"The pen is the tongue of the mind." -Miguel de Cervantes

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

On Naming Characters

Recently I've read a handful of forums that rant over bad character names, and today I want to cover a few things that will help you come up with believable names that will stick well with a reader or agent. I can't say all of my character names have been perfect. Far from it. In fact, a few of my writer friends pick my names to death, and for good reason. For example I had finished half of my first ever W.I.P before I realized that Lily Waters was a very common perfume and besides the fact made for a very 'Sue-ish' name. Oh, and of course there is Grimace. I get ragged to death for Grimace. Alright, so enough with my bad names. Lets get right down to it.

Tip #1: Make your character names match the age of your character. Or if they don't, have a GOOD reason why not.

This one kills me. I see names that were popular for teenagers in the 1980's being used to portray characters that are suppose to be teens now. Why is this a problem? It isn't realistic. Lets say you are writing a contemporary YA novel set in 2011 and you name your MC Pamela. Well, Pamela may have been popular when you graduated in 1986 but in 2011 there may be one Pamela in ten high schools, thus making your work seem dated from the get go. So, how can you fix this? I suggest using the Social Security Database. It lists the popularity of baby names by year and comes in handy because it saves valuable research time.

Tip #2: Make your character's name easy to pronounce.

There is nothing worse than staring blankly at a page trying to pronounce a the name of a character you have just been introduced to. Half of the time when this happens to me I make a mental name change, and keep going rather than have my entire flow of reading thrown off. Do a test. If it takes more than five seconds for a friend to say the name of your character, then consider changing it. This tends to be common for Sci-Fi/Fantasy works, but trust me. You can have a quirky name that is easy to pronounce.

Tip #3: Research your character's name.

Like I said before. I'm guilty of such names as 'Lily Waters'. I could have saved myself some time just by typing it into google and hitting search. Before you get attached to a name you just have to have make sure you plug it into a search engine. You may find out that even though you just *love* the name Albert Fish that you may not want him to be associated with the Albert Fish that ate children in the 1920's.

In the end, it is your choice. Your characters are your own and you can do with them as you like. But keep your readers in mind next time you are thinking of naming Joe's love interest Carla Jean Hipps

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Slice of Life, and Other Bad Puns...

Before my last blog post it felt like I hadn't blogged in ages, so I decided to give you guys an idea of what I've been up to. I value each and every one of the people that follow my blog and those that just drop in from time to time.

Let me tell you this: I should have eloped. I would have maybe, but there is this eight-year-old entity in all women that still wants to be a princess and have a special day. That princess stabbed the sensible/practical part of me in the eye. If I had room I would make another pie chart that compared how much time it takes to plan a wedding to how much time the wedding actually lasts. The truth is sad my friend.

Well, it's all said and done and now I may as well enjoy it. I have an awesome family and a million awesome friends that have helped me plan, cook for, and make arrangements for my perfect day. More than anyone though, I have my mom to thank the most. Thank you mom for sticking with me on this and doing all in your power to give me something you never had. I feel so blessed to have you.

With marriage comes a million other things, like a house, packing a million boxes into said house, and unpacking said boxes in a timely manner. Then you have all the other real world things flying in to kick that spoiled princess off her chair. Like work, and staying up with a sick hubby-to-be in the E.R. two days before Christmas.

Just gotta muddle through as they say. Thanks for listening. I'll try to keep princess in the closet.

Review: The Thin Executioner by Darren Shan

First, I would like to say I loved the first few Cirque du' Freak books, and I'm mulling over buying the first Demonata book. Darren Shan has brought many good 'boy friendly' stories to the table and I think that is something that YA is in great need of, but it isn't something i've seen happen in the last year.
Guys, (and girls) if you feel like you have been missing out on all the gut wrenching, axe throwing, blood gushing action that comes with a novel geared to those with more testosterone, then you have found it. For those that enjoy bunnies, flowers, and unicorns please keep your seat because you may find something to peak your interest.
The story starts with a thin, runt of a boy named Jebel, and Jebel has much to live up to. His father is the legendary Rashed Rum, executioner of their city, an honor second only to governing such a place.
When Rashed announces his retirement, Jebel steps forward to prove himself. He knows that he is no match for his older brothers J'an and J'al so he fabricates a plan. To go on a quest to find Sabbah Eid, a fierce and ancient fire god that grands invincibility to those that find him. But the way to mountain in which Sabbah Eid dwells is littered with perils, and the worst aren't your dime store monsters.
At first I didn't know if I was going to like Jebel, but he grew on me as the story went along. Shan did a good job of showing how teens can be conditioned by society and their parents. It was interesting to see how Jebel reacted to the many different countries in Shan's world. I could tell he put some serious world building into this story.
There are a few places that seem sort of drab but over all I recommend The Thin Executioner to anyone who is looking for a story with very creepy antagonists.