Monday, October 21, 2013

Quoth the Raven

During this time of year I like to read some of Edgar Allan Poe’s greatest poems and short stories. His work was hauntingly eerie, yet so eloquent and beautiful. Unfortunately, I feel like my first exposure to Poe’s writing was on a Simpson’s Tree House of Horror episode. Bart Simpson was masquerading as the raven yelling “Nevermore, Nevermore,” while Homer played the tormented narrator.


Poe never received the credit he deserved for his writing during his lifetime, even though he was terrifyingly talented. I’m sure you know some of his most classic works. But as it's near October 31st, I think I should extend a dare for you to read some of his most chilling tales. 

I can’t physically give you a handful of Twix, Reese's, and Kit Kats to celebrate Halloween (my favorites), but instead, as a treat, here are some my favorite stanzas of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. Enjoy. Mwahahaha! 


Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, 
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, 
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, 
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. 
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door- 
Only this, and nothing more."

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling, 
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore. 
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven, 
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore- 
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!" 
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked, upstarting- 
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore! 
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! 
Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door! 
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!" 
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore." 

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting 
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; 
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming, 
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor; 
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor 
Shall be lifted- nevermore!

(To read the full version, visit 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Body Language

My husband is taking a public speaking class and he's been learning a lot about body language, something I find fascinating. Honestly, you can learn a lot more about how someone feels from their body language than anything that actually comes out of their mouth.

I love applying this to writing because it helps create believable characters. You can tell your reader everything they need to know about a character purely off their body language. Adversely, if your character's body language is wrong, it will hurt your writing.

One thing I try to keep in mind is that often people say one thing, but their body language contradicts them. If you ask a favor of someone, they might respond and say they're happy to help, however you can sense that they feel uncomfortable or unhappy about itit's because their body language is portraying how they truly feel.

Likewise you might have moments in your writing where a character feels uncomfortable, scared, or unhappy, but they try to mask their inner feelings and appear calm and confident. It's important to show small traits of how they're truly feeling during each scene.

If you have a character that's feeling angry, they might stiffen up or change their tone. If someone touches their nose, they don't believe what's being said. If they're nervous, they'll be fidgety, give short answers, and have terrible eye contact. When someone's feeling relaxed and confident, they'll make themselves appear bigger, taller, and raise their hand higher in class. When someone feels vulnerable or scared, they'll shrink by crossing their legs, folding their arms, or sometimes touching their neck.

I've been watching other's body language a lot more closely, trying to take notice of how they react in different situations. My goal is to make each of my characters react believably, thus creating stronger writing.

How do you use body language in your own writing? What popular characters in literature use strong body language?