Adding Depth to Characters By: Courtney Smith

What do you really know about the characters you read about in stories? How much
can you say about the psychological condition of different people within certain roles? Should
a character be given nearly as much depth as someone’s profile or psychiatric evaluation in the
real world? You should give characters depth if he or she appears multiple times in a story,
despite not being the protagonist or the antagonist. Three things are needed to add depth to a
character: background, motive, and essentiality.
Giving a character a background will allow the reader to know this is not just a passing
role or someone who will make single, insignificant appearances throughout the script. You can
cue the reader this person will appear in other parts of the story, later. Many times, giving a
character a background will indicate he or she is going to have a crucial role, even if his or her
appearances are sparse at different points throughout the story. Sometimes, if a character has
a certain background that is related to the climax, his or her presence could also help the story
transition.
Providing motives for characters to act upon will also add depth to them. Characters
can actually have depth if they have an interest in the outcome of the events, regardless of
being protagonists, antagonists, or either. If they have vested interests in the outcome of the
story or a major part of it, they will be motivated to act upon the events to secure their
objectives. This will also add intrigue for your readers to see what will happen next, even if
they do not make too many appearances in the story. This can be done if they are indirectly or
directly helping the antagonists, protagonists, or something else that could influence the
outcome of the story.
Essentiality can also create depth for a character. Admittedly, it is not necessary for a
character to have depth in possessing an essential role, but making a character essential to a
plot can contribute depth to his or her purpose within the story. If you make his or her role an
essential part of the climax, rising action, or the protagonist’s objective, it will allow your
readers to view them in a much greater light. Characters with pivotal roles in the story can
increase depth, intrigue, and interest in their roles.
Adding depth to characters will undoubtedly create intrigue and interest for your
readers. This is done by applying demographic information, intention, and necessity. Your
readers will undoubtedly remain enticed. Supplying roles with transitional influence and
necessary elements will create depth within characters, which will allow them to become
pivotal points in the plot. A little depth can go a long way in regards to utilizing characters for
events and transitions.

Clashing Wings By: Relato Corto

Zin, a deva created by and serving Norval, faltered. His master’s orders went against the common good—there was something Zin couldn’t see yet. His ability to know the truth could not be ignored. This was a trap.

The angel imagined the worst. So he shed his human form to escape. Betraying a God is a crime that is paid in blood. Not caring what the humans around him might think, Zin spread his wings and pushed himself from the ground to fly away.

Witnesses watched in amazement as the white wing creature rose into the air. This was the first time their eyes confirmed a legend. The angel moved quickly towards the sun until it was impossible to see it.

Zin stopped in the clouds. There was no use in trying. Norval could see through the eyes of his servants. Zin studied the golden mace in his hand. He only had one weapon to face on judgment day. So he prepared for the worst and waited silently, floating above the clouds.

Dez, a planetar loyal to Norval, soon arrived. Unlike Zin, who had the skin color of a human, Dez’s skin was blue. He was also much taller than Zin, and more importantly, his weapon was a greatsword forged in the heavenly plane.

“You have fallen out of grace, brother,” Dez said as he stopped in front of Zin.

“Our main goal is to look after the common good,” Zin said.

“Your limited perspective has blinded you,” Dez said.

“The end cannot justify the means,” Zin demanded.

“Your judgment day has come,” Dez said and charged.

Zin reached out to parry the sword attack with his mace. An aura of white light began to grow around the white-winged beings. “You don’t have to do this.”

“You have been corrupted, brother,” Dez said and attacked again.

His time among mortals paved the way for Zin to gain new abilities. Powers he never thought to use. He raised his weapon to parry the sword attack… then his hammer shone with darkness.

Dez felt the force of the impact. His sword vibrated in his hands. Pain shot up his arms.

“Sorry,” Zin said before slamming his mace on the head of his mentor.

Dez received a harder blow than he had expected. Zin had to be using forbidden magic. Dez’s eyes lost the ability to receive light. Before long, Dez’s unconscious body began to fall. His speed increases. Hitting the ground seemed unavoidable… few seconds before the impact a ray of light crossed Dez’s path.

Zin slowly descended. The mace in his hand continued to spring darkness, while he held Dez’s sword in the other hand.

Seru, a solar in Norval’s service, stared at the deva who defeated Dez. He placed Dez’s unconscious body on the ground, then walked over to Zin. “Is this the price you are willing to pay to save the lives of mortals? Going against your own kind.”

