Monday, December 6, 2010

My antagonist is giving me fits!

I've spent all week searching the right name for her. She is an evil other-worldly creature and her name must be unique, yet pronounceable. I also want to make sure it's not associated with anyone else, real or imagined.

I usually love naming my characters and take great care in coming up with just the right one. It not only has to fit, but must enhance their personality. I think of name choice something like a costume designer choosing the right look for film characters.

But this character is not letting me off easy. She's going to be trouble.

After hours of noodling, I settled on two likely possibilites, then did a Google check. Name #1, Helvetia, turned out to be an obscure, creepy looking spider which worked well for my villain. However, it also turned out that Helvetia is the name of an ancient romanticized personification of Switzerland. After that it just didn't feel right anymore to dress my character in this name; plus it was too close to sounding like a typeface.

So, I moved on to the next name, an obscure slightly altered German word. I liked it for its edginess. It was appropriate for the character and I thought should quickly settle for Name #2 and get back to character and plot development.

In my haste, I almost skipped my usual research which would have turned out to be a disaster. A quick Google search of Name #2 presented me with a page of porn site links, complete with Google's graphic image feature.

Eeek! I am writing a children's book, not an X-rated adult romance. Imagine the embarrassment of having to explain to innocent young readers, or their parents (who might happen to look it up) why I chose [blank] name.

If I want to be even more thorough than a perfunctory Google search, I often check out the Urban Dictionary which fills me in on the down and dirty particulars of every word that gets genetically altered in the streets. I was definitely right not to choose Name #2. Kids not only know these words! They define them!

Do your characters ever give you fits like this? 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

NaNo Award

I just had to share this custom designed award I received from a friend. Thank you Cynthia!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Crossing the NaNoWriMo finish line!

TaDa! I crossed the finish line on Monday at midnight with 48 hours to spare.

What a month! I started NaNo on a cross country airplane trip. I wrote my first 1,666 words flying high until my laptop battery died. It's been a wild ride ever since.

This was my first writing marathon, so I was pretty innocent as to what I might expect. This was probably a good thing and I dove in head first. What did I have to loose, but a little sleep? I was desperate to get my mojo back after several months of laziness and doubt about whether I could even write a second book.

So what's NaNo really all about? Have I actually written an entire novel? No, but I'm a lot closer to one than I was 30 days ago. What took me a year the first time around was condensed into one month.

 What did I accomplish in 30 NaNo days?
  • I set a goal and actually did it! I finished! (I'm still amazed.)
  • I had fun writing because the goal wasn't a finished story; the goal was to liberate my imagination.
  • I do have the makings of a really fun story, albeit one that needs a boat load of editing.
  • I have my mojo back!
  • My writer's demons (all those self-defeating behaviors) are at bay . . . at least for today.

Things I learned which I was told were helpful and true, but now I know them for myself:
  • Trust the process; don't think too much. Just write. Keep the fingers moving and surpising things do happen!
  • I'm glad I started my journey with a road map and companions, i.e. plot points and a cast of characters.
  • I don't think I could have done it without designating a special NaNoWriMo time to write until I got my word count in for the day. For me, this meant setting the alarm clock to 5 a.m. and starting the coffee pot.
  • To keep the flow going, sometimes I simply had to start talking to myself or my characters. I found peace with this process. Blathering through the barriers, I call it.
  • I forced myself not to spend time Googling 'the seven stages of grief' or 'how to steal a car'.
  • I had to drastically scale back posting blogs, Twitters, and FaceBook updates.
  • I had to spend non-NaNo time re-evaluating my plot and characters. A few characters were dropped off on the side of the road, but further on my Antagonist appeared, lurking in vapors of her shadow world, just waiting to tell me her story.
My first book, Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Iskandriyah, is finished, and currently getting a professional edit.