Writing can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s exciting to create new worlds and characters. On the other, there are parts that feel like pulling teeth just to get an idea down. When we’re in the depths of writing despair, it often feels like we’re alone. Surely none of those amazing published authors have these problems! Thankfully, that is not the case. In fact, many published authors go through the same trials as you when writing. Writers have a few words about writing that are very relatable. I’ve compiled thirteen that I’ve found especially relatable.
This quote about deadlines that is too real.
Ernest shows up a lot on this list, because he speaks the truth.
True for both writing and life.
This quote from Stephen King about the curse of adverbs.
Again, true for both life and writing.
Words of wisdom if you’re struggling with your first draft.
Soothing words for anyone who feels confused about the writing process.
Neil knows how we all feel at the beginning of a writing session.
Dorothy understands the writing dilemma.
Perfect for the introvert in all of us.
Ernest is back with more relatable words.
A writer’s most feared weapon.
Finally the most accurate quote about writing.
What was your favorite quote? Do you have a favorite quote about writing? Let me know in the comments below! I always love hearing other writer’s perspectives on writing. This will be my last writing-themed post before we enter into NaNoWriMo. I’m planning on giving it another shot this year, this time with a new genre focus. I’ll have some more information about it in my next writing post on November 3rd. In the meantime, let me know if you are participating in NaNoWriMo in the comments below. Thanks so much for reading and happy writing!
It’s spooky season time! If you have read any of my blog posts this month, you’ve probably noticed that I love Halloween. With Halloween, comes a lot of spooky content that is sure to get you into the spirit. Whether you are a movie fan or a book lover, there’s something for you. There’s more than movies and books to get you into the Halloween spirit, though. Throughout history, there’s been enough spooky poems to make even Edgar Allen Poe happy. I’ve found a few that will get you into the spooky spirit!
It wouldn’t be a spooky poetry list without mentioning Mr. Poe at least once. This is one of his most iconic poems. It also includes one of his most iconic lines, where a raven speaks the words “Nevermore”. This is a great poem to check out if you are in a mood for a spooky story. It channels the eerie feeling of a foggy Fall evening. The mood that Poe does so well, and it prevalent in almost all of his poems. If you want to continue down this eerie aesthetic, Poe is the perfect place to start. If you want to read more of this poem, check out the link in the poem’s title.
“Goblin Market” is a different kind of vibe from “The Raven”. This poem reminds me of old fairy tales like those written down by the Brothers Grimm. There’s a mixture of a seemingly light-hearted character and a dark situation. The poem tells the tale of two sisters who come across a goblin market. It is said that those who eat the fruit of the goblins are never the same, and yet one girl is still tempted to visit these mysterious creatures. If you are a fan of that Grimm vibe and goblins, this is a poem for you. It’s spooky factor falls in the risk of this tale instead of straight horror. Still, it’s worth a read during this season. If you want to take a safe trip to the market of goblins, check out the link in the poem’s title.
Like Poe, my list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning this poem from the scottish play. This poem is what people imitate when they pretend to be witches. Shakespeare’s influence can be seen through the witch costumes and bubbling cauldrons we see on Halloween night. His poem also is a bit more light-hearted compared to the others on this list. Maybe not in the context of the play. Outside of the murder plot, this poem is a fun thing to recite when you’re passing candy to children. Bonus points if you are dressed as a witch. Even if we can’t trick-or-treat this year, you can still enjoy the fun side of Halloween with this poem. If you want to read the full version of this spell, check out the link in the poem’s title.
Now we take a sharp left from more light-hearted to super dark. If you aren’t a fan of bones or graves, turn back now. This poem was written by Thomas Hood in the 1820s. During this time, there was a surge of medical students robbing graves to study anatomy. There were even a few students who decided to make their own corpses. In this tale, Mary is the poor victim of one of these grave robbings. This poem goes a bit into what they have done with poor Mary’s bones through the eyes of her ghost. Her ghost appears to a young William, who has to wake up to all this terrible news. Not a fun way to wake up, I’m sure. This poem has a good mixture of dark Regency era history and a bit of spooky vibes. If you want to take a trip into the darker side of history, check out the link in the poem’s title.
