What’s in a name? Choosing a Name for Your Fictional Character

Melissa Janda - A Time to Write

NN is for Name

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” ~ William Shakespeare

“I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose would be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.” ~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

What do you think? Does the name matter that much?

J.K. Rowling was a genius at naming fictional characters. Let’s look at a few:

• Albus Dumbledore
• Sirius Black
• Hermione Granger
• Bellatrix Lestrange
• Draco Malfoy
• Lucius Malfoy

The names are unique, so they make a lasting impression, but it’s also interesting to note that the meaning of the names fit the role of the characters.

These characters often acted…

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FREE for Kindle – Someday Always Comes

Someday Always Comes is up for grabs on Kindle this weekend, 4/26-4/27/14. I hope my readers will take the opportunity to grab a e-copy copy for themselves.

Thanks!…And Happy Reading.

http://amzn.com/B00B0HMZS2

The Three Dimensions of Character

Melissa Janda - A Time to Write

In his book Story Engineering, Larry Brooks says you should “imbue your characters with three very separate and compelling layers—dimensions, in this context—that are carefully crafted to bring your story alive with resonant emotional depth.” If you choose to wing it, you most likely will end up with characters who are as flat as cardboard cutouts.

 TT is for Three Dimensions of Character

What are the three dimensions of character?

Let’s take a look at the three dimensions of characterization as defined by Larry Brooks, using a character from Harry Potter—Severus Snape–to illustrate them.

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Creating a Credible Villain

Melissa Janda - A Time to Write

Today’s post is all about that character we love to hate: the antagonist, also known as the villain.

VV is for Villain

an•tag•o•nist noun an-ˈta-gə-nist: a person who opposes another person. Synonyms: adversary, enemy, foe, archenemy, nemesis, bane, competitor, rival, villain.

The antagonist can also be a group of characters (e.g., an institution) or a force (e.g., the weather), but for purposes of this discussion it will focus on the individual as the villain. Before we begin concocting our villain, we must understand the role the antagonist plays in the story.

What is the role of the antagonist?

The antagonist should serve as:
• An opposing force
• An obstacle for the hero’s goal
• A worthy opponent

The villain is one of the two most important characters in the story. Some believe it is more important than the hero. Without the villain, there is no opposing force to create…

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Why I Write

WHY I WRITE

James Funfer, author of Crystal Promise, tagged me for this Why I Write blog. I think I’m a little late in posting, and I apologize. Thanks, James, for including me. Check out James’ answer to these blog questions here: http://jamesfunfer.com/?p=499

 

Why do I write? I write for me. I write for everyone. I’m an artist and I must paint upon that white sheet of paper or go insane. I mostly write because I’m emotional. I write to lament. I write to vent. I write to smile. I write to cry. I write to brush off the day’s bad energies. I write to kill people. I write to save people. I write because I can. I can make you into a character, put you in to a story, and make you or break you. I can make you a beautiful hero with a fast car, a big gun and a loving son. I can turn you into a talking cockroach with mayhem on his mind or a wise own hooting the protagonist on to victory. Maybe you’ll be an antagonist with a missing eye and brown teeth, who suffers from a bullet lodged in his femur which makes him forever cranky and drunk on Oxycontin. I can turn you into Jeffrey Dahmer or Ghandi. No one’s safe.

And what I mean by the term “you” is you, my readers. You can run but you can’t hide when the devil’s by your side. 😉 You will experience firsthand what I create. That is why I write. I want you to be able to live each of the lives of the characters I paint.

I enjoy writing. I also hate writing. I love it when it works out. I enjoy the thrill of chasing the words for the next scene. I hate it when I think I have a fabulous idea that turns out to be crappy. I want to jump off a cliff when I create a hero or a villain that just sits around, hanging out on the pages waiting for me to do all the talking. Say something you rotten character! You’re supposed to be the one doing the writing.

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?

I have several projects going and some are coming along better or more steadily than others. Among them, the sequel to Someday Always Comes titled The Devil Plays Dice. I had hoped to have it done by summer’s end but other stories grabbed my attention more strongly. I moved the date to late fall, but now I’m not so sure if it will see publication before the winter holidays.

I’ve been brushing up and adding to a manuscript called Storm Dwellers that I completed some time ago for a contest. I have edited it a bit and now I’m adding scenes. I hope to have this published by October in time for Halloween and the holidays. I’ve already mentally developed the cover. I am also looking for there to be at least one sequel to this novella.