Zin landed a few steps away from Seru. “It is time to open our eyes to new possibilities, brother,” Zin said, and darkness began to well up from his sword blade.

Seru spread his wings. The size and shape of a solar were imposing. Zin looked like a child in front of a man.

“Do not underestimate my power,” Zin said, raising the sword.

“Ridiculous,” Seru said and attacked.

The swords clashed. The power of Seru’s light was unmatched. Few angels reached such a high rank. Unfortunately, Zin’s slight resistance was enough to withstand the pain. Then Seru took a full blow of darkness against his armor.

Both angels were sent backward. Seru noticed that darkness had corrupted his opponent. Some of Zin’s wing feathers were on fire.

“This is your last chance to give up,” Seru said.

“…and allow you kill me without a fight,” Zin said. “Over my dead body.”

The angels rose, clashing their weapons again and again. Being sent backward with each impact. The fire in Zin’s wings sheds gray feathers as it fades away. Every time he used the darkness, more feathers lit up.

“You still have time to repent,” Seru said, throwing his sword toward Zin.

Zin deflected the attack. “You leave me no choice but to end your life.”

Seru flew downwards to grab the greatsword, then charged. The color of his opponent’s wings had completely changed. The connection with Norval was broken. I have to destroy you before it’s too late.

A cunning attack caused Zin to be forcibly sent downwards. Seru was pushed up and instantly flapped his wings to attack again before his opponent crashed against the ground.

Zin could only defend himself. His swordsmanship was too basic to be a worthy match for a solar. The only thing keeping him alive was his command of darkness. When he crashed to the ground, he was ready to hear his wing bones break. Instead, he fell onto a padded surface. Then a pair of arms held him up.

Seru watched in amazement as the ground parted and the creatures of the darkness grabbed Zin. Then they lowered him.

Zin watched as the earth closed over his eyes and the sunlight disappeared.

Seru landed next to the place where the earth swallowed Zin. “Good luck, brother.”

Cooking Broke

Photo by Ana Madeleine Uribe on Pexels.com

Baked Chicken Meatballs

PREP TIME15 mins

COOK TIME14 mins

TOTAL TIME29 mins

SERVINGS4 servings

YIELD24 meatballs

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray, or 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken (preferably with 5% or more fat)
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, or Romano cheese
  • 3 tablespoons milk (any kind)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped, loosely packed
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional

Method

  1. Preheat the oven:Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it lightly with cooking spray or lightly brush 1 teaspoon olive oil on it. 
  2. Make the chicken mixture:In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, milk, parsley, garlic, egg, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes, if using. Use your clean hands to gently mix until combined. Stop as soon as the ingredients are evenly distributed and be careful not to over-mix, since this will make the meatballs tough.How to make chicken meatballs: Place ingredients in bowl.Lightly combine meatball mixture.
  3. Shape the meatballs:Use your fingers to pinch off enough mixture to make a 1-inch meatball. Use the palm of your hands to gently roll it into a ball, being careful to compress the mixture as little as possible. This will help keep the meatballs light.Place the meatball on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining mixture. Space the meatballs evenly on the baking sheet so that they don’t touch. You should have about 24 meatballs. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray or brush them lightly with the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil.Roll meatballs and place on baking sheet.
  4. Bake the meatballs:Bake the meatballs until they are cooked through and browned on the bottom, 10 to 14 minutes. Cut through one to test. It should no longer be pink inside. You can also insert an instant-read thermometer into the center of a meatball. It should register at least 165°F.Be careful not to overcook so the meatballs do not dry out. The tops of the meatballs do not brown very much in the oven.Bake meatballs until cooked through.
  5. Serve:Enjoy the meatballs as is, pair them with your favorite sauce, add them to a soup, or use them to fill a sandwich. Leftover meatballs will keep for 4 days in the fridge. Reheat them in the microwave, in a 350°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or in a skillet over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often. Or simply add them to a pot of hot broth or sauce until warmed through.Did you love the recipe? Leave us a review in the comments! Baked meatballs on baking sheet.
NUTRITION FACTS(PER SERVING)
341CALORIES
19gFAT
12gCARBS
32gPROTEIN

 Show Full Nutrition Label

Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.

Boomers, you can let go of those high school trophies. Here’s how to declutter without the heartbreak.