Last but not least, this wonderful poem by Robert Frost. We’ve talked about witches and skeletons, now it’s time to hit on another common symbol of the spooky season; the haunted house. This poem does an awesome job of painting a picture of this decrepit house. It feels like you are walking through an old house full of dust and creaky floorboards. What remains is something that feels eerie in the dark, even if it was once a lovely house. This poem is told from the point of view of a mysterious presence, who may not be alone. It’s an interesting spin on spooky old houses and the ghosts that live within them. If you want to visit this eerie house, check out the link in the poem’s title.
Have you read any of these poems? Is there a poem you love to read during the Halloween season? Let me know in the comments below! I’m sure many of you will be thinking “what about this poem” or “how could she forget this amazing work?” Well friends, I might have a solution for you. This is only part one of my poetry list. It was so hard to narrow it down to five, that it ended up being ten wonderful poems that I had to split up into two parts. In two weeks we’ll be taking another trip to spooky poetry land, so get ready! Any spooky poetry recommendations are still encouraged, of course. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog, and happy reading!
There are countless parts of the writing process that make you want to tear your hair out. World building? Difficult. Plot? A mountain to climb. But there is a part of writing that feels as intimidating as crafting a good twist: creating characters. Creating your characters can be as easy as throwing some traits together and calling it a day. Creating well-rounded, dynamic characters is more of a nail-biting process. You want them to jump off the page, but still feel like real people in the world you’ve created. When creating my own characters, I’ve found a few tips that have helped me make my characters more dynamic and relatable.
Research is key
For those who love starting a story blind, this may be a nerve-wracking step for you. However, research can be a useful tool when creating your characters. It’s not just for worldbuilding! If you have a bare bones idea of who you want your character to be, use those bare bones to learn more about your character. This research is very important if you are writing characters in a different time or if they are someone with a different life experience from you. If you want your character to be a suffragette in England during the 1910s, you need to research the ladies of that movement. If you want to write a character who is a part of a community that you are not, interview someone in that community to get an insight into their experiences. The information you gather isn’t something you necessarily have to replicate when creating your character. Instead, use this research as a lens to sharpen your character. It’s like the glasses of writing!
Character Sheets are (sometimes) your friend
Character sheets are either the bane or savior of a writer’s existence. They can be a great tool, but also a bit overwhelming. A character sheet is a long document where you write down many different facets of your character to help flesh them out. Everything from their favorite color to their morals is on this sheet. It’s a great tool to help you humanize your characters. It’s also a great guide for those times you get stuck writing. How would your character react to a situation? Consult your character sheet and you’ll be able to determine how their reactions will alter the plot. If you’ve tried a character sheet before and got overwhelmed, you’re not alone. I often get overwhelmed by the details you need to use to fill out the sheet. Try filling out some basic information on the sheet as a jumping off point. If you discover things later down the line about your character, you can add it to the sheet. Once you’ve finished your draft, you can use this sheet to make sure that the character’s actions are consistent.
Use visual references for your characters
If you are a visual person like me, sometimes describing characters can be hard without visualizing them first. If you are someone who draws, try drawing your character using the descriptive words you already have. Adjust these descriptors as needed once you have your character drawn out. I sadly did not get the drawing gene, so I use a different approach. I call it the “movie book cast”. Think about people who you would cast in a movie version of your book. What about their appearance and body language is similar to one of your characters? Use their inspiration to help make your descriptors more concise.
Take inspiration from your own favorite characters
There are many books that inspire us to write within a certain genre. Characters do that as well. This means it’s time for one of my favorite things, a list. First, write down what you already know about your character. What are their traits, their morals, etc? Then, make a list of characters who have inspired you. Write down their attributes, and pick out a few that you think would go well with your character. It is very important that you use this as inspiration, not as a copy and paste deal. If you love Elizabeth Bennett, don’t put a new name on her and put her into your story. Instead, think of why you love Elizabeth and use these traits as inspiration to create your own character.