I’ve been doing research for a book I have a few chapters done on, Angel Maker, which is the first book in a series called Sheriff’s of Roberson County.

As you can see, I am…er, or could be…busy with writing projects often, however, that old crazy thing called life gets in my way. I hate that! Plus, I’ll admit that I am a procrastinator and I will simply and honestly state that I find myself a lot of good reasons not to write.

HOW DOES YOUR WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

Firstly, I like to write in the First Person, as Someday Always Comes and its soon-to-be sequel, The Devil Plays Dice, are written in. I find it easier to relay emotions of a narrator to readers. However, while I know many genres can be written in this way, we chance having all narrators sound the same across different books and genres after awhile. Well, that’s my fear anyway. But I feel my ability to be a powerful First-person writer is a gift I possess that not every writer can pull off. No, I don’t mean to sound uppity or crass.

I try to focus more on character development. I feel that one can write a great storyline but if the characters are one-dimensional the story doesn’t matter. I hate things that are cookie-cutter. I want my characters to explode off the page and into your presence. Please believe me when I say that this is not easy to achieve nor will I also be able to accomplish it. And if they aren’t explosive, I want at least one character from every story to be memorable to a reader. Some readers may like one character more than another, etc., but if you love even one, then I’ve been successful.

In fact, I am currently wrestling with the memorable issue. If the character doesn’t have flair, or habits that make a reader tilt their head in wonder, then I haven’t done my job. If my reader doesn’t look at the character of one of the people in my book and think, “Why do you always do that to her?” or “Why do you always walk away like that?” etc, then I haven’t accomplished much. I can’t say this should happen with all characters – and as we know, love of character is in the eye of the reader, but I believe the main players have to be remembered by something they do or say. Or, the cookie-cutter character must suddenly come alive with such fierceness that the reader has to rub their eyes.

So for me, I believe that what the characters in the story do and say can be more compelling than a good plot and I have readers that agree with me and have commented very positively on my characters. Regarding Someday Always Comes, one reader commented on Amazon that “We could all learn something about character development from this author and I expect to see more of her writing in the future.” ~by authorpholloway. That makes me very happy that any reader, especially a writer, would say that about my work.

WHY DO YOU WRITE WHAT YOU DO?

I write parts of me. My stories can stem from any phase of my life. Sometimes I write to protest. I honestly do not have just one reason. I get this uncontrollable urge to do it and I never know until a bit of time has passed why I am writing what I’m writing.

I am also a people watcher and a storyline or character can come from someone walking down the street, or two people talking at the post office. Maybe the news may prompt an idea.

I write in several genres of fiction and poetry styles. Someday Always Comes started out as women’s fiction and rounded itself out into coming-of-age, young adult and new adult fiction. Angel Maker is thriller and somewhat of a police procedural. Storm Dwellers can be considered young adult and horror or fantasy.

I am also working on a vampire tale, and a romance. So there ya go! I’m versatile.

When it comes to poetry, I really do not follow form and style unless I force myself to. My poetry comes from a different place than my fiction. Most of my poetry is more autobiographical and fueled by my emotions that stem from some occurrence or life situation, even from my spirituality. The words can come from love, happiness, anger, jealousy or revenge, among other things.

HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK?

My writing just flows. I am an organic writer, which in my opinion means I rarely do outlines or any synopsis before I write. I may jot notes and scenes. I may write down a line of dialog to later add to a story, but I couldn’t write an outline if the USA’s national security depended on it! I just can’t. Now I have sorted out a character’s personality on paper or his history. I’ve kept track of genealogy as well. But to do an outline is wasted time in my opinion because no one sticks to that old thing anyway. It’s just another means of procrastinating. I just sit down and write it. I open the story, build the scenes, and end the book. It’s over.

As for synopses. I know writers who have written them before hand. I can write one after using the manuscript as reference! 😉 Even then, writing my own book report causes me to want to run off into the great blue yonder screaming like a madwoman.

Now, don’t go far!…I’m tagging writer AMBER SKYE FORBES, the author of a book I’m currently reading titled WHEN STARS DIE. Check out more on Amber and her work on her website: http://www.amberskyeforbes.com/. Also, check out her WordPress blog here: http://amberskyeforbes.wordpress.com/.

 

Happy reading!