Is There a Cloudcuckoolander in Your Book?

 

 

I just read a post about lesser-known character archetypes on the Writers Helping Writers site. One of the types was a cloudcuckoolander. The example of Dory, the forgetful fish from Finding Nemo (say that three times fast), is a great one.

But, in reading the description of a cloudcuckoolander, the first character that leapt to mind was Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter.

Quirky, living in their own unrealistic world of rainbows and unicorns (Unikitty from Cloud Cuckoo Land ring any Lego Movie bells?), making absurd comments (often in the midst of a dire situation), providing unique perspectives (that no one else sees)… But not your average oddball. And not an airhead by any means.

No. A cloudcuckoolander is an all-around peculiar person who, frequently, rescues the other characters by means of an idea so outlandish that it takes everyone aback before they give it a thought and realize it’s actually going to work. “Thinking outside the box” doesn’t quite cut it for me here so I’ll say this type of character is “Living outside the box”.

It takes a special set of characters (like Harry, Hermione, and Ron, among others) to give the cloudcuckoolander his or her due. To accept, acknowledge, listen to, and recognize the potential of someone who is off in her own world while they are firmly set in theirs. It might, understandably, be difficult to tolerate someone talking about Nargles while you’re being attacked by DeathEaters.

Despite her wacky, kooky ways (I daresay because of them), Luna helped the Hogwarts trio numerous times throughout the seven-book series.

She is smart (she was in Ravenclaw, after all) but it was her belief in the strange and unusual that led her to an invisible, paralyzed, bloodied-up Harry on the Hogwarts Express. Remember that? (Though, being the geek that I am, I must mention Luna saved him in the film version, not the book. Point still stands.)

They’re those “funny” characters that have to say things like “That was a joke” because they’re always saying bizarre things with straight faces and the other characters have no frame of reference for the cloudcuckoolander’s sense of humor.

Yes, I’m a Potterhead (and in good company, I’m sure). But what I want to know is if you have used this particular archetype or think that, perhaps, you could add one to your WIP to improve the plot.

Personally, I don’t introduce characters to the plot, they introduce themselves to the me. But I’m thinking I actually have a cloudcuckoolander in one of the books I’m working on and I am having a great deal of fun with that.

 

Have you ever heard of the cloudcuckoolander? Do you have any of these characters in your story?

Do you know any cloudcuckoolanders from books/TV/movies?

 

Hi! I am Princess Unikitty, and I welcome you all to Cloud Cuckoo Land!

 

Please do check out the Lesser-Known Character Archetypes post on Writers Helping Writers site (from the brilliant Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi).

 

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First Lines: Children’s Books

 

I’m a sucker for firsts: first lines, first paragraphs, first pages.

I love them.

What do you think? The words that introduce you to a new character or bring you into a new world? As a reader (and a writer) how important are “firsts” to you?

They are essential for me, as both reader and writer. Also, I adore collecting them. They take up less space than Hummels and need no dusting.

There are so many. Far too many to post on a blog but I am going to share some favorites. Because. You are worth it. And this was such great fun to put together.

This is my children’s book post, as the title clearly states, but please, don’t turn your nose up at these. There will be no nose turning allowed. Children’s books aren’t just for children anymore. Well, with The Hobbit and Chronicles of Narnia, were they ever really just for kids?

Without further fuss delay ado…

 

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling 

 

“I don’t trust Clive Fagenbush.

How can you trust a person who has eyebrows as thick and black as hairbrushes and smells of boiled cabbage and pickled onions? Besides, I’m beginning to suspect he’s up to something. What’s worse, I think he suspects I’m up to something. Which I usually am.”

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R.L. LaFevers 

 

“The woman smiled so politely that he felt offended.”

Pay It Forward (Young Readers Edition) by Catherine Ryan Hyde 

 

“The first thing many people do after getting out of bed is put on a pair of slippers. The first thing Pearl Petal did on that Friday morning was slip her feet into a pair of leprechaun shoes.”

The Imaginary Veterinary: Book 4 The Order of the Unicorn by Suzanne Selfors 


“In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.”

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

 

“There are a lot of things that can hatch out of an egg. A chicken, for example. Or a dragon. And when the egg in question is the size of a pumpkin, and almost as orange, not to mention burning hot, you know that you’re far more likely to get a dragon than a chicken.”

Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day George

 

“There was once a boy named Milo who didn’t know what to do with himself—not just sometimes, but always.”

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

 

“There was only orange juice in the fridge. Nothing else that you could put on cereal, unless you think that ketchup or mayonnaise or pickle juice would be nice on your Toastios, which I do not, and neither did my little sister, although she has eaten some pretty weird things in her day, like mushrooms in chocolate.”

Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman 

 

“If you believe that death is about to spring upon you at any moment, you won’t spend much time watching television.”

The Books of Elsewhere: Book 3 The Second Spy by Jacqueline West


“Linderwall was a large kingdom, just east of the Mountains of Morning, where philosophers were highly respected and the number five was fashionable.”

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Book 1 Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede 

 

“The end of the world started when a pegasus landed on the hood of my car.”

Percy Jackson & The Olympians Book 5: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

 

“It was my aunt who decided to give me to the dragon.”

Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George

 

First Lines_childrens books

 

Next up:

First Lines: MG & YA (*ahem* No nose turning.)

Do you have any favorite first lines from children’s books? Place some in the comments. I’d love to read them.

 

Brain Breaks and Books

 

I recently wrote an essay about my children’s desire to take a break from their regularly scheduled reading and pick up a picture book. In the middle of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, my 8-yr-old will read Bedtime for Bear or a Step Into Reading book. My 10-yr-old will put down his 600-page The Lost Hero and read The Adventures of Captain Underpants or an early chapter book.

I asked them why they do this. “It’s fun,” they said. But they read for fun every day. They love reading. And they certainly can read at a much higher level than these books.

My 8-yr-old explained that it was a different kind of fun.

“A brain break.”

He didn’t have to concentrate on the unfolding plot and could simply giggle at the antics of Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie.

Then I looked at the in-the-middle-of-reading / to-be-read pile next to my bed. Huh. I have Amy Tan and Gregory Maguire alongside a stack of YA novels and Patricia Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons (that would be a children’s book in case you were wondering). Also, Sense and Sensibility is hanging out right underneath Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall.

Sometimes you need a break from thought-provoking literature, heart-wrenching memoirs, historical fiction, and textbooks. Sometimes you just want to grab a book, curl up with a cup of tea and let your mind wander into magical worlds filled with wonderful stories. And, when that happens, don’t let anything (or anyone) stop you from putting the kettle on and picking up Peter Pan, Dr. Seuss, or Winnie the Pooh.

 

Sarah B Elephant and Piggie

Happy Reading!