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Sunday, July 15, 2012

How To Come Up With Character Names

Good character names are important but don't stress yourself out or rack your brains trying to come up with character names. Keep it simple.

Many writers have their own formulas for coming up with names for fictional characters, but if you don't have your own system for creating character names for your novel or short story, maybe these tips might help spark some ideas...

1. Use a baby name book. Many of these books also tell you what the name means so you can choose a name relative to your characters' personality and/or traits.

2. Check your junk mail or spam for names. Make a list and copy and save the names you think you might like for fictional characters in your story. You can also interchange the first and last names.

3. For science fiction characters, use the names (or part of the names) of mythical gods, societies, groups, etc. You could also take one syllable words and put them together to make multi-syllable names with them.

4. Use acronyms. Just add vowels and consonants or remove vowels or consonants to create names.

5. Look in books of wisdom to find powerful names and common names that people can relate to.

6. Use parts of foreign names and words for character names.

7. Depending on the time period you're writing about, you may want to search for similar names by looking at names from a similar time.

8. Biographies can also help with names - old old names and new names.

9. Don't think that every name has to be original. Your character may have gotten his or her name from a celebrity like Cher, or Rick James, or Betty Davis, or Bill Gates, or Donald King.

10. You can also get venue names or the names of certain places and neighborhoods from objects or plants. Or, you could use certain street names for that purpose.

Whatever you do keep it simple. Focus on writing your masterpiece.

And, remember: If you don't like the name, you can always change it later.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Stop Thinking And Start Writing

The problem with most writers (or most wannabee writers like myself) is that we believe our writing isn't good enough (or interesting enough) to warrant being read. So, we continuously read, research, study various styles, make notes, dream, and brainstorm for ideas, in hopes to improve and create the perfect novel, how-to book, article, or blog. Years may pass by and some of us still won't even have more than a chapter or two finished.

Some of us are looking for a simple (or secret) "formula" that will give us the talent to create masterpieces with ease. But, that's not going to happen overnight. The best way to get to such a level (if it's possible) is to just write and write and write.

Look... If you want to be a writer - or, if you just want to express some ideas and opinions that you have swirling around in your head - stop trying to be "perfect" and just be You. Just say what you have to say. Just write. Keep it simple and stop trying to be "over-creative". You can always edit or "remix" later - before you try to publish or sell your work.

I know... Sometimes, it's not that we're trying to be perfect. Sometimes, motivation is the issue. Sometimes, we feel we have the time to make notes but not the time to write. Sometimes, we don't think we're smart enough, funny enough, or witty enough, and those things might prolong the creation of our "project". And, of course, "writer's block" or not knowing how to start is almost always an issue.

I'll say it again: Stop thinking about it and just do it. Write what you feel. Write what you believe. Write about the issue. Write what you visualize. Write your complaint or rant. Let your writing take over and stop wondering about how to start or what to say. Say what you want to say the way you'd normally say it. You can edit for clarity later if you need to or WANT to.

Yes, it's imperative that you plan and organize your ideas and draw up outlines and/or mind maps and all of that stuff. But, don't get hooked on reviewing and reviewing and thinking about the project and constantly making notes. If you do, you'll never get anything done and the only thing you'll get good at is researching and making notes. And, that's not what you want.

If you want to be a writer, you have to write.