Archive for April, 2012


Z is for Zeugma

Zeugma is a literary/rhetorical term used to describe the use of a word (usually a main verb or a noun) to modify two or more other parts of the same sentence—even if that particular word doesn’t fit grammatically or idiomatically with the other member of the pair.

Sounds confusing, doesn’t it?

It might be a little easier to understand if I give an example:

The farmers in the valley grew potatoes, peanuts, and bored – Kevin Flynn

Kill the boys and the luggage!” – Fluellen in William Shakespeare’s Henry V

“You are free to execute your laws, and your citizens, as you see fit.” – Star Trek: The Next Generation

According to Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University, who gleaned his information from Silva Rhetoricae there are several different kinds of Zeugmas:

Zeugma figures: Position of Governing Verb:

Zeugma figures: Governing Noun:

  • diazeugma
    A single subject governs several verbs or verbal constructions
  • hypozeuxis
    Every clause (in a series of parallel clauses) has its own (different) verb

I don’t know that I’ve ever used a Zeugma in my own writing, but knowing various literary devices like this one will certainly improve my writing skills.

I’m just glad a found a “Z” word that falls under my Writing category!


**This concludes my A-Z posts. I’m so glad I survived this challenge. Thanks to all of you for bearing me. I’m glad to have made new bloggy friends and kept old ones.


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Y is for Yaw-Yan

Yaw-Yan is short for Sayaw ng Kamatayan, which means Dance of Death in Filipino.

Developed by Grandmaster Napoleon Fernandez in 1970, Yaw-Yan is a Filipino style of kickboxing.

Grandmaster Napoleon Fernandez

Grandmaster Napoleon’s father was a magician, and he wanted his son to follow in his footsteps. But he made the mistake of teaching him Ju-jitsu, and Grandmaster Nap, as he is called, chose martial arts over magic. *You can read more about Grandmaster Nap’s amazing journey here.

Grandmaster Nap, has a background in Ju-jitsu, Jeet Kune Do, Karate, Arnis and Aikido. Taking all that he knew from these martial arts, Grandmaster Fernandez apparently created a martial art form that was not only deadly, but more advantageous to the short, stocky built of the Filipinos.

Master Ishmael “Boy” Garcia, photo from

Yaw-Yan resembles Muay Thai, since it employs hands, elbows, feet and knees to strike. But the  main difference between these two martial arts lies in the hip-torquing motion, and the emphasis on delivering attacks from long range. They also make use of 12 bolo strikes patterned after the Filipino stick based martial art of Arnis/Escrima.

Here’s a short documentary on Yaw-Yan.

As you can tell from the video, Yaw-Yan is not for the weak. (That guy didn’t even flinch when branded!) I’d be interested to learn some yaw-yan moves, but I don’t think I can even consider joining. Tattooes make me flinch so I’d probably embarrass everyone by screaming when I get branded during my initiation—or worse, I might just faint.

Yaw-Yan students engage in the martial art for a variety of reasons, but some of them actually join and win mixed martial arts competitions.



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xD Cards & the Evolution of Memory Cards

X is for xD Card

Developed by Olympus and Fujifilm, xD cards were introduced in 2002. Original xD cards were available in 16MB to 512MB capacities. A few years later however, they developed xD cards that went up in capacity to 2 GB.

xD cards cost so much to make and were limited for use in digital cameras, so they eventually lost out to the cheaper and more widely usable SD cards.

But xD cards are not the oldest memory cards. PC Cards were the first to come out in the 1990’s. Remember those?

Nowadays, though they’re mostly used to connect modems to laptops or PC’s.

Then came the Compact Flash cards,

Then the SmartMedia Cards,

And the Miniature Card.

But even the Miniature Card wasn’t small enough for a generation whose main goal is to shrink every piece of technology down to the smallest possible size.

So the xD card came around and was dominated by the SD Cards, and the even tinier micro-SD’s.

Who knows what the techno-geniuses will come up next?  Perhaps they’ll come up with nano-sds the size of a grain of rice, or maybe wafer-thin memory cards that we can just attach to our eyeballs like contact lenses. (Well that just gave me a story idea!) The possibilities truly are endless in our current state of technological advancement.

