Naming Names

Why did Inez Cloud change her name to “Skippy RunningCloud”? So she’d be remembered!

Ever get stuck naming characters? Oh, how science fiction authors must long for the days when they could name a character “X7” and get away with it. My job title use to be CRO, Chief Research Officer, and I got that title when there were few Chief Research Officers around. People would ask me, “What is your proper title?” and I replied “My proper title is ‘Princess Feldspar of the Tree People’, but I tell most people it’s ‘Chief Research Officer’.”

Most people could remember “Princess Feldspar of the Tree People” more easily than they could remember “Chief Research Officer” and the reason why can help authors create names for characters.

We remember the tangible and the unique better than the intangible and the common.

 
We want readers to remember our main and primary characters, some secondary characters and perhaps even a minor character (if they provide a plot point) because readers tend to like memorable characters. The first step towards aiding reader memory is to give the characters names that are 1) easily remembered and 2) give us a hint as to the character’s character (what kind of person that character is).
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Macauley and Lanning’s “Technique in Fiction”

A worthwhile read to get you to the next level regardless of what level you’re on

Nuance. Technique in Fiction is a must read because it teaches nuance.

It teaches much more. Just when I thought my brain had filled with as much technique and suggestion as possible, there’d be another bit that I had to write down and practice so I could remember it.

The basic takeaway is that authors should read this book after they’ve finished something big (novella, novel, novelette, noveletta, novina…okay, maybe not a novina) so they can figure out how to improve their writing during the rewrite/editing process. Story writers will also benefit provided they give themselves some down time between writing and editing so their minds can absorb what’s in these pages.

Great stuff!


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Characters Part 5 – Stage Direction Characters

They came, they saw, the did nothing else. They’re stage direction.

The last character to define is the one who only comes on stage once, isn’t really acknowledged by any other character and never shows up again. That’s a stage direction character.

Do they show up once and never again?

 
The children pulled back when Tommy picked up the…”
Most readers who read the above want to know what Tommy picked up. The reason some of you want to know Tommy picked up is because “The children pulled back” and humans, because of the way we’re designed, want to know what’s causing defensive reactions (pulling back is a defensive, flight based reaction).
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Characters Part 4 – Minor Characters

Nobody cares who the masked man is if he doesn’t use his gun.

Are they noticed then forgotten?

 
Does a character not have a name but is noticed by primary or main characters? That’s a minor character. Minor characters show up once or twice in a story but interact with the primary and main characters to reveal something the author wants to reader to know.
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MindMaster Case File 455: The UnResponsive Male

She opened my office door and the room temperature went up ten degrees. She wore a wide brimmed blue fedora that slipped down, covering her face slightly and it was the only loose thing she wore. She was shaped like an hourglass and it was only a few minutes past the hour. Her fedora matched her eyes and there was a cool shower of blond hair framing her northern european features. I noticed this even though I could hear my mother telling me it was impolite to stare.

The lady in the fedora said, “May I come in?”

I was going to comment that some of her all ready had but my tongue was too busy falling out the side of my mouth to form words. “Ungh-nghe,” I said.
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