What’s in a name? Photo via persnicketypoop on Reddit (2012)
I have to choose a name for a new character, and I wonder what you think.
Picking a name for a character is serious business. I’m sure every writer has a method s/he prefers. I usually go with a combination of the phone book for last names and baby name web sites for first names. When I want a name to sound particularly ethnic, I also search web sites for “common names” for whatever ethnicity I want my character to reflect. I usually go with fairly short names if it seems that pronunciation might be difficult for, say, me.
In my new WIP (!), which is book three of my Phoebe trilogy (book two is finished! Cue fireworks!), I have introduced a character, a young man, who is taking the coursework necessary to become certified in protection driving—the kind of driving that celebrities and politicians hire when they feel threatened. Continue reading
We’re halfway through the month of October, which means there are just a few weeks left before NaNoWriMo kicks off on November 1. In order to prepare for what I hope will be a successful month of writing I’ve been doing a bit of prep-work these past few weeks.
As I mentioned in my first post in this series here, I began the countdown to November by working on the outline for the story I’m planning to write. As the outline developed, I found I needed to clarify the setting, in order to get a big picture view of how the story will progress. If you missed it, you can read that post, and the helpful suggestions from commenters, here.
With a general outline and the story setting(s) nailed down (kind of, sort of), I still have a pretty large gap that needs to be addressed before I start trying to put words on the page. I need to know who these people are who will inhabit the story. My heroine needs a hero. My antagonist needs a supporting cast. And I need to know who that random assortment of secondary characters is and what roles they are going to play.
Piece of cake, right?
Not surprisingly, this week my focus is on: Character Continue reading
A while back Kay posted about a Writer’s Police Academy that is being held this August at the International Public Safety Training Academy in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The conference – which includes sessions on police procedures and the opportunity for some shooting range practice – sounded like just what I needed to give my mystery-story-in-process a shot of realism. Had I perfected the ability to be in two places at one time, I’d have signed up in a New York minute.
Though the timing didn’t work out, the Academy got me thinking about what other things I’d put on my list of Things To Do, in an effort to infuse my stories with a little extra realism. In no particular order, here are a few things I came up with:
Ready, Aim, Fire!
Michaeline talked about the intersections of creativity – all those wonderful and sometimes seemingly random bits and pieces that the Girls in the Basement send up – in her post on Saturday. I’ll admit brainstorming explanations for one of her ideas, a gardener, who encountered a body buried beneath the forsythia, kept me happily occupied for hours this weekend.
Of course the last thing I need right this minute is a shiny, fun, new idea to distract me from what I am supposed to be working on. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I currently have an over-abundance of random ideas. It’s not too surprising. With all that is going on in today’s political climate – intrigue, collusion, unexpected developments, partisanship, protests – there is a seemingly unending source of material (as the late-night television hosts can attest).
I have overflowing notebooks full of ideas for stories. I collect them the way my mother collected recipes and quilt patterns. Like her collections, most of my ideas will probably never make it out of the notebook, but half the fun is catching them and daydreaming about their possibilities, even for a short while.
It’s hard to tell which ideas will stick Continue reading
As I mentioned back in my New Year’s post, my watchword for 2017 is Joy. Now that January is over, it seems like a good time for a check-in to see how just how that’s been working out so far.
“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” ~ J.K. Rowling
January was a good month for new stories. Maddie and Dan from my holiday Mistletoe Reboot story got another installment in their “is it over or not relationship”; Jack and his brother Nick were featured in my January Short story; and Katie and Grant made their way around London on a team-building treasure hunt in last Friday’s Random Word Improv. Even better, as far as meeting some longer-term goals, Cassie and Nicolai traveled along with me on this week’s business trip and are slowly inching their way through Act 2. All of that is definitely “joy” inducing.
“Life is uncertain, eat dessert first.” Continue reading
The SuperHeroStuff official company logo by Brian Welch
I’ve been reading Julie Ann Long’s Pennyroyal Green series on the advice of Jilly, and they’re terrific books, even reading them out of order, which is what I’m doing. Currently I’m on The Legend of Lyon Redmond, which is the last book in the series. I had to put it down recently when the heroine and hero got into an argument, because their pain and anger made me too sad and upset to go on.
I wish I could write emotion like that. My critique partner has a completely justified and yet irritating habit of noting “more emotion!” at the end of way too many paragraphs, and I’ve been trying to improve my execution in this area. I’m working on my hero, an alpha male (of course) who wants to get the heroine more involved in his life, which she’s resisting. I’ve been trying to figure out not just what he feels but what he does—and how his actions reflect his feelings—to get what he wants. Basically, I want to write someone who’s bigger than life, the way Lyon Redmond is. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I told you about my quest to get my butt in the chair and words on the page, to re-engage with my WIP after long months away from it due to obligations of the dreaded ‘day job’. Getting my writing mojo back was not going well, and I need to take Nike’s advice and ‘just do it’. Just sit down and type.
At first, that approach seemed to work. I’d get down a few hundred words here and there. Then I realized some scenes were nothing like I remembered them, and I made notes about fixing them. After that, I realized some scenes I would have sworn I’d written were really just in my head, not on the page. Things were going from bad to worse.
But we are a tenacious group, we writers. So one night I sat down with a glass of wine (hey, tenacity sometimes needs a boost) and pondered how I should approach this mess of a WIP I’d made. Although it wasn’t so much that I’d made a mess of it. Stepping away from it for so long had allowed my subconscious to write a better story. It had fixed some plot holes and gotten to the deeper essence of my characters, which drives how they will act/react, which drives the plot. See, a glass (or maybe it was two) of wine can do wonderful things for perspective. Continue reading
Do you have a favored technique for working out stubborn problems or kick-starting creativity?
I’ve read in the past that working on a familiar, routine task like cooking can work wonders – it gives the conscious mind a job to do that’s not taxing to the subconscious, so the Girls in the Basement can brainstorm the creative problem without being interrupted every few minutes.
Cooking works quite well for me, especially when I’m editing, but when I’m in the early discovery stage of a new story in a new world, when the possibilities are limitless and almost everything has to be invented, my favorite trick for getting myself unstuck is to do a jigsaw.
What’s been occupying your thoughts this week?
Last Sunday, I reported that I was the lucky recipient of a Bolt from the Blue, a story idea that’s very different from anything I’ve previously tried to write. After a few days of dithering, I decided to give myself a couple of weeks to apply myself and see if I can make anything of it. I’ve learned a lot this week and whether I decide to go forward or not, I’d say it’s been time well spent.
Process-wise, I’m not much of a planner. I’d like to create more detailed outlines, and I keep trying to develop the knack, but so far it’s eluded me. Once I’ve got the central characters, the spine of the story and the ending, I find I have to write the first draft to get to know the main players deeply enough to imagine their actions and reactions.
With the new story, Continue reading
So, just a warning for you…this post is deliberately short. I’m sorry to disappoint in case you were hankering for a thousand-worder, but I have a point to make and it won’t take long to do it. My point?
Sometimes the EASY answer is HARD to FIND!
An example: I have been stressing for months now that my book is WRONG in the eyes of the Historical Police. No matter how much I wish it otherwise, Susannah could not marry Nate (for real or pretend) without it being null and void from the get-go. And everyone would know it.
Here’s why: Continue reading