Reference, & all Photographs from:


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Writer’s Day

Today was supposed to be an archetype post, but I’ve decided to set that aside so I can tell you all about the wonderful writing event I attended last Saturday—SCBWI-L.A.’s Writer’s Day.

Last year, I attended Writer’s Day for the first time.  (You can read all about my last experience here).

This year, I got to attend  and experience Writers Days not just as a participant—but as a volunteer, and as the Contest Coordinator.

I arrived at exactly 8am at the Clairbourne School in San Gabriel. While I was early for the actual event, I was 15 minutes late for my registration duties thanks to a GPS system that probably needs to be replaced.  As soon as I got into the parking  lot, I ran to the main building and found the ever reliable Kite Tales Editor Rilla Jaggia holding my post until I got there. (Thank goodness I was assigned to the walk in registrations—it wasn’t as busy as the regular registration table, and I actually made it in time to help our first walk-in participant).

After helping out at the registration table, I immediately switched gears and donned another hat as a food volunteer. I helped Food Captain Sue Welfringer with various food arrangements. We made sure the snack/ coffee bar was well-stocked and that lunch was ready by the time the last morning session ended. It was hard work, and I had to miss parts of some speakers’ talks, but I wouldn’t have traded my job for the world. I had such fun helping out and I loved being a busy bee!

Author Lee Wardlaw was the first speaker for the morning. Her session, entitled The Things I’ve Learned from My Cats about Being a Children’s Book Author was a gem. Though I only caught the last few minutes, I found her talk memorable—especially her story about how a pet detective, hired to help her find her missing cat, also  helped her get closure.

Author Lee Wardlaw

Runaway Storm Author Dawn Knobbe followed Lee’s talk with her session on Busting Out of the Box—Creative Marketing for Published/ Unpublished Writers. She gave such awesome tips on how writers can market their works—and themselves—even before they get published. She gave examples from her own career, both as a traditionally published author, and as a partner of Toe The Line, a small press publisher.

Author Dawne Knobbe

Although their session was right before lunch, author Sara Wilson Etienne, her agent Michael Bourret and her editor Stacey Barney held the audience’ attention as they did their Traditional Publishing Case Study: Harbinger-editor/agent/author panel.

Editor Stacey Barnes, Agent Michael Bourret & Author Sara Wilson Etienne

Regional Co-advisor Lee Wind did a great job of moderating the panel, and the panel did a wonderful job of helping the audience understand the complex relationships between author and agent, author and editor, and agent and editor. It was also great to get the inside scoop on the publishing process from 3 different perspectives.

After the panel, participants lined up for the wonderful lunch served by The Corner Bakery Cafe. I was busy helping out so I didn’t get to take pictures of the food, but trust me it was amazing–there was a variety of sandwiches, salads, and pastas–and tons of leftover, which was later on donated to a local soup kitchen.

Well-fed, and having met new friends, participants trooped back inside the Main Auditorium for the next half of the conference.

Agent Michael Bourret gave us ideas on How to Get an Agent to Fall In Love With Your Manuscript.  He told us what kind of projects he chose,  and why, and the different ways by which a writer can get an agent. He says that he met 99% of his clients through queries, but he also met some through conferences  and through client referrals.

Agent Michael Bourret

Editor Stacey Barnes followed Michael’s talk with her own session on How to Get an Editor to Fall In Love With Your Manuscript.  She read passages from her various projects, citing these as examples of the many elements that make her fall in love with a manuscript–Memorable scenes, and characters and voice are just some of the elements she mentioned. She also made everyone break into groups and ask them to come up with a pitch for a book, based on the elements she listed down.

Editor Stacey Barnes

A 10 minute break following Stacey’s session allowed participants to stretch, snack and mull over the many things they’ve learned from the speakers.

After the break, I exchanged my Food Volunteer Hat for my Contest Coordinator hat, as I stepped up to the podium to announce the winner of the Annual Scholarship Contest. I read the piece, and what the judges had to say about whey they’d picked that entry, and announced the winner of the contest–who unfortunately wasn’t present.

Regional Adviser Emeritus’s Edie and Claudia then introduced the winner of this year’s SASE (Sue Alexander Service & Encouragement) Award–the ever patient Rilla Jaggia.

