Writing Tidbits 3-31-2012

Naming Your Characters

So recently I’ve been getting back in the swing of heavy writing/outlining/character-sketching, and one of the issues that has come up multiple times involves names. Sometimes you don’t realize how hard it is to actually sit down and find that perfect name for your character until you actually do it.

When I first came up with the basic idea of my novel a few years ago, I had everyone’s names ready to go. Now, after a bit of time and distance, I’ve come back to the story with a new way of thinking and an evolved plotline and new characters. New characters that need new names. Sigh…

One of my all-time favorite methods of name-finding is simply checking out a site like http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/, entering my character’s birth year, and seeing what comes up. Oftentimes the results are just what I’m looking for.

But then there are those blasted other times, when for the life of me I can’t think of a single name on the planet that could properly fit this character. And unfortunately, there is no tried-and-true method of naming your characters. It’s sort of a YOYO (You’re-On-Your-Own) thing.

Sites like http://babynames.com/ can be very helpful if you’re looking for names based on something like ethnicity or meaning (though I’d be very careful with naming characters based on meaning, as the name should still be memorable and not too off-the-beaten-path unless there’s a valid reason for it). This website actually has a page linked on the home page just for writers (http://www.babynames.com/character-names.php), with some great advice on it.

Make sure, as you continue your search, to jot down any and all possible names that you come across, even if you’re not sure about them. Gather them together and see if anything sticks out to you. If so, great; if not, keep looking. You’ll find one eventually.

The Writer’s Memoirs 3-27-2012

Around this time last year, after several months of a very dry writing period, I finally got the chance to settle down and take a proper look at my half-finished novel. Only to realize it was complete crap.

I don’t say those words lightly. We writers are notoriously narcissistic about our work, and we don’t take criticism well most of the time, even if it comes from ourselves. So it came as quite a shock to me when I started reading the first few chapters of my novel and found myself wondering why what had seemed so brilliant before was now, after a few months’ distance, one of the most horribly written things I’d ever seen.

I moped. I grumbled. I tried to convince myself it had promise. But there was no denying it. Everything in it screamed “redo”. So, instead of putting on my big girl panties and pulling up a new doc, I moaned and groaned my way out of it, until my half-finished novel, the pride and joy of my heart at one point, became a lonely little file labeled “Glenbrooke Hall”.

This year, I’ve finally felt ready to give it another go. The idea has been revised and honed countless times in my head, and with my recent purchase of a new laptop and Microsoft 2010, I’m feeling shiny-new and adventurous. Microsoft OneNote has been a tremendous help in planning out the novel, and if you don’t already have it, I highly recommend it.

My outlining is coming along quite nicely; I confess I’m dragging my feet a bit about it though (I hate outlining with a passion). I hope to have the novel fully “sketched out”, so to speak, by mid-April, and to have the actual rough draft written by October. Summer is going to be absolutely mad this year (I’m flying from Tennessee to Phoenix to Tennessee to Portland to Florida, and then back to Tennessee), so June and July will be hard on my writing life.

There are some other projects I’ve been stewing over for a while, but Glenbrooke Hall has always, and will ever be, my first love, so I’ve decided to put everything else on the back-burner and give this novel my best shot.

On that note, wish me luck in my writing endeavors, as I wish you luck in yours. And, of course, have a wonderful day!

An Introduction

After weeks of debating whether or not I should do this, I’ve finally decided to take the plunge and start a blog. I’ve tried doing something of the kind before, but it’s never lasted for more than a few months. This time, however, I shall do my utmost to stick to the TNN blog and share my experiences.

The focus of this blog will be on writing. More specifically, on being a writer. It is no easy task. Writing is a creative exercise that requires an incredible amount of thought and planning. Sometimes the words don’t come out right, laptops crash, and life gets in the way. It happens (quite often, actually), and when it does, I want to talk about it. Hence this blog.

I am planning to begin posting next week. There will be a monthly “What I’m Reading” post, a bi-weekly article on a variety of different topics relating to writing, and a weekly post where I discuss the issues (and non-issues) I’m having with my own writing. And there will doubtless be the odd rant/review/sob story here and there that I just can’t help but blog about.

My main hope for this blog is that it will help fellow writers. I know I’m not alone when I say that writing is one of the singular most difficult things one can do. But, for me at least, it’s also one of the most rewarding.

And that thought is what keeps me going.