First Line Friday is a series of blog articles posted on the first Friday of every month. The first line of a story, we’re told, must hook the reader. Implied is that the reader will not buy the book if the first line isn’t great. These entries are from Amazon, my personal library, or other online booksellers. Do these first lines from myths, magic, and monsters YA hook you? Do you want to read more?
He woke to the feeling of rough ground beneath him and the stench of mortal blood.
There are no affiliate links in this post. I don’t make a cent off of the books listed on this page. Usually these titles are pulled at random. They are here for your enjoyment. And to entice you to buy more books.
If you liked those first lines, I hope you’ll love these:
The giant bronze angel of death loomed over Miranda Clarke’s shoulder.
One word and Ian Hobart’s world teetered into not safe.
Fellowship, a companion novel to the Fellowship Dystopia by Lynette M. Burrows
Do You Want to Read More?
Did you enjoy these first lines celebrating YA myths, magic, and monsters? Check out previous First Line Fridays posts. You’ll put another enormous smile on my face if you tell me in the comments below— Which myths, magic, and monsters YA first lines spoke to you? Did you buy it?
Since the beginning of time, people have believed in the supernatural to explain things they did not understand. As scientific knowledge and understanding grew, one would think belief in the supernatural would lessen or disappear. Turns out that’s not true. Why do we hold on to false beliefs? Why do we believe in the impossible? The bottom line? Why? We want to believe. (Every one of us.)
What Are False Beliefs?
According to the American Psychological Association, the definition of false beliefs is “a mental proposition that is asserted with high confidence but lacks a basis in reality.”
What is Reality?
1: the quality or state of being real
2 a (1): a real event, entity, or state of affairs
his dream became a reality
(2): the totality of real things and events
trying to escape from reality
b: something that is neither derivative nor dependent but exists necessarily
A common myth many of us believe is that multi-tasking works. The facts show multi-tasking doesn’t work. “Research reveals that there are capacity limits when engaging in cognitively demanding tasks.”
We also like to believe that a loving and healthy environment can and will change any genetically determined attribute like intelligence. Nurturing is absolutely necessary, but “regardless of ability type, 50 to 70 percent of your talent potential is based solely on genetics.”
There are people who believe Bigfoot exists, or the curse of a broken mirror, or that this group or action caused a natural disaster.
From gods to ghosts to all kinds of monsters, despite no evidence supporting their existence, we believe.
Who Has False Beliefs?
We all do. Whether it was something we were “taught” as children, to beliefs we developed through experience, we each hold on to false beliefs.
Studies have shown that people who have and practice a religious belief are less likely to believe in the supernatural. But they may believe in multi-tasking or curses (sin) causing natural disasters.
And people who don’t have a strong religious belief are more likely to believe in the supernatural, like ghosts and Bigfoot and yeti.
There are people who believe that vaccines cause terrible diseases and disabilities. Yet, the science disproves that connection.
Every culture has its set of false beliefs. But not all cultures believe the same set.
Why We Believe in the Impossible
Short answer? We’re wired that way. Our brains constantly seek cause and effect.
The long answer? We don’t really know why people persist in their false beliefs despite evidence to the contrary. Some research shows that it’s not education levels or lack thereof. Many college students profess belief in ghosts and Bigfoot.
Do you know why you check your horoscope every morning? Or why you throw a pinch of salt over your shoulder?
I tell myself I do things “for fun.” And sometimes I can laugh and have fun with things like checking my horoscope. Sometimes I’m stunned at how relevant the horoscope seems. Intellectually I know I’m trying to find cause and effect because I want to repeat the good ones and stop the bad ones. Intellectually, I don’t expect those things to work—but I hope they will. Don’t you?
Why We Resist Changing False Beliefs
According to cognitive studies at Stanford, once we’ve formed an impression, we are remarkably resistant to change.
Scientists have identified many forms of “faulty thinking.” Confirmation bias is the tendency people have to embrace information that supports their beliefs and reject information that contradicts them. It’s the most studied of these forms of “faulty thinking.”
Presented with someone else’s argument, we’re quite adept at spotting the weaknesses. Almost invariably, the positions we’re blind about are our own.
Psychologists think so. The site Psychology Today offers three steps to changing your false beliefs. Usually, psychologists are talking about false beliefs about ourselves. False beliefs like “I don’t deserve anyone’s love.” Or “I’m too clumsy to try to dance ” or “I’m too tone-deaf to sing.” Though with work we can change any false belief.
The problem with changing false beliefs is that the believer must want to change those beliefs. Observing all the hate mongering and tensions in America and other nations right now, I’m not sure anyone is up for the self-reflection needed.
Are All False Beliefs Bad?
Many false beliefs are bad for us. False beliefs can hold us back from our best lives. They create stereotypes that cause us to ignore differences between people. Some beliefs lead to a misinterpretation of evidence. These stereotypes and misinterpretations often lead to social disruptions, to hate and crimes against others.
Are some false beliefs good for us? Believing in Santa Claus and flying reindeer isn’t just fun. It might help develop counterfactual reasoning skills.
Engaging the border between what is possible and what is impossible is at the root of all scientific discoveries and inventions, from airplanes to the internet.
Legends of heroes and impossible tasks inspire us to be better people, to take leaps of faith.
