Stephanie M.

Stephanie M.

I'm a content writer and novelist who loves books, writing, theater, and my cat. I have published two novels and traveled to London and Paris.

Contributor I

  • Plebian Penman
  • Lurker
  • Pssst
  • Hand Raiser
  • Sharp-Eyed Citizen
  • Town Watch
  • Detective Deskman
  • ?
  • Articles
    4
  • Featured
    2
  • Comments
    60
  • Ext. Comments
    27
  • Processed
    23
  • Revisions
    21
  • Topics
    8
  • Topics Taken
    5
  • Notes
    79
  • Topics Proc.
    19
  • Topics Rev.
    5
  • Points
    913
  • Rank
    72
  • Score
    648

    Latest Articles

    Latest Topics

    0
    Pending

    Teaching the Bible as Literature

    Teaching the Bible in any context, especially the classroom, is tricky. Teachers and professors have to be careful not to present the text in a devotional context, because not everyone is a devotee. However, the Bible is also a rich literary work; excerpts from it appear in many curriculums, especially World Literature textbooks. With this in mind, discuss the best way to teach the Bible as literature. For example, could certain parts of the Bible be paired with different classics (the story of David and Bathsheba + Romeo and Juliet, excerpts from Revelation + a time-honored apocalyptic or dystopian novel)? What would be your chosen pairings? Are there any parts you’d want to stay away from, or parts that lend themselves to literary teaching better than others?

    • Eschatology, the study of end times, as related to the dystopian future could be useful here. – Munjeera 1 day ago
      1
    0

    The Impact of Format Changes on Nostalgic Nickelodeon

    Most people who grew up in the late 1980s through the 1990s fondly remember Nickelodeon. The shows produced in this era were part of the network’s Golden Age, and fans’ appreciation has led Nick to bring some of them back. Two popular Nick shows, Hey Arnold and Legend of the Hidden Temple, are coming back in the near future. However, Hey Arnold is coming back as a live-action film. Legends will take the form of a TV movie whose adventurous plot is somewhat loosely based on the original game show. Will these format changes wreck what fans loved about these shows, or will they bring fresh perspectives to the table? Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of these format changes.

    • I didn't even know these were happening! Remakes/reboots are such a big thing nowadays, so I like how this topic is very focused on a specific aspect of the nostalgia-movement. The emphasis on the formats would also create an easy way for the writer to stay analytical rather than it devolving into an opinion-based rant or hype train. – DrNinjaBaljeet 9 hours ago
      0
    1

    Whatever Happened to the Ordinary Kid Protagonist?

    Children’s and young adult (YA) literature has exploded in recent decades, giving young people more reading options than ever. Additionally, young protagonists have more power than ever. Harry Potter is a wizard. Tris and Katniss from The Hunger Games are almost unstoppable heroines of dystopian societies. The Descendants protagonists are the magical offspring of Disney villains.

    While these protagonists and their books are wonderful, they bring to mind a question: do today’s protagonists always need powers, magical and supernatural connections, or the high stakes of dystopia? Put more succinctly, do they always have to be "the chosen ones?" What does fiction for young people gain by putting protagonists in that position? Does it lose anything by not focusing on more common kid/teen issues? Or, do we actually have a good balance between powerful and ordinary protagonists in our current literature? Discuss using the above examples and any others that fit the topic.

    • This is definitely an interesting concept. As a writer, I find it's less and less common for regular protagonists to make an appearance, especially in teen fiction. I'm in the midst of writing a book with an ordinary protagonist, and the biggest comments I've gotten back on the beginning of the book is that the protagonist is normal, and that he shouldn't be. We've gotten into a tradition of extraordinary protagonists, and I think it's important to bring back the ordinary kid protagonist. – LilyaRider 1 week ago
      0
    • I'm also a writer, and one of the things I constantly have to remind myself of is, it's ultimately my story. Some critiques are valid and some are not. Calling a character "too normal" is not, IMHO, a valid critique. Now, if "normal" means "boring," as in undeveloped and flat, then that needs to be fixed. But personally, I miss normal protagonists. I miss the average kid or teen who stumbles into adventure, maybe didn't even want it, and struggles with what to do. I miss characters who can't do everything well, who make mistakes, who do something that doesn't involve saving the world. I wonder, in fact, if all these larger-than-life characters are making real kids feel like they aren't good enough. – Stephanie M. 1 week ago
      0
    • Patrick Ness wrote a book called 'The Rest of us Just Live Here', which is from the perspective of the 'ordinary kids' in a school full of heroes. It was quirky and thought provoking. Heroic child protagonists do seem to be the current trend, though. – JudyPeters 1 week ago
      2
    • I'm gonna have to investigate that book... :) – Stephanie M. 7 days ago
      1
    0

