Tuesday, March 3, 2015

NOW WHAT SHOULD I NAME MY CHARACTER?

It's funny you should ask that question, because I never know what my main character's name will be until I actually put the first sentence on the page. Then as soon as I know who my character is the name comes to me. For my first novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor I knew that my secondary character's name would be Jennifer Taylor. I just thought she looked like someone who would have that name. Any Jennifer I had ever met seemed to be living in another atmosphere. They are usually beautiful, thin and popular. However, I didn't know what my main character's name should be. I wanted her to have a name you could remember and one that was in the normal range. In other words I wanted her name to reflect her. She is a nice, fairly normal girl who happens to have a little bit of a problem that causes her to be bullied. So Carol wouldn't work, because that is not a name you would remember, but Carolyn does work. Carolyn is someone you can remember. Also it pairs very well with her last name, Carolyn Samuels.

For her friends I also wanted names that would show they were normal too. Also I wanted them to have catchy names easy to remember too. So I picked Becky and Janie. They had to have names that would not only be normal, but would set them apart from the usual names. Jennifer's friends had to have exotic names almost like movie stars. Her friend Maura is an example of that kind of name. Maura also lives up to her name. She is one of those people who has lived in a world above Carolyn's along with Jennifer. The name conjures up someone who might not be so nice.

On the other hand, Jennifer's boyfriend had to have a romantic name. So I chose Brad, because all the Brads I have ever read about have been handsome hunks. That is what Brad is. Also it is a movie star name, think Brad Pitt, but he has blonde hair. This Brad has dark hair. The other guy in the book is John, but we won't talk about him here, because you have to read the book, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor to find out where he fits.

For my second novel, After, I wanted the heroine to have a more active name. She is athletic and needed a name that fitted that so I named her Lauren. She also needed to be a little girly too. So Lauren is the name that fits here too. Lauren's best friend had to have a name that would be easy going and friendly as well as memorable so I chose Joey. For the doctor who was a jerk in real life I named him Dr. Jerker. When you read about him you will realize why I named him that. For the mean girl I named her Amber, because I wanted her to have a sultry and mean name and I thought that fitted her so well. I'm not saying all Ambers are like the one in this book, but the name fits her perfectly. She is a spoiled brat who is used to having her daddy get her everything and she is not accustomed to losing anything. Lauren's girl friend needed to have an inviting and friendly name so I named her Jenny. Finally, there is male character named Darren who pops up later and he needed to have a name that would fit a good looking friendly boy. Again, I won't tell you his role. It would spoil the story.

In conclusion, I think naming characters depends on their characteristics. Also it hinges on what name comes to my mind when I think about my character. After all I am the author and these characters were created by me. What I like best is that once you do name your character they take on their own life and become much more than you imagined when you first thought of them. For you, maybe you will find another way to name your characters, but I am very happy to have shared my method with all of you.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday Musings: March 1 2015



Happy 1st March Musers.
 
I don't know why but I'm a little weepy...a good weepy. But still a tad weepy, maybe it's watching Masterchef Canada and listening to the dreams of these people.

Maybe it's just a mama-moment as I think on my daughter's future and her dreams...all good, no worries there.

Just a weepy moment...week?

So...for March 1st...what was it like that first time your dream came true.  Any dream, not just writing, any dream.


I've had a number of dreams come true.  The first time I sat on a horse's back.  My little Chihuahua, whom I got when my family moved from an apartment to a house.  (I traveled through a blizzard to get her.)  When I bought my own little apartment, where I still live and which I still love.

The biggest dream was my first sale.  It was a double event.  One Friday, I learned the short story "Covenant" had been purchased for an Andre Norton anthology.  The following Monday, Cherry called to announce STAR COMMANDOS had sold.  I felt like rocketing up through all fifty floors of the building where I worked but, of course, remained quiet and reserved.  That was a few days prior to my leaving for my then-annual vacation in Ireland.  When I met my parents and we were in the car going home, I made the grand announcement.  My mother said nothing for several minutes, then she remarked, "All those years, I thought you were crazy locked up in your room scribbling away."  I responded, "That hasn't changed.  Only now, they're paying me for it."

