Judging and Reacting

Judging and Reacting

A Lesson by Ardeth Lane

Judging and reacting


In school right now, I am beginning a project on Van Gogh. In order to get the information that I need, I borrowed a book from the public library called ‘Van Gogh: The Life’. It’s a biography.

When I picked up the book my first thought was: Holy Crap. That’s a big book. But despite the size of the book, I was going to read it because this project is worth half a credit and I need that half credit to graduate. So, I did what any determined person would do. I tossed it in the passenger’s seat-unopened-and went to Dunn Bros to get an iced crème. While drinking the crème, I surfed the web. Facebook, Twitter, a blog or two, Youtube, and so on. After a while longer, I went home. Then I listened to music. I touched up a picture I was working on, and at about nine thirty I remembered the book in the car.

I went to go get it.

It felt like I was retrieving a bomb, or an angry rabbit, or something. Needless to say, I didn’t want to go and get the book. But I did anyways, and brought it inside.

Before I decided to read the beast I need water so I toss it on the table and make my way to the kitchen sink. The sound of the book hitting the table was loud and memorable, repeating itself through my mind as I took a swig of water. And then, it was time to read.

I flipped to the last page: page 868. Great. I took a deep breath, and opened it to page one. The prologue:

“Theo imagined the worst. The message said only that Vincent had ‘wounded himself’. As Theo rushed to the station to catch the next train to Auvers, his mind raced both backwards and forwards…”

I stopped reading. This clearly wasn’t how I thought it was going to be.

I read the first few sentences a second time. Yup, it was still there in what seemed to be a novel-like format. Wow. This would be easier than I thought. I continued to read, more willingly this time.


What I just told you was something that happened to me not long ago. It is an example of what many people recite to you K-12, and of what I am going to be explaining in this fourth lesson. What is it?

Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover.

I judged, and wound up procrastinating reading for my project. But, in a ‘character’ way of speaking I want you to take this lesson and contemplate how people judge your character. Your Chris. (For anyone jumping into the lessons at this point, ‘Chris’ is the name I gave to the ‘character’ referred to constantly.)

In almost every Young Adult novel you will find that one character that is very misunderstood. He/She  will typically become the one that everyone falls in love with the most. Especially if it’s a guy who is described as sexy. With his charm and mysterious behavior he will make both real and fictitious women swoon. Call him Edward, Jace, Ash, Sam, Cole, Will, or Jem. But, 9 times out of 10 he’s deep, sensitive, and troubled. And THAT’S what makes him so intriguing to the readers.

So, this lesson is simple. This lesson is short. But this is still something that matters. What I want you to know is this: What does Chris do/say that other people misinterpret?  How do they view it? What is their reaction? Why do they think that?

Sometimes that kind of thing can be hard to write. So for a helper:

If you are writing through Chris’ perspective, have him notice something someone does in response to something he does. Do they flinch? Smirk? Scowl? If so, WHY? He may not know why, but YOU do. And knowing a little somethin’-somethin’ about other characters can help you establish a more 3-D effect to your writing.

If you are writing through multiple POV’s do the same thing as I said above, only elaborate the reason for the reaction. With the power of seeing into another mind, you can explain things to a reader that they otherwise wouldn’t know. Have it be shocking, basic knowledge, or a memory. Keep in mind that during a conversation, minds wander. Maybe Chris remembered something from three years ago that made him shiver. When asked why he shivered he replied, “Chills.” But maybe, that memory was when his step-dad locked him outside in the middle of winter. The memory could possibly put him in a bad mood, that makes him angry and snap at a good friend of his. Maybe that snap breaks a friendship and causes tension.

Anything is possible when you’re discussing the mind. Reasons why people do things are sometimes unable to be explained. Keep that in mind. Not everything has to be explained the paragraph after it’s introduced as a baby-event. How will there be any depth to a book if that happens?

Anyways, my goal was to keep this short and sweet and shallow. Depth is not something I have time for today. That will have to wait for another lesson.


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Added on April 1, 2012
Last Updated on April 1, 2012

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Ardeth Lane
Ardeth Lane