    For the Love of Christmas Movies

    As a society, especially in the U.S., we love Christmas movies. Most of us grew up with "the classics," from Home Alone and Miracle on 34th Street to Rankin-Bass specials, A Christmas Story, and A Christmas Carol. Yet, the modern Christmas movie has positively exploded. Hallmark, for instance, has reams of them, which the public gobbles up every year.

    Our enchantment with Christmas films has so influenced us that we even watch them in the middle of summer (see Hallmark’s Gold Crown Christmas preview week/Christmas in July for examples). The question is, why have these films, specials, and so forth gripped us so tightly? Is it simply nostalgia and the need for something warm and happy, or is something else going on here? Has Christmas-based entertainment lost its edge, or has its year-round accessibility given it a new one?

      2

      The Topic of Cancer

      Cancer is one of the most popular topics in literature, film, and television today. From Laurie McDaniel’s teen romances centered on cancer, to My Sister’s Keeper, to The Fault in Our Stars, cancer automatically generates gripping plots. Characters dealing with cancer instantly face huge stakes physically, mentally, and emotionally. Readers turn pages as fast as their fingers or e-readers will allow, eager to see if the heroes they are rooting for will make it to the end of the story.

      However, the popularity of cancer raises some questions. Is the topic overused? Are characters with cancer truly three-dimensional, or have we gotten to the point where they are used as inspirations and little else? Do the high stakes associated with cancer actually turn readers and viewers away, and what could authors and directors do to keep the topic fresh? Explore these and any other related issues; the possibilities are endless.

      • Great topic. Also used in A Walk to Remember. – Munjeera 2 months ago
        0
      • Ahhhh! I can't believe I forgot that one! That would be an interesting one to explore because Nicholas Sparks wrote it as if the cancer was a big plot twist (which it is when you first read the book. Unlike in many instances, you don't know from the outset that Jamie is sick). – Stephanie M. 2 months ago
        0
      • Writing as someone who has experienced a cancer scare and has had two family members also undergo cancer treatment, I regard this topic to be highly relevant, especially with regard to our modern 'lifestyles'. However, the tendency to view cancer as the 'disease of the week' by some TV series and soap operas has lead it to be somewhat overused, plotwise. It's difficult to know what to suggest to any prospective author or director who may be considering covering this topic as everyone who has contracted cancer has a different story and a different way of dealing with it. There is no one-size-fits-all approach and as you quite rightly pointed out - the possibilities are endless. Just how far can we go without the exploration becoming too morbid or intrusive? The key, perhaps, is the person and not the disease. – Amyus 2 months ago
        2
      • I love your point. Yes, the media does tend to reduce cancer to the "disease of the week." We know a lot more about the cancer experience than we did in say, the '90s, when a sick or disabled character was only the focus of the occasional Very Special Episode. But despite our increased knowledge, I think we have embraced the idea that all cancer experiences are much the same. I'd love to see more characters with cancer who (1) Have lives/interests outside their diseases (2) Handle cancer in multifaceted ways and (3) Legitimately struggle with obstacles other than, "This disease may/is going to kill me." – Stephanie M. 2 months ago
        2
      • You could also explore the way cancer has been portrayed in other languages so as to get a more complete perspective of this global affliction. – Vishnu Unnithan 1 month ago
        0
      • Do you, by chance, have suggestions for world literature that deals with this topic? :) – Stephanie M. 1 month ago
        0
      10

      Does Writing Fiction Ruin the Experience of Reading It?

      I am a fiction writer and voracious fiction reader, so I like this topic. Yet I feel like I shouldn’t write it since it would be in first person, so it’s up for grabs.

