A Nerd’s Adventure in Tollymore Forest

As part of our study tour through the British Isles, my class took a bus across Northern Ireland.

This was unquestionably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

Our guide told us Northern Ireland has inspired countless writers like C.S Lewis, the Brontës, etc, and I can easily see why.

While riding in the tour bus from location to location –trying not to think about all the times we nearly hit someone because the roads are roughly the size of Jenna Louise Coleman’s waistline–I saw stone fences, wooly sheep, and rolling hills that seemed to go on forever.

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I loved all the shacks and follies frozen in time. I could just imagine sitting down to write in these areas or around a fire and peering out the window to look at all this.

The locals pointed out that we were visiting on an uncharacteristically sunny day and most of the time it’s freezing, wet, and miserable, but I can dream, can’t I?

My favorite location was Tollymore Forest Park where they filmed several scenes in the first season of Game of Thrones.

Our guide carried with her a book full of blown-up screen shots from the film and pointed out several of the landmarks seen in the episodes.

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This made the experience so much more immersive and the episodes all the more intimate because we now know what it is like to stand where the actors stood.

I enjoyed it as a fan, but I think I enjoyed it even more as a writer.

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Is there anyone that can see anything like this and not be inspired?

I frequently had to run to catch up with my party because I was constantly stopping and taking pictures.

Truth is you could be in one spot for two hours and still not take enough photos.

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It is that beautiful.

If anyone wants to write fantasy, they need to go to this forest. It’s one thing to write “they went into a forest,” it’s another to describe all the intricate workings of such a place. A forest is so much more than trees and rocks.

Although the trees are incredible as well.

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The forest is like a body, each part of it working in tandem to form something spectacular. It’s difficult to get a firm grasp of this unless you see it first hand.

Also, wear a cloak. Nothing is better than strolling about an ancient forest in a cloak.

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Matchmaking Literary Characters

WARNING: Contains spoilers and crack ships.

If you are a fan of any type of fiction, you may have engaged in what is known as “shipping.”

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I’ve been exposed to many ships and it’s made me experimental when it comes to the exploring the dynamics of compatibility.

For fun, I decided to pair up characters from a variety of different books and see who made the most interesting couple. These are what crack ships are made of, but if you keep an open mind, perhaps you’ll see where I’m coming from

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1. Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow 

Tragically, they never met. But I have a feeling if they did, there would be a spark. We know  Jon Snow digs powerful women and Daenerys is a kickass queen with dragons, an army, and a no-nonsense attitude.

Jon may be less brash than Drogo, but he is more than capable of holding his own in battle. He’s also, like Dany, an excellent leader who isn’t afraid to stand by his convictions, even though they could get him killed.

In fact, these two have quite a bit in common. Both have a strong moral center that makes them seem like pushovers to those that don’t know them better. Both struggle with forming their own identity outside of what their parents did/who they are. And both make dire mistakes on their way to meeting their goal.

I think if he got to know Daenerys, Jon would consider her the best person to rule the Seven Kingdoms and Daenerys would enjoy having him fight for her side (if she’d be able to convince him to give up being a Man of the Night’s Watch, which is debatable).

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2. Rhett Butler and Elizabeth Bennet 

Personally, I think Rhett would find Elizabeth handsome enough to tempt him.

At their core, both are nonconformists who refuse to conduct themselves in a way that society dictates. Both are intelligent, enjoy dancing, and have a mischievous nature about them.

Rhett is slightly more worldly than Lizzie, but she is his equal in about every other respect. Like Scarlet O’Hara, Rhett’s estranged wife, Lizzie is exceptionally strong-willed (occasionally at her own expense). Moreover, she could win a battle of wits with anyone she chooses and is not willing to demur to anyone. I’m willing to bet Rhett would enjoy the challenge of crossing mental swords with her.

Lizzie would be interested to hear all about Rhett’s checkered past. While she might be unnerved by some details, I believe that she would be a sympathetic ear.

Put together they would likely mortify everyone in their respective time periods with their sassiness.

Mrs. Bennet’s poor nerves.

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3. Sherlock Holmes and Amy Dunne

One is a highly functioning sociopath while the other is just plain psycho.

Imagine what Gone Girl would have been like with a Sherlockian twist. While Sherlock would likely outwit Amy in the end, he would be impressed by how methodical and patient she was in executing her revenge plot. Not to mention how easily she was able to play with society’s expectations and use media bias to work in her favor.

I think Amy would take immense pleasure in appealing to Sherlock’s darker nature and laughing with him about how moronic the rest of society is.

I can’t stop wishing I could see these two geniuses go toe-to-toe with one another, one constantly trying to outsmart the other.

This would potentially be the most toxic relationship in the history of the literary world, but, damn, if it wouldn’t be interesting to watch.

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4. Dorian Gray and James Moriarty 

Imagine how much darker The Picture of Dorian Gray could have gotten if  Dorian had befriended Moriarty instead of Lord Henry.

Dorian would respect Moriarty as a worldly and ingenious gentleman, and Moriarty would revel in having a young, naive Dorian to mold into a despicable villain.

While Dorian was out wooing some diplomat (or his wife), Moriarty would be working behind the scenes to tear down the British government’s infrastructure brick by brick. Blackmail, theft, murder, who knows how much havoc they could wreak?

With Dorian’s looks and Moriarty’s brains, they could have London on its knees in a matter of months.

Can you think of any book characters that would make a good couple? Let me know! 

Kill Them Like You Mean It: A Critique On Character Resurrections

There is a joke in the Whovian community: “Steven Moffat walks into a bar and everyone you love dies.” This seems accurate as the man’s body count ranges in the double digits. The same can be said for George R. R. Martin with his Game of Thrones series in which many characters face agonizingly graphic deaths that leave you a sobbing mess on the living room rug.

What is the difference between the deaths in Doctor Who and the deaths in the Game of Thrones series?

When someone dies in Game of Thrones I actually care.

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 It’s not that I don’t feel a connection with the characters in Doctor Who. My problem is Steven Moffat, as well as many other writers, are guilty of overusing the Lazarus Trope.

The Lazarus Trope occurs when a character— usually one of rapport— dies, but is brought back to life through some manner of plot contrivance.

And it’s not just Doctor Who that is guilty of overusing this trope. If I took a shot for every character in anime or comic book movies/TV shows that have died only to be brought back to life, I would need a stomach pump.

Seriously, it’s a wonder that people in these universes even have funerals anymore. You’d think they would just wait with a beer by the front door for their loved ones to reappear.

The Lazarus Trope is reaching epidemic levels in all forms of media from TV shows, to movies, to books, to video games and it needs to die (pun intended).

It has gotten to the point where I’m no longer bothered if a character’s life ends because I just assume they’re going to return later on. Therefore, all the unrest this character’s demise is supposed to create becomes dead on arrival.

The reason the deaths in Game of Thrones resonate so powerfully with audiences is because we know that once those characters are gone, they’re gone for good. And most of them don’t deserve the fates they were given.

To all you creative types out there, I implore you, don’t bring your characters back to life. Or, if you must, let there be a catch to their survival. Give them some sort of psychological or physiological side effect that will follow them throughout the course of their story. People who go through near-death experiences in reality don’t come out of it unscathed, so neither should those that reside in fictional worlds.

I’m not against the slaying of characters if it’s done for a good reason. But if you’re just going to use it as a cheap sleight of hand, then consider other alternatives.

Death is not a head cold. Don’t treat it like one.

Your audience will probably see it coming anyway.