Previously I blogged about my efforts in coming up with fictional surnames for the characters in my historical fiction WIP.
These names had to be Anglo-Norman in origin, and involved me increasing my French vocabulary, researching Norman toponymy, and a ton of trial and error to create nice-looking names.
I’m continuing to answer the burning questions about writing as part of my 10th writing birthday celebration.
Previously, I answered a question from my good friend, Lydia. But there was a second question that she put before me:
How do you come up with interesting character names in your work?
Back in February (on the 12th, the 10th, who even really knows?), I had my 10th writing birthday.
A writing birthday is something I commemorate to mark the day I decided to take a professional attitude toward my writing, in pursuit of eventual publication.
To my knowledge, the writing birthday is something I invented. I’m not 100% clear on the actual date, but most years observe it on February 12.
I overwrite everything.
For a long time, this has been my way in every form of writing that I do, from emails to work memos, from “short” stories to “short” novels.
It’s one of the first questions writers ask each other upon meeting for the first time:
Are you a plotter…
…or a pantser
My right knee was covered in road rash. My left thigh is still sporting a huge, multi-hued bruise.
(When a bruise actually shows up on a black person, you know it must be bad.)
Anyone who’s read my blog for while knows that I ride my bicycle a lot.
I’m a cycle-commuter – I ride 8km roundtrip to work every day, as well as on various errands and social outings in and around Vancouver, where I live. With the proper outer layers, Vancouver weather is rideable 95% of the year.
How the hell did “write what you know become” the most opt-repeated piece of writing advice anyway?
Maybe it’s because it’s the first advice many of us ever received. Certainly it seems like it should be beginner advice.
I can see it perfectly: a student of sixteen or seventeen hunched over his/her desk at school, pencil in hand poised above a sheet of three-hole-punched, lined loose leaf.
(Am I totally dating myself with this memory in longhand? Do high school students even write by hand in school anymore? The pencil in this vision isn’t even mechanical).
What responsibility, if any, does a writer have to society?
This was the question I posted to the message board of the writer’s group I run to be the discussion topic for our next meeting.
I knew at the time of writing it that it was a provocative question – one that different people might interpret in different ways. Regardless, I was sure it would result in a lively, interesting discussion as my writer’s group meetings always are.
What I didn’t expect, however, was the overwrought response on the message board from an out-of-nowhere, aggrieved and impassioned troll.
Story beginnings are tough; even I can recognize that.
When I’m getting ready to start a new writing project, I spend a lot of time developing and getting to know the main character. One of the things I do is write a character monologue to help get a sense of his/her voice.
With my WIP, I had the brilliant idea to include this monologue as the novel’s opening – a decision for which members of my writing group rightly called me out when I read it to them. Comments included,
“I was bored.”
“There was no action; it was just a bunch of information that didn’t mean anything to me yet.”
“I found it rather poignant.”
(I think I fell in love a bit with the guy who said that last one. However he was already taken, plus he eventually quit writing and gave up the group, which suggests he didn’t really know enough about writing craft to give me proper advice.)