      Do any fiction writers out there find their craft ruins the reading experience? For example, do you catch yourself zeroing in on when an author tells instead of shows, or when characters are undeveloped? Do books you once liked become tedious? If yes, how do you–and we as writers–cope with that? Is there a way to keep one’s craft from ruining reading? Conversely, does writing make reading a great book even better, and does it enhance one’s taste in literature?

      • I love the topic! I also write myself and I do often have this issue of honing in one possible mistakes or weaknesses in stories (writing- or even story-wise) that my friends miss. But I also think it's given me a higher appreciation for works I do love and that are written very well. Of course, this would be a subjective topic for anyone to write, but I do think you're onto something. – Karen 7 months ago
        3
      • I love this topic. I think some solutions should be addressed to help writers read without criticizing. – DB752B 7 months ago
        2
      • This is a great questions. Fiction has long been a part of literature and who knows if it has its own downsides. – BMartin43 7 months ago
        0
      • I like this topic, and I think it could be written with an open-ended conclusion. I.e. writing might "ruin" reading in some ways, but it vastly improves it in others. I do find that as a writer, I notice weak plot devices or predictable character development far more than I used to or than other readers. As Karen noted, however, I also appreciate some things more, like artfully dropped foreshadowing, beautiful symbolism, or unique scenes. For me, these positive results outweigh the negative, but this could be argued either way. I also think it can relate to tv (I can't stand some shows just because the script is poorly written, while my friends are able to excuse that for high quality acting and cinematography) but it's up to the writers discretion to note this or not. – EmmaBeitzel 7 months ago
        2
      • I definitely agree writing fiction gives you a better eye for good books, although what is "good" remains subjective. I've also noticed it gives me a better idea of what I want my writing voice to sound like, so whoever writes the topic could discuss that if they wanted. – Stephanie M. 7 months ago
        1
      • I love writing fiction too, and I like see it all as a learning experience. I ask myself if these lacking characteristics of the book tie-in to the narrative, and whether or not my dislike of it is just a personal opinion. Then when I write my own works, I am sometimes inspired by these elements and then I deviate or incorporate them in a way that reflects me as a writer. – RadosianStar 5 months ago
        1
      • I think reading fiction will always be food for the imagination. If you are a writer reading the work of others allows you to discover your style. If you are reading a work of fiction and discover something the author could be doing differently you will make a mental note to avoid doing it. Conversely, if you find something you love you can further explore that pocket in your own writing and others. Even what you consider to be bad fiction can be educational. – ReidaBookman 5 months ago
        2
      • I would say that in order to write good fiction, at least in my experience, it's necessary to be constantly immersing myself in other people's work. While I definitely don't think that writing "ruins" reading, it definitely gives me a sharper eye when it comes to how a book is put together and how the language is being used. I start to think about things other than enjoying the story, such as how the author may have crafted it, what works and what doesn't work, and generally analyzing much deeper than many people might want to when reading something. It's the same thing with any art: I used to be really into drawing and I found myself always being extremely critical of other artists mistakes because I became much more able to recognize them. The same sort of thing happens for me with fiction, or writing of any kind, and I often get annoyed by what I consider poor writing, even in authors that I have massive respect for. On the other hand, I now have a grasp of what it means to write a story, and can better appreciate good fiction, especially when I come across something where I have absolutely no idea how the author did it. For some people this analytical mindset might detract from the enjoyment of a book, but I've always found that it does the opposite for me. – woollyb 5 months ago
        1
      • There is definitely an analytical side that kicks in. Instead if just following the story, you do notice the nitty gritty devices being used. I think it also deepens appreciation for the artform. When you realise how difficult it is, you become a little less critical and more understanding about the author's intent, and you don't fixate on the elements that bother you, but try to assess the story; both what works and what doesn't (at least that's how I feel). – AGMacdonald 2 months ago
        1
      9

      Crowns of Glory: The Importance of Hair in Women-Centered Literature

      Throughout women-centered literature, hair is a popular symbol and motif. The Bible consistently describes hair as a woman’s source of beauty and glory, even her vanity. In classic novels such as Little Women, hair serves as a symbol; Jo March cuts off and sells her hair, her "one beauty," to help her wounded father. In so doing, she symbolically casts off immaturity and vanity in favor of womanhood.

