KP Book Review: Creating Character Arcs

Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development by K.M. Weiland

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

According to Writer’s Digest, K.M. Weiland runs one of the top one hundred writing sites, and she spends a lot of time on her blog giving advice to writers. Since I’ve followed her blog and read her books for several years now, I had high expectations for her latest book on fiction writing.creating_character_arcs

But with this book, Weiland matched and even surpassed my expectations.

In Creating Character Arcs, Weiland delves into the art of crafting character arcs and structuring a story around the protagonist’s character arc in a way that leads to deep themes. As Weiland points out, one of the key benefits of a strong character arc is how it unifies the story. Plot and character are too often viewed as opposing forces. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here as he works toward achieving these goals.

KP Book Review: The Scarlet Letter

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

[Spoiler Warning: Since this book is a classic and a couple centuries old, the ending will be discussed in this review.]

After two long years, Hester Prynne’s husband returns to America to find his wife charged with adultery for having a child while he was absent, publicly rebuked for her sin, and forced to wear a scarlet letter A on the front of her clothing for the rest of her life. Swearing vengeance on the man who slept with his wife, Hester’s husband sets out on a quest to identify the adulterer.the_scarlet_letter

The Scarlet Letter has long been a staple on high school literature lists. Often it is used as an example of what was wrong with the Puritans, and Christianity in general. However, although the intolerance and cruelty of the Puritans may be the most prominent facet of Christianity in this book, if you dig a little deeper, the story exhibits a strong Christian message. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here as he works toward achieving these goals.

KP Book Review: From Homer to Harry Potter

What can Christians glean from the genres of myth and fantasy? How do specific fantasy novels showcase certain worldviews? Where does the fantasy genre come from historically? And how should Christians view the use of magic in stories?from_homer_to_harry_potter

These are some of the many questions that Matthew Dickerson and David O’Hara tackle in their work, From Homer to Harry Potter. Dickerson and O’Hara write from a perspective similar to Lewis and Tolkien’s, and they explain how this perspective enlightens the genre. The first half of the book largely focuses on exploring fantasy works that were written before Tolkien and Lewis redefined the genre. Then, post-Lewis and Tolkien, the writers move on to evaluate four different contemporary fantasy authors (Ursula LeGuin, Philip Pullman, Walter Wangerin, and J.K. Rowling) and how Christians ought to interpret their works. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here as he works toward achieving these goals.

KP Book Review: The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic

“On a dark night in a dense forest, while the great wide wonder of the stormy sea threatened to burst through the trees and swallow her up, a girl lost her hat.”

With this sentence, The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic opens. Jennifer Trafton uses this sentence to grab hold of you and thrust you into a story with unforgettable adventure, unique characters, and chapter titles clever enough to be stories all on their own.mountmajestic

What sort of a name is Smudge? To ten-year-old Persimmony, a girl living a boring life on the Island at the Center of Everything, it is a name that could never be remembered as brave or heroic. Which is unfortunate, because those are the qualities Persimmony Smudge would like to possess.
[Read more…]

Profile photo of Christi Eaton
Christine Eaton is an 18-year-old, high school senior, who loves stories and hopes to someday publish a great novel. She lives in Southern California with her parents and her younger brother. She loves the ability to wear flip-flops in December and spend time with her friends at Disneyland. Besides writing, she loves drama, painting, and reading. Broadway musicals can usually be heard blasting through her bedroom. Some of her favorite authors include A.S. Peterson, Francine Rivers, Louisa May Alcott, and Andrew Peterson.

KP Book Review: One of the Few

Will you be one of the few? Jason Ladd, a former Marine fighter pilot, draws a powerful correlation between our Christian search for truth with his own experience in and out of uniform in his book, One of the Few. This semi-autobiography tells the story of Ladd’s journey to Christ as he grappled with the disparity between his preparedness for the role of soldier and the role of husband and father.oneofthefewreview

Throughout his novel, Ladd presents his own journey to Christ with uncommon vulnerability and constant clarity. If you love sugar-coated maxims and prosaic rainbows, then this book is not for you. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Sarah Spradlin
If you’ve ever emailed us at KP, you’ve probably “met” Sarah—a passionate storyteller with a huge heart that loves Jesus and everyone she meets. Sarah grew up in Georgia with her mom, dad, and little sister, Merry, where she attends the University of Georgia, majoring in International Affairs and Agriculture Communication. When she graduates, Sarah wants to help people all over the world succeed in the agriculture industry and tell the all-important story of the farmer. She joined the Kingdom Pen Team as Secretary in September 2013 and now serves as the Director of Community Happiness. Sarah has been homeschooled, private-schooled, and graduated from Madison County High School in May 2015. She attended Summit in July 2015. She’ll read pretty much anything (if she had to pick, though, her favorite author would be Frank Peretti) and has tried her hand at pretty much every kind of writing out there, though she likes writing fiction and poetry best. But because writing bios is a struggle, if you really want to get to know Sarah, shove some words in her general direction via the Forum, on one of the many social medias down below, or through the KP e-mail: kingdompenmag@gmail.com.

