An Essay on Naming CharactersWhat's In a Name?
An Essay on Naming Characters
By Kate Logan
When it comes to character creation, be it for a story or an illustration, choosing the proper name for a character is vital. All too often do I see characters with poorly thought-out names: the chivalrous knight Darren Starhawk; the sweet, innocent Lady Elvira; or the rough-and-tumble brawler Poindexter. On their own, these names are fine (even Starhawk, if you're going for a sci-fi flare), but they simply don't work with the characters they are describing. No one is going to take poor old Poindexter seriously, no matter how big his muscles are. To remedy this catastrophe, here are a few tips and guidelines when naming characters.
First, a little game. Below is a list of several of my characters and a brief description of each, all mixed up and out of order. Try to correctly match the name to the character description. The answers are at the end of this essay (no peeking!).
1. Senshi Meijin
Active and Passive VoiceActive and Passive Voice11 years ago in Academic Essays More Like This
Active voice occurs when the subject or agent in the sentence performs the action, often towards an object. For example, let's look at the following sentence written in active voice:
Katie spilled the milk.
In this sentence, Katie is the subject, and she performs the action (spilling) on the direct object (the milk.) The most obvious way to spot active voice is through the use of active verbs, which are simply verbs that express actions. In most cases, the sentence will take on the simple form of the tense it's in, whether past, present, or future.
In passive voice, the object being acted upon is emphasized over the agent. A passive version of the previous sentence would look like this:
The milk was spilled by Katie.
In this sentence, our object (the milk) appears before the action (was spilled) and the agent (Katie.) You will also notice that this sentence is in the progressive fo
How to Write About VampiresHow to Write About VampiresHow to Write About Vampires8 years ago in Writing More Like This
There are a lot of stories out there about Vampires. But not too many of them make their characters touchable or human. The characters are usually so out of touch with their humanity that the reader really cannot connect with the character. That happens to be one of the main sticking points.
How can I make my Vampire more human?
Well for the Vampire, dont make them too into themselves. Vampires cannot see themselves in a mirror, so how can they be vain? Believe me, if you ever read any of the classic horror novels and do you see any vampire with the ability to see themselves in the mirror? No you dont, so please dont make a vampire vain. Vampires still have their human vices when they turn, yet they can only either recall bits and pieces of their human life or in some cases, they can remember all of it.
What all characteristics do typical Vampires have?
All vampires dont run ar
Giving Prose Visual AppealAnyone who's spent any time reading text on a computer screen can tell you that things such as font, spacing, formatting, and size all play a role in how well a text is received. Often times people make comments that disregard the importance of formatting a text. What these people fail to realize is that many people find it difficult to read certain things, not because they're lazy, old, or uncool, but because they have vision problems that prevent them from digesting entire blocks of text with no clear paragraph breaks or focusing on more than a line or two of bold/italic writing. In fact, even people with 20/20 vision have a difficult time maintaining focus if text is improperly formatted. That's why we have proper formatting guidelines to begin with! With that in mind, WordCount is offering this quick guide to making your prose more appealing to the general public.Giving Prose Visual Appeal8 years ago in Editorial More Like This
Quick Reference List
1. Do not use subs
How to Read Science Fiction"The science-fictional world is not only one different in time or place from our own, but one whose chief interest is precisely the difference that such difference makes."How to Read Science Fiction7 years ago in Academic Essays More Like This
Carl Freedman, Critical Theory and Science Fiction
At its heart, the central tenet of science fiction is the question: "What if?" Despite or perhaps due to its wide-ranging themes, the genre provides the perfect platform for exploring that most fundamental of ideas: the human condition.
The main difference between science fiction and related genres (such as fantasy) is that sci-fi deals with the possible if not always the plausible. But the basics of storytelling remain the same, regardless of category: the author must establish the status quo, introduce the characters, and provide a conflict to be resolved.
The freedom of science fiction is in broadening the author's options, often with the intended goal of highlighting a current social concern (e.g., controvers
How to Write About WerewolvesHow to Write About WerewolvesHow to Write About Werewolves8 years ago in Writing More Like This
There are a lot of stories out there about Werewolves. But not too many of them make their characters touchable or human. The characters are usually so out of touch with their humanity that the reader really cannot connect with the character. That happens to be one of the main sticking points.
How can I make my Werewolf more human?