      The trend persists in modern books such as Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent; women brush, braid, and stroke each other’s hair during crucial moments throughout the novel. Women whose hair is forcibly cut or shaved are consistently shamed, and they mourn the loss as if mourning a person. Male characters often stroke, twist, or otherwise fondle love interests’ hair as a form of non-sexual intimacy. Even in fairytales and children’s lit, a young girl’s hair is often pointed out as a defining trait.

      Using the examples listed and/or any others you are familiar with, examine why hair is so important in women-centered literature. Have attitudes toward hair played a role in the shaping of females and feminism? What about the lack of hair for female characters who have cancer or other conditions? Are the perceptions and usages of hair in literature changing, and are our perceptions of womanhood changing with it?

      • Fun Fact: early comic books made female characters have bright red hair to sell more books, as it was very eye-catching, leading to the many red-haired comic book characters of today – m-cubed 6 months ago
        2
      • Didn't know that! :) I don't know if it would be quite on topic, but one could certainly explore hair color as part of this. It tends to be symbolic. For instance, did you know directors of child-centered movies, such as those starring Shirley Temple, would often cast dark-haired girls in "nemesis" parts? – Stephanie M. 6 months ago
        0
      • Ooo, this is a really interesting topic. Hair is so important in gender and race in lit and film and I would love to see more about this. It's interesting as well the different ways that haircuts can be framed in film (a shaved head on a woman can often be a demeaning act, but a woman cutting or shaving her own hair can be a moment of liberation.) – Emily Christ 6 months ago
        1
      • I also think this is an incredibly interesting topic. The symbolism behind hair is present through ALL our human history, from vikings to monarchies. The obsession with hair and hierarchy reflects so well today, as it did hundreds of years ago, and the use of it, the natural importance we imbue upon hair (or lack thereof) is inherent in our perception of each other. To use it in literature is a fine tool indeed. – bbartonshaw 6 months ago
        1
      • I was actually considering posting a topic of braided hair used as artistic political statements. I've noticed a trend that braided hair is a common design element in many propaganda campaigns. Many Nazi propaganda pieces used women (such as athletes and pilots) in braided hair in their posters. I noticed the same trend in Chinese propaganda during the 1960s. In modern times, I noticed that strong female characters in movies also sport this hair style such as Katniss Everdeen from the hunger Games and Maddie Ross from True Grit. I think hair is a very interesting topic that I would like to explore! – AaronJRobert 6 months ago
        2
      • I didn't think of braids in particular, but you're right. They do seem to be a popular hairstyle in real life and fictional mediums. In fiction, especially for young girls, they're also often used to denote childhood. A girl begins to grow up when she trades braids for a French twist or other up-do. For example, in The Giver, little girls stop wearing braids when they turn ten. Laura Ingalls Wilder was shown wearing them in the TV version of Little House on the Prairie, until she began dating Almanzo. There are thousands of things to say about braids, for sure. – Stephanie M. 6 months ago
        1
      • The more I think about this topic, the more complex and vast I realize it is. You can break this topic down by hairstyle, culture, chronology, genre, or medium. I was also thinking of Laura from the Little House on the Prairie. As a child with braided hair, she challenged conventions and ventured on her own (I remember an episode where Laura ran away to a mountain for a spiritual retreat). But when she grew older and began seeing Almanzo (taking a more domestic role), her hairstyle changed into a bun. Braids could be a sign of girlhood, but maybe they can also be a symbol of female empowerment? – AaronJRobert 6 months ago
        3
      • There is also importance placed on when a woman foregoes her hair, by choice or otherwise. See: Mulan, Mad Max Fury Road, and V for Vendetta. – Triggerhappy938 6 months ago
        1
      5

      Does TLC Participate in the Exploitation of Women?

      TLC. formerly known as The Learning Channel, has become a place to watch voyeuristic shows. That alone is disturbing, but what’s more disturbing is that many of these shows seem to exploit women. What Not to Wear, which ran from 2003-2013, performed makeovers on infinitely more women than men, and while Stacy and Clinton were encouraging toward their contributors, one could argue the message was, "Women can’t get away with dressing less than their best, ever."

      What Not to Wear is not the only example. In five seasons of My 600-Lb Life, the vast majority of obese contributors have been women (as many as 80% in a 10-episode season). Counting On focuses on Jessa, Jill, and the other Duggar women instead of the Duggar men, playing up the girls’ pregnancies, weddings, and other "traditional" activities. Toddlers and Tiaras featured airbrushed, enhanced beauty pageant participants as young as 2-3 years old.