Don’t be afraid of flaws
When writing a story, a compelling tale is a must. How can you accomplish this with perfect characters? Newsflash, you can’t. Characters need to have flaws just like real life people. If you write a perfect protagonist going on a hero’s journey, there’s no point to the story. How will they grow if they’re perfect to begin with? This is when research and the good old character sheet come in handy. Use the information you gather from these to help determine these flaws. Are they a frustratingly perfect hero on a quest? Think about why they are going. Many times characters begin their journey for the wrong reasons, which is where the flaws begin to appear. Flaws are what make your characters relatable and interesting. It also makes your story interesting. No one cares about someone who can go through hardships without batting an eye. If you’re not sure where to begin, reference tip number four. What are the flaws of your favorite characters, and why were they present? Use them as a jumping off point to help you figure out how to humanize your own characters.
Creating a dynamic character in the world of your imagination is hard, but so worth it. Once you have them fleshed out, the story seems a little less intimidating. What is your process for creating characters? Have you ever tried these steps before, and did they help you? Let me know in the comments below! I hope that these tips can help you with character creation, especially during the upcoming NaNoWriMo. We have about a month, but it’s never too early to start planning. Thanks so much for reading, and happy writing!
Today marks the official first day of fall! It’s finally the season of ghost stories told around campfires. Around this time, folklore also makes a reappearance in droves. Folklore here in America often features the woodsy forests and mysterious vibe that brings fall to mind. They’re also fun stories to tell around a campfire during the spooky season. To get myself into the fall spirit, I’ve been enjoying folk tales in many forms. More recently, I’ve been enjoying them in podcast form. Are you interested in taking a dive into some American folklore? I’ve got a few podcast episodes that you need to check out!
Do you like telling spooky stories with your friends? This is the podcast for you! Join Em and Christine as they tell paranormal and true crime stories. You’ll be charmed by their friendly banter and fun tangents. They’ve covered countless stories, from windegos to con men. Em is the paranormal storyteller of this gang. In a recent episode, they told the classic tale The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It’s a tale that’s bound to get you into the Halloween and fall spirit. This story, originally by Washington Irving, is given new life by Em as they paint a vivid picture of the spooky story. While adding in their signature peanut gallery comments, of course. I don’t want to give much away, but you could say there’s a “loaf” of great asides this episode. These comments bring in a modern look at this folklore, and often leads to a bunch of inside jokes for the ATTWD fans. You might find yourself in the future enjoying a glass of wine with Christine or a milkshake with Em as you listen to their next great telling!
It’s time for another look at a Washington Irving tale. He was a big part of American folklore after the American Revolution, so it seems appropriate to include another one of his stories on this list. Jason Weiser hosts and Carrisa Weiser produces this show that takes a modern look at the classic myths and legends of cultures around the world. Jason’s retelling of these stories often involve sarcastic comments and hilarious quips. Plus weekly creature that is always as intriguing as it is odd. In this episode, Jason respins the yarn about Rip Van Winkle. He does a great job of telling these stories so that the jokes and comments that Irving wants to get across will resonate with a modern audience. His occasionally sassy comments about the writer himself are an added plus.
Like many early American folk tales, these tales take place in the Northeast. Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger cover the tales of three odd beasts that loggers claim to have seen in the mysterious woods of Maine. Jeff and Ray always start off their episodes with the atmosphere of the legend’s location. This’ll get you in the mood for the retelling. In this episode, they start off with the sounds of the forest and felling trees. They even pretend to be loggers gathering with their buddies to begin these tales. These two then proceed to fit well told stories of three different beasts into the span of 11 minutes! These episodes may be short, but they use every second wisely. It’s another bingeable podcast for more American folktales and legends to enjoy on a fall day.
This podcast takes a unique look at Folklore. Mark Norman hosts this podcast. He is often joined by members of the Folklore Society and others specialized in the study of folklore. This podcast is more of an interview or discussion style podcast, where Mark discusses the details of the folklore theme with a guest. In the first episode, Mark speaks with Dr. Andrea Kitta about a new American folktale. Slenderman made news back in 2014. They discuss the origins and motives of Slenderman, as well as the impact modern technology has on his tale. As they discuss, it’s fascinating to watch the creation of a new legend unfold in front of our eyes. This is especially true for the 21st century, when it seems unlikely that new legends could pop up. This episode brings the spook factor, along with some great academic insight into this modern legend.