Werewolves cannot remember their moonlit feedings when they are in human form. They are still human yet it is not very obvious that they have an issue. They still have the ability to love, hate, etc that a human can have just that when the moon is out, they cannot recall anything from during the day. That means that anyone is a free meal.
What characteristics do all Werewolves have?
In werewolf form they have the body hair, bigger muscles, longer teeth and faster speed. They are more animalistic than human. They can also walk on all fours or on two legs. Depends on what
The Art of Refining ProseThe Art of Refining Prose8 years ago in General Non-Fiction More Like This
The Art of Refining Prose
Many writers dread the editing process. Not only does it delay the showcase of prose, it can seem a tedious and painstaking task. Often, editing is more time-consuming than the initial writing and consequently, it is either ignored altogether or briefly indulged. This is a great shame. Sincere editing not only proves a pleasurable experience but invaluable to prose, as this is a wonderful opportunity to buff, polish and tighten the impact of one's writing.
Some might argue that editing is not only unnecessary, but detrimental to the raw concept of ones inspiration. The answer to this is simple: select a prose that hasnt been edited and compare against one that has. Its soon evident that a well-edited piece is not only easier to read, but communicates the authors ideas with greater clarity. Few Bestsellers hit the shelves having skipped the editing office. And unless the author has behind them years upon years of writi
Voices... For and About KidsVoices in Writing For and About KidsVoices... For and About Kids7 years ago in Editorial More Like This
Well, the title of this piece promises a guide to writing for and about kids. This is an all-encompassing phrase that, I hope, will grab anybody who wants to write for or about any characters between the ages of about nought and eighteen. So, is this the part where I reveal that this guide is actually more limited than that? No it is not! At least, I have done my very best to cater to all possible needs, with the following handy headings:
Issues and Obstacles
The Voice of the Child: Advice on Writing Dialogue
Childrens Literature and the Narrative Voice
Young Adult Fiction and the Teenage Voice
I admit it: this guide is not going to be short, and while it is not going to be excessively long either, it will try to answer every question I have been able to anticipate.
Issues and Obstacles
Picture this. You have s
Murdering Mary SueMurdering Mary SueMurdering Mary Sue7 years ago in Academic Essays More Like This
Every aspiring writer has met her at least once, whether in his own works or in those of others. The alluring temptation of a perfect character taunts the author from one side while his muse urges him to keep writing from the other. Who wouldn't love her? She's the most beautiful, talented, fantastic woman in the universe, with not a flaw in sight. Every woman wants to be her; every man wants to marry her, so why would anyone want to kill her? Who would want to murder Mary Sue?
I would. I and many greater authors have been working hard to keep this succubus in her proper place: the trash can. Mary Sue is one of the worst enemies of good fiction, second only to poor spelling and grammar. And the seductress tempts even the most cautious writer. Her many disguises can make her difficult to spot, allowing her to weave her way into every plot twist and turn, slowly destroying the author's work. By the time shes found, she may have done so much damage that the
Grammar Workshop--ThePrettySinHere are some helpful hints to improve the grammar, and thus the flow, of your writing.Grammar Workshop--ThePrettySin8 years ago in Writing More Like This
Its-Contraction of it is or it has
Example: Its Tuesday today.
Its-Possessive adjective/pronoun of it
Example: The beast roared angrily. Its claws glinted in the moonlight as it stepped closer.
Your-The possessive form of you
Example: Is that your bag?
Youre-Contraction of you are or you were
Example: Youre going to the ballgame, right?
Use of Semicolons
Used between similar ideas in place of coordi
How To WriteAbstract: an analytical approach to plotting and writing fiction upwards of 1,000 wordsHow To Write10 years ago in Academic Essays More Like This
Acknowledgements: the potentially amazing Rachel (IfrozenspiritI) served as guinea pig to this; go and tell her to finish the product of that experiment, because you'll love it. Chris Widdison (tearstone) approached me indecently with the idea of writing a longer essay (which will still happen, and be a lot more purdy than this here thing), which would incorporate this essay in another form, amongst others. He doesn't need to read any of this, because he already knows it all.
Target audience: young, inexperienced writers, especially those that find themselves pulling off vignettes and other super-short forms with an ease, while chronically unable to produce anything with more than a handful of scenes and more than 1,000 words.
