A Writer's Objectives

Archive for the ‘Wild Card Day’ Category

Sunday Sharing

Normally I would be sharing 6 sentences from a piece of writing today. I’m still in the process of deciding if I will be continuing with that or not, so bear with me. In the meantime, it looks like today will just be a day to fill everyone in on what I have going on in my life, both involving writing and not. It may help give an idea why I have been so sporadic about posting since my ‘come back’.

  • Homework: Since coming back to the blog, I’ve been swamped with school work. Tomorrow, I have a 15-20 page paper to complete that compares, contrasts and analyzes two poems and their authors. I have yet to actually start the paper. I’ve had 4-10 page papers due every week, on top of regular class work, for the last 5 weeks.
  • Sad Things: A dear friend of mine was in the hospital, in a coma, for a few weeks. This had all my attention, and therefore homework was always a struggle to complete the day it was all due. Life got pretty hectic. Then, a few days ago, another friend got into a severe car accident which resulted in him going off the road and flipping his car. He is fine, but his car it totaled.
  • Social: My friends have been around a lot… mainly as support as I dealt with the troubles with the friend mentioned about, but also to try to bring some fun into my currently not exciting/fun/happy life.
  • Writing: I was fully unable to do any writing at all for a while. That has changed, however the writing is slow going thanks to other aspects of my life. I am hoping it picks up soon, though, and that I can get some short stories or chapters to novels worked on.
  • Blog: Some of the set themes for this blog are going to change. I’ll fill you in a little more once I figure out the details, but for now just be aware that there are changes on the horizon.

I guess that is everything. Check in tomorrow for an excerpt!

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What’s in a Name? Naming Your Characters: Part 2

I did a post back in January about Character Names and promised others. While the first one focused on easy to pronounce (but not too simple) names, this one is going to focus on name meanings.

I know a lot of writers who create a character and give them names based on their personality. For example; Merrick is a very powerful and well known individual among his kind. He is aware of his fame and power, but he doesn’t flaunt it. In fact, he tends to hide away from it as best as he can. Why is all this important? Because the name Merrick derives from words that mean ‘fame’ and ‘power’ and is always associated with very humble individuals. The name goes well with the personality and the character in general.

Sometimes, however, authors don’t take the time to make sure their perception if a names meaning is actually the true meaning. Some people choose names based on what societal belief of the meaning is, not the true meaning. For example; Lucifer is a very dark, mysterious and evil character.* He thrives on causing pain and suffering. No one gets in his way and if they do, they don’t live long to tell the tale. This doesn’t work; societal belief is that name Lucifer is evil. Wrong. Lucifer means ‘Bringing Light’. Thanks to (surprise) Hollywood, the name is forever immortalized as being evil, when in truth Lucifer is simply a fallen angel and not evil in the least.

If you wish to name your characters by meaning, please make sure you actually know what the meaning of the names are. While not all characters are named by meaning (we’ll talk more about that next time), ones that are, should be done correctly. Your strong, warrior heroine who has been surviving on her own for years should be given a name such as Valda or Bree, which mean ‘power’ rather than something like Lamis or Belinda, which mean ‘soft’. Your dark sorcerer who enjoys murdering innocent people and taking many an unwilling county lass to his bed should have  a name like Shyama or Ciar, which mean ‘black’ rather than something like Gil or Ronen, which mean ‘joy’ (unless you’re going for a humorous opposite effect, which we will discuss later).

Personally, one of the ways I use to help match name meanings to my characters (when I feel like doing so) is using baby name books and websites. One of the best that I have found and used many times is Behind the Name. This site has a large array of names and meanings and weeds out all the created names that people often mistake for others. I’ve used it for not only characters in stories, but also for characters in games (Dungeons and Dragons and World of Warcraft, mostly). It is a tool I utilize quite often and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in name meanings.

Now, I mentioned naming a character by meaning using the ‘humorous opposite effect’. There are some authors who, while they enjoy delving into name meanings, prefer to name their characters names that mean the opposite of what they are like. Let’s assume the creator of the character Lucifer (that I mentioned earlier) was going for this effect. It works, now. That tough-guy barbarian character you have could be named something that means ‘soft’, ‘gentle’ or ‘flower’.

Naming a character based on meanings can be taken in several directions, but it is important to make it clear what your intentions are. Simply naming them isn’t always enough. That barbarian named something soft and gentle should be aware what his name means and either hate it or find it hilariously ironic. Lucifer should wonder at his name, perhaps he believes that all the chaos he brings is his ‘light’ and that his name fits him perfectly.

Names are (in my opinion) more important to characters than most people recognize. Not only are they a way to identify a character, but they are also a means of giving them an existence. When naming your characters, no matter what your methods, please take care. You could have the next Harry Potter in the making; what name would you want to be immortalized for?

Too Much of a Good Thing

I’m a writer (well damn, what a surprise that is!) and while some people may not believe it, I get tired of writing sometimes. It’s rare, but it happens.