The second part of that fulfilled dream was when I actually held the book in my hands.  It is a feeling, a joy and thrill that has never lessened.  Each one excites me.

CHUCK BOWIE, author

I’m having a good month, in a good year, of a good life. When I was a kid, each year I remember eating salmon every night from May 1st to Oct 1st (commercial fishing season). This was because I would clear the nets for my great uncle, and he paid me in trade. If it wasn’t for salmon, our family’s circumstances were there would have been no protein for supper. I used to dream of beef! But I didn’t dream of being a writer (or owning a house or even getting married). Some dreams just seemed at the time to be a bit unachievable.

But you move on, somehow you get into university, acquire a debt, but also acquire a career. Things get better, you get to see more of the world and realize the role hard work can play in realizing dreams. Meeting the right person--The One--at age 19 was the event that broke through my self-imposed failure to dream. (Chris: you’ve met her, you can see how she could drag me up to the front!!!)

Dreaming my sons would become competent musicians was a powerful, achieved dream. Dreaming of having grand-daughters, dreaming my little writing projects would someday lead me to having a published novel: A Novel! was a massive dream!

This month, Chapters has called me back for a second signing, since all their product sold out during the first one. I did a writers evening at the local library, which sold a couple of books and got me a Writers In Schools gig, And this week, my novel Three Wrongs placed first in paperback fiction sales at the local bookstore, ahead of Gone Girl. The Girl On The Train and JK Rowling’s detective novel.

My dreams are coming true before my eyes.


JAMES CROFOOT, author

It was like a high that lasted for weeks. It did happen to be writing. I had never worked harder for anything. I was even given my High school diploma after dropping out. the school board just gave it. When I got the email from Muse I sat and read it for a couple weeks. and then a magazine picked up my first freelance piece…justified.

BETH OVERMYER, author

My first dream to come true was to win a trophy for my 4-H cat project. I won first place for junior showmanship at my county fair, and I was THRILLED! The trophy was huge and pretty and oh so shiny. The next year, I went on to win second place in the knowledge portion for the senior cat competition, which was a bigger honor in my book...especially since the family veterinarian was there to witness my triumph.

But I think my biggest dream to come to was my first publication credit. I'd written a personal essay about how I murder stories, and The Coffee Press Journal published it. I remember squealing with delight and running into the kitchen shouting "I'm published! I'm published!" Of course, luck would have it that my dad was the only one home, and he didn't really hear very well. Not sure if he ever figured out what was going on.

DAWN KNOX, author

I'm really not an expert on dreaming dreams or on making them come true.

As a teenager, I dreamed of being a scientist and in order to achieve that, I was definitely not going to get married or have children.

And what actually happened? I met my husband when I was 17 and married at age 20. Twelve years later, I had a son.

And the dream of being a scientist? Yes, that came true but it really wasn't quite what I'd imagined and after I'd had my son, I was happy to stop working.

So, I'd dreamed of something that wasn't what I thought it would be and decided not to do the two things which I actually did and that have made my life so happy.
I then started writing and dreamed of having a book published, although I secretly doubted this would ever happen. Over several years, I was thrilled to have about a dozen short stories published but it was thanks to MuseItUp Publishing, that I had my first ebook published last year although I still dream of holding a book with my name on it, in my hands.

However, I never dreamed that I would write a script that would be performed by professional actors.

That would have been a dream too far!

But last year, that came true.

So, I managed to make a dream come true that I would never have had the courage to dream.

IONA BRODIE, MuseHOT author

I dream in Lego.

Each dream is a complete piece made up of hundreds of tiny bricks. Each brick is an action that moves me towards completion of the whole. When my project/dream is achieved I experience the warm satisfaction of a job well done.

I get frustrated with people obsessed by luck who throw up their hands and say that nothing good ever happens to them. The same people who do this say that I am lucky to have a novel published or to have been promoted at work. They fail to see that luck has nothing to do with achieving your dreams. It is all down to vision, planning and determination.

Of course, the wonderful thing about Lego is that if your dream is not what you thought it would be you can change it, add to it or even start again!