Part 1: The Premise takes a look at the basic idea behind a piece
Part 2: The Story fills in some of those blanks and gives u
The Writing ProcessWhat is the Writing Process?The Writing Process7 years ago in Academic Essays More Like This
Many of us learned that the writing process is made up of five parts: Pre-writing, Writing, Revision, Editing, and Publishing. Indeed, this process has been so ingrained, and the vocabulary and terms have become such a part of our education, that some students (and adults) feel as if writing is a formulaic, rigid thingnot unlike learning mathematicsthat they simply never excelled in. Fortunately, this simply isn't true. While the five basic steps of the writing process are effective, they can only be effective if the people using the process understand the purpose of each step.
Experience has shown that many students do not know the purpose of drafting beyond a certain, vague understanding that you're supposed to "correct" or "fix" something for each new draft. Its unfortunate, but its also been shown that students who are forced to Pre-Write in certain ways, even when they have been
Wrath of the Grammar NaziIn favor of avoiding parallel structure debates (misplaced modifiers, ahh!) and a general crusade against passive voice, WordCount is offering a list of common "pet peeves" to satisfy the punctuation junkie in all of you.Wrath of the Grammar Nazi8 years ago in Editorial More Like This
Please understand that this list is by no means exhaustive, nor is it original, but it warrants saying from time to time. Nothing in here is meant to insult you, all rules can be broken, and there are always exceptions. One should also note that rules about comma usage and "the dash" differ from place to place and country to country, but this list falls back on Oxford's guide to style (because we all need a place to start).
1. Apostrophes are not there to make words look pretty. They do have an actual purpose (namely to indicate contractions or possession);
2. Semicolons connect two related thoughts while simultaneously separating two complete thoughts (or objects in a list);
3. "A lot" and "all right" are not words. They are
Writing Paranormal CharactersAs a writer of prose, you may at some point to want to write about a character or characters which are paranormal. We could perhaps debate over the exact definition of the word paranormal, and some may prefer supernatural - a word more closely associated with magic, whereas paranormal tends to be taken to mean something outside the realms of science (though of course, it is not as clear-cut as that, and you may like to think that I am wrong in saying this).Writing Paranormal Characters7 years ago in Editorial More Like This
For the purposes of this guide, both paranormal and supernatural refer to conscious beings, not found in the animal kingdom, that differ in some way to what I controversially call normal humans (some paranormal beings may be human, in part or in whole). To give some well-known examples: ghosts, vampires, witches, werewolves and mermaids all fall into this category. The details, of course, are up to the writer. If you t
Character Creation TipsCharacter Creation Tips8 years ago in Writing More Like This
Note: I wrote this after reading a similar article in The Writer magazine about a year ago. Hope it's helpful!
Not all characters are created equal. Here are some steps to make yours superior.
Figure out what your character wants, needs, desires. A closer relationship with God? A place to belong? Just to survive? Figure it out. You cant move on to number 2 until you have.
Now that you know what your character most desires, you should be able to figure out what he/she most fears. Doing the wrong thing, being alone, death? They are the polar opposites of your characters desires.
Go back in time to before your story begins and create a detailed backstory for your character. What happened in to past to create in him the desires and fears that he has now? Be specific. Write out individual scenes, or at leas
Metre Learning GuideSo. Metre.Metre Learning Guide9 years ago in Academic Essays More Like This
It has become a dirty word in some poetry circles.
It conjures images of withered, grey-haired men laboriously counting out beats and stresses whilst coughing up phlegm because of all the dust in their cramped and quasi-arcane libraries.
It really isn't all THAT bad, trust me.
So, without getting too 'old-man' technical - What is metre? what is it good for?
And, importantly, how does one use it?
Well, let's see if we can come up with some workable and easily understood answers by the end of this.
#1: What is metre?
Technical Language: The most well known metre, 'Accentual Syllabic Metre' is the rhythmic arrangement of syllables and patterns of stresses in a poetic line.
Translation: Metre is a poetic device that allows you to consciously orchestrate the flow of rhythm in a poem by paying attention to the natural rise and fall of the spoken word, and how to align those patterns of word-emphasis in an effective way.
#2: What is metre good for?
Basically, metre is
Punctuating Dialogue: A GuideStandard Punctuation: DialoguePunctuating Dialogue: A Guide8 years ago in Editorial More Like This
Sometimes we read dialogue so often, punctuated in so many different ways, that we either forget what we've learned (if that was anything memorable to begin with) or we rely on instinct to guide us. A common example of this can be seen in the opening dialogue of darksouldream's piece, Bobby:
No, replied Cindy `I think his sister Becky is staying with her, but she keeps muttering about parents out living children. The doctors been keeping her pretty sedated.
