30 April 2015

The Zzzzz Factor

**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE NAME GAME. Everything you'd want to know about naming characters.**

As we wrap up the A to Z Challenge, I thought I'd share an overview of tips to help you out with naming your characters. Because the last thing you want is for your readers to be snoring over your dull, predictable character names, right? Here are some ways to keep things interesting!!!

  • Just pick whatever name feels right for your character. Who cares if your book takes place in the 1600s where no one would ever have that name? It just makes your character mysterious!
  • Name some characters after celebrities. They’ll totally want to read your book if their names are in there, right? 
  • Always address the character by name in every line of dialogue. How else will the reader know who's being spoken to? 
  • Making up character names can be fun so why not do it all the time? It doesn't even matter which genre you're writing. Made up names can keep thing interesting! 
  • If you change your character’s name halfway through writing the novel, there’s no need to go back and replace it in what you’ve already written. It will keep the readers on their toes. 
  • Give each character about 10 different nicknames and use them randomly. 
  • Name the villain after your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. Full, middle, and last. They’ll get the message. 
  • Give all of your characters unisex names and don't use pronouns. Your reader will be trying to guess your characters' genders through the whole book. 
  • To simplify things, have every character’s name start with the same letter. Heck, just give them all the same name.

I'm sure by now you've realized this was a joke. Most of these tips are horrible ideas that will never work. But hopefully this post didn't make YOU snore!! Congrats to everyone who finished the A to Z Challenge! We did it!!!

29 April 2015

You Can Call Me...

**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE NAME GAME. Everything you'd want to know about naming characters.**

Having a name for your character is probably the most important thing to figure out. That name will be the most common way for the other characters in the story to address him. But another way to address a character is to use a title. Which ones you use will vary from character to character, and could depend on things like their gender, relationships, or profession.

The titles you'll use the most usually go with a character's last name. So if you're planning on using a title, you should probably figure out your character's last name first. You've got the basic four, of course: Mr., Mrs., Miss, and Ms. Mr. will be used for men, obviously, while the ones for women can depend on her marital status or personal preference. There will be plenty of characters and instances where you'll need to use these titles. Most kids will refer to their neighbors or friends' parents using Mr. & Mrs. Most teachers will also go by these titles (through high school, anyway). Basically any time a child has to address an adult, this is probably how he/she will do so.

A character may address an authority figure in the same fashion, such as a boss. These titles will also be used when someone is trying to be formal or professional, perhaps with a client. Using "Sir" or "Madam" is another way to address someone that doesn't actually use his or her name. Maybe your character needs to talk with a customer at their job and rather than forcing a name on the reader, this could be the easiest way to address them.

Plenty of characters will require a title in regards to their profession. If you're writing a mystery, you may have to use Detective or Officer before a character's name. There are religious titles used when addressing members of the clergy, such as Father or Reverend. A college teacher will most likely go by Professor. Doctor can refer to an actual medical doctor or anyone with a Ph.D. You may have had a few professors in college who demanded to be referred to as Doctor (I sure did!).

It all depends on your story how many different titles you'll need. You may have a Mayor, Governor, or President. A person's station in life could determine their title. You could also have a Lord or Lady, or royalty like Princess, King, or Queen. When addressing royalty, you may have to use "your Majesty," or "your Highness," rather than the character's name.

No matter what the situation, using a title will usually have a feeling of formality to it. Make sure the title you're using fits both the character it belongs to, and feels comfortable for the person saying it. Some situations may require titles, whereas others may not.

What sorts of titles pop up in your stories? Is that gif anyone else's favorite Reid moment ever??? (I'm sorry, I could only think of one real question. I need my coffee...)

28 April 2015

Character X

**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE NAME GAME. Everything you'd want to know about naming characters.**

This is really an anti-name post. Most of the time you'll come up with names for your characters, especially the most important ones. But every once in a while, you may write a story where you don't have a name for your main character. Having a minor character or a character who only shows up in one scene with no name isn't really a big deal. The less we see a character, the less we're likely to care about him or what his name is. But not giving your main character a name can be tricky.

A nameless character will probably only work in certain circumstances. You'll want a good reason for doing so. It could be symbolic, maybe having something to do with identity or if the character feels insignificant. If you don't give your main character a name and you don't have a reason, it may come off as strange and unnecessary.

The format of your story will also help with how natural the nameless character feels. It will probably be easier to pull off in a short story because the reader isn't with the character as long and may not even care about knowing his/her name. If you're writing a novel, a first person narrator will probably be the best way to go. Unless another person is addressing him, he will be using "I" instead of his name most of the time, anyway. It may even take the reader a while to notice that you haven't given him a name. You can also use placeholders to refer to your characters: boy, girl, man, woman. Or perhaps their relationship to other characters can be used: father, mother, etc.