When I was a teenager I dreamed that one day I would be married and have children. I thought the marriage part would never happen and then I met my husband and we were married for almost 49 years. My dream of having children almost never happened and then it did after twelve and a half years of marriage we had a little girl and then a few years later we had another girl. I had only wanted two children so we stopped there.

When I started writing I never dreamed I would have a book published or that I would have two books published. When I first heard that my first novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor was accepted for publication I realized my dream had come true. The thought I would be a published author and be grouped with all the authors I have ever read filled me with such joy!! I was just as excited when my second book, AFTER was accepted. Seeing it in print was almost too joyful!!

So as far as I’m concerned I got my dreams and now my dream is to have my book be in the Top 10 of Amazon. Maybe if everyone I know on Facebook and Twitter buys it that might come true. LOL



My dream was motherhood. It was a dream I never expected I wanted until it appeared it wouldn't happen. Then it was the dream which kept me awake at night heart-hurt. Life goes on. You check out options and make decisions. For us, it came to a small bathroom test at 1:23ish a.m. one night. Was it really saying I was? Yes, I was. The long story continues and will continue for years (powers willing and others not caring).

There's more dreams, there will also be dreams. The moment I stop dreaming is the moment I lose focus on who I am and why I'm here.

Musers...keep dreaming.



Thanks for joining us and see you next week!
  
 If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at MuseChrisChat@gmail.com

Saturday, February 28, 2015

No Screaming - I'm Your Editor



Authors and editors should be partners, possess open discussions with civility and professionalism. Yet so many times we hear about authors who simply don’t want to change anything from their manuscript because ‘it’s good to go’, or editors who try to change an author’s voice because ‘that’s how the editor would have written it.’

Thankfully, these circumstances are few. Most of the authors and editors I know welcome the partnership to make sure the manuscript is as tight as tight can be.

That first round of edits is the hardest because the manuscript may be riddled with highlights, comments, red markings. It’s hard to see this, I know. But remember an editor is suggesting, not forcing changes. You, the author, need to keep an open mind and look at the criticism offered to you by stepping back as the author and now looking at the edits through the eyes of a reader, or better yet, an editor. Truly look at your editor’s comments and edits, trying to understand the reason behind their requests. If you don’t agree, then tell them why so they can understand. Work together. You may be thinking of a book 2 and that’s why you purposely omitted finalizing a few foreshadows. Your editor needs to know this. Editors are…well, editors, not crystal ball fortune tellers.

What does an editor look for?

They make sure there’s consistency in names/places/settings, plot holes, timelines are in check, POV, repetition of words/phrases, characters are fully developed, dialogue patterns, removal of nonessential phrases/words, and more.  With this long list it’s a certainty that they’ll find something to edit and ask for you to revisit and change. 

Some editors are more diplomatic than others, true, but what’s more important is the detailed edits they are suggesting. Look at them carefully, analyze them from a reader’s POV because your editor is your reader. Remember that editors are there to help you present your best work, right the first time.

For a writer, long character descriptive details may seem important, but readers nowadays want to get to the nitty gritty. If you’ve described your character once there’s no need to continue talking about their brown hair, or baby blue eyes constantly. It’s repetitive, nearing to the point of drowning a scene with, yes, I’ll say it, boring details not crucial to move the book forward.

But let me backtrack for a sec…just because your editor requested a scene deletion or partial deletion, you need to explain to them why you put it in there: to set up the next book, a tie-in at the end, etc. Don’t just hit delete then get all fired up that you didn’t want to remove that scene. Talk to your editor. As I began this post, your editor is your partner. It must be a two-way street of back and forth discussion to better understand both sides of the coin, yours and your editor’s.  

One thing to remember is this: the world wide net is vast, posts remain there indefinitely, so the discussions and disagreements between you and your editor should be at the highest professional platform and not badmouthed on social networks. And this goes for editors as well as for authors. If you have a severe enough problem with your editor, not only a disagreement because your editor is requesting changes you don’t agree with but haven’t told them yet, first make sure to try and solve it with your editor. But if the two of you are a wrong match, then contact your publisher or head editor, let them know what the situation is, and they’ll be there to help you out, or at least, they should.