There is a way for pack rats to get rid of keepsakes and still feel as if they’ve kept them. (Hint: It involves a camera.) 

By Kevyn Burger Special to the Star Tribune

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

When Kraig King’s mother moved from the California house he grew up in to assisted living, she shipped a box to his St. Louis Park home. It contained all his trophies — “and my ribbons, medals, pins and plaques, too,” said King with a laugh. “I’d kept it all.”

An accomplished athlete, King had accumulated quite a collection, starting with Little League and ending with his college basketball career.

“It was a great part of my life, but I don’t define myself by it and I would never display any of it,” said King, now 63 and a leadership consultant.

King admits he’s “a bit of a pack rat,” but his wife identifies as a minimalist. So it was her suggestion that he take photos of his hard-won hardware and then donate it rather than stowing it in their basement.

Without hesitation, King agreed.

“Someone could take my name plaque off the trophies and re-use them,” he said. “It’s fine that I don’t have the physical items; I have a representation of them. [The photographs] are my security blanket if I want to jog my memory. Pictures reduce the risk of regret.”

From young adults renting apartments without attics to their downsizing parents, the need to shed accumulated possessions is universal. But unloading items with a sentimental attachment can be painful.

That’s where a camera and the cloud come in.

Taking digital photographs and uploading them can create the illusion that keepsakes have somehow been “kept,” said Karen Winterich, a marketing professor at Pennsylvania State University.

“It’s often not the thing that people want,” she explained. “It’s the memory that the thing triggers.”

Winterich experienced that recently when she came across her junior high basketball shorts in a dresser drawer. Though she hadn’t worn them in years, she had them on when her team scored an upset victory over their biggest rival.

“I was keeping them because they reminded me that I used to be a pretty good basketball player and I didn’t want to forget that part of myself,” she said. “Once I realized that, I could let them go.”

Winterich tested her photo theory with a field study conducted in six Penn State residence halls at the end of a semester. In half the dorms, a simple donation drive was advertised. The other half got fliers that read: “Don’t Pack Up Your Sentimental Clutter. Keep a Photo of It, Then Donate.”

Winterich and her fellow researchers saw a significant increase in the number of items donated by students who’d been cued to take pictures.

“There’s less psychological discomfort if they feel they can retrieve the memory with the tool of a photograph,” she concluded. “The act of taking a picture relieves them of the anxiety of parting with the item.”

Scores of people looking to streamline their basements, attics and garages could embrace the camera/cloud technique to help them let go of things they no longer need.

Our collective need to hang onto stuff has contributed to an ever-expanding storage industry. Last year, Americans spent $37 billion at some 50,000 self-storage facilities. In fact, one in 11 Americans is paying rent to store excess possessions.

The self-storage industry has seen 7.7% annual growth since 2012, but the tide may turn as more people experience the heady liberation of owning less. In her books and Netflix series, Japanese minimalist Marie Kondo has inspired thousands of pack rats to purge possessions that “don’t spark joy.”

The phenomenon has led to tidal wave of donations at thrift shops, but few, if any, regrets, said Molly King, marketing manager at the four Arc’s Value Village outlets.

“By the time they get those boxes to the stores, they’re done with it,” she said. “They’re a little bit sad, but mostly relieved.”

She’s also noticed that there’s a generational divide to being able to deal with — or prevent — overaccumulation.

“Younger people are into what’s called ‘circular inventory.’ Their stuff comes in and then it goes out,” she said. “They never plan to own something forever. They use Uber and Rent the Runway. Everything is temporary and that makes it easier to donate.”

That ability to let things go even applies to items that have been handed down by parents and grandparents.

“We’re going through a cultural change in the digital era,” said Clay Routledge, a psychology professor at North Dakota State University who researches nostalgia.

“In the pre-internet era, family heirlooms were passed down, but today young adults don’t want them, they don’t care about the physical thing. That’s not a value judgment, it’s just different,” he said.

Younger people have fewer things than their boomer parents, and therefore, less of an attachment to things.

“When people have their music, movies, photos and books in the cloud, they have fewer things to feel sentimental about,” said Routledge.

Tossing the stuff

Of course, there are some sentimental possessions you can’t donate. No one wants your T-shirts, ticket stubs or greeting cards. Or the handmade treasures that every parent gathers.

That’s what Wendy Welter Albee started photographing.