It can be a daunting task, but it's definitely been pulled off before. Just a few well-known examples of novels with nameless narrators or characters include Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. If you've read a book with a nameless character, did it bother you? How long did it take you to notice? Or did you notice it at all? If you want to use a nameless main character, it should feel natural and go along with the story you're writing. If you try to shove it in the reader's face, they may just find it strange.

Have you ever used a nameless main character? Read any other books that do so? 

27 April 2015

Zadekiel Release Day!

If you're looking for my A to Z post, click here. Hey, I can have two posts in one day if I want...

Today is the release day for Zadekiel, Book 2 in the Path of Angels series by the awesome Patricia Josephine (you probably also know her as Patricia Lynne!). I got hooked into this series with the first book, Michael, so I definitely wanted to help spread the word today! Patricia is here to talk about choosing the name for her main character (See? Everything ties together.), and you can check out my mini-review for Zadekiel below. Can this count as a "Hey, I Read Your Book" post? I'm gonna go with yes...Take it away, Patricia!

What’s in a name?

After Michael, I decided I wanted to find some more unique angel names. That’s a little tricky when I need archangel names. There aren’t that many. When I picked Zade's name, I hadn't really looked into the meaning, but it's interesting how his character developed and matches this.

Angel of Prayer
Zadekiel is an angel of charity, solace and gentleness. This loving angel radiates comfort to those who are afraid, wounded or grieving. He also kindles a desire for spiritual development in the human heart and is considered an archangel, governing over the order of Thrones and Dominions. He is present in the bible as the angel who prevents Abraham from sacrificing his son Isaac to God. He guards the powers of invocation.
*    *    *

The path is lost.

With Michael gone, the mantle of leadership falls to Zadekiel. In this time of darkness, with tempers running short, Zade struggles to guide his brothers. Hope comes in the form of a green haired woman with a unique gift. She represents a way back to the path they lost when Michael disappeared.

Zephyr fills books with cryptic poetry, a powerful compulsion, which is more a curse than a blessing. With no control over her ability, she struggles to live a normal life. When she meets Zade, he insists her ability is a gift from God. Reluctantly, she agrees to join the cause–it’s hard to dispute a man with wings.

Now the path is found, but one question remains. Will it lead to further darkness?

Check it out on Amazon and Goodreads! Also pick up the first book in the series, Michael, here.

About the Author:

Patricia Josephine never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was all about art. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head. That was the start of it and she hasn't regretted a moment. She writes young adult under the name Patricia Lynne.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow, and an obsession with Doctor Who.

Sarah's Review: 

Having loved the first book in this series (and also willing to read any and all types of romance), I was excited for the story to continue. The thing I really like about these books is the complexity of the relationships. In the case of Zade and Zephyr, the latter is an atheist who also has a compulsive urge to write, and the fallen are after the book she wrote. Not only does Zade have to protect her, but has to convince her of the truth and deal with his feelings for her. The relationship does have a bit of an insta-love feel, which can be hard to pull off, but in this case, I think it works, particularly because of Zephyr’s attempt at denying what is happening. The story itself moves along at a good pace, with a great mixture of action, suspense, and just a little bit of sexytimes. And (vague spoiler!) I was very, very, very happy when two particular characters popped in to save the day. The worst part about reading this book was reaching the end and not having the next one to read yet. Can’t wait for its release!

Also check out my review of Michael here!

What Does Your Name Mean?

**My theme for this year’s A to Z Challenge is THE NAME GAME. Everything you’d want to know about naming characters.**

There are plenty of things to consider when choosing a name for your character. You could think about culture and ethnicity, how popular a name is, or just how it sounds. If you want the name you choose to hold a little bit more significance, one thing you can do is find a name with a particular meaning. You can choose a name whose meaning reflects who your character is or even his place within the story.

Name meanings are almost as diverse as the names themselves, so there are many different possibilities for choosing a name’s meaning. You can pick a name that means light, dark, power, strength, hero, warrior, beautiful, friend, or lucky. Some names have meanings related to animals, like wolf, lion, or even dragon. Other name meanings are related to nature, like river, fire, sky, or moon.

The name could reflect a character trait, or the character’s actual role within the story. Maybe the name represents something that your character already possesses, or something that they will achieve over the course of the story. All of your characters could have meaningful names if you wanted them to. Your main character’s name could mean hero, while his sidekick’s name means friend, and the love interest’s name means love. This may be a bit obvious, but it’s just one way to look at how you can utilize a name’s meaning.