Rilla Jaggia, recipient of the Sue Alexander Service & Encouragement Award

After Rilla gave her heartwarming speech, we proceeded with the last two sessions of the day.

YA Author Sara Wilson Etienne talked about the different ways an author can promote his/ her work in her session entitled Book Trailers, Blog Tours and Swag. She showed us her amazing Book trailer and explained how she made use of the resources available to her (including friends and a husband who does graphic design) to help promote her book to a wide range of readers.

Author Sara Wilson Etienne

Our last speaker for the day was author Terri Farley, who wrote 37 books in 9 years. Her talk, entitled Fetch Me  a Dream, answered the question: Where can writers get story ideas? She shared the memorable life experiences that shaped her writing career and gave her inspiration for her own novels.

Author Terri Farley

Her life stories were indeed memorable, but the one I liked the most was the story of how she and her husband had come across a dead sealion while walking along the beach one day. A group of boys were poking the dead animal, and her husband, a former green beret, walked up to them, picked up the sea lion in his arms and returned him to the ocean.

With the final session over, my last and most important job as Contest Coordinator arrived. I went up front to announce the winners of the Writer’s Day Contest.  I stumbled over a bit, messing up the announcement of the first and second place winners in the Picture Book Category.  But the audience was forgiving and understanding, and I managed to stabilize myself and announce all the other categories’ winners smoothly afterward.

I felt like I had come full circle that day. Last year, as a first time attendee, I had also joined my first Writer’s Day Contest and won 2nd Place in the Middle Grade Category. This year, I was the one giving out certificates!

This was truly a memorable event, and another well-organized, and wonderful  SCBWI conference–thanks to R.A.’s  Sarah Laurenson and Lee Wind.


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V is for Veronica

Every Wednesday, I feature a writer/blogger and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow bloggers/writers better through their workspace and writing habits. I also wanted my bloggy friends to share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Veronica Truesdale. She’s the author of  that deep blog Thursday’s Child.

Welcome, Veronica!


Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

Veronica Truesdale

Thank you, Nutschell, so much for having me. I’m really honored to do this for my new buddy, whom I have dubbed, my west coast connection. About me – I have been a paralegal for many years, although I have always written one thing or another. In 1999 I decided to become serious with the hobby, writing women’s fiction and children’s books. My two top loves are traveling and cooking. Any baking project or some gourmet recipe seriously helps me escape. I also love taking pictures, and smooth jazz is definitely on the list. Hidden talent – I guess I could say that would be dancing. Instead of PE in High School I had Interpretive dancing, and I’ve always regretted not pursuing that desire. I guess that would make me a complete right brained person.

On Workspace

1. Where do you do most of your writing?

Most times I write at my desk, which is in my loft. If I’m having difficulty thinking or the words won’t come, I take a pad and pencil or my laptop (whatever mood I’m in), and take myself into the sunroom or my bedroom. Now that the weather is getting warmer I’ll head for the park.

Veronica’s Workspace

2. Where did you get your desk? How did you go about arranging your work area?

It’s funny I had another desk at home in New Jersey, but once we moved here to Virginia it didn’t seem to fit the area. So, I sold it, and we were off to Haverty’s (a SE Virginia store) for a new one.  How did you go about arranging your work area?  I guess I’m somewhat old-fashioned; I need the pictures, flowers, and the necessities within reach. But sorry, it wouldn’t all fit in the pic.

3. What are some important things on your desk? Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

All the items on my desk have been collected over the years, and are all important. They used to occupy my desk at the outside job. Now, everything is simply waiting for me to be home full time.

4. What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

When we bought this desk we wanted to make certain we had lots of room. I need space to spread out.  Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often? Of all the things on my desk, if my Snoopy and my kaleidoscope were missing, I’d have to stop and go find them. Oh, and my dictionary.

Veronica’s favorite desk accessories

5. What’s your writing beverage? What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

It’s hot tea, cold tea or a large cup of coffee; and don’t laugh, it’s always decaffeinated. I haven’t had caffeine in more years that I know. I function just fine without it.

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author? Who inspired you to write?

I have two favorite authors – Sidney Sheldon and Stephen King. Who inspired you to write? Personally, I can’t think of anyone who inspired me, writing is just something I have ALWAYS done.