So I’ll end with these 2 notes:

1- editors and authors are partners
3- Editors & authors--keep an open communication, professional standard at all times.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Musings: February 22 2015

Musing with Muse


Hello, Musers, one and all!

Sure hope you're all keeping warm and snuggly...or trying to send warm weather to us who are.

How are writers able to capture true emotions within their writing?

We may write reality...and reality within non-real/fictional worlds...but our characters need to feel/read real which includes emotions. Hence the above question...many non-writers have no clue :)


Writing emotions is probably one of the hardest things to do for a writer. I remember when I was writing my second novel After, I had a critique group say that the scenes I had thought were full of emotion left them flat. I was of course, very distressed that these scenes which came directly from my own life, had not gotten the response I expected. So I went back and saw that I had felt the emotion, but I hadn’t conveyed it to my readers. I had to go back to the original scenes and look at them in an objective way. It was as if I were watching TV only it was myself in the scene. Then I put my character in the scene and I wrote what she felt and really showed what her emotions were causing her to do. When I rewrote these scenes people told me they were very moved and they could feel what was happening.

When you are writing about emotions you need to think like your character and not like yourself for the scenes. How would your character react to this action? Would it cause your character to cry or scream or would your character be so frustrated she did nothing? If you do it right your readers will be able to put themselves into the scene and feel the same emotions your character is feeling. Then they will tell you that it brought tears to their eyes. However, if you do it wrong, you might get the comments I received on my third novel that there was no emotion at all. So it’s back to the drawing board for my third novel. The problem with that one is I am trying to write about emotions to actions that have never happened to me and some that have happened way earlier in my life. Also the character is not female, so that makes it even more difficult. However, that is the exciting part for a writer. We just go in and get ourselves so involved with our characters and their lives. I will have to go back to the scenes where emotions play a part and rethink them. The emotional content is there and all it needs is attention to the details of my character’s life.


LESLEY FIELD, new HOT author

Thought I would have another go at the Sunday Musings.

I believe that to capture true emotions requires writers to take themselves into the character. To become the character to live, feel and breathe what the character is going through.  Sometime it’s easy, if you are so caught up in the plot line the feelings come to you without any difficulty because you are already on the emotional roller coaster.  Also thinking of a particular incident can also bring about the emotion you need but more often a particular song can have the same, if not better results.

Recently I was caught up in a plot line I was writing and knew I had to get the whole scenario down. By the time I had finished my hands were shaking, so were my insides and I was absolutely wiped out.  I had to walk away from the computer for a while to recover. Writing something emotional is draining and sometimes, despite all of our efforts, it never seems right.

That’s the joy and dismay of writing, and there again we have emotions!!


I use my normal method of turning the characters loose and letting them play out the scene naturally (rather than trying to force them) in my mind.  That includes their thoughts and feelings.  Getting it all down while everything is sharp in my mind can be an intense and challenging task, especially when long scenes or series of scenes are involved.  I've had scribbling sessions lasting a number of hours that have left me drained, but drained in a good sense because I know I've captured what I wanted.  Editing and polishing are obviously required after such marathons, but the experiences and the emotions I'd envisioned are there.


I capture the true emotions of my characters by layering my action and dialogue. By that, I mean that I don’t try to get it all in one go. I have to take many trips through my book, sit back and put myself in their position, and allow the emotions to flow. In many ways, my characters are as real as my friends and family, they take on a life of their own, and demand the same treatment from me that I give those close to me.

DAWN KNOX, author

Before I write a story, I try to view the series of events in my imagination, like a movie. I identify with the various characters and try to feel things from their perspective, getting to know them as if they are real people.

If I can draw on personal experience, I remember and mentally reproduce the emotion so I can apply it to my character's situation.

My dreams are often very vivid and when I wake up, I still feel the emotion that I've felt in my dream. Obviously, I can't be sure the way I'm reacting is exactly the same as it would be if I'd really experienced the incident but if it's something I haven't already experienced, it's as close as I can get and I harness that feeling to describe my characters' feelings.




Thanks for joining us and see you next week!
  
 If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at MuseChrisChat@gmail.com