Posts Tagged ‘names’

Well, it’s not the names that have problems. It’s more like that I have a lot of problems with names. I’ve talked a lot about names in my previous posts, but I decided to dedicate an entire post about them. Simply put, I’m not very good at making up names. This is especially a problem for me who writes epic fantasy, and has to make up exotic names. (I’m always hesitant about naming mythical creatures modern names like Jimmy, Jake, etc.)

As such, I generally change the names in my books often. I’ve told this story many times, but I’ll tell it again. In the Line of Corruption, I started the story with the names: Ryder and Simon. Those were the names of the two main characters. I was okay with them, but when I hit the 10k mark, I stopped and thought: “No… Definitely not a Ryder or a Simon.”

So, I asked my sister for random names, and I took them. They ended up becoming Ambrose and Larik. For one of the other characters, I translated a word into Latin, and used it. I’ve actually forgotten what it means, and I’m rather afraid it might ruin the image that I’ve made up for the character, looking back on it. But yes, that is how I ended up with Esurien. Now, the problem here is that I sometimes need to make up names on the spot. They end up being stereotypical, or too weird. So, the word replacement option on Word and Scrivener is a godsend for someone like me who can’t make up names properly. The reason I bring this up is because I want to know how other writers go about this. I read a topic awhile back about the names of a writer’s characters, and a lot of the other writers mention being attached to a name. Once they change the name, the character changes. So, I am curious to know if this is the same for anyone else, or are they like me. I’m sure I probably wouldn’t have been able to change their names past the 10k mark, since I definitely would have gotten attached. However, does anyone else struggle with names? Does anyone else look at a name of a central character, and think: “This name is so bad that I actually want to turn him into a villain now.”

Here’s a perfect example of how bad I am with names. For a religious figure in my book, I couldn’t think up of a name… so I just called him the Believer. It ended up actually working, but it could have been disastrous. In fact, it could still be disastrous, and I’m simply blind to it. (Lots of italics today, I know.)

So, yes, here’s my question for all of you cool writers: Are names integral to how you write a character, or are they merely dispensable? Another followup question: Are you actually good at making up exotic names?

Now I’m going to move unto the next topic. Titles. I think my problem with titles is much bigger. In comparison, I probably come up with titles a lot easier, however, my thoughts on them are very different. I’m okay with changing names willy nilly. But, when I start a story without a title, that’s practically all I think about. I reread what I’d just written, and while I do that, I see a phrase and think: “Huh. Wonder if I should make THAT the title… or THAT.”

So, before I actually wrote the Line of Corruption, I sat for an entire hour, and thought about the title. The basic outline I had for the story was this: This chosen one kills a lot of people, and is condemned as a villain. His legacy is passed unto a mercenary.

At some point, I actually thought the title should be, ‘The Chosen One that has a mercenary as a successor… Oh, he’s also dead. But because of magic… It’s a long story.’

A bit exaggerated, perhaps, but it really isn’t very far off from the truth. For Radio Silence, I came up with the title when I was thinking about submitting it to Jukepop Serials. The reason why I was able to live with it not having a title is because I planned on it being a story written for fun. I’d just finished writing Line of Corruption, and I wanted to write something for no reason. Just took an idea and jumped off a cliff with it, basically.

So, I’m going to tell you how I came up with the Line of Corruption, as well as Radio Silence.

For Line of Corruption, I planned the Prologue out in my head. You see, the character Larik decides that being the Chosen One is really awful. And in order to atone for many of his sins, he passes on his consciousness unto his successor right before he is killed.

 I will be passed unto his or her consciousness, to never let this person cross the line such as I did. I will safeguard this person’s abilities until I see that this person – the wielder of my power – will be turned away from evil, and from corruption.

Direct quotation from the Prologue of my book. That’s Larik’s final journal entry before he is killed. A lot of people have asked me why I made him seem so strict in his journal, even though he’s actually a sarcastic guy that likes to play mind games on Ambrose. It gives me great satisfaction not to reveal to them the reason why. ( Hehe.)

Anyways, as I thought of the last line, I thought: “Hmm. What about Dangers of Evil and Corruption? Sounds like… No… What about the Line? Sounds like a Richard Bachman novel… Line of Corruption. Doesn’t sound too good, but I’ll just make it the temporary title.”

Well, needless to say, I got attached to that title. But yes, that’s how I came up with the Line of Corruption. How I came up with Radio Silence is most likely a lot simpler. The thing about Radio Silence is that people are getting possessed. The only way the sheriff knows they’re possessed (aside from the whole attempted murder thing) is that stereos or radios suddenly begin to play a song.

So, a lot of the beginning is spent praying for the radio to be silent. Unfortunately for the main character, I’m not so merciful as to leave it completely silent. (insert evil laugh here)

Hence, Radio Silence came to be. I like it because it’s ironic, and there’s actually a line in the story where Gordon says it. (Although, it’s not really said in the same order. You’ll see.)