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like? Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?

Unfortunately, since I have that pesky part-time job, my afternoons and evenings are the only time I get to write, and the weekends, of course. I get home, have lunch, and then, head to the computer. Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks? I begin the afternoon ritual of checking e-mails, catching up with twitter and FB. After that, the headphones go on, and away I go.

3. Do you write everyday? How many hours a day do you spend writing? What are some of your worst writing distractions?

I would say that I take one day a week to goof off, but I read a quote somewhere that said even when a writer is not writing they are thinking about writing – that’s the sickness. How many hours a day do you spend writing? When I’m writing, I would say I get in a good four or five hours without interruption. What are some of your worst writing distractions? Other than twitter, and FB, my definite distraction is that over addictive Google Earth.

4. Why do you write?

I write because it’s a part of who I am. I write because I have all these stories rattling around in my head that are screaming to get out.

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us? How about a favorite writing quote?

Words of wisdom – if you’ve thought about giving up the craft of writing; maybe you’re thinking it’s not for you or why did you get into this in the fist place? Walk away, don’t do it for awhile. Then, after a couple of months; if you find yourself habitually charting thoughts or going to the computer beginning one paragraph, and then another, be certain you’ve got the disease.

My favorite quote is from Langston Hughes – “Hold fast to your dreams, for without them life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”


Thanks, Veronica, for giving us a glimpse into your writing life.

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.


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Underland Chronicles: A Book Review

U is for Underland Chronicles

Before Suzanne Collins ever became known for her Hunger Games Trilogy, she wrote a fantasy adventure series called the Underland Chronicles.

Gregor the Overlander

Meet Gregor, a kid from New York City, who falls out of his laundry room into a fantastical subterranean world called the Underland. Accompanied by his toddler sister, Boots, he encounters giant talking creatures– cockroaches, bats, spiders and rats–and an unusual society of humans. And they’re all expecting him…(Scholastic Press, 2003)

Gregor & the Prophecy of Bane

When giant roaches kidnap Boots and spirit her back to the Underland, Gregor follows to retrieve her. Soon he discovers that they are both implicated in “The Prophecy of Bane,” which warns of the dangers of a terrifying white rat. Guess whose job it is to destroy it? (Scholastic Press, 2004)

Gregor & the Curse of the Warmbloods

Gregor and Boots must return to the Underland to help find a cure for a deadly plague called the Curse of the Warmbloods. Gregor is desperate to succeed because, along with several of his Underland friends, a member of his own family is stricken. (Scholastic Press, 2005)

Gregor & the Marks of Secret

Gregor sets out to solve a mystery involving the Underland mice and ends up discovering a terrible secret. This book leads right into the fifth and final book of the series, “Gregor and the Code of Claw.”

Gregor & the Code of Claw

Everyone in the Underland has been taking great pains to keep The Prophecy of Time from Gregor. Gregor knows it must say something awful but he never imagined just how awful: It calls for the warrior’s death. Now, with an army of rats approaching, and his mom and sister still in Regalia, Gregor the warrior must gather up his courage to help defend Regalia and get his family home safely. The entire existence of the Underland is in Gregor’s hands, and time is running out. There is a code to be cracked, a mysterious new princess, Gregor’s burgeoning dark side, and a war to end all wars.

My Review

I became an instant fan of the series when I discovered the audiobook version of Gregor the Overlander. After that, I immediately started looking for the next book. Lucky for me, all five books had been published by the time I started listening to it.

I was at once enamored with Gregor and his sister Boots. Gregor is a regular kid with very big problems. His father had disappeared years back and left his mother to care for and provide for him and his two younger sisters. Gregor could’ve used this as an excuse to act up, but instead, he becomes a responsible kid and helps in caring for his siblings. But like every normal kid, he has a secret wish for his father to come back and to save them all from their poor existence.

His childlike desire to be reunited with his father and his grown-up way of caring for his baby sister is heart-warming and endearing. The adventure that befalls him and his baby sister Boots is, on the other hand, dangerous and exciting.

Throughout the course of his many adventures, Gregor continues to grow as a human being, and to mature in wisdom and strength. Suzanne Collins, ever the master storyteller, has done a great job of creating complicated, and memorable characters—human or otherwise. It’s hard not to get emotionally invested in each character’s personal crisis.

