Spotlight on Writing

Naming Your Characters

I absolutely love and loathe naming characters. Think about all the time parents spending picking, arguing, voting, and vetoing names for their kids! It is not any different for writers. A name can help or hurt a manuscript.

The first part is trying to find a name that is familiar, so readers can relate. Yet, the name must also be unique to prevent readers from finding it “boring.”

The second part is matching the name to the characters’ lifestyle, age, and how readers might perceive the name. It’s like the devils on your shoulder, GOOD and BAD.

GOOD: Name her Alice, everyone loves an Alice.

BAD: Alice  sounds like she would be my grandma.

GOOD: But your Grandma Alice is the best.

BAD: Yes, but she is still my grandma. I don’t want to date my grandma.

Although part one and two look similar, they are different in their own right. You would not give a Greenlandic name to a Oklahoma man who has no family connections with Greenland. Another example could be Rose. Rose might be perceived one way by a large group of readers, which might hurt or help make your story. If the reader doesn’t believe that Rose is a 10-year-old skateboarding champion then you lose the connection with the reader.

I do a detailed amount of research on the names I use, making sure the origin, etc. would be a good match for my characters. My favorite tool to use for character names is Baby Name Origins.

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Spotlight on Writing

Writing Stew

As I made my first vegan stew the other night (it turned out excellent, after some fixes), I realized how much writing is like cooking.

Take for example my vegan stew. I took what I knew it needed, then kind of experimented the rest of the way through.

As with writing you might have the basics, but need to let it simmer for a while. Let the story soak in what else might be needed. You read through it and realize you need more of this, that and those.

With the stew I took the first bite and went back to adding more spices. It took a while, but after ten minutes I finally got the stew I wanted.

Just as with your story, sometimes you just need to let it simmer, taste it, then figure out what you need to make it work.

Spotlight on Writing

Making Time to Read and Write – An Author’s Guide

Fall colors from 2013 РPhoenix Р© S. Hendricks

I have been working on a system over the last several months, maybe unknowingly longer, to carve out time for both reading and writing. As an author I must stay up-to-date with current market trends and what is out there regardless of the age level.

Working full-time or/and having children can limit the time you have to do both and most often neither of them (writing and reading) are accomplished.

When writing a story one needs to focus and remove all distractions. Yet how can this be done when you know you have to read this, or that, make dinner, scrub the toilet, walk the dog, pick up the kids, go to work, exercise, and see that movie you have been wanting to see???

I have worked out a system that works quiet nicely, and I hope that it works for my writing friends that are struggling with finding time to do it all.

I set a goal to write or edit one chapter a day. I don’t set what story it needs to be or a time limit or word limit. I simply remind myself that today I need to work on the next chapter. Once that chapter is done I can be done. I also set a one chapter rule for reading a book (for children’s picture books, it equals one book). This allows my wandering mind to focus, even if for a short time!!! Some of my chapters are 100 words, some are 1,200 words.

I know that I must push through the chapter whether I am reading it, writing it, editing it, or just starting it. Some days/evenings I get both a chapter of my story done and a chapter of a story read.

What things do you do to reach your daily goals?