I Don’t Want To Name Names


Oh…but I do want to name. One of my favorite parts of being a writer is finding the perfect name for my characters. And they will protest if given them the wrong name (writer’s you know what I’m talking about). Once the right one is found, the reward is awesome. It helps bring the character to life, gives them attitude, helps define their overall disposition. For example, when you see the name “Milton” you don’t assume evil mastermind. You probably think of this guy from Office Space or the guy from The Walking Dead.

The main character in my debut novel, EDGE OF TRUTH (YA paranormal romance/dystopian), is Rena Moon. She’s named after her mother Laurena, whose name is symbolic of honor and victory. ‘Rena’ also means reborn. According to my research, people with her name have a deep inner desire for independence, are passionate, compassionate, romantic, and are sometimes quick-tempered. Fits my MC perfectly.

In my new manuscript, BLINK (YA Paranormal), the MC’s name is Alexandra Ripley, but she goes by Lexi (←she made me mention that addendum). Her first name means ‘protector of mankind’, and it’s not easy for her. She’s the only girl Called to Hunt since the Brotherhood swore to defend mankind centuries ago. Now, she struggles against the patriarchal traditions that deem her unworthy, while facing the evil that killed her predecessor. Oddly enough, I knew her name, before I discovered the challenges she’d face.

Baby name books and websites are wonderful places to find the perfect name. What I like about these resources is they go beyond giving names and dig deeper into the meaning, origin, year of popularity, and sometimes, the online ones, list celebrities with similar names.

In the past, I’ve found these sites helpful:

What are some of your favorite character names (either yours or someone else’s)? When reading a book, do you ever stop to research character names? When writing, do you research before naming characters?

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Earn The Story


The other day, I was watching a movie, and all I could think was the story didn’t earn emotions on the screen. It felt forced. I saw them setting up the blocks, predicted what would happen next, and felt rather disappointed when it did. Every genre has a general formula that if follows. You can’t have a mystery without a red herring or a contemporary romance without a hero/heroine. Regardless, readers and viewers expect some deviation. Writers can’t rely solely on tropes to set the mood throughout a story.

Emotional levels vary. When a character shoots straight from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other, skipping all the steps in between, it may feel forced. For example, a character is cheerful one moment and the next instant angered. There are a number of phases in between. Until readers get to know a character’s personality, motivation, goals, etc. this sudden shift may feel jarring and fake.

There are a number of ways to move from one emotion to the other:

cheerful + overwhelmed + isolated + frustrated = angered

cheerful + embarrassed + confused = angered

cheerful + surprised + discouraged + inferior = angered

Once the reader is firmly grounded in the story and character, they’ll understand which emotional change a character is undergoing and it will feel logical and earned.

How about you? What tips do you have for earning a story? Do you have any examples of a story/movie that earns the story?

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Do I Have To Let Her Fall?


My Sweet Daughter
(I know I should let her fall, but I can’t)

When it comes to fictional characters, it’s tempting to catch them when they fall, or at least ease them to the ground. Say, the main character gets in to a fight and manages to escape relatively unscathed. Or perhaps, there’s a car/airplane/train accident and the protagonist walks away with only a concussion. Unless the main character (MC) possesses supernatural abilities, the scene may not be living up to its full potential.

Not only do writers have to let the protagonist fall, they have to push the MC down and step on their fingers. If readers don’t believe the character is in real danger, it diminishes the tension. Conflict stems from characters facing a worthy adversary, someone or something which could potentially conquer the MC.

Every character has a weakness. It’s the writer’s job to figure out what it is and push their darlings to the edge. Keep in mind, conflict stems from a variety of sources, not just physical pain. Think of Will Smith’s character in the Pursuit of Happiness. The movie starts when things are going okay for him, but then his life undergoes dramatic changes, most of them to his detriment and just when you think things can’t get worse they do.

Do you let your characters fall? Are you guilty of catching them? What book/movie do you feel exemplifies letting a character “fall”?

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