I have a huge list of stuff to write, not least of which is homework related. I have fanfictions, short stories, a handful of novels, poems and other creative pieces, too. I have this blog, plus a collection of other blogs I update either daily or weekly. And the list just keeps growing. Why? Because I’m procrastinating. A LOT.

I have plenty of things to work on, obviously. I’ve worked on some of it now and again, but my writing spurts don’t last as long (or come as often) as they used. At first, my mojo was missing completely. Now that I have it back, it is less that I can’t write and more that there are more fun things to do.

Wait, there is stuff more fun than writing? That can’t be right…

I have a tight little group of friends that live with/near me. We have been spending a lot of time together, watching shows on Netflix, playing games (D&D and WoW) and just all around having fun. Last night, three of us went on an impromptu trip to a waterfall near my apartment (at 11PM, mind you) so that we could gaze at the stars without the added light from the houses, cars and street lamps. It was one of the most awe-inspiring and fun things I have done in years. Years I tell you! And that’s quite sad, in my opinion.

In my writing, I can do anything that comes to mind. I can fly on a dragon, dance in moonbeams, get married to a prince. But it’s all on paper (or laptop). None of it is something that I can actually experience. I can’t feel the mist of a waterfall on my face if I simply write about it.

I’m not saying I quit writing; one cannot rid themselves of their soul so readily. I’m just saying that I am probably going to take a much needed break from doing so much of it once I catch myself up on my to-do list. Now that I can write again, I can also choose not to. And as soon as these 14 pieces of writing get completed, that’s just what I am going to do (except blog posts; those are a constant. No worries!)

Repulsed

Writing, for most writers, is a part of the being. A part of the soul. There is no removing writing from a writer’s life because it is part of who they are. Every experience in a day can trigger some of the best stories, poems or novel ideas. We may choose to use them or push them aside into that folder in our mind we have labeled “For later use”.  There is very little that doesn’t remind us of our passion.

But sometimes we want nothing to do with it.

When nothing goes right. When everything we’re working on has slammed the brakes on and refuses to ease up on them even just a little bit. We feel trapped at first, afraid of what that might mean. Then we get angry. ‘How dare that story put the breaks on! I was just getting into the flow of it!’ After the anger subsides, we slowly drift into a numbness; part of our daily life is gone for a little while. What do we do now? Then, by the time a deadline rolls around and we realize we need to get to work on the writing no matter how much it fights… we’re suddenly repulsed by the very thought of working on it.

We will procrastinate at the worst times, we writers. It doesn’t matter that we’ve got a novel to submit to our editor in a week; that trash can is full, that table needs to be washed and suddenly we have a toothbrush we don’t need anymore so let’s start washing the entire house using only that. If someone even mentions writing, we wince and pretend we didn’t hear them because we have absolutely no want to get near the writing. We are repulsed by the thought of work, of writing. Everything else that we’ve been putting off for months gets done in a matter of a week. Then, on the day before and the day of our deadline, we force ourselves to sit down and write. And we feel like it is the worst thing we’ve ever produced. As soon as we finish, we go back to avoiding it. We read books, we clean, we spend time with friends and family we will usually go out of our way to avoid using the excuse that we have writing to do.

Why does this happen?

Lately, I’ve been avoiding all types of writing possible. Homework (I get it done hours before it is due), serial stories (they’re supposed to be posted Monday/Tuesday. Guess when I write/finish them?), blog entries (see those big gaps in the week with no posts??). I don’t really know why, but the very thought of any type of writing is repulsive to me. I’m only writing this entry because I felt bad that I’ve been neglecting this so much. I’ve tried forcing other entries, but they just didn’t want to be written. I’m sure this will pass soon, and when it does I will begin posting daily once again. But please bear with my sporadic posts until I am no longer repulsed by the very thought of writing.

Hard Hit

Sometimes story ideas hit you harder when you are least expecting them.

You know what I mean, right? Let me paint the picture for you:

You’re walking along (or sitting watching television or something else fairly mindless) when BOOM, you have an idea for a story (or poem). And it isn’t just an idea, apparently, because the urge to write it is so strong it overrides every other need in your life. This is like some sort of Super Idea. Eating, sleeping, showering, peeing; they can wait. You’ve got an idea for a story and there’s no stopping it now. You lose control of yourself, surrendering to the writing. Your hands are typing words faster than your eyes can register them and you decide you’ll read them when you have finished. And it takes a lot less time to finish this than your usual writing; you don’t stop to check Facebook or deviantART several times, or to do something around the apartment. No, if you can’t pee, you can’t do anything else until this piece is done.

When you finally finish it, the idea releases you from the throes of writing. You’ve got a cramp in your left hand, your eyes ache from staring at the screen so long and your butt is numb from sitting so still in your chair. You read what you have written, despite sore eyes, and are amazed at the result. While part of your mind recognizes your writing style, you are mostly in shock at what you have produced. It’s some of the best work you’ve ever done, and it’s only a short story (or poem). Small, but far from insignificant.