Most Americans will cringe at this. Why? Well, double quotation marks are the more acceptable usage (the "traditional convention") in American Standard English. However, in British Standard English, both the double quotation mark and single quotation mark are used. What's the rule? Stylis
How to name your charactersHow to name your characters7 years ago in Writing More Like This
NAMING YOUR CHARACTERS
There are many problems that a writer can come across when selecting a name for a character, here I hope to deal with some of the major pitfalls, and hopefully give some useful tips
~ Unique and different names are not an excuse to ignore good characterisation. Would you take these characters seriously?
Southern. D. Wattserfield
These are all names that I came up with off the top of my head or based on words about my desk. It is not difficult to come up with a new, unique name. But that doesnt instantly make your character interesting or cool.
There is nothing wrong with an unusual name (something my parents have told me for years), but if your story is chock full of unique and different names then many established readers and writers may not take your work seriously.
I once read someone
Writing Convincing CharactersI've talked about Mary Sues in the past, which are unconvincing characters. I've talked about how to fix a Mary Sue which is turning a poorly designed character into a better character. But how does one write a convincing character from the start?Writing Convincing Characters5 years ago in Reviews & Guides More Like This
Character Planning Sheets
My biggest recommendation is doing a character planning sheet. I've been doing this for the majority of my writing life, I think I might have started them when I was about thirteen or fourteen. Of course, how I do them has evolved. I used to have them be very superficial.
Character name: Salem
That would be all I would have to go off of for the character. This clearly isn't a very good way to determine a character's personality. But at the time, it allowed me to "see" the character, which then allowed me to better determine their personality. That sounds a bit crazy. W
Common Errors: Lose and LooseLoose is an adjective meaning slack; not firmly fixed; the opposite of tight. It has a hard S sound, and almost everyone knows how to spell it.Common Errors: Lose and Loose7 years ago in General Non-Fiction More Like This
However, many are confused by the very similar word, lose. This is a verb meaning to misplace something: an object, a function such as eyesight or memory, or one may lose ones way whilst trekking through the Australian outback or the local supermarket.
The confusion arises because the pronunciation of lose and loose is almost identical; the only different is that lose has a soft S sound at the end. It, too, has the double-O sound that makes many people want to spell it the same way as loose (which, I should mention, can also be used as a verb; get yourself an exciting kidnap novel, and you may well read of somebody loosing his or her bonds).
Lose is one of many annoying words that defy the rules of English spelling, and it does so in the same was as move and pro
Story Writing TipsTip #1: Write about what you know. If you're writing a love story in which the main female character is dumped by her boyfriend, think about what you have been through in your own personal experience, and think about how she might react. Does your character have a strong personality? Are they normally quite likeable? Do they have a weak personality, and they let people push them around? Or do they have a personality that is mysterious, and unpredictable? Once you have established a main character, only you, the author, can predict how they will react to a certain problem.Story Writing Tips8 years ago in General Non-Fiction More Like This
Tip #2: When beginning a story, and a chapter, it often helps to start the story/chapter in the middle of an action, because then you immediately grasp the reader's attention.
Tip #3: When writing a summary, you might want to include a very short excerpt from your story. That way, you get the reader intrigued. In a real, published book, the first thing that a person sees is the cover, second the title, and third, the
Haikai no RengaThe Tools of Poetry #1: Haikai no RengaHaikai no Renga7 years ago in Haiku & Eastern More Like This
Written by Dick Whyte, Phylis Johnson and Reginald Webber
Summary: This text details the mechanics and philosophy of the Japanese poetic form known as Haikai no Renga. A group of people comprised of both professional poets and so-called 'non-poets' (preferably) gather. One of them comprises a starting line, a dyad consisting of a paradox, or contradictory statement. One might be I am blue, but I am not blue, while another might be I am sad, and yet I am happy. In Western terms this might be considered a piece of philosophical nonsense, an absurdity. Each starting line reiterates 'I am being and yet I am not being'. This phrase is an impossibility surely? Classical Western philosophy often asserts this view. As Aristotle writes after Parmenides, That which is not could [not] in any way exist [or