Asdflove Mod Blog

Mod blog for Ask Paradox and Ask Human Time Turner (and Ditzy)

Expect mostly reblogs with a wayward post about my ask blogs here or there.

Ask Paradox  Ask Human Time Turner  
Ask me things





Gender posters 1/2


Bigender ftw
Now you know me.

!!!!!!!FINALLY!!!!!!!!! I’ve been looking up for the definition of cis for weeks!!!


Thermal recording of the ALS ice bucket challenge (source)

this looks like people dumping buckets of black magic clothes onto their bodies



Thermal recording of the ALS ice bucket challenge (source)

this looks like people dumping buckets of black magic clothes onto their bodies




By Andrew Wheeler

“My name is Miles Morales, and I’m Spider-Man.” With those words, Donald Glover takes his place among the ranks of official on-screen Spider-Men.

It’s been known for a while now that Miles Morales, the Ultimate Universe version of Spider-Man, would make his screen debut in an upcoming episode of the Disney XD series Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors, but only now do we know that the part will be voiced by actor and Spidey fan Donald Glover. It’s a brilliant casting decision that we choose to interpret as the first step towards more Miles in other media, rather than an end in its own right.


Full circle. :)


An Avengers/OotS gag I’ve been sitting on for way too long. =P

Five Most Common Female Character Stereotypes 



When someone says that your character is “common”, it is not a good thing. It means that your character is a copy that’s been copied over much too many times. That you’ve probably seen it in books yourself— you may have even based it off a book…

(Source: )

Viewpoint Mini-Series - Part Two - Getting Warmer: Viewpoint is about distance 


Warm or cold?

When we were kids, we’d play games in the garden. Someone would hide an object somewhere. While you searched, they would say ‘You’re getting warm’ when you got closer, or ‘You’re getting cold’ if you got further away from the object.

It is the same with viewpoint. Viewpoint is about distance between the reader and the narrator, and between the narrator and the story itself. Sometimes you want to pull the reader in a close embrace. Other times you want to regard them coolly over the fan of cards in a tense poker game.

Intimate or detached?

In some books, there is an intimacy between the writer and what is being written about—a memoir, a confession, an intense experience. In other stories, the writer takes a step back from the subject. There is a coolness, a detachment to the writing. Both have an effect on how the reader experiences the narrative.

First person stories bring the characters in your story closer to the reader for an intimate and immediate experience. Third person stories allow for a comfortable distance—they often put the reader further from the characters and the storyline. 

Three Crucial Questions to Ask:

  1. How close to you want the narrator to be in relation your story?
  2. Is he the hero or the villain?
  3. Is he a witness or experiencing everything in the plot?

Join us for A View to a Skill - Viewpoint Made Easy - A Writers Write Workshop on 22 June 2014

Read Part One and Watch out for Part Three of our Viewpoint Miniseries on next’s weeks blog. 

by Anthony Ehlers


Stop Calling Me Pastries 1/3

27 skin tones, five descriptions each, no cannibalism required.

 #F5E4DC: Bubble Bath, French Manicure, Martian Clouds, Plaster Pink, Snowbush Rose

#E8D6CA: Antique Pearl, Beige Llama, Rose Marble, Shoreland, Sugar Glider

#EDBFA5: Coral Flower, Fresh Sawdust, Starfish, Sun-Warmed Tile, Westwind Dust

#DBC0B9: Ashes of Roses, Canyon Dusk, Muddy Rose, New Wool, Venice Skyline

#DEAB98: Prairie Dust, Rosestone, Sandpaper, Sunbaked Clay, Warm Sands

#CB9684: Antique Rose, Harness Leather, Rocky Cliff, Rustic Pottery, Space Dust

#C78E70: Cedar Chest, Flame Flicker, Hitching Post, Light Tiger Eye, Potters Clay

#BA7A5F: Copper Coast, Cork Tile, Timeworn Terracotta, Tudor Clay, Weathered Saddle

#785249: Antique Mahogany, Coach Lamp Copper, Cypress Brown, Dark Ruby, Sable Bronze

credits: photos from humanae, hex codes from imagecolorpicker, paint color names from encycolorpedia

Describing Accents 


Anonymous asked: Hey there! In the story I am writing it takes place on a different planet. However I really want a certain race of people to have African accents. How do I describe accents that don’t necessarily exist? I hope that made sense!

There’s a wealth of ways to encapsulate an…

Let Characters Be Wrong


Nobody likes a perfect character. Someone who is super good at everything and gets everything right is annoying. 

Even the most suave secret agents or indestructible superheroes need to make mistakes in order to make the story interesting.  

