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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Name Game, Part 2

I'm knocking out the next installment in this series because I just got a big, obnoxious assignment at work that is going to suck up a lot of time and energy for the next week, so I'm using the rest of tonight to pretend it doesn't exist. (But it should pay reasonably well, so silver linings and all that.)

Next up on the topic of names: characters who name themselves. I know what you're thinking - isn't the writer in charge? Shouldn't the writer have control over what the characters are named? One would think. After all, it's not like my children named themselves. (Though that could have saved a few days of strenuous discussion. And I do know more than one set of parents who went into the hospital with a name picked out, saw their baby for the first time, and wound up going with something completely different.)

Every now and then when a character first starts to materialize in my mind, there's immediately a name associated with him/her. I don't know why or how it happens. Sometimes I've even tried to fight back against that strong association between the character and the name, and it just doesn't feel right. The same thing has happened to me with titles. As regular readers here know by now, sometimes the title comes to me right away, while other times I struggle to pick a good one.

I recently experienced this phenomenon when I was first planning for Out of Orbit. As soon as the heroine started taking shape, she became Jasmine. It's not like Jasmine is a name I particularly like (or dislike). I hadn't planned on it being symbolic in any way, though I did wind up running with it and using the flower meaning. I even tossed around a few alternatives, but nope. Always and forever, she was and will be Jasmine.

The same thing happened with April in Elysium. Again, I don't have any strong feelings toward the name either way. No hidden meanings there. She was just April. That's it.

As I mentioned in my last post, I have a lot of characters to name in my new WIP. Sure enough, some of them named themselves. Several of the insta-names I adopted right away, while others I wanted to think about more. However, as I was plotting out certain points, I found myself thinking things like, "Oh, Paul will totally react in this way", when Paul was one of the names I wasn't sure about. I guess he's Paul, then.

So much for being in control.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Name Game, Part 1

Since I got the contract for Out of Orbit sooner than expected, my writing fingers are already starting to get itchy. I read the two books I wanted to read, and for whatever reason, video games are not calling to me right now, so I've already started outlining for my next WIP. I'll go into more detail at a later time, but due to the nature of this project, I want a really strong outline before I even get started.

One of the challenges for this WIP is there are going to be a lot of characters: eleven "on-screen" and a couple minor parts/people mentioned in passing. And characters need names. The name nerd in me enjoys most of this part, but as I said, it can be a challenge.

Somewhere in my archives here (before I started tagging posts, oops) I wrote about how I wanted the three significant women in Disintegration to have names that were very distinct from each other. Similarly, when I was getting ready to write The Fall of the Midnight Scorpion, I initially worried that Ro and Reggie were too similar for my leads. After all, we don't want to confuse any readers.*

I've ultimately come to the decision that having a variety of ending sounds for characters' names is more important than first letters or alliteration. (As indicated by me forging ahead with Ro and Reggie.) Having pored over tons of name lists to prepare for the twins' arrival last year, I can tell you that a LOT of female names end with -a. That doesn't mean that you can't have two characters with -a names in one story, but as the number of named characters grow, it's something to watch out for. 

When first planning this WIP, I had a Laura and a Clara before realizing how close they were. Laura's name was more tied to her character in my mind, so Clara changed (to Ruth, for the curious). On the other hand, I'm okay with having a Laura and a Veronica, as those are juuuuust different enough for my tastes. There's also a Mary and a Brittany, but to me, those are wildly different names that just evoke different feelings and images, if that makes any sense.

When looking over my file of ideas for blog posts, I saw a lot of name-related notes, so I've decided to make this the first in a series. If nothing else, it should get me blogging more regularly, right? ;) Stay tuned for the next part!

*Somewhat relevant, but not really: In Agatha Christie's A Murder is Announced (STOP READING HERE IF YOU DON'T WANT SPOILERS), part of the big!reveal! hinges on two sisters having very similar nicknames - Leticia and Charlotte are Lettie and Lottie, respectively. There's a clue when another character calls one by the other one's name. When reading, I did notice it...but this was in the early days of the Kindle and I'd just thought it was a typographical error made when converting the book, and didn't realize the name mix-up was significant. Oops. So I didn't solve the mystery, but then again, I rarely do.

Except for The Girl on the Train, which is one of the books I just read. Figuring out the ending ahead of time kind of ruined the fun. But I'll award points for the three main female characters -- Rachel, Anna, and Megan -- having names with different final syllables. There, I've come full circle. :D

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Out of Orbit - Coming Soon!

Well, that happened faster than I expected. A lot faster, actually. Either way, I signed the contract for Out of Orbit, so at least I won't be jumping out of my seat every time I hear the email alert on my phone. Details about a cover, release date, etc., will be forthcoming, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, have a blurb. (If you think you can spot some video game're probably right.)

Following an explosive space battle, Captain Jasmine Hale is forced to order the evacuation of her ship. She flees in an escape pod before its destruction, but the resulting crash on an unknown planet kills her pilot and leaves her stranded. Though imprisoned by the first natives she encounters, she soon meets Aras, their ruler. To her surprise, he speaks her language and tells her she is not the first human to land on Ryk.

When Jasmine questions why she has never heard of his planet, Aras shows her a journal of research notes written five hundred years earlier. Inside, she discovers the key to the mystery: due to an irregular orbit, Ryk is only accessible to humans for a short period of time during its path around its sun. She is horrified to realize if her crew doesn’t find her within that window, she will be trapped on Ryk for the rest of her life.

Despite her distressing circumstances, Jasmine resolves to immerse herself in the Rykian culture. Aras, while sympathetic, is thrilled to show her his world. Rumors begin circulating about whether or not his attention to her is appropriate, and she struggles to sort through how she feels about him.

The pair eventually admits their mutual attraction and they embark on a romance. As they plan for a future together, another ship of humans arrives on Ryk to rescue their captain. Caught between two worlds, Jasmine is faced with a difficult dilemma. Choosing one means leaving the other behind forever. How will she decide?