Have you listened to these podcasts? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments below! Also, if you have any great recommendations for the spooky season. I’m always up for adding more podcasts to my lists. I hope you enjoyed the writing and experience of these podcasts. They are just a few of the great ones out there ready for you to check out. Hopefully these will help you get into the fall season and expose you some more American folklore. Happy fall everyone, and happy writing!
I love Agatha Christie. If you have visited this blog before, you’ve probably gathered that. Her sharp wit and intriguing plots called to me when I delved deeper into the world of mysteries. I knew of her, as many people know of Arthur Conan Doyle and Shakespeare. Just the main facts and a bit of knowledge about the stories that made them famous. As I lived with a Sherlock Holmes lover for many years, I knew a fair amount about his creator. But I didn’t get into Agatha’s world until later in my reading career.
Agatha Christie lived an extraordinary life, and had a writing career that many writers would dream of. Overtime she wrote 66 detective novels, 14 short stories, plays, and romance novels. How the woman managed to create and solve that many mysteries still baffles me. She is an inspiration to me both as a writer, and as a woman. She traveled all over the world and wrote these locations into her novels. She even disappeared when she was younger and evaded the police for eleven days before reappearing. What an awesome lady! In some ways, I hope to be like her when I grow up.
This year marks the 100th anniversary for the release of her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. The first time the world met the eccentric but lovable Hercule Poirot. The man whose sharp wit still attracts readers today. I didn’t have the chance to read this Poirot story until very recently, when I was able to listen to an Audible version. It certainly started him off with a bang! In honor of this anniversary, I have revisited a goal that I jokingly made one November evening. I had just finished The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, which I threw across my dorm room because of my frustration with Agatha. Not at her lack of plot or writing style, far from it. I was livid that she was so good! I couldn’t figure out how she managed to put her red herrings in the perfect spots. I imagined her laughing to herself, thinking about how I, around 90 years later, would suspect the correct culprit. But I would be thrown off by a tiny nugged she planted, and ignore the other signs until the final shoe dropped. After that evening, I set a goal for myself. Before I die, I want to read all of her work.
This goal is not a crazy one. There are people the same age as me, or younger, who have already completed this goal. But the vast world of books is large, and so is her catalogue. Still, I want to go on this reading quest. At first, I foolishly believed I could read all of these works by my 26th birthday next March. Seeing as I have only read 8 of her books and plays so far, that was a dumb idea. Instead, I decided to push the date to a slightly more feasible time. Before I turn thirty, around five years from now, I want to finish these books. Five years seems like a long time to finish 70-something books, especially when I try to read 40 books a year. But, like many readers, I have books I want to read every year. And many of her novels feel at home in the crisp autumn air more than the balming heat of summer. This means many of the mystery novels I read aren’t opened again until the first of September. Despite all of this, I am determined to read all of these stories. I can do it! And you can too!
Have you read all of Agatha’s stories? If so, which ones were your favorite? This list is a bit overwhelming, so a few suggestions would be a great jumping off point! If you’ve never read an Agatha Christie, I highly recommend checking them out. Especially if you love mysteries with a good plot twist. You might even decide to join me on this quest to read them all. Trust me, I have a feeling it will be worth it. Happy reading everyone!
It’s finally fall! Even though it’s still hot where I live, I am determined to get into the fall spirit. September is the beginning of one of my favorite seasons. A season where I want to jump headfirst into everything cozy and fall-themed. This is the season where I get out Agatha Christie and dip into the spooky section of my bookshelf. But what about my writing? How can I bring it into this cozy and mysterious world as well? Enter the magical world of writing prompts. I often forget about all the fall-centric writing ideas, so these are a great way to get into the fall mood. I’ve come up with a few prompts that are sure to get you into the spirit of fall, and get your creative juices flowing!