There are two parts to using wrongness in a story. There’s the actual mistake (which sometimes isn’t known to be a mistake at the time), and there’s the consequences of the mistake, usually forcing the character to deal with powerful feeling of guilt or regret.

The mistake the character makes is more impactful on the reader if we see it happen. In some stories a character may be dealing with something that happened a long time a go. A cop who shot the wrong guy is now a washed up private eye. That sort of backstory is fine, but it won’t have real meaning for readers if they don’t see it happen.

A mistake in and of itself won’t automatically be fascinating. Like any element of a story, it needs to be interesting. If the guy mentioned above was chasing a thief and shot and missed, killing an innocent bystander, that’s perfectly plausible, but it’s also perfectly dull.

There are many reasons for a mistake beyond an accident, and the more intentional and purposeful it is, i.e. the more the character is responsible for his own actions, the better.


Some characters are just dumb. The useless guy in a gang of robbers or in an armyunit. The girl who’s dancing with headphones on while a killer runs round the house stabbing everyone. The kid who never knows what’s going on. These sorts of characters can be very annoying, which is probably why they don’t make for good lead characters (and usually end up dying first).

It can often feel reasonable to attribute a character’s actions to their dumbness, certainly it happens in real life all the time, but you have to be careful not to use it as a convenient excuse for unlikely events. Characters like this are okay in small doses or for comic relief, but nobody wants to follow an idiot around for 300 pages.

Wrong Belief

Sometimes a character can have strongly held but completely mistaken beliefs. It can be a belief in someone or something. The thing about belief is you don’t need proof. Whether it’s a religion or a best friend, you take it for granted that what you believe is true. 

While it’s hard to show that, what you can show is how the character acts because of his or her beliefs.  Showing that belief being tested and how the character stands up for their beliefs establishes their position so that when they do make their mistake later on, we can see their reasons.

Wrong Conclusions

Unlike beliefs, some character have facts at their disposal that lead them to do terrible things. Taking clear, incontrovertible information and then logically coming to a mistaken conclusion is something that happens all the time. However, in order for the reader to be able to follow why the character does what he does, the writer needs to show that logical progression. 

This can lead to long, boring exposition, or it can become very convoluted and hard to follow. But when done properly (and hopefully concisely), it can be very effective. 


Sometimes a character can intentionally be given misleading information. Being manipulated by others is a powerful narrative device because it gives the character a definite next step and somewhere for them to focus their anger.

You do have to be careful that you give the misleaders a proper reason for wanting to mislead our hero.  Just because they’re the bad guys isn’t going to be enough, they have to have a goal of their own.


Once the mistake has been made, at some point the character will need to realise their error. The way they find out can obviously be many and varied, but the important thing is for it to happen in front of the reader. It also helps if other characters are there to witness it, or maybe even profit by it.

The realisation that they were wrong really needs to be the focus. How a character reacts emotionally to this knowledge, whether guilt, remorse , anger or even denial, will set you up for the next stage of the story.

It can be difficult for a writer to put a favourite character through that kind of experience, but it’s the ideal time to really get the boot in. As long as you keep in mind that they will emerge from the ashes stronger than before, you should be able to convince yourself it’s worth the agony you’re putting them through.   


It’s not enough to realise the error of your ways, you have to then decide what to do about it. Whatever mistakes the character made, there should be consequences and repercussions, and the character responsible shouldn’t shy away from dealing with them. 

Running away and hiding from the world may seem like a reasonable reaction, and it may even suit the personality of your character, but it rarely serves the story. The whole point of putting a character in this position is to show what they do about it and how it changes them. 

A change of heart where we can see the process from beginning to end, why the character thinks one way and what makes them change their mind, is an incredibly powerful narrative device in fiction, and one that requires things to get worse before they get better. But the character that emerges after facing the mistakes they made will be all the more interesting for it.

Ask an Editor: Nailing the Story 


Last week on the blog, I talked about hooking the reader early and ways to write so you have that “zing” that captivates from the very beginning. This week, I wanted to go into more detail about the story and plot itself. When teaching at writing conferences, my first question to the audience is this:

 What is the most important thing about a multicultural book?

I let the audience respond for a little while, and many people have really good answers: getting the culture right, authenticity, understanding the character… these are all important things in diverse books.

But I think that the most important part of a diverse novel is the same thing that’s the most important thing about any novel: a good story. All of the other components of getting diversity right won’t matter if you don’t have a good story! And getting those details wrong affects how good the story is for me and for many readers.