KP Book Review: Howl’s Moving Castle

“In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three. Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes. Sophie Hatter was the eldest of three sisters. She was not even the child of a poor woodcutter, which might have given her some chance of success!”howlsmovingcastlepinteres

This is the marvelous beginning of Diana Wynne Jones’ work, Howl’s Moving Castle. Drawing heavily on different fairy tale tropes and delightfully subverting them, Jones relates the story of Sophie, the eldest of three sisters who gets into trouble when she angers a powerful witch and gets turned into an old woman. With little else to do, Sophie ends up working as a maid for the wizard Howl, who lives in a moving, trans-dimensional castle. There she discovers that her curse can be removed—but only if she manages to learn how to free Howl’s fire elemental from his contract to Howl so that it can release her from the curse.

Sounds simple, right? [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here as he works toward achieving these goals.

KP Book Review: Shades of Milk and Honey

Jane is a woman living in Regency England who’s looking for marriage. The problem is that she’s twenty-eight, and few men are interested in a woman as old as she is. So Jane’s contented herself to living on a back burner—at least until the honor of her family is at stake and Jane needs to take action if she’s going to save it.milkandhoneypinterest

Feel a bit like a Jane Austen novel? It kind of is, because Mary Robinette Kowal consciously draws on several stereotypical Austen tropes.

The catch? In this world, magic exists. And not just any magic, but an illusion-based magic that characters use for artistry and disguises.

This one twist sets the premise for an intriguing and fanciful genre-melding book, as Kowal meshes some of the best elements of Austen-style romance with the best elements of fantasy. And not only does she do it, but she does it well. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here as he works toward achieving these goals.

KP Book Review: The Light of Eidon

By Karen Hancock

For eight years Abramm has trained and disciplined himself in order to devote his life to being a priest of Eidon. All thats left before beginning his service is to touch Eidons Sacred Flame and feel His presence.the_light_of_eidon

When Abramm touches the flame, instead of feeling the awe and devotion he expected, he feels dread and isolation. Even after everything hes done, he still isnt good enough to serve Eidon. And when he foolishly listens to his heretic brother, a string of unfortunate choices quickly leads to him being betrayed by a mentor and sold into slavery as a gladiator among infidels in the southern lands.

Where was Eidon when Abramm needed him? And why couldnt he ever be good enough for Him? [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here as he works toward achieving these goals.

KP Book Review: The Fiddler’s Gun

“Sometimes you read a book so special that you want to carry it around with you for months after you’ve finished it just to stay near to it.” –Markus Zusak.fiddlersgunpost

After reading The Fiddler’s Gun by A.S. Peterson, this quote became more than true for me. A.S Peterson, the brother of Andrew Peterson, the author of the Wingfeather Saga, writes an incredible story which begins at the brink of the American Revolution.

Here we meet Phinea (Fin) Button, a wild, red-headed, teenage orphan girl, who would rather spend her days romping, fighting, and exploring with the boys than be stuck inside sewing dresses and forced upon polite conversations among the girls. There are only two thoughts that run through Fin’s mind: one is to escape from the orphanage in Ebenezer and the cranky Sister Hilde; the other is her plans to marry her beloved Peter. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Christi Eaton
Christine Eaton is an 18-year-old, high school senior, who loves stories and hopes to someday publish a great novel. She lives in Southern California with her parents and her younger brother. She loves the ability to wear flip-flops in December and spend time with her friends at Disneyland. Besides writing, she loves drama, painting, and reading. Broadway musicals can usually be heard blasting through her bedroom. Some of her favorite authors include A.S. Peterson, Francine Rivers, Louisa May Alcott, and Andrew Peterson.

KP Book Review: Thr3e

Kevin Parson’s lived a pretty good life. He doesn’t have any major flaws, doesn’t have a dark and twisted past, and is currently in seminary studying to be a pastor. Sure, his life isn’t the best it could be. He’s a bit of a recluse and doesn’t quite know how to handle himself around people. But he’s a pretty decent person who’s pretty intelligent; what major faults does he have? None that he can see at least.thr3ereview

That is, not until a man calls him demanding that he confess his secret sin to the world within the next three minutes or watch his car blow up.

And, of course, things only escalate from there. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here as he works toward achieving these goals.