Things to Think About
In these days of contention and fear over politics, racial injustices, pandemic issues, natural disasters, and other important issues– both sides might consider reining in all the shouting and name calling. Confirmation bias means the position you’re opposing only sees the weaknesses in your argument no matter who’s “side” you are on.
Our arguing and fears have put us in a bad spot. Many of us feel a pressing need for change. Or is it for control?
So many of the issues facing us today would be so much easier to deal with if we cooperated with one another. But too many of us are stuck in a “fight or flight” mode. Controlled by our monkey brains. Each “side” thinks the other side should do the “cooperating.”
We believe in the impossible every day. Consider taking a moment to ask yourself what impossible thing you believe. Ask yourself how you are using confirmation bias. Honestly assess how you are cooperating with the “other” side.
And while you thinking—if we believe in the impossible—let’s believe we’ll have peace and a cooperative resolution to the problems we face today.
Do you confuse creativity with being artistic? Or perhaps you believe only a tiny fraction of the population is born with creativity. If you do, you have bought into a myth. Challenge these nine myths and reclaim your creativity.
Myth #1: Creativity is Artistic Expression
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, creativity is “the ability to create” and “the quality of being creative.” Not very helpful. But they define create as “to bring into existence” and “to bring about by a course of action or behavior.”
So if the dictionary doesn’t mention artistic in the definition of creativity or create, then why limit what is creative? Creativity is bringing something into existence by a course of action or behavior.
There is a whole blog post on on this site about how You Don’t Have to be an Artist. Every day “ordinary people” are creative. If you think creativity is only artistic expression, broaden your definition. You’ll find examples of creativity during a walk around your house, your neighborhood, or city.
Myth #2: Only A Minority is Creative
All humans are innately creative. Watch a bunch of young children play. A stick becomes a doll, gibberish becomes a special language, cardboard boxes become castles. They create new games, new toys, new languages out of nothing but their imaginations.
Unfortunately, our society systematically drives that creativity away. From grade school on, they label creative behaviors disruptive or unproductive. They label creativity as artistic, as genetic, as many things that exclude most people.
You may not be the next Rembrandt or the next Madame Curie, but your creativity is a gift. And you can open it at any time.
Myth #3: People are Born Creative
There is no known gene for creativity. Some people call it a trait. Others say it’s a way of thinking. A way of rubbing two ideas together and getting something different, something new.
Recent evidence suggests that creativity involves a complex interplay between spontaneous and controlled thinking.
Some people are more comfortable with this kind of mash-up thinking. Why?
Probably because from a young age their upbringing, their environment, and their level of curiosity encouraged them. Without that environment and support, it may be more difficult to learn to use creative thinking—but it’s not impossible.
Some People are Born Uncreative
How sad to think you are born uncreative. If you believe you are uncreative your belief blocks off a trait all humans share.
Perhaps you believe you are uncreative because you don’t have big idea. Being less creative that Steve Jobs, or your favorite songwriter, doesn’t make you uncreative. And the first step to become more creative is to believe that you can. Does that sound like mumbo jumbo to you? Take the challenge. Believe that you are creative.
People are Creative (or not) Based on What They Do
Another sad myth. Creativity comes in all jobs, in all forms, in all kinds of ways. Seriously, anyone can be creative. Now, that being said, some employers do not reward creativity. Another very sad fact is that some employers punish creativity.
If the environment you’re in doesn’t support creativity, consider finding a different job. And if that’s not possible (we’re all suffering from the economic fallout of 2020 and the pandemic), then find another outlet for your creativity.
Creativity comes in a Flash of Insight
Eureka! That’s what the cartoon characters say when they have a creative insight, right? You’re not a cartoon character. Sometimes creativity can come in a flash of insight, but 99% of the time—it comes as a bit of an idea that you toy with for a while. And in toying with it, another idea or two comes to mind. Finally, they meld together and you have your “flash” of insight.
Creativity must be Original
Are you catching on that this myth isn’t true either?
History and empirical research show more evidence that new ideas are actually combinations of older ideas and that sharing those helps generate more innovation.
A variation of this myth is what some creatives call “the Imposter Syndrome.” The syndrome is a niggling doubt that says you can’t be or aren’t creative because what you did isn’t wholly original. But know this—as long as you aren’t plagiarizing the work (passing someone else’s work off as your own)—you can’t help but make your work original. No one else has your experience, your esthetics, or preferences. Your creation IS original and creative.
Lone Creator Myth
There are lone creators, but that’s not the only way creativity happens. Sometimes a pair is more creative than a single person. There are many examples in history. Think Marie and Pierre Curie, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, or Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. The Manhattan Project was a team of scientists that created the atom bomb. The Three Stooges were a team that created their own brand of comedy. What teams of creators do you remember?
Creativity Can’t Be Developed
You can prove this myth wrong. There are hundreds of exercises you can do to develop or enhance your creativity. Try the three methods mentioned in this post. Or use any of the science-backed ways in this post on Entrepreneur.
Which of These Myths Are Limiting Your Creativity?
Myths are insidious. We learn them so early and so well that we believe them. Even when the evidence in front of us suggests differently, we hold on to the myth. Don’t let myths hold you back. Challenge these nine myths and reclaim your creativity. Don’t think one of these myths are holding you back? There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of variations. Which ones are holding you back?