“My three kids are grown and I still had boxes full of all the pictures they drew for me, their school artwork and the little clay projects they made,” she said. “I’ve been hanging onto it forever.”

After retiring from the Air Force, Albee of Andover, had time to sort through the childhood memorabilia and select a few of the most delightful items to save.

She took pictures of the rest and was able to toss it all away.

“I didn’t feel even a twinge of regret,” said Albee.

In fact, it felt so good that it inspired her to cull her collection of thousands of books and start donating them to charity stores.

Items ready for a garage Sale or to be given to charity

When Kraig King’s mother moved from the California house he grew up in to assisted living, she shipped a box to his St. Louis Park home. It contained all his trophies — “and my ribbons, medals, pins and plaques, too,” said King with a laugh. “I’d kept it all.”

An accomplished athlete, King had accumulated quite a collection, starting with Little League and ending with his college basketball career.

“It was a great part of my life, but I don’t define myself by it and I would never display any of it,” said King, now 63 and a leadership consultant.

King admits he’s “a bit of a pack rat,” but his wife identifies as a minimalist. So it was her suggestion that he take photos of his hard-won hardware and then donate it rather than stowing it in their basement. Without hesitation, King agreed.

“Someone could take my name plaque off the trophies and re-use them,” he said. “It’s fine that I don’t have the physical items; I have a representation of them. [The photographs] are my security blanket if I want to jog my memory. Pictures reduce the risk of regret.”

A photo of a modern digital single lens reflex camera on a white background.

Photo by ANTONI SHKRABA on Pexels.com

From young adults renting apartments without attics to their downsizing parents, the need to shed accumulated possessions is universal. But unloading items with a sentimental attachment can be painful. That’s where a camera and the cloud come in.

Taking digital photographs and uploading them can create the illusion that keepsakes have somehow been “kept,” said Karen Winterich, a marketing professor at Pennsylvania State University.

“It’s often not the thing that people want,” she explained. “It’s the memory that the thing triggers.”

Winterich experienced that recently when she came across her junior high basketball shorts in a dresser drawer. Though she hadn’t worn them in years, she had them on when her team scored an upset victory over their biggest rival.

“I was keeping them because they reminded me that I used to be a pretty good basketball player and I didn’t want to forget that part of myself,” she said. “Once I realized that, I could let them go.”

Winterich tested her photo theory with a field study conducted in six Penn State residence halls at the end of a semester. In half the dorms, a simple donation drive was advertised. The other half got fliers that read: “Don’t Pack Up Your Sentimental Clutter. Keep a Photo of It, Then Donate.”

Winterich and her fellow researchers saw a significant increase in the number of items donated by students who’d been cued to take pictures.

“There’s less psychological discomfort if they feel they can retrieve the memory with the tool of a photograph,” she concluded. “The act of taking a picture relieves them of the anxiety of parting with the item.”

No donor remorse.

Scores of people looking to streamline their basements, attics and garages could embrace the camera/cloud technique to help them let go of things they no longer need.

Our collective need to hang onto stuff has contributed to an ever-expanding storage industry. Last year, Americans spent $37 billion at some 50,000 self-storage facilities. In fact, one in 11 Americans is paying rent to store excess possessions.

The self-storage industry has seen 7.7% annual growth since 2012, but the tide may turn as more people experience the heady liberation of owning less. In her books and Netflix series, Japanese minimalist Marie Kondo has inspired thousands of pack rats to purge possessions that “don’t spark joy.”

The phenomenon has led to tidal wave of donations at thrift shops, but few, if any, regrets, said Molly King, marketing manager at the four Arc’s Value Village outlets.

“By the time they get those boxes to the stores, they’re done with it,” she said. “They’re a little bit sad, but mostly relieved.”

She’s also noticed that there’s a generational divide to being able to deal with — or prevent — overaccumulation.

“Younger people are into what’s called ‘circular inventory.’ Their stuff comes in and then it goes out,” she said. “They never plan to own something forever. They use Uber and Rent the Runway. Everything is temporary and that makes it easier to donate.”

That ability to let things go even applies to items that have been handed down by parents and grandparents.

“We’re going through a cultural change in the digital era,” said Clay Routledge, a psychology professor at North Dakota State University who researches nostalgia.

