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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.

Friends Meetup Party - the perfect line