What did you think of these prompts? Are there any fall-themed prompts that you like to reference for inspiration? Let me know in the comments below! Also, please share any stories that stem from these prompts. I’d love to see the different perspectives on these ideas, and where they take y’all. I am very excited to get started on using some of these myself. Hopefully they’ll give me some inspiration for my NaNoWriMo story. Or even ideas for a new character. Thanks so much for reading everyone, and happy writing!
If the title didn’t give you a hint, I love reading fiction. There are so many fun options and genres to choose from! I could jump into the world of historical fiction, or go on a quest with Harry to find the horcruxes. I could help Holmes and Watson solve a mystery, and even journey on a flying steamship to London. The prospect of visiting all these worlds makes my fingers itch to open another book. If you put a non-fiction book in front of me, the reaction is not the same. In fact, I often have the exact opposite feelings. I found five gifs that perfectly describe my experience reading non-fiction. They might line up with your experience as well!
Are you a fiction lover? What’s your experience when reading non-fiction? Have you found any non-fiction books that are perfect for fiction lovers? Let me know in the comments below! If you’re a non-fiction lover, do you have any recommendations? I’d love to give non-fiction novels another shot. Especially historical non-fiction! Thanks so much for checking out my post and happy reading!
Writing is a daunting task. Anytime words flow out of a person to create a narrative, it’s a long and sometimes brutal process. During this time, it’s easy to get into your own head about your writing. I do this all the time, especially when I’m working on a new story idea. When your burrow your head deep into the text, it can be hard to pull yourself out to look at the bigger picture. If you miss a look at the big picture, you might not catch a duplicated leave with an incoherent story. To help yourself find these areas in need of fixing, it’s time to consult. It’s time to pitch your story.
Pitching sounds like an official and scary word, but it doesn’t have to be. Pitching can be everything from a well-designed presentation to a conversation. After my deep dive into NaNoWriMo and Save the Cat, I’ve grown to appreciate the pitch. I’m also in the business and advertising worlds, so I’m well aware of the benefits in that world. I was happy to see that it’s helpful for writing as well! It may seem scary, but pitching an idea doesn’t have to be nail-biting. Here are three tips to help keep decrease the nerves
Pitch to someone you trust
If you are in the writing stage and need story advice, talk to someone you trust about your story. Talking it out is a great way to look at your story in a new light, and it can help you get a new perspective on some plot points. Pitching to someone you trust is super important. If you are self-conscious about your writing, like me, it’s a must. If you have a fellow writer that you trust, go to them first. They can give you more technical advice that could help take your writing to the next level. If you don’t have a writer buddy, that’s okay. A close friend outside of the writing world can still give good feedback. I usually talk to my sister, who is both a fellow writer and someone who understands my weird personality. She knows how to tell me an idea is dumb without upsetting me, and I often get new ideas for my plots when I speak to her. It’s a win-win.
Think about something you want advice on beforehand.
Before speaking to your trusted confidant, think about the issues you see already. Is a character falling flat for you? Is an added theme taking away from the story? Jot these thoughts down and ask. This is especially helpful if you have a writing confidant. Asking specific questions will help give them a starting point for discussion. This is helpful if your questions are more specific to the technical side of writing. These questions are good for non-writers as well. You might discover that something you were questioning isn’t a problem for a reader.
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Like many things, pitching becomes less scary the more you do it. As someone who still gets nervous talking about my story idea around some people, I know how it feels. All you can do is jump in and keep going. Speak to other friends, teachers, and colleagues about your idea. Keep it casual, but make sure you hit some general points in your conversation. This is where the questions come in handy. Ask each person the same questions as a baseline. Let the conversation go from there in an organic way. This makes it easier to repeat this process and get even more results. Over time, you’ll see a decrease in your nerves and a more confident approach to receiving advice. In the long run, this is key to get more confident. If you pitch your story to an agent and a publisher, this confidence will go a long way.
