Saturday, May 28, 2011

How to come up with fantasy names

It sounds like most of the people blogging here write fantasy, so today I thought I’d talk about how to come up with names. Sometimes they come when I mistype something. Sometimes they pop up in my head just as a random syllable. Sometimes I get them from a name generator. I’ve gotten a few from baby name sites, but then there’s always a good chance that somebody has the name you want to use. My favorite method is this:

1.       Look around the area you’re sitting/standing/somersaulting/skydiving in. Make a list of the stuff you see, like calculator, frame, notebook, pencil, lamp, etc.
2.        Take one of the words (here I’ll use calculator as an example). Split it up into its separate syllables, or just wherever it divides easily. So now calculator would be Calcu and Lator.
3.       Decide what the names sound like. I’m using Calcu as a traitor, because that’s what the name sounds like to me. But Lator sounds better, like a good person. So I’m using it for a town councilman.
4.       If the word is only one syllable, try scrambling the letters or completely reversing the word. So now frame would become Mafre. 
5.       Sometimes you can just look around at labels and signs and combine words. If you see a DVD cover for Star Wars, then you can use the last part of Star and the first part of Wars and come up with Arwa.

Try not to get the names too hard to pronounce or spell, though. While I really like the Lord of the Rings, it’s hard to pronounce some of those names!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pen Names

What do you guys think about pen names? My opinion is that you could use your own name, unless it’s one of the following:
-Hard to spell
-Lots of variations of that sound the same but are pronounced differently
-Hard to pronounce
-Something really common, like Smith or Jones
-A name of somebody famous, like Dickens (not necessarily an author)

My last name happens to fall under numbers 2 and 4, so I was thinking of possible pen names. The only option that I’ve thought about much is Abigail O’Laughlin. Anyone here write under a pen name?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hi, My Name Is...

Captain Dreadnaught (that's what it is on a different blog I write on, so that would make sense; I'm not trying to usurp power by using that name, I promise).

Anyway. I got started in writing because I thought I’d make money. Naive to the core! Now, I do it because I like it. Writing, I mean, not losing money.

My parents don’t know that I’m writing – and I’d like to keep it that way. It’s nothing bad, really! I’m writing a novel, as well as a short story, and I want to give them my written works for Christmas gifts. Whether they’ll be done in time is a different story (pun intended).

I’m currently working a fantasy novel, tentative title Journey. I call it fantasy because it's set in an imaginary world, but there isn't much in the line of magic or dragons or that sort of thing. To give you an idea of what it's about, here is the query letter. (A query is what you send to an agent to hopefully get them interested in your book.) Without further ado, here it is:

Sixteen-year-old Tasri Oberens barely breathed as she listened. The man continued speaking to the crowd.
“Come to me, all you who are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
The man turned, and Tasri couldn’t hear what else he said. She pushed through the crowd toward the man. She had to hear more.

                A hand grabbed her hair. A man’s voice rasped, “Tasri Oberens! I told you not to be around this man any longer! You have a choice: kill him or be killed!”

                [In a regular query letter, you’d put the word count of the book and your contact info down here.]

                The main problem I’m having is making it long enough. Right now it’s almost 14K words. I have a bunch more stuff to add, but the length will still be an issue. Another problem is the pacing. It was way too fast, but with the additional stuff, I think it will be better.
                I’m also working on a short story (fantasy, same world as Journey), but that one's pretty much on the back burner.
              My goal for tomorrow (not today; it's late, my time) is to write another scene for Journey, however long it takes.

                I write fantasy, I have about notes for about 20 plots on my computer in several different genres. What genre do you write?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tales of a Lady Pirate

Tales of a Lady Pirate

So, I just finished editing Tales of a  Lady Pirate, one of the first major stories I wrote. And now, of course, I'm thinking I may just have to rewrite it entirly. It's an awsome story, and I love it, but there's so much more that could be added.

The story is of a 17 year-old, high society girl living in 1840's London. Her name is Nora Weatherby, and she's got a younger sister named Faith who bugs her a lot. :) Their father is a merchant sailor, and rarely home, and mom is overbearing and abusive. In an attempt to gain herself a bit of freedom, Nora starts to sneak out at night and play her violin in a tavern. There, she meets up with a pirate named Terry (whom she blackmails into giving her a share in his prizes) and an Irish printer's son named Liam who partners up with her for the shows.

Then, Mrs. Weatherby finds out about Liam and the show, and disowns Nora. She stays the night with Liam's family, then the two of them are forced to leave town with Terry after the police find out that Terry's a pirate. Eventually, through a serious of strange events, Nora ends up becoming the captain of Terry's ship, having Faith join up, and getting married to Liam. It's really a wonderful story, and I'm hoping I can turn it into something better than it is now.

So now I need to start editing 'Lady of the Moon'. The one that took me a year and a half to write.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

On the Therapy Couch

I seem to have this awful habit right now of working with characters who are severely messed up in all sorts of ways. I've finished editing Contact 2009 for now, mostly because I got sick of all the wholesomeness and romance and pretty little fairytale ending, and now I'm juggling three different, well-established stories which all have as their protagonist someone who really ought to see a councellor.

The Notebook story is back after a long hiatus, for starters. The main character is a young man who, for convenience's sake, I'll call Ankh (which is actually only the first quarter of his real name). He's a poet in a world which has no time for anyone who can't make money or work down a mine. For the past seven years he's been throwing his entire emotional life into his poetry because he's had nothing else, so he was always very shy and withdrawn. He has a serious phobia about large crowds. But now he's fallen in love with a girl he's not allowed to be with, and he's not good at dealing with difficult emotional situations in the real world. He is getting very angry and depressed, and it's only going to get worse.

Then there's Prototype, which is in editing yet again because if I leave it alone for more than a month or two I start getting the itch. I've mentioned Xenna before, I think. She's somewhere between a pirate and a freedom fighter, with a permanent identity crisis going on because she was created as a weapon of war, but developed free will and escaped. She's half mostly-human, half cybernetic implants. I also suspect her of being bipolar. She tries and fails to kill herself twice during the story, which only covers the last month or two of her life. And then she saves humanity by self-destructing and blowing up the bad guy, right after her unwanted sidekick finally gets the guts to tell her he loves her. Nice.

And Seline. Her story has no title as of yet, since I have very little idea where it's going. What I do know is that she's from Mars Colony, where authority broke down about a hundred years ago and now there's nothing much left except rival scavenger gangs and smoking debris. It taught her to be pretty damn tough, and then she managed to escape to Gamma Six and became a police officer. She's sort of locked out all her childhood memories to protect herself, but they've recently started surfacing in nightmares. This is way more problematic than it sounds, since for complicated reasons the nightmares could end up getting her deported. The only person she's told about it is her husband Dex, but even though they truly love each other things are always a bit awkward between them because they're different species, so they can't have kids, and if they tried Seline could get seriously hurt because Dex is two feet taller, twice as wide and about six times as strong as her. And then she meets Felix by arresting him for running out on a doctor's bill, and he's everything Dex isn't, so they really get on each other's nerves and she constantly wants to punch him. But it's going to turn out that they're having the same nightmares, and I have a feeling they're going to end up getting drunk and doing something stupid. This is the first story I've done where the personalities are creating the plot along the way, and it's fun but also quite depressing that the personalities automatically create such a messed-up plot.

So, this post was by way of being a very long and tedious confessional. Clearly, I need to get all my characters some therapy sessions. One wouldn't be able to afford them and the other two are far too proud, but I'll give it a go.