So as we continue our series discussing things to keep in mind as you polish your New Visions Award manuscripts, let’s move the discussion on to how to write a good story, beyond just following the directions and getting a good hook in your first few pages. This week, we’ll focus on refining plot.

Here are a few of the kinds of comments readers might make if your plot isn’t quite there yet:

  • Part of story came out of nowhere (couldn’t see connection)
  • Too confusing
  • Confusing backstory
  • Plot not set up well enough in first 3 chapters
  • Bizarre plot
  • Confusing plot—jumped around too much
  • underdeveloped plot
  • Too complicated
  • Excessive detail/hard to keep track
  • Too hard to follow, not sure what world characters are in

We’ll look at pacing issues too, as they’re often related:

  • Chapters way too long
  • Pacing too slow (so slow hard to see where story is going)
  • Nothing gripped me
  • Too predictable

block quote 1Getting your plot and pacing right is a complicated matter. Just being able to see whether something is dragging too long or getting too convoluted can be hard when you’re talking about anywhere from fifty to a hundred thousand words, all in one long file. Entire books have been written on how to plot a good science fiction and fantasy book. More books have been written on how to plot a good mystery. If you need more in-depth work on this topic, refer to them (see the list at the end of this post).

So we won’t get too in depth here, but let’s cover a few points.

Know your target audience

When you’re writing for children, especially young children (middle grade, chapter books, and below), your plot should be much more linear than a plot for older readers who can hold several threads in their heads at once.

Teens are developmentally ready for more complications—many of them move up to adult novels during this age, after all—but YA as a category is generally simpler on plot structure than adult novels in the same genre. This is not to say the books are simple-minded. Just not as convoluted… usually. (This varies with the book—and how well the author can pull it off. Can you?)

But the difference between middle grade and YA is there for a reason—kids who are 7 or 8 or 9 years old and newly independent readers need plots that challenge them but don’t confuse them. And even adults get confused if so much is going on at once that we can’t keep things straight. Remember what we talked about last time regarding backstory—sometimes we don’t need to know everything all at once. What is the core of your story?

Linear plot

Note that “too complicated” is one of the main complaints of plot-related comments readers had while reading submissions to the last New Visions Award.

Don’t say, “But Writer Smith wrote The Curly-Eared Bunny’s Revenge for middle graders and it had TEN plot threads going at once!” Writer Smith may have done it successfully, but in general, there shouldn’t be more than one main plot and a small handful of subplots happening in a stand-alone novel for middle-grade readers.

If you intend your book to be the first in a series of seven or ten or a hundred books, you might have seeds in mind you’d like to plant for book seventy-two. Unless you’re contracted to write a hundred books, though, the phrase here to remember is stand-alone with series potential. Even Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was pretty straightforward in its plotting—hinting at backstory, but not dumping backstory on readers in book one; setting the stage for potential conflicts down the road but not introducing them beforetime. Book 1 of Harry Potter really could have just stood on its own and never gone on to book 2. It wouldn’t have been nearly as satisfying as having the full 7-book arc, but note how seamlessly details were woven in, not calling attention to themselves even though they’re setting the stage for something later. Everything serves the linear plot of the main arc of book 1’s story. We only realize later that those details were doing double duty.

Thus, when you’re writing for children and young adults, remember that a linear main plot is your priority, and that anything in the story that is not serving the main plot is up on the chopping block, only to be saved if it proves its service to the main plot is true.block quote 2Plotting affects pace

In genre fiction for young readers, pacing is always an issue. Pacing can get bogged down by too many subplots—the reader gets annoyed or bored when it takes forever to get back to the main thrust of the story when you’re wandering in the byways of the world you created.

Fantasy readers love worldbuilding (to be covered in another post), but when writing for young readers, make sure that worldbuilding serves as much to move the plot forward as to simply show off some cool worldbuilding. Keep it moving along.

Character affects plot

This was not a complaint from the last New Visions Award, but another thing to keep in mind when plotting is that as your rising action brings your character into new complications, the character’s personality will affect his or her choices—which will affect which direction the plot moves. We’ll discuss characterization more another day, but just keep in mind that the plot is dependent upon the choices of your characters and the people around them (whether antagonists or otherwise). Even in a plot that revolves around a force of nature (tornado stories, for example), who the character is (or is becoming) will determine whether the plot goes in one direction or another.

Find an organizational method that works for you

This is not a craft recommendation so much as a tool. Plotting a novel can get overwhelming. You need a method of keeping track of who is going where when, and why. There are multiple methods for doing this.

Scrivener doesn’t work for all writers, so it might not be your thing, but I recommend trying out its corkboard feature, which allows you to connect summaries of plot points on a virtual corkboard to chapters in your book. If you need to move a plot point, the chapter travels along for the ride.