Pitching is still a bit nerve-wracking for me, but I’ve found these three steps super helpful. Three years ago, I would have been nervous to share my writing with my sister. Now we toss ideas around with casual air. No nerves in sight. I have faith that you will be able to get there someday as well! What are your experiences with pitching a story? Do you have any advice on how to lessen the nerves? Let me know in the comments below! If you do end up pitching a story in the future, let me know how it goes. Go forth my fellow writers. You’ve got this! Thanks so much for reading and happy writing!
When I first pinned the title “writer” to my metaphorical name tag, I was a bit skeptical of its legitimacy. I’m sure that I fell under the writing bucket. But was I a writer? Does it even count if you’ve never finished something? Most of these questions sprouted every time I began a new project. Exciting at first, sure. But after a while, it looks like a bunch of drivel in black and white that I can do nothing about. This is when I want to rip my writing badge off me and stalk off to find a new creative outlet. After a few years of grumbling about it, I realized my issue. The same issue that I know other writers face. The dreaded first draft.
I have always heard that it’s okay if the first draft is not great. The point of a first draft, after all, is to get the story out of your brain and onto paper. An already difficult feat without throwing the pressure of making every line perfect. This is where my issues come in. I am what many would call a “Type A” person. Within that “Type A” personality lies good old perfectionism. It’s no surprise that this seeps into my creative side also, especially for writing. I am often side-tracked when writing a story. I want every detail to be perfect and fact-checked, even in the first draft. It throws me off my rhythm and makes the creation of this first draft take forever. In fact, as I am writing this, I have never completed the first draft of a novel. The pressure for it to match the caliber of some of my favorite novels is immense. Enough for me to put my tail between my legs and throw out another prospective story.
Believe it or not, I know that this is an idiotic thing to do. It’s scary to write yes, but why would I ever think that my favorite stories were perfect in their first form? To be honest, I’m not sure. It could be something I heard in English class. Or I never let go of my childlike wonder of books. Younger Emily always imagined that Rick Riordan created well-crafted stories without any editing. I have a tendency to romanticize how creative things get made, especially novels. It took awhile for me to move from the perspective of a reader to the author peering at the creation process. One of the reasons I started this blog was to give myself more motivation to do that. If I challenge myself to talk about writing every-other week, that will help me when I sit down with a story! Right?
So far, this strategy has not played out. Outside sources like COVID and life “adventures” have made it hard for me to sit down and write outside of this blog. I’m not sure if this blog or my studies of writing will help me inch up the first draft mountain. But this uncertainty will not prevent me from taking NaNoWriMo 2020 head on! I already decided at the end of last year’s challenge that I will push myself even more this year. Who knows, I may even hit a new personal record! If you’re in the same struggle boat as me, try taking on a challenge like NaNoWriMo. I’ve gotten much more confident in my skills in the two years that I’ve tried to complete it. Each year I get a drive to do better, and even hit that crazy word count goal. If I do, then I can finally say I’ve written a first draft.
What are your thoughts on first drafts? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the frustrations that come with them? Let me know in the comments down below! I appreciate any time y’all respond and give me advice. It’s helped me so much with this blog, and with my writing! I can’t wait to see what y’all say. Also, please share any stories you have about the draft-writing process! I’d love to hear how y’all climbed up the first-draft mountain. Thanks so much for reading, and happy writing!
Somehow, we’ve reached the time when the school supply section is back in stores. The fresh smell of college-lined paper is in the air all around us. Unfortunately, this time is more complicated than back-to-school last year. But whichever way this situation plays out, the time of learning is almost back. As someone somewhat fresh out of school, I still have a vivid memory of the long nights of studying and homework. One of the things I both dreaded and looked forward to was the reading. I’m sure this isn’t a surprise, but I was the person who would read extra books on the summer reading list. But not all books you read in school are fun, especially once you get into the classics. There were many that I read with a tinge of annoyance. But, it was surprising to find that a few of these classics were good and interesting to me.