How do you guys and gals feel about titles? Can you start a story without them? If you can, do you obsessively try to come up with a new title every waking second? Tell me about it in the comments. Hope you like, follow, and comment. Hopefully, all three. Thanks for reading.

~J.A. Romano

Advertisements

I don’t know about you, but the first thing I think after reading that title (the one above these lines and lines of text) is: Ideaception. I know. I’m the first one to ever think about it – I’ve pitched it to Warner Bros. and they’ve given me a 250 million dollar budget to do whatever I want.

Anyways, I had an idea yesterday for a new book. I won’t tell you the idea – which tells you how much I like it. Normally, I blab about my ideas like I’m at gunpoint. I just like hearing myself talk. (Wait… that doesn’t make sense…) But, with this idea, I can’t do that. I need to write it first. Only thing is – it requires a massive amount of research. I don’t know about all of you professional writers, but as a bona fide amateur writer, I normally wing it. My first book? Wrote it not knowing a lot about books. My third book? Didn’t even know the names or the plot by page 75. That’s right. I managed to get that far without names or a sensible plot.

However, with this idea, I don’t feel like an amateur anymore. This is my most ambitious project, yet, and it blends almost all of my favorite elements in a book. The problem is – what does a writer do when he has too many ideas? I know, you all think I’m terribly arrogant. But am I? At some point or another, a writer gets a huge burst of ideas, right? But, what can this writer do about it, exactly? What if the writer already has a long running book series and his readers are up in arms about the sixth book? *coughs GRRM coughs*

I have started over 12 projects. It’s not that I’m that good. It’s just that my attention span is horrible, and the smallest idea I get – I write it. Of course, lately, I’ve begun focusing my creative energy into specific projects, but that does not mean the ideas stop. There are plenty of movies that show writers having trouble writing something worthwhile – most notably the writer in Sunset Boulevard.

I’ve written done a lot of ideas, both on paper and on keyboard, but if you could write an entire book based on one idea alone, everyone would be published! You need a plot, and then you need to actually write the thing. Depending on your skill and time, it can take from six months to a year. There are certain exceptions, sure. Stephen King wrote the Running Man in three days. Say what you will about King – he can finish his books. Something I can’t boast without a bit of hesitation.

What a writer should do, first and foremost, is write all of his ideas. Just do it. I mean, really, does it hurt you? Nope. Might it benefit you in the future? Definitely. The next thing you should do is prioritize your projects according to whether or not you think they have the potential to be something great. Here’s an example:

Untitled Project:

So there’s this dystopian future, right? And the government is watching your every move. I’m thinking of calling the government… The Watcher… Wait, no… Big Watcher? Big Cousin?

Tentative Title – the Wrestling Club:

Basically, this salaryman is an insomniac. And he ends up meeting this really good looking guy – maybe Clooney could play this part – in the plane… and they decide to start a Club together after talking – the Wrestling Club.

Please don’t steal those brilliant ideas of mine. I’m really quite happy with ’em. But yeah, make an Idea List. Prioritize one over the other. I once read somewhere that you can’t really rate ideas by their merit alone… to which I say, that is ridiculous. Pick the idea you like best and just go with it. If you can’t think about that idea anymore, move unto the next one. That’s what I did when I got stumped on my second book. Guess what, it worked.

I haven’t finished my second book, yet, but I’ve finished my third book, and I’m working on its sequel right now. The List WORKS! Well… sort of. I really need to work on that second book.

That’s beside the point, though. What you should do, though, is see if your idea already exists. Google is a godsend, honestly. Every time I meet a senior in college, I get all serious and ask him/her: “So, you lived to see the internet without Google… how was it?”

And he/she will reply, with a quivering upper lip: “It was a dark place… A place that no one should ever visit.”

Then we cry and hug. If you don’t believe me…

So, I am looking forward to this idea. I am going to work on the research bit, and I’ll probably write long, whiny blogposts of me swearing to never take up this project again. I wasn’t kidding about the research. Imagine an enormous amount. Imagine it? Yeah, well, just about that much. Didn’t expect that, did you? Well, I like to be unpredictable.

The moral of the story – ideas, write them down. No matter what. Don’t forget them, just rank them.

P.S: I wrote this post, also, because I just wanted to blab about my idea. I couldn’t really divulge any ideas, but you can sense how excited I am about this. Hopefully, a year from now, I’ll be telling you all about the sequel to my third book, as well as the book that spawned from this meagre idea of mine. Let’s hope, eh?

~J.A. Romano

Interesting stuff to read:

Why you should read <— Got the idea for those funny book examples from this article.

Common Myths in Fictional Fights <— Didn’t really mention it in the post, but this helped me out a lot. Can’t believe how often I’ve humiliated myself in my book by doing some rookie mistake like those detailed over there. I really hope that everyone else has made the mistake of doing one of these myths.