Monday, August 26, 2019

The Brain is ‘On’

Whereas choosing names is hard for me, sometimes the characters create themselves spontaneously.

I tried unsuccessfully to develop a character and his backstory, gave up, and tabled the issue for later. My conscious self went about tending to everyday chores as the creative part of my subconscious continued working on the problem. Shortly afterwards, WHAM! – the character, his backstory, AND his name jumped into my consciousness almost fully formed.

I’m amazed every time my brain presents me with a gift like that. I shouldn’t be, though. When I write every day, the story stays with me making it easier to slip back into writing mode. It’s exciting to be in the mode, or zone, where the brain is cranking out ideas and surprises left and right, and all I have to do is write them down.

Friday, August 2, 2019

What’s in a Name?

Choosing names for characters is probably one of the hardest parts of writing for me.

Earlier this week, I created a spreadsheet with a column for each of the ten books I’ve laid out for the Detective Scott McGregor mystery series. Each row lists a character and a label defining whether the person is a ‘core’ character appearing in most or all of the books; a ‘local support’ character at the police department or in town; a ‘repeat’ character showing up occasionally in different books; or a ‘secondary’ character in one book only. The character’s name is repeated across the row in each appropriate book column.

I like to avoid characters having similar names in the same story, but to my surprise, I found two different characters named Daniel who’ll be in the same scene a few books from now. Fortunately, by planning ahead I was able to change the names for six characters before they were set in stone (or paperback, in this case). Unfortunately, although I’ve known some of these characters for almost two years, they seem like strangers with different names.