Four stupid myths about animals, and what we can learn from them

Last week’s post about life lessons learned from nature resonated with quite a few of you. I am glad you enjoyed it.

This week, we’re doing pretty much the opposite. Our topic today is all about some commonly-quoted animal ‘facts’… and why I roll my eyes at them. I’ve known about these for a while, but I’ve added Snopes links to each in case you feel like doing a little further reading.

Why? Well, these four myths aren’t just misinformation. Each of these misconceptions tells a story, and in doing so, attempts to teach a lesson. As a nature lover and as a storyteller, they cheese me off. And yet, they’re not completely worthless. Behind all the layers of lies and foolishness in these tales, there lies a fascinating truth.

Let the stupidity begin.

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Ten life lessons learned from nature

Nature is my refuge, my inspiration and my home. It’s the closest thing I have to a church. The first thing I want to do when I visit a new country is go for a hike in the wilderness. If I’m having a problem, a walk outside always seems to help.

Here are some life lessons I’ve learned in nature.

10. Humans are vulnerable

In a world of instant gratification, it’s easy to get used to the idea that we can have and do anything we want. But spend enough time in enough different habitats, and your own limitations are quickly revealed to you.

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There are places where humans aren’t meant to go. In extreme heat, in extreme cold, our bodies start to fail us. There are animals we shouldn’t try to control, or possess, because we’re made of muscle and blood like the rest of the prey. And no power in the world can stop a falling branch in a high wind.

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We need better school plays

Last week marked the sixth anniversary of the original production of my first play, The Glass Street Ghost. 

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I wrote Ghost when I was seventeen. The Head of Drama at my high school had liked a script of mine so much that she asked me to have a crack at writing the middle-school production. By this point, I’d been ‘the writer’ at the school for a couple of years. I always got As for my creative writing projects, and published poems and short fiction in the school magazine. Everyone knew I was writing a book of one kind or another; it was the easiest way to start a conversation with me. I jumped at the chance; two years later, Ghost was published.

Why was this enormous responsibility entrusted to a teenager? Well, the fact is that when it comes to putting on a school play, a director’s choices are woefully limited.

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Three quick and interesting ways to develop characters

Sometimes, you just can’t figure a character out.

Sometimes, most of your ensemble cast assert themselves in your head very clearly, and then there’s that one character who you can’t get close to.

Sometimes, your characters’ roles in the story are clear, their places in the world are obvious, and still their personalities escape you.

Today’s post is for those times. These are three quick, interesting ways to define characters for any work, regardless of genre. They can also help create groups of characters with diverse personalities, which naturally complement and conflict with one another. These archetypes can be applied to characters of any age, gender, race, species, vocation, time period, moral alignment or physical attributes, which is why I find them so useful.

I’ve arranged them from simplest to most complex.

1. Yin and yang

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This dynamic is great for establishing contrast between two lead characters. You probably know that it’s based on the Chinese philosophy of dark and light: opposing dualities that are connected and interdependent. Though they are opposites, each can’t exist without the other and they balance, rather than conflict with one another.

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