The plot just continued to grow and improve throughout each book. I never found my attentions waning, as the storylines were just riveting. There was always some new twist, and some unexpected turn; and the adventures Gregor and his friends keep getting thrown into are always fresh and exciting.

The books do get progressively darker, as they touch on the politics of territory and the violence of war. These issues are seen through the eyes of the young protagonist Gregor, and through his experience the readers are made to realize just how futile and utterly devastating war is.

More than this, however, the themes of friendship, family and relationships make readers realize just what is really important in life.

This is a great series for families to read together. Boys will enjoy the action-packed fantasy adventures of Gregor in the subterranean Underland, while girls might enjoy the emotional thrill of guessing whether Gregor and his friend Luxa (and later on love interest) might eventually get together. Parents might also make use of the books to discuss its various themes of war, strife, friendships, love and family.


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Themes in Children’s Books

T is for Theme

What is Theme? has 4 definitions for theme, but the definition that relates to literature is:

Theme is a unifying or dominant idea, motif, etc.

Some people might confuse theme with the subject of a story. But the subject of story refers to something more concrete and definite—it’s what the author is really writing about. The subject matter of the story includes the characters, the setting, the plot—these are tangible, concrete things on the surface.

Beneath the novel’s surface lies its true meaning, or its theme.  A literary theme usually relates to the author’s statement or opinion on the topic. It’s an idea about something abstract that unifies the whole story.

Usually the theme of the story can be gleaned from the characters themselves. The character’s thoughts, feelings and emotions, reflections and revelations, and what they learn throughout their experiences can give the readers an idea of the theme running throughout the story.

For instance, the subject matter of Harry Potter is the Wizarding World. But the story itself has many themes—friendship, love, sacrifice, good versus evil, etc.

What are the Common Themes in Children’s Books?

Middle Grade

Friendship is a common theme in middle grade novels. At this age children are beginning to realize the value of friends and have a need for being part of a group.

Family is another common theme. Middle grade novels often show the importance of family. Sometimes they deal with a child’s greatest fear—losing a parent, or a family member.

Coming of Age stories are also popular. At this age children have to deal with the physical and emotional changes that come with growing up. Adolescence looms over them and in these coming of age stories, they learn to mature through their adventures.

Diary of a Whimpy Kid, the Movie

Young Adult

Common teen issues like sex, pregnancy, abortion, drug addiction become themes in young adult literature.

Peer pressure and the need to fit into a social group are also common themes.

Parents and authority figures are almost always absent from YA literature, but when they are, the main teen character often has some form of conflict with them. Young adults trying to find their own place in the world, and trying to figure out who they are often need space to grow and adults and other authority figures, who might be well-meaning, might not give them the space they need to grow.

Of course, love is also a common theme in YA lit–whether it’s falling in love or experiencing heartbreak for the first time, or gaining some new insight about the different types of love.

Ginny & Harry, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

How do You Use Theme in Your Own Writing?

The best thing to do when starting out to write a new story is to forget about theme. Write the story the way you’ve imagined it in your mind. Don’t let themes get in the way of the story you’re trying to write because the novel might end up feeling too stiff or forced.

A theme usually comes out naturally from a well-told story. Once you’ve written your first, or second draft and read your novel from beginning to end, you’ll get a feeling for the theme that’s lurking beneath your actual story.

If that theme is something that you feel makes the story stronger, hone in on it and use it to unify your characters, your plot or your setting. You can use theme to help you figure out what scenes need to stay in your story or what scenes don’t really add much to your story’s depth.  You can also use theme to strengthen certain plot points or character traits in your story.



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S is for Sinawali

Sinawali means “to weave”, and is the term used to refer to the double-stick fighting techniques in Filipino martial arts.

Here’s a video showing some of my classmates (Earl and Paul in the foreground) performing some Sinawali Drills.

It looks complicated when done fast, but actually each movement is based on a set pattern.

Remember this scene from  Mission Impossible III?

Tom Cruise and Keri Russell doing Sinawali in Mission Impossible III

Tom Cruise and Keri Russell are actually doing the most basic Sinawali drill, only they’re doing it really fast so it looks way more complicated (and way cooler).