“In the pre-internet era, family heirlooms were passed down, but today young adults don’t want them, they don’t care about the physical thing. That’s not a value judgment, it’s just different,” he said.

Younger people have fewer things than their boomer parents, and therefore, less of an attachment to things.

“When people have their music, movies, photos and books in the cloud, they have fewer things to feel sentimental about,” said Routledge.

Tossing the stuff

Of course, there are some sentimental possessions you can’t donate. No one wants your T-shirts, ticket stubs or greeting cards. Or the handmade treasures that every parent gathers.

That’s what Wendy Welter Albee started photographing.

“My three kids are grown and I still had boxes full of all the pictures they drew for me, their school artwork and the little clay projects they made,” she said. “I’ve been hanging onto it forever.”

After retiring from the Air Force, Albee of Andover, had time to sort through the childhood memorabilia and select a few of the most delightful items to save. She took pictures of the rest and was able to toss it all away. “I didn’t feel even a twinge of regret,” said Albee.

In fact, it felt so good that it inspired her to cull her collection of thousands of books and start donating them to charity stores.

“Getting rid of stuff feels freeing,” she said. “Empty space feels better than full.”

As for Kraig King, he hung onto a single item from his trophy collection: the plaque he was awarded when inducted into his college’s basketball hall of fame.

He photographed all the rest. And those photos? He hasn’t looked at them since he uploaded them.

“Not once,” he said. “They’re online someplace, but finding them is not a high priority. It’s funny. Knowing they’re there is enough.”

Kevyn Burger is a Minneapolis based freelance broadcaster and writer.

MONEY:

In 18 years, a college degree could cost about $500,000

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

People worried about college affordability today can at least take this to heart: Getting a degree now is an absolute bargain compared to what it could cost if tuition keeps rising this fast for the next couple of decades.

Tuition has been rising by about 6% annually, according to investment management company Vanguard. At this rate, when babies burn today are turning 18, a year of higher education at a private school — including tuition, fees, and room and board — will cost more than $120,000, Vanguard said. Public colleges could average out to $54,000 a year.

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That means without financial aid, the sticker price of a four-year college degree for children born today could reach half a million dollars at private schools, and a quarter million at public ones. That’s a for a family with one kid; those with more could be facing a bill that reaches seven figures.

How much will a year of college cost in the future?

How much families realistically need to save for their children to go to college is a very real question for new parents.

“When you look at these numbers and how college has increased from an inflation standpoint historically, it is staggering,” said Maria Bruno, a senior investment strategist at Vanguard.

Many factors have been blamed over the years — a decline in state funding for public schools, along with administrative bloat, rising salaries and new construction at private colleges.

Incomes, meanwhile, have not kept up. In 2015 the median income for families with children rose by 4.3%, and in 2014 by 3%. If family income continues to grow at 4.3% each year, it will reach about $142,000 in 18 years.

Bruno estimates to save enough to cover 50% of tuition, families will need to put away (and invest) about $1,000 each month for the next 17 years if their child wants to attend a private school, $320 per month for a public school, and $147 per month for community college.

It’s a serious burden for new parents, plenty of whom still have their own college debt to pay off, and who are also advised to put aside 10% to 15% of their income for retirement. Bruno said retirement should take priority over college funds, “because there’s the possibility that other resources may be available” to help pay for education.

“With limited resources and multiple goals, it can be very overwhelming,” she said.

The silver lining, according to Jennifer Ma, senior policy research scientist at the College Board, is about 70% of students get some grant or scholarship money and pay less than the so-called “sticker price.” And while $121,000-per-year private college may seem like an option for only the wealthy, she added that private schools account for roughly 30% of undergrads anyhow; the majority go to public colleges.

Yet this free scholarship money is not enough, even at public schools. About 60% of undergrads borrow money Of those at public colleges who took out loans, the average debt is $26,800, said Ma. At nonprofit private colleges, the average is $31,400.

Ma even had a note of relative optimism for new parents. In recent years college costs have increased at a slower rate than the 6% in Vanguard’s model — something closer to 4%. “These days, colleges and universities have an enormous amount of pressure to minimize costs and control tuition increases, more so than in the past than 20 to 30 years,” she said.

A couple of percentage points really add up. At a growth rate of 4%, four years of college will cost about $185,000 at a public school, and $363,000 at a private college, according to the College Board’s college cost calculator. No sweat, right?

This article originally appeared on Buzzfeed.

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