Things I Learned From Books

(Or, an Anthology of Tips for Being the Hero)

(Or, Disgustingly Over-Used Book Clichés)


100% of rumors and legends are true.

If you have discovered a secret that will destroy the world, nobody will ever listen to you.

First impressions are always correct.

If your dog is too important to you, it will die tragically.

Your mentor will die too. Sorry.

Bathrooms have no reason to exist.

If someone remarks about a lack of noise, you should be afraid. Very afraid.

Likewise, you should be worried if your parents aren't on an extended holiday by chapter 2.

If you are an orphan, there is no chance at all that you will be happily adopted in any reasonable amount of time.

If someone coughs more than once, it is a sign of being fatally ill.

If you keep your plan secret it will succeed. However, if you tell everyone involved what it is, it will fail dramatically.

Secret codes are always ridiculously easy to crack. But it will take some obscure recollection brought up by a random comment before you realize that the note is in mirror writing.

When dealing with dangerous, powerful people, it is to your advantage to be between the ages of 10 and 17. If you are younger than 10, you still have a good chance of survival, but your access to resources that will help you prevail will be severely restricted. If you are over 17, you will either die or be forced to watch as everything you ever cared about burns to ash, literally or figuratively, in front of you as a direct consequence of your actions.

People with unibrows are automatically evil.

You are the hero. Therefore, you can get away with anything that suits your fancy. Do not hesitate to press this advantage. The villain, on the other hand, once dared to run a red light and therefore deserves Punishment.

Never take the advice of a pragmatist. Sure, IN THEORY their common sense will help them to survive whatever disaster is taking place, but practically speaking, nine times out of ten they're the first person to die.

Should you happen across a reasonably nice, fairly innocent, and rather bland person, make sure you don't become too emotionally attached. Chances are they're the person who dies first to establish the direness of the situation.

Carry a flashlight, penknife, first-aid kit, non-perishable food, clean water, a change of clothes, and extra batteries AT ALL TIMES.

Avoid dressing in black or white. Black makes you evil and likely to die; white makes you too innocent and likely to die tragically.

Locate Mary Sues and for goodness sakes get them on your side.

If your teenage friend suddenly becomes moody, irritable, shifty, secretive, etc., it is a sign of incoming betrayal, not hormones. Plan accordingly.

Plan ahead. When planning ahead, plan for your plan to not actually go according to plan.

If someone starts spouting apparent nonsense and begs you to believe them despite all evidence indicating that they need a stint in the cookie jar, take them at their word and do what they say.

Everyone always lies. Plan accordingly.

If some one gives you advice, you are 9.999 times out of 10 going to not follow it.

Carry rope AT ALL TIMES.

If you fall in love, you will either:

-Overcome great obstacles and then live happily live forever

-You will find another cute guy, and be torn up inside, but end up living happily forever

-You will just live happily forever.

The person you are in love with won't die, no matter what you think.

Just don't fall in love. It's so much easier.

Swords are awesome.

If you are in a long series where things get worse and worse, there will be an increasing amount of random deaths.

If you are in the 1400s, beware of archdeacons in cloaks who spend their time in big scary towers.

The mean guy is really your best friend, and the most innocent people just so happen to be the villain/henchman.

If you are in a bad position, you will be fine. If there is nothing wrong, you have a good chance of dying.

Jerks are innocent, though they may be mean. Know-it-all-jerks, however, turn out to be just fine.

Crows who grab arrows are evil.

Suspicious people are innocent.

Flashlights die as soon as you need them.

If a thing that crushes walls is chasing you, run to a wall, and then get out of the way. Then run through the wall.

Horses do not need food. Really. We mean it.

Or water.

Or rest.

Horses are a type of plant.

Magical people are better.

It does not matter how much we harp on the fact that they aren't. They are. Demonstrably so.

Redheads are, invariably, good.

Also they are magical.

Magical redheads are the best of all.

Adults are useless.

Unless they are your wise mentor.

Who will probably end up being pretty useless himself, actually.

Your wise mentor will die by the end of the second book.

He may or may not come back to life.

Your parents are not who you think they are.

Also, they are dead.

But you knew that, didn't you?

Because all good parents die.