An old-fashioned corkboard where you can note plot points and move them around might be just as easy as entering them in Scrivener, if you like the more tactile approach.

Another handy tool is Cheryl Klein’s Plot Checklist, which has a similar purpose: it makes the writer think about the reason each plot point is in the story, and whether those points serve the greater story.

Whether you use a physical corkboard, a white board, Scrivener, or a form of outlining, getting the plot points into a form where you can see everything happening at once can help you to see where things are getting gummed up.

Further resources

This post is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to plotting a book. Here are some books and essays that will be of use to the writer seeking to fix his or her plot problems. (Note that some of these resources will be more useful to some writers than others, and vice versa. Find what works for you.)

  • “Muddles, Morals, and Making It Through: Or Plots and Popularity,” by Cheryl Klein in her book of essays on writing and revising, Second Sight.
  • In the same book by Cheryl Klein, “Quartet: Plot” and her plot checklist.
  • The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson
  • I haven’t had experience with this resource, but writer friends suggest the 7-point plot ideas of Larry Brooks, which is covered both in a blog series and in his books

And remember!

keep calm and write on

Further Reading:

New Visions Award: What NOT to Do

Ask an Editor: Hooking the Reader Early

The New Visions Guidelines

Writing Research - The Middle Ages 


Middle Ages (or Medieval period), lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western…




This is Duolingo, a language-learning website/app that deserves some serious recognition. It offers over 10 languages for English speakers, as well as courses for non-English speakers around the world, and they’re in the process of adding more. 

But wait, I don’t want to do any more schoolwork! Not to worry little one, Duolingo is actually more like a game. You can compete with friends, and earn “lingots” (which are basically Duolingo money) to buy power-ups, extra activities, and bonus skills - like Flirting.


I’m already taking a language, what do I need this for? 

It’s not really a secret that most school language courses (in America, anyway) suck and only teach you to speak the language at about a third grader’s level. Which is why Duolingo is so freaking awesome.

Teachers can’t give every student individualized attention, but Duolingo can. If you’re not learning the way you want to or as much as you want to in the classroom, Duolingo is a really great resource. It’s easy, tailored to you, and really effective.


Duolingo tracks your progress and reminds you when you haven’t studied for a while or need a refresher on something. Already semi-fluent in a language? No problem, just take a shortcut to more advanced subjects or test out of the lesson. 

The lessons start with the basics (he, she, hello, thank you, etc) and move up to harder stuff. Duolingo focuses on vocabulary first, so you can learn the language and then the grammar that goes with it - much simpler than the system most schools use. It also tracks the number of words you’ve learned and how well you know them.


And you don’t even have to write out the flashcards!

Duolingo is perfect for reviewing everything you forgot over the summer or giving you the extra help you need. And if you’re trying to learn a language on your own, it’s fantastic - you don’t have to create your own lessons. Whether you’re trying to learn your second, third, or fifth language, I seriously recommend Duolingo.

Okay, what else?

Duolingo also has discussion boards, where you can ask for help with a hard lesson, make new friends, watch for updates, and share your achievements.

Even better is the Immersion feature. It won’t send you to Spain or France, but it’s pretty awesome. Duolingo takes real articles from the internet, which users translate. You can translate articles from your native language into the language you’re learning or vice versa, which gives you more experience and makes the Internet more universal.

You can suggest new languages and track Duolingo’s progress in creating new courses. Bilinguals (older than 13) can help to create these courses. Duolingo has a long list of courses that can be contributed to, like Punjabi, Hebrew, and Vietnamese. Oh, and Dothraki, Klingon, Sindarin, and Esperanto.

And the best part? IT’S COMPLETELY FREE. 

If you love languages or just want to pass French class this year, USE DUOLINGO. Download the app and practice a language while you wait for the bus instead of playing Angry Birds!

Coolest app I’ve ever downloaded.

If anyone else has an interest in learning languages, connect (and compete) with me on Duolingo! I have been using Duolingo for a while now and I absolutely love it. I would love to speak with more foreign language learners.


Describing Skin Colors


Having trouble finding synonyms for ‘white’, ‘black’, ‘tan’, etc? Have any clear idea what tone you’re going for? Here’s some web pages for skin tone description and references:

Words Used To Describe Skin Color

Handy Words for Skin Tone (Includes palettes and comparisons)

Describing Characters of Color

More Tone Synonyms w/ Pictures

7 Offensive Mistakes Writers Make (includes more than just skin color)

(Source: thewritershelpersdeactivated)

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