Each Filipino martial art (FMA) school has its own version of the Sinawali. In our school (Doce Pares), we learn at least 5 Kinds or Patterns of Sinawali Drills:

4 Count Sinawali

6 Count Sinawali

8 Count Sinawali

10 Count Sinawali

12 Count Sinawali.

Each kind of Sinawali drill is further broken down into three categories: Regular, Modified, and Broken.

Each category is done with either the Open method (the sticks are held in an open manner—apart from each other) or the Closed method (the sticks are held close to each other on one side of the body).

Here’s a very helpful video done by our NYC Doce Pares counterparts showing each type of Sinawali drill:

White Belts start out with Sinawali drills really slow. The goal at first is to simply memorize all the movements required in each set of Sinawali drills. Once their muscle memory kicks in and they feel a bit more confident about their skills, they can speed it up a notch until eventually they learn to do it as fast as the masters do:

Sinawali is one of the most important (and possibly the coolest) aspects of training in Filipino martial arts. It’s also one of my favorite things to practice in the studio.

It may look difficult at first, but with some patience and a lot of practice, you’ll be able to do basic Sinawali drills in no time.


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Rule of Thirds

R is for Rule of Thirds

Taking a good picture is something we all aim to achieve, whether we’re into photography or not. After all, nobody wants to look at fuzzy, out focus photos. We don’t need expensive equipment or the latest camera in order to take memorable pictures. All we need is to learn a little about lighting and composition to get us by.

The Rule of Thirds is the basis for great shots, and is one of the first things photoenthusiasts and photographers learn about in their classes.

The Rule of thirds is a basic compositional guideline that can help anyone produce pictures that are more likely to be visually interesting or striking.

Like any rule however, The Rule of Thirds can be broken as it is just a guideline and not a hard and fast rule for taking good pictures. But of course, before we go about breaking sound rules, we must first learn about it, so that we know if going against it might be better for the shot we’re trying to create.

What Exactly is The Rule of Thirds?

Your camera might have a display setting that makes you see lines running horizontally and vertically on your LCD Screen. Those lines weren’t placed there to annoy you or to make sure that you shoot everything dead center.

Rule of Thirds Grid, image from

The Rule of Thirds states that we have to think of images or pictures as divided evenly into thirds.

It identifies 4 important spots in the grid where we can place points of interest in the image we’re trying to create.

Rule of Thirds Grid, image from

The idea is to place main elements and subjects at these four power spots to create a more balanced and more aesthetically pleasing photograph.

How To Use The Rule of Thirds

If your camera has the grid view on your display settings, it’s best to use it when you’re first starting to play around with the Rule of Thirds.

When framing your picture, use the grid (imaginary or otherwise) to divide the scene. Figure out what elements of the scene are the most important and try to place them at one of the four power spots or near the lines and intersections of the grid. The important elements don’t have to be perfectly lined up, but they should be at least close.

Here are some pictures that  clearly show the Rule of Thirds at work:

From by Dennis Jarvis

From by K Praslowicz

You can find more examples of great shots taken using the Rule of Thirds at

Here’s one I took at the L.A. Flower Market using the same rule:

Now that you know how to use the Rule of Thirds, try it. See if you can come up with your own visually striking images.

More References for the Rule of Thirds:


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Queen Archetype

Q is for Queen Archetype


I started the Archetype Series last year with a discussion on archetypes and Characters, and the archetype most commonly seen in media:

The Hero Archetype

I also explored the following archetypes:

The Bully Archetype

The Mentor Archetype

The Thief Archetype

The Exorcist Archetype

The Knight Archetype

And now it’s time for another edition of the Archetype Series!

*NOTE: Expect this introduction at every archetype spotlight article. It’s a great way of reminding us what we can gain when we study archetypes.

Just to refresh your memory, let me define archetypes again. An archetype is an original model of a person, ideal example, or a prototype after which others are copied, patterned, or emulated; a symbol universally recognized by all.

