Monday, August 06, 2007

Naming Names

I buckled down to do a little writing today. Seriously. Well, I did, um, after I completely rearranged my computer/writing nook set-up. And after walking the dog a couple of times. And after reading a several chapters of The Archivist by Martha Cooley. And after giving the floor a good Swiffering.

Then I pulled out the laptop and started picking up the threads of a story I started about a year and a half ago. To get back into the swing of things, I re-wrote the story synopsis - adding a few ideas here and there - and started fiddling around with the characters.

Whenever I get stuck on a writing project, I pull out the old character description worksheets and work up one for each person in the story, as I dig around for a good backstory. Most of the things I come up with I'll never use, but the act of doing it helps me understand these people better. And it helps get me un-stuck.

One thing I enjoy doing is finding just the right name for each character. My names don't have much meaning - there's nothing wink-wink-nod-nod about whatever I choose, but I do like to make sure the name fits the person in the story. Once duly christened, a character starts taking on flesh-and-blood characteristics that feed the plot.

Where do the names come from? Well, one of my favorite sources is old yearbooks. Now, I never pull a name full-blown out of the class of 1935 or 1963 or 1972, but I find the books a treasure trove of first and last names. Sometimes I use last names for first names, sometimes I make nicknames out of the real names. I always say the name over a few times to see if an image of the character comes to mind. If the name seems to fit, I add it to a list.Then I choose the work-in-progress names for my story-folk. Usually, those names stick for the final draft, but once in a while I have to change one or two mid-write. Hey, it's my story, and I can do what I want.

So I christened a few characters today. And you know what? Once I got to know those characters better, good plot lines just seemed to grow out of nowhere. All in all, a good writing start.

4 comments:

Kay Dennison said...

Cool! I find the hardest part of writing os getting organized but it sounds like you're coming up with sll kinds of neat tricks. Good stuff!

Anonymous said...

Well, that sounds like a pretty good day to me...writing....really getting into it. It makes you feel good, doesn't it Mary? ~Joy

Hey, you might want to stop by my place and check out my latest post.

tamarika said...

Hurrah! I am going to become inspired from you. I think I will use today to prepare my study ... oh no! I've already done that!

Congrats and smiles, MaryB

Liz said...

Well done on getting stuck in, Mary!

I agree that names are so important.