As Juliet said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.” Yet we writers place a lot of importance on names. Hours of research can go into finding the name that perfectly captures the time period, ethnicity, class, religion… you get the idea. The general public probably has no idea the work that can go into deciding between, say for example, Luz and Biz.
In my situation, I chose Luz because light is the catalyst for everything in my story, and luz means light in Spanish. I had intended for my character’s parents to have a connection to Mexico, but as the story progressed, it felt tacked on. I dropped that aspect, and suddenly the name no longer made sense. I polled facebook for another unique name and ended up stealing my seventeen-year old niece’s best friend’s name. (What, I write YA. I can talk like that.) (Hi Biz!) I still catch myself referring to my MC as Luz, but I figure that should go away once I start writing book two.
In the meantime, there’ve been a couple new additions in Hooville that have required names. One I’ve come up with, but I need your help with the other. First, meet Willow:
Owen’s keeping her company. Next, meet my newest love, my unnamed Macbook Pro.
I’d like a name that means the source of creativity, or the holder of all the goods, or lifeblood. You know, something simple. Any suggestions?
(This was supposed to post in the morning. Sorry about the unplanned change in schedule.)
Earlier tonight I joined an already-in-progress Spanish class, where I met a group of very nice people and got to practice my Spanish! I’ve been worried that I’ll lose my fluency the longer I’m away from Spanish speakers, and while I’m not sure if this group is the best fit for me (they’re still beginning) it was wonderful to be part of a group with a common interest. For small town Michigan, it was a more diverse group than I expected, and they welcomed me with open dictionaries.
Kind of like writers.
I’ve said it before, but it really has to be said again: My writing friends rock. I’ve avoided talk of queries and agents here, but that doesn’t mean I’m not up to my armpits in anxiety, nerves, and the occasional frenzy. (Stacey, I blame you.) The support you all have given me — while unwavering for as long as I’ve known you — still catches me by surprise. Not to mention to critiques, advice, and gentle suggestions that, yanno, maybe you should reconsider that word choice…
On Monday I had intended for you to be able to read the page I screen-captured in the picture, but photobucket shrank my photo. I’m reposting here for your reading pleasure. It’s the middle of chapter one. Enjoy!
The song ends and the blinking lights slow to a lazy loop around the room. Crap. I also promised Robbie one slow dance, and from the look on his face as he weaves through the couples already pressed close together, I’m not getting out of this.
He smiles. “They’re playing our song.”
“We don’t have a song”
“I know, but I requested it so that makes it our song.” His lips graze my cheek and he places my hands behind his neck. Our bodies brush as we turn in a small circle. “Is this really so bad?” he whispers.
“No.” I rest my head against his shoulder. My eyes close but my thoughts are anything but relaxed. This is supposed to be what I want. A boy who wants to dance with me and spend time with me and seems to think I’m cute. So why do I feel so antsy when he’s around? I mean, I know why—he’s hardly the first boy I’ve dated and I always get this feeling after a couple months. But why can’t I just be happy?
Robbie trails his fingers up and down my back, then pushes my hair off my shoulder. His warm breath on my neck gives me the shivers, but it’s not the reaction he was going for.
I pull away. “I think I need to get some air.”
He looks at me tenderly, misinterpreting all my signals. “Okay.”
I turn away and push through our classmates, but he grabs my hand, stopping me. I face him.
His eyes are clearer, the smile gone. “You don’t have to run away from me. I’ll come with you.”
Whatever. I let him lead me into the hallway, but he turns around a corner into a darker corridor. “Robbie, wait.” I stop, his fingers still linked through mine. This isn’t what I want.
“Biz, you just said you wanted to get some air.” He does air quotes around the last part.
“It wasn’t code for making out. I really needed to get out of there. The lights…”
He rolls his eyes. “It’s practically pitch black in there.”
I’ve never explained my deal with light to Robbie, and I sure as hell am not going to clue him in now. “Forget it.”
His hand snakes around my neck and he tries to pull me close.
My hands flatten against his chest. “Robbie…” I warn.
A noise behind us makes me turn. Cam is standing at the end of the corridor, bathed in light from the main hallway. And he’s glaring at