Archetypes are scattered everywhere in media. Many writers use archetypes because they provide a guide for the readers to understand the storyline better. As writers, it’s important that we understand the many archetypes out there. Why? Because when we understand the definition and function of an archetype, we may:

1. Tweak the definition to suit our storyline

2. Break the rules of what a particular archetype is supposed to do to spice up our story

3. apply a particular perspective to the archetype according to the message of our story. For instance, we may have an anarchist Mentor, a feminist Knight or a Freudian Hero

(If you are so inclined and have time at your disposal, might I suggest that you read or re-read my article on Archetypes and Characters?)

Now that you have a good idea of how archetypes can help us writers, let’s get to know the Archetype in today’s spotlight.

The Queen

Queen Functions

Here’s what archetype expert Caroline Myss has to say about the Queen Archetype:

Besides having a rulership position in a court, the Queen represents power and authority in all women. Symbolically, her court can be anything from a corporation to her home. The image of the Dark or Evil Queen has been largely represented by male authors of fairy tales and folklore as a wicked, dark force. She may also be depicted as prone to hysteria and dark powers, influences, or plots, as in the story of Snow White. Gulliver’s Travels presents a benevolent Queen who rules the land of the Giants, but that is a rare exception.

The Queen archetype is also associated with arrogance and a defensive posture that is symbolic of a need to protect one’s personal and emotional power. Queens are rarely portrayed as having a trustworthy support system; instead, they are lonely figures surrounded by a court filled with potential traitors, rivals, and back-stabbers. Women who have identified themselves as Queens in my workshops tend to have these qualities in common, suggesting that were it not for their aggressive personality characteristics, they would be vulnerable to others’ control.

Films: Joan Crawford in Queen Bee; Marlene Dietrich as Catherine the Great in The Scarlet Empress; Geraldine Chaplin in The Three Musketeers; Greta Garbo in Queen Christina; Judi Densch in Shakespeare in Love; Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth.

Drama: Antony and Cleopatra by Shakespeare

Religion/Myth: Mary (Mother of Jesus later elevated in Catholic tradition to Queen of Heaven); Mab (Queen of the faeries and often a trickster who steals babies, possibly derived from the Welsh Mabb or Gaelic Maeve); Anatu (Mesopotamian queen of the sky); Antiope (in Greek myth, the queen of the Amazons); Marisha-Ten (Japanese queen of heaven); Guinevere (King Arthur’s queen).

Fairy Tales: Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs (shadow).

Queen Types

Caroline Myss lists down the following types of Queens:

Challenges related to control, personal authority and leadership play a primary role in forming the lessons of personal development that are inherent to this archetype.

The Benevolent Queen

The benevolent Queen uses her authority to protect those in her court, and sees her own empowerment enhanced by her relationships and experience.

The White Queen, Alice in Wonderland

The Shadow Queen

The shadow Queen can slip into aggressive and destructive patterns of behavior, particularly when she perceives that her authority or capacity to maintain control over the court is being challenged.

Ellen Terry as Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth (painting by John Singer Sargent)

The Ice Queen

The Ice Queen rules with a cold indifference to the genuine needs of others–whether material or emotional.

Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen

C.S. Lewis’s The White Witch in Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Queen Bee

The Queen Bee is a mixed image–the astonishing ability to power the entire hive without leaving her “chamber,” yet at the cost of enslaving the rest of her community.

Blair Waldorf, Gossip Girls

From Caroline Myss’s description of the Queen Archetype, I’ve also derived the following Queen Types:

The Evil Queen

The Evil Queen is just that—pure evil. She reigns over her people without regard for their lives. Her subjects are objects in her eyes. She uses them for her own benefit or pleasure without guilt or remorse. She’ll send her soldier to war without fearing for their safety, if need be. Her primary goal is power and more power, and she will do everything to get her way.

Snow White’s Evil Queen

The Mage Queen

The Mage Queen is a queen who possess supernatural or magical powers. She may or may not be evil.

Queen Mab, Merlin

The Warrior Queen

The Warrior Queen not only governs the politics of her nation, she also leads her troops in battle.

Queen Hyppolyta of the Amazons

Queen Archetype in My Own Writing

I’ve never actually used Queen Archetypes in my own writing, though some of my female villains do exhibit the traits of a shadow queen. One of these days I might have to create a story just so I can make use of this interesting archetype!

Do you use/ have you used Queen Archetypes in your own writing?


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