how parenting affects the lives of our characters and as an added bonus understand how parenting affects our own lives.

To start off with I want to talk about a study conducted by Harry Harlow. In the 1960’s he conducted several controversial experiments on rhesus monkeys. He wanted to prove that newborns need more than just food and shelter but that they also require love and affection. What he did was he took newborn rhesus monkeys from their mothers and put them in cages with two different surrogate mothers. One was a wire monkey that had a milk bottle attached to it so the monkey could eat. The other surrogate mother was a terrycloth monkey providing warmth and a kind of affection. The experiments showed that the monkeys spent much more time with the terrycloth monkey even though it provided no food. Now this was definitely a cruel experiment but it clearly proved that love and affection is more important to the newborn than food. It also showed that without this warmth and affection the monkeys developed psychological problems and some even died from the trauma.

This leads us to our first parenting style, the neglectful parent. One thing I want to point out here is that all parents fall into this area at times. We all decide to do things like hmmmm I don’t know maybe write as opposed to play with our children J but the real problem is when we spend most to all of our time in this area. So the truly neglectful parent is the one that completely ignores their child. They don’t even make the effort to punish their kids. These are the parents that generally are having so many personal issues that they don’t have time for their children. This is also called the hands off, detached, uninvolved, or dismissive style. They set no limits for their children and provide little to no warmth to the child. Some of these parents can provide the basic necessities for the child but do not provide emotional support. Some of the worst cases of this are parents addicted to drugs. It is a very sad thing that happens but the children from a very young age must learn to fend for themselves.

Children that have these types of parents generally develop a sense that other aspects of the parents’ lives are more important than they are. Many of the children develop patterns of truancy and delinquency. They become detached from society and have problems with forming good relationships in the future. Some things I have seen is the children may become overly attached to others and very needy or the opposite where they need no one. Another common pattern is the hording of food. One child who was moved into a better home after being neglected would store food under his pillow and bed for many years after being moved even though there was plenty of food and love provided. It is also important to understand that there is more than parenting that is involved when a person’s personality is formed. There are many wonderful amazing people that have come from neglectful families. Do they most likely still have issues due to the neglect? Yes but, they have been able to overcome them and to move on and to be successful. Nothing is absolute!

So when writing about our characters that come from this type of home we must realize that they will have issues. They will most likely have problems with attaching to others. They will have trust issues and they may even be our villains (sadly this is true). In my novel the child had a good first few years but then went through some terrible years. Because of his beginning years he was able to move past the harder years.  

Monday, July 25, 2011

200 word contest

I have learned a huge lesson today and that is to make sure that you number your edits on your stories. When I posted my last two hundred words it seemed off and as I hadn't looked at it for a couple of weeks I didn't pick up on it. I had posted an earlier edit. So, in the future and as a recommendation to all of you out there number your edits on your stories. Here is my latest rewrite that is hopefully much better than the one posted earlier today.

A loud bang on the front door woke Tom. A short pause was followed by another loud bang on the hard oak. Tapping sounds came as high heeled shoes crossed the marble floor of the foyer. Tom slid out of bed. A sharp click from the latch echoed as the heavy door opened. Tom clenched his new toy soldier that he just got for his eighth birthday. He ran to the landing above the large hall. His small hand grasped the white bar as he saw a woman and man talking to the maid, Anna.
“We must see your mistress at once,” the woman said.
Who are they?
The woman wore a red dress, and her long black hair caught the glow of the chandelier. The man was bigger than anyone he had ever seen before. His short beard was neatly trimmed and light reflected off his shaved head. His long sword moved slightly on his black suit as he shifted his weight from one foot to the other.
Anna walked back down the hall and the woman turned to whisper to the man.
What are they talking about?
A few minutes later, Mother hurried to the woman, holding her hands out.

So once again I appreciate the comments from the last post hopefully you will see a difference in this rewrite from a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully they will take this 200 word entry into the contest instead of the one I posted in error.

First 200 words of my novel

Okay I know I promised to start the parenting section this week, but something really cool came up and so I am going out on a limb again. Here is the first 200 words of my 80,000 completed fantasy novel. Please take a look at it and give any feedback you would like. This is the first novel or anything that I ever wrote. It is what got me started writing. I finished it in about 3 months and have been working on it ever since :) Tomorrow I will post my first section on parenting.

The Order of The Rose:

A loud bang on the front door woke Tom. A short pause was followed by another loud bang on the hard oak. Tapping sounds came as high heeled shoes crossed the marble floor of the foyer. Tom slid out of bed. A sharp click from the latch echoed through his bedroom as the heavy door opened. Tom clenched his blanket and ran to the landing above the large hall. His small hand grasped the white bar as he saw a woman and man talking to the maid, Anna.
“We must see your mistress at once,” the woman said.
Tom wondered who the woman was. She wore a red dress, and her long black hair caught the glow of the chandelier. The man that was with her was bigger than anyone he had ever seen before. The man’s short beard was neatly trimmed and light reflected off of his shaved head. His long sword moved slightly on his black suit as he shifted his weight from one foot to the other.
Anna walked back down the hall and the woman turned to whisper to the man. Tom wondered what they were so quiet about. A few minutes later, Mother hurried to the woman, holding her hands out.

So there you have the first 200 words. Once again any feedback would be helpful. Thanks for all of your support.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Parenting Styles Part 1

So, in the following days we will be discussing the different parenting styles. It is important to keep in mind that when looking at an individuals style that it may concentrate in one area but the individual will still be found parenting in other areas as well.

The Following is a grid that shows how the parenting styles are formed. You will notice that there two main theories on parenting styles. We will be discussing the four styles and exploring how this would effect our characters.

Maccoby and Martin's Four Parenting Styles
Baumrind's Three Parenting Styles (in italics)

I'm really excited about this and hope that you will all make many comments and share with others during this next section of diagnosing our characters. Feel free to put in your own experiences and thoughts throughout. 

Start to think and hypothesize about the four styles and how they would effect your characters and starting next week we will explore them in great detail. Have a great weekend!!

Friends Meetup Party - the perfect line