Friday, May 21, 2021

Does writing change the writer?

Today's topic is so interesting. Does writing change the author? Do you think your writing has changed you in any significant way? 

I remember writing my first novel, way back when I had no idea of what I was doing.  One night I found myself at a Sisters In Crime meeting at the Boston Public Library.  The president of the New England Chapter was making a presentation on the organization.  Good grief, why was I so nervous?  I was venturing into new territory and being a cautious only child, this little step took all my courage. And so I joined the organization and in a few years I was an office holder.  I knew women who had actually had their books published. 

The next baby step as a writer was to sign up for William Holland's "Writing Your Novel" course at Harvard Extension.  I never thought I would sit in a real Harvard Classroom with so many interesting, talented people. Since I was the beginner, it was helpful to have my work critiqued by writers who knew so much more then I did.  

I missed a class becasue I accompanied my husband on a business trip to Singapore.  And I came back with characters and a plot for my second novel.  The first remained on computer, but every now and then I steal something from that first ill-conceived novel. 

At the end of the term we had a party and people brought real booze. In a classroom.  I almost freaked out.  This writing life was even exciting.

Months later, I found myself going to Mystery Writers of America meetings at Kate's Mystery Books in Cambridge.  The Christmas party was wonderful with so many big name authors in the room, everyone talking at once.  

So now to the topic. How has writing changed me?  I've bad so many opportunities to make new author friends. To attend conferences.  To be on panels at conferences and libraries. To travel to new cities to attend conferences.  Hello NOLA!  To participate in the friendship and collegiality of writer's groups and make more friends there.

 I never imagined I would hold offices.  Run a conference.  Buy Sue Grafton a drink. Meet Lee Child. But it's really the friendships that have developed over the years.  We writers sit at our desks and stare at their computers.  But like everyone else, we need to be around people, laughing, eating, drinking, and talking shop.  Especially talking shop.So it's the getting involved and the friendships and the help I've had to become a better writer that has changed me.  I jointed Toastmaster in order to do better at public speaking which used to terrify me.   

I convinced my husband to write a memoir about growing up in Hitlet's Germany. Now we talk writing and home and critique each other.  

I cannot imagine my life if I did not write.  It's  an occupation that is endlessly fascinating and very social.  Who knew?  

I'm sure my fellow writers have their own interesting thoughts on this topic:  take a look! 


Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea

Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com

Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/

Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-2jz

Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/

Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog

Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/

Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com




Thursday, April 15, 2021

Choosing Character Names Can be Fun or Frustrating.


 What's in a name?  Sometimes Character names are easy: sometimes not. Since I've had books set in Germany, South Florida, Burning Man Festival, and my current WIP is set in 1953 Kansas, I feel like an expert on names.

 What I do when I began a novel is create a Word table name chart.  First name, Last name, page  first mentioned, who this character is.  I can sort the table by first name or last name.  The trick is not to have character names that look or sound alike.  You don't want Wayne, Warren, and Warner. Or Mary, Maria and Marilyn.  Nope. Don't do it. If you have ethnic characters they should have appropriate names.  Rich people often have different kind of names than poor ones. Bob Jones vs. Robert Richmond Jones, III.  

 


 In Festival Madness, I had lots of fun making up Burning Man names (everyone needs one) and hacker names  One. of my main male characters was Wayne. His hacker name is the Locksmith.  He can break into any computer. Makes sense. My female POV character is Emma, who calls herself Dust Bunny at Burning Man.Indian characters are Reena and Raj.  I worked with a very techie guy named Wayne, and Reena and Raj's true story got into the book, too. But these people are all long ago and far away.  Must confess I stole of lot of people and places for that book.

 


In my German romantic suspense novel, World of Mirrors, I had Americans (good and bad) Germans, naturally, Russians, and even a Vietnamese man.  I called a glamorous woman Romy, after the actress Romy Schneider.  The name must fit the character.  I used the physical attributes of a couple of men where I worked. Name, description, character:  everything should fit together. 

 My recent challenge is my latest book, a mystery although it seems to be turning into a romance but that is a different story. In the novel, tentative title Lizzie Bender Ledoux, I had to find typical Mennonite names, French names, "regular" names, and even names for the pets.

When I begin to write, I start a Word Table to use as a character chart with a column for each topic below.

Since  it's a word table, it can be sorted by first name or last name.

   First Name  Last Name  Who  Page Introduced  Incidentals    

Research may be necessary.  For instance, to Google Mennonite last names. 

                  <Mennonite Names in Pennsylvania>. 

 Right away I hit pay dirt. 

 Something else you need to do is take a look at the most popular names from the period in which you are writing.  Pick a few way down the list, too.  Even animal names can be trendy.  I called the three pointer dogs in my book, "Spot," "Mike", and "Freckles."  The cat is "Callie."  


 These are things that work for me.  Check out the other writers on this blog roll to see what creative ideas they have. 

 

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/

Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com

Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com

Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/

Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog

Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-2i7

Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/

Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/