My sophomore year of high school is not a year that I remember well. There are gaps in the time frame that I have to ask others to fill in. But I can’t forget the feeling of reading this book. The Alchemist is like many stories. A young man goes on a quest to find a treasure far away. During his journey, he learns more about the real treasures of life. It sounds like many of the hero’s journey stories that you read in school. The fascinating thing about this simple story was its impact. Everyone in my class felt excited to talk about the story, excited to read another chapter. Many of us finished the book early because we were so captured by the story. To me, this novel is a classic because of its simplicity. We can all put ourselves in the shoes of that shepherd boy traveling the world. It didn’t have dark themes or a tragic ending, but still managed to get its point across to a group of sixteen year-olds. It was a light in a sea of darker novels. Someday, I want to read this book again and again to capture the feeling it gave me all those years ago. If you want to learn more about this book, you can check it out on Goodreads here.
Reading this classic was enjoyable for a few reasons. First, my love of Greek of mythology. When the gods I loved to read about growing up popped up, I loved discussing their sections of the story. Also, it’s a fun mix of a road trip story and a hero’s journey-style quest. I was starting to enjoy these types of stories around the time I read this, so it was perfect timing. The most important thing, though, was not the story itself. They say that teachers change your outlook on a subject. For me, that was the case with this book and my freshman honors English teacher. Mr. Barlew had a great way of explaining stories to make them more applicable to modern readers. This was true for The Odyssey. While it’s full of adventures, the language can be a bit hard to decipher. Mr. Barlew used creative ways of teaching to make this story more fun to read. This included acting out the final battle between Odysseus and Penelope’s suitors. Picture a group of fifteen year-olds play-fighting in a library with yardsticks. Needless to say, that rocketed this classic into my top ten. If you want to learn more about this classic tale, you can check it out on Goodreads here.
This classic is the only one on the list that I read in college. Sure, I was familiar with Austen’s work, but I hadn’t read any of it until my second semester of Freshman year. I had heard the title of this story before, but I knew little to nothing about the characters. What drew me to this classic was the sister dynamic. I have a sister, and even though we aren’t exactly like Elinor and Marianne, it was easy to relate to them. Also, I’m a bit more of a hopeless romantic than my sister, so I felt their dynamic on a deep level. I read a moment where Marianne was being a bit dramatic about something and thought “oh look, it’s me”. After reading the book, we also watched the movie. It stars my favorite almost name-buddy, so I knew I would love it. I love Emma Thompson, and it was fun to see Alan Rickman out of his Snume. This movie did add to my love of the story because of the actor’s ability to bring their characters into being. Emma felt like Elinor, and Kate excelled as Marianne. Sometimes watching the movie version does help you appreciate the story more! If you want to dive into Austen’s tale, you can check it out on Goodreads here.
When I first saw this story on the list of reading for my I.B. English class, I was a bit skeptical. For me, stories involving war can go three ways when I read them. The first results in a very sad Emily who is just depressed about life now… thanks book. The second is a more action-movie approach that has me reading on the edge of my seat like I’m watching an Avengers film. The third is a book written in boring, detached language that makes it a droll to get through. This classic took these ideas and threw them out the window. The writing style was like an interesting fiction novel. Also, the themes blew my fellow classmates’ minds. I don’t want to spoil much if you haven’t read this story, but we had a lot of great conversations about the meaning of “truth”. Intrigued? You can learn more about O’Brien’s story here.
This may seem like a cliche, but hear me out. This was the first Shakespeare play I ever read. Is it my favorite? No. But I have such fond memories reading this play in class. That is again thanks to the wonderful Mr. Barlew. Teachers can make a big difference y’all. He took a No Fear Shakespeare approach to teaching us the play. For example, he explained to us that “do you bite your thumb at me sir” is equal to someone flipping you off. He then proceeded to read the passage over using the modern terminology, which made it a lot funnier. We acted out scenes and had lively discussions. Also, the blubbering of the boys in my class when they learned of the age gap was eventful. Want to revisit this iconic play and it’s quips? You can check it out here.
While there have been the duds over the years, I’ve been lucky to read many more classics that I still enjoy to this day. I’ve been consulting my list recently to find some books that I want to give another read. I’m looking forward to revisiting not only the stories, but also the memories I associate with them. What are your favorite classics that you read in school? Do you have any that you think I need to check out? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog, and happy reading!