This, my friends, is what being a writer is about. All the stories and poems you write that take you so very long to get down on paper are worth it, they are. They are still your creation and you love them as much as you can. But the pieces of writing that attack you, slam you into a chair and force you to write are the ones that you end up being most proud of. Maybe it is some sort of Stockholm syndrome, where we feel a deep love and affection for our captor. Whatever it is, this is the writing we long for. When we go weeks, or even months, without having a writing idea attack us we start to panic. We wonder if we’ve lost it, if the ability has left us. And then, just when we’ve given up, we get struck by an idea and willing fall captive once again.

</end rant>

Wild Card Day- Life Update and More

Hey everyone! First of all, sorry for not posting Thursday and Friday! Thursday I couldn’t think of a list of 13 (shocking, I know) and Friday we had a big storm hit where I live and I got snowed in at a friend’s house without internet. I just wanted you to know I wasn’t going to vanish on you again =p

Today is a Wild Card day! Lately I’ve been doing some really intense posts with writing tips. I’m wondering if my readers would like me to continue with these? I have a nice little list of ideas, but I want to make sure they are useful and that everyone is enjoying them before I continue; no sense in doing more if it is just going to bore every one to death =p

I want to promote a dear friend of mine who has started a serial story over at her blog. Jo Ramsey is a Young Adult author who is best known for her Dark Lines series and her Reality Shift series. She’s started the serial story on her blog to give young adults (and anyone else who is interested) a little something extra when they read her blog. So head on over and check out Supernuisance every Saturday.

 

I’ll be posting for Six Sentence Sunday tomorrow with some bits and pieces from Dark Blood, so be sure to come by to check that out. Please leave a comment and let me know what you would like to see on Wild Card days: more writing tips? Or something else you can suggest?

As always, thanks so much for reading! Comments are always welcome, as are suggestions, requests and questions. =)

Pay Attention to Detail

I recently started reading a book. No surprise there, right? Here’s a big surprise: I stopped reading it after four chapters. The plot was sound, the characters were great and just about everything about it was interesting. The problem? Details. Every new scene had so many details crammed in that it was difficult to recall what was going on. Two pages describing a single building later, and I couldn’t remember why the characters were even at the house in the first place. But, at least I had a very very very clear image of the house in my head, right?

Wrong.

There’s an invisible line drawn in the sand when it comes to details. A lot of authors either cross it (a lot) or don’t even reach the line. There are very few authors capable of standing on the line; how does one stand on something they can’t see, anyway? I’m hoping this entry will help some of you to at least get a little closer to the line.

Because I’m tired of huge blocks of text, which means I am sure you are as well, I’ll do this in bullet form. If you like it better than the past entries I’ve done, I’ll try to stick with bullet form rather than assault you with long blocks of text.

Let’s talk about too much detail, first:

  • If you find yourself describing every outfit your character wears in so much detail that it takes several paragraphs to describe… you’ve got too much detail. Try only describing really important outfits (ball gowns, fancy dress clothes, etc). The readers only need a brief idea of what the character wears day-to-day, not paragraphs of detail about it.
  • Describing a new place can be exciting. Sometimes, however, the reader only wants to know the basics. If your character is breaking into a house, don’t spend two pages describing the house so completely there isn’t a chance you’ve missed a single detail. Touch on what the house is made of, what the windows look like and what the doors look like; that’s what your character will be most concerned about anyway.
  • If you have a character (or a group of characters) that travel fairly often, they will move to various types of environment; towns, forests, mountains, cities, etc. Don’t spend all your time describing the change in scenery. A nice view of what the environment is like spread over the entire time the characters are in the area is better than describing it all in exact detail in a matter of a few pages. Let your character think about the large oak trees that seem to rule the forest, or the cobblestone road they saw that was completely destroyed, but don’t focus only on those details. What else is going on?

Describing too much isn’t always the problem…

  • Opposite of describing your character’s clothes too much, is describing them to little. The readers want to have an idea of what type of style exists in your story; don’t neglect the clothing completely for fear of too much detail! The readers may know that the character wouldn’t be traveling naked, but without some idea of what their clothes are like, that might be where their minds go!
  • It’s tricky knowing how much detail to put in. Just because I said don’t spend forever describing a new place, doesn’t mean you should neglect detail completely. Look at: “The house was brick” versus “The rust and mud colored bricks were cool against her skin as she pressed against the wall of the house.” The second sentence says the same thing as the first, but gives the reader a little more detail.
  • When entering a new place, make sure there are enough details that the reader knows what it looks like. If your character has entered into a large meadow, make that clear. Is the meadow dead grass and skeletal trees? Or is it lush green with a few trees scattered here and there. Don’t spend forever describing it, but at least let the readers know what the character is seeing.

I feel like my bullets were pointless, though they did help keep me from rambling. Anywho! Hopefully this has been helpful to anyone who has difficulty with detail. Too much can be boring and make a great story seem drawn out, while too little detail could cause your readers to picture you characters or landscape completely naked and void of detail. It’s a difficult line to balance on, that invisible line, but getting close to it is better than nothing.