Of course, you don’t have to choose a name with a significant meaning, but it kind of goes along with the idea of putting symbolism in your book. You don’t have to do that, either. But if you do, it’s just an added bonus, something the reader may or may not pick up on. Pointing out a name’s meaning will probably feel silly within the story, so the only way a reader will figure it out is by looking it up. Most readers aren’t likely to do so, but those who make the effort will get a very awesome surprise.

Have you ever chosen a character name by meaning? What does your name mean? (Mine is princess!)

25 April 2015

Variety in Character Names

**My theme for this year’s A to Z Challenge is THE NAME GAME. Everything you’d want to know about naming characters.**

Chances are your book will have more than one character, and most of those characters will need their own names. Each name should work for each individual character, but you should also think about how all of your characters’ names work together. If you have characters who are constantly interacting, then their names should probably have some variety.

There are plenty of different relationships that could happen between different characters. You could have family, friends, couples, or just acquaintances. The closer two characters are, the more often they will be likely to interact throughout the course of your story. So their names will be on the same page. A lot. And if those names are too similar, it might confuse the reader.

There are plenty of ways to mix up the names in your cast of characters. Just having a variety of names with different syllables could help. A mixture of short and long names would feel realistic. Maybe some characters go by their first name, others have a nickname or prefer their last name to be used. Have a mixture of unique and common names. If every character has a long, extravagant name that no one’s ever heard of, the reader may get annoyed with reading these names. You also probably don’t want to have every character’s name start with the same letter (unless, say, it’s a theme within a family and they are the only characters).

It sounds pretty easy, right? There are, however, plenty of naming techniques to avoid. You wouldn’t want your characters’ names to rhyme, for example. Let’s say your two main characters are Matt and Pat and they own a cat and work in a hat shop. Ok, I kind of took it to the next level there, but it sounds silly, right?

Couples can also be tricky to name. You don’t want their names to be too similar, like Adrian and Adrienne, or even Michael and Michele. Or (and this should probably go without saying), giving them the same unisex name. It may seem cute at first, but the reader could have a hard time keeping track of which character is doing what. Which would make for very interesting sex scenes, but is something that’s just too confusing to pull off.

How do you maintain variety with your characters’ names? How do you come up with names for your couples? 

24 April 2015

Unisex Names

**My theme for this year’s A to Z Challenge is THE NAME GAME. Everything you’d want to know about naming characters.**

Most names will only work for one gender. Boys have boy names and girls have girl names. But this isn’t always the case. There are also plenty of names out there that can work for a boy or a girl. These names are called unisex names, since they are not gender specific. While some may be used more often for one gender than the other, it is still possible to use them for both. So why not give your character one?

An expecting parent may choose a unisex name because they really like it and it will work no matter what gender their child is. But as a writer, you already know the gender of your character. So why choose a unisex name? The simple answer is just that you like the name and it fits the character (or the character tells you his name and you have no say in it).

FUN FACT: Unisex names are illegal in Iceland (with exactly one exception). There are preapproved male and female lists made by the Icelandic Naming Committee.

There probably aren’t going to be a lot of situations where your story will require you to pick a unisex name for your character (unless you’re writing something where you don’t want your character’s gender known). Like most other names, it should just be because you like it. The way it sounds or its meaning should just fit your character. Trying to force meaning out of the fact that your character has a unisex name may actually be risky.

The name itself really should have nothing to do with the character’s gender, sexuality, or even just how they behave. For example, giving your girl a unisex name because she’s a tomboy. It’s perfectly fine to give her that name, but probably not to point it out, or to make it seem like your character acts this way because of her name. You may get a few readers rolling their eyes. 

A unisex name can be fun to use, though. Maybe you choose a name that’s usually a boy’s and give it to a girl, and maybe that just adds a bit of quirkiness to her character. Maybe two characters meet for the first time and one is surprised at the gender of the person they meet, having only heard their name. Hilarity ensues. Who knows?

WHAT I’VE DONE: Oh come on, do I even have to say it? Oh, all right, some of you may be new here…I feel like there should be fireworks or something…
*kicks muse* Weren’t you supposed to set up the pyrotechnics??
I’m pretty sure he’s faking. Anyhoo, my muse/MC has a unisex name: Jordan. I’m really fond of unisex names and I have no idea why. I’ve also used Madison, Cameron, and Jamie (I think that’s it…for now…). 

Have you ever given a character a unisex name? For a full list, check out Behind the Name!