Saturday, March 31, 2012

What is a Name to a Character?

And how important is the name we chose for our characters?

After all, we all have a name.  It may be short (Brad Pitt) or long (Ernest Hemingway), traditional (James Patterson) or "trendy" (Taylor Lautner).  Some names rhyme (Jack Black) while others appear to be more random (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart). Some of us like our names while others may be less pleased.

Names often awaken associations - when we hear a name, most of us will, for at least a split second, think of a family member, friend, coworker, or just an obnoxious acquaintance we know by that name and may transpose that person's traits onto the fictional character.

Certain names may also be unfairly imbued with personality traits - a Michael or Joseph, at least initially, is more likely to be viewed as conservative or boring whereas a Ty or a Zak may be thought of as hip and young.

And then there are the names that carry unavoidable stereotypes - think Judas or Adolph.

The name we give our character also depends on the period our story is set in (how many Berthas or Helgas have you met lately?) and the country it takes place in (actually, if you were just in Germany, you may have run into quite a few Helgas).

With all that, naming my characters has been a bit of a challenge.  I am happy with my main character's name and those I chose for his immediate family members (I stuck with the names I gave them before I started writing), but I am still struggling with the names I gave to the secondary characters.

How do you go about naming your characters?  Do you know what name you will give them before you even start? Or do you simply google the yellow pages?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Is Writing Sort of Like Baking A Cake?

Inspiration is essential to creating a well-written, captivating story. It can come from anywhere - an old, black & white photograph, a stranger on the street, a song, or an inexplicable feeling - and it often strikes when we least expect it (at least for me).

But is our capacity to be inspired really arbitrary or can we create an environment that invites and fosters creativity and fuels our imagination?

I used to believe that ideas would come randomly and I would simply have to accept their capriciousness. But as I often struggled with the ability to utilize that magical time and place when everything came together, I had to experiment and I finally realized that I could attract inspiration by putting together a bowl of carefully selected and measured ingredients - absolute silence, complete solitude, at least one hour of free time, and my MacBook Pro.  I mix, add the right amount of inspiration, and voilà!

How do you make it work?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Favorite Part of Writing - and The Most Frustrating

I have been hard at work revising and editing what I hope is the last iteration of my work in progress. I admit, after a few hours each night, exhausted and "overcaffeinated," I almost feel like I have had enough and I am just a hair from looking at writing (or, rather, revising) as a chore.

But when I read what I revised and see how much better it is in terms of structure and depth, the frustrations sort of melt away. Thus, my least favorite and most frustrating part of writing is revisions (or, most specifically, the final revision).

Starting a new work used to be my least favorite - that first sentence became an obsession and had to be perfect.  Once it was "done," as if the dam had broken and it all came flowing.

And now, that first sentence of a new work is one of my favorite parts.  I love to agonize over it, looking for the right balance of words, creating the right first impression.  It's fun, exciting, challenging.  Just writing a whole new work is like opening up a new world.  Love it.

How about you?  What is your favorite part (or least favorite part) of writing?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's Quite (P)interesting!

Do you ever feel like there are just too many social media content and applications to utilize and keep up with?  Social networking sites like Facebook, professional networking sites like LinkedIn, and microblogs like Twitter, are joined by internet forums, podcasts, videocasts and so on.  And then we have our "regular" blogs.

I try to make it easy - I blog, and that is it.

Or, rather, that was it until I met Pinterest.

Reluctant at first to even look at another outlet, I finally gave it a try and now I am hooked!  Of course, pinning is a lot less challenging and faster than crafting a meaningful blog entry or participating in a (sometimes heated) forum discussion, but still it is another chunk of time away from the other activities and sleep.

Pinterest is unique in that it allows you to focus on various interests at the same time - pinning book covers to photos to house photos and much more.  I am having excessive amounts of fun pinning book covers...

Have you checked it out yet?  What do you think?