      Using these examples and any others you might like, discuss whether TLC is in fact exploiting women over men. If so, do they mean to do it, or are they just trying to net a bigger female audience? Is that a form of manipulation and if yes, is it okay? Why does TLC not seem as focused on men, men’s lifestyles, or the self-improvement of men who might be overweight, sloppily dressed, etc.? Is TLC promoting or demeaning traditional women’s roles such as wife and mother, and if yes, why?

      • Another good question would be what exactly are we learning from the programs on "The Learning Channel"??? Even educational channels are now giving in to the 'reality show' boom, much to the dismay of us who grew up watching shows that actually taught us something. You bring up an interesting point that may point to a bigger problem within our society. – MikeySheff 6 months ago
        1
      • I was just thinking about that (ironically while watching TLC). Why call it The Learning Channel, because you're not actively teaching things people need to know. Yes, you could argue, for instance, that My 600-Lb Life teaches people about health--but do you need to stick a 750-pound woman in front of us, and say what a pig she is, to do it? Do you need to use toddlers with blonde wigs and fake teeth to decry unrealistic standards of beauty (when actually, you're doing the opposite)? Now that I think of it, TLC isn't even the only guilty channel. Have you seen the "History Channel" lately? – Stephanie M. 6 months ago
        1

      Sorry, no tides are available. Please update the filter.

      Latest Comments

      Stephanie M.

      You raise a valid point. It may be that we are so concerned about what our kids are exposed to, that we look for role models everywhere. But you’re right, some things are not meant to be analyzed or imitated. That being said, I wrote the article mostly for the sheer joy of analysis.

      Best and Worst Disney Role Models for Girls and Young Women
      Stephanie M.

      Well, that was my goal. You’re right, all the princesses have their strong points (I admit I really struggle with Aurora, but then, she only had 18 lines, so it’s probably more the production team’s fault). Who is worth emulating is completely subjective, and will depend a lot on the characteristics people value most, how they grew up, what they want to develop in their kids, etc.

      Best and Worst Disney Role Models for Girls and Young Women
      Stephanie M.

      The book is always better. 🙂 I’d start there.

      The Modern Orphan Figure
      Stephanie M.

      Glad you liked the article. Yeah, Meg is pretty hard to pin down. I agree with the positive points you mentioned. I gave her the lowest spot on the negative list because of those. She’s also on the negative list partially because when compared to the other positives, she doesn’t have quite the “punch.” That may be because her character is less developed, though.

      Best and Worst Disney Role Models for Girls and Young Women
      Stephanie M.

      Your own personality can play into a lot. For example, Belle has always been a favorite of mine because I love to read and have been looked down on for intellectual interests. If you were an archer, a tomboy, or felt other people always controlled you, you might relate better to Merida. Adding the personality dimension makes it difficult to draw lines in objective analysis, but it certainly makes things more interesting. I wonder now what other people’s lists would look like.

      Best and Worst Disney Role Models for Girls and Young Women
      Stephanie M.

      Nice article. I don’t write much fan fiction, simply because of the dark side of fandoms you mention. However, I think the medium is unique and has a great place in the world of creative writing. It shows not only a fan’s admiration for the work, but his or her level of creativity. Say what you want about writing fanfiction vs. writing your own, but it takes a certain talent level to create new stories and arcs for characters who already exist.

      Fanfictions - Delusions or Expressions of Admiration?
      Stephanie M.

      I liked her when I was a little kid, but then again, that’s being a little kid. From an analytical standpoint, she’s not a strong character. She’s certainly more independent than the other three princesses ahead of her, but I think she misuses that independence.

      Best and Worst Disney Role Models for Girls and Young Women
      Stephanie M.

      Lovely article! You made me think differently about several things, especially the setup of Harry Potter itself. Harry seems like just another special, “chosen one” character made popular in literature these days. But you made me remember at his core, he’s a regular kid. He’s endearing because he actually doesn’t know he’s special, so he can’t become overly confident about it. I also loved your discussions of how other students add depth to Harry’s journey.

      Harry Potter: The Remarkably Unremarkable Main Character