If you are female, you will develop a distressing inability to know your own mind on matters of romance.

Because, OMG, both of the guys who like you are so hot.

And you love them both.

Food is stew.

Or bread.

Magic is hard.

Except that for you, it's like breathing.

Only easier.

Weapons are hard.

Except that your sword/bow/spear is like an extension of your hand.

Beautiful people are good.

Ugly people are evil.

If a person appears to be both ugly and good, then he is not in his True Form.

You will be stunned by his True Form.

Or else he's a double agent for Evil.

Everybody has a True Form.

You will not encounter your arch nemesis until the third

(Or possibly fifth)

Book of the trilogy.

Humans are not as cool.

Fortunately for you, you aren't entirely human.

Whatever you are, you are prettier, better at magic, and longer-lived.

You are not necessarily, however, smarter.

Every single time, it's the girl who has to choose between the two incredibly hot boys. The boy never has to choose between two incredibly hot girls, unless it's Shakespeare.

The person who isn't quite your best friend, but almost your best friend, and is incredibly nice (depends on the situation) and not in the least bit suspicious, is a TRAITOR and is trying to BRING YOU DOWN.

It is always you who has all the extra talent and special destiny and whatnot. You are the one with an unknown parentage, the most powerful magic, the heartbreaking story. Every. Single. Time. Unless, possibly, it's a series, and some of the books are from the point-of-view of the less talented people.

You won't die. Don't worry. Especially if you are telling the story in first person.

I quote the 39 clues, "Trust No One".

If you are a girl, you will (95% of the time) discover that the beautiful family heirloom that's been passed down from generation to generation is actually a magical artifact, and you have to use it to save the world.

In the end, no matter who you are, you will end up having to save the world.

Your magical abilities and/or artifacts will help you with this.

The only problem is that

The bad guy bent on world domination has even more power and/or artifacts.

But don't worry,

Because you will discover (in the midst of a battle, most likely) that you are some kind of miracle kid from an age-old prophecy.

Your powers will go far beyond normalcy amongst the other magical people.

You will end up (after all your struggling) saving the world,

And the evil dude will be vanquished,

Though probably not permanently,

Because he still needs to be able to come back in the next book.

Anyone described in detail upon first appearance and/or are very mysterious will be important, sooner or later.

The villain is either charming or was at one time.

Someone is hiding their true identity and/or heritage.

The guy/girl you are crushing on is either going to profess an undying love for you or completely ignore you and you'll fall in love with another person.

You are bound to have an evil twin somewhere.

The person who did it is either:

-The most obvious person because the author knows you are going to think it's the least obvious person and wants to surprise you.

-Or the butler.

You're going to get betrayed sometime and are going to sit there and cry until your knight in shining armor brings you to the ball. Well, nowadays, he brings you to the prom, but it's the concept.

Most Disney villains do not take kindly to half-hologram teenagers.

Your archenemy either:


-Or becomes your best friend.

Mermaids aren't mammals.

When all else fails, call your fairy god-tutor.

Don't be afraid of dad dying; it's going to be mom.

If the books are named after you, you can do whatever you want till the last book.

Don't be the bad guy, no matter how good it looks for you.

Got a bad feeling? GO WITH YOUR GUT.

Adults are useless. They know nothing.

Magical people have all the fun.

Everyone, and I do mean everyone, is out to get you.

Your love life will:

-Live with you forever, happily ever after.

-Be your arch-nemesis in disguise.

-Be an elf in disguise.

Girls never actually have a reason to die.

If you don't have a last name, you will die.

In the middle of your painstakingly-planned plan, somebody will send a pile of ancient Greek armor crashing to the floor.

Bad guys are ALWAYS waiting for you on the other side of that secret door.

If you have magical powers, they will be rendered completely useless when you actually need them.

If a bad guy starts to monologue, then is going to pay absolutely no attention to you (his supposedly incapacitated prisoner) until:

-You manage to defeat him without the use of your magic powers

-The double agent shows up

-He's done with his monologue

-Or, if you are Syndrome (the Incredibles), catch the prisoner trying to escape and incapacitate them. Again.

If your flashlight goes out unexpectedly, then something bad is about to happen.

Never plan a heist or a breaking-out-of-wherever maneuver after dark. They always go wrong.

Your history teacher is the most dangerous villain of all.

If you think the boy who happens to be working with you is extremely annoying, he's your true love.

People who wear white gloves all the time are insane alchemists trying to take over the world.

Brooms can fly.

If you yell loudly that you HATE that certain boy, you are definitely lying.

Never trust your guide.

Let's hope you like long duels.

One of the first awesome people to show up will:


-Betray you.

-Get kidnapped.

-Leave for something he/she thinks of as more important than you.

Ignore all promises of rewards.

Only about 60% of the people who die are fully dead. If you don't find a body, they're not dead. And if you do find a body and it's not 100% recognizable, they're not dead. And if someone's body is perfectly preserved, then they will come back to life. In some worlds, the afterlife allows you so much contact with the living you might as well not be dead. So while your chances of dying seem very high, they're actually quite low.

If teachers show blatant favoritism to other students, this is evil and wrong and they're probably evil. If teachers show blatant favoritism to YOU, this is the natural order of the universe.

Most animals can either talk or change their shape, likely both.


Don't trust anyone you don't know who somehow knows your full name. They will likely transform into a hideous monster when nobody's looking.

The little old lady down the street is actually some magic person in disguise who will reward you/punish you according to your actions.

And she will never ever tell you why she cares so much about your morals. It will remain a complete and utter mystery why she's so anxious to interfere in your life- not that you'll notice or be the faintest bit curious.

She's even more likely to be a fairy/other supernatural being if she's ugly and/or poor, especially both.

Owls are awesome and will help you, especially talking ones.

Snakes are evil and will hurt you.

Someone will get hurt. If there's any kind of trouble, someone will get hurt. It is impossible for everyone to walk away from a story unscathed.

"When in doubt, add ninjas." –Erin Morgenstern


Sub-Category One: Tips for Being a Minion

Have some kind of disgusting defect or weird voice.

Always respond with "Yes, Master."

Embellish when telling your evil overlord master about his amazing evil deeds.

You will be the first one the bad guys shoot at/try to kill. Get over it.

I am 100% useful in every way. Think again.

Your master does not care about your well-being.

You are very likely going to die.

You are devoted to your master in every way even though he scares the hell out of you, but for some odd reason, he's the best thing since sliced bread.

There's a pecking order.

Welcome to the bottom of the heap.


Sub-Category Two: Tips for Being the Bad Guy

The bad guy shalt never win.

Except possibly in Code Geass.

You really think you're doing the Right Thing.

Have a gigantic Gothic castle.

Said castle should be ALIVE.

And sadistic.

And have a Not-So-Secret Lair in the crypt.

Because crypts apparently make everything better for you.

Torture chambers are completely legal.

Even though your Secret Lair is in LA or Toronto or something.

Monologing is a GREAT way to pass the time torturing your incapacitated prisoner.

There's no WAY they can escape.

All of your minions are devoutly loyal to you and you alone.


And whatnot.


Sub-Category Three: Tips for Being the Sidekick

You are going to get captured by the bad guy.

And used as bait for the Hero.

During the epic final battle you will either be prisoner or sitting on the sidelines helplessly even if you actually have more training/experience than The Hero (or you'll die, but let's not talk about that).

The Hero could probably get on perfectly fine without you.

Except for the fact that he can't ever seem to find his hat unless you hand it to him.

The fangirls love you more.

Prepare to be shipped with everyone!

Even if you're completely asexual

Because really, what can stop a fangirl?

(The answer is nothing.)

Your powers are infinitely cooler than the hero's.

Except he never really remembers that.

Training is painful.

Nothing is easy the first time.

Or ever, really.

Be able to get over yourself.

Think up witty one-liners to throw out before an Epic Battle.

Your girlfriend/boyfriend/gender-neutral chibi thing is Lonely and Downtrodden.

And they are totally the best

Because the hero's GF/BF/GNCT is the blandest of the whole lot.

You don't have to be that smart.

But you are totally everybody's favorite.

This position is only available for a limited time.

(And y'alls just missed it.)

Disclaimer: Not all of this material belongs to me. I credit the wonderful Cricket peoples and the aptly-named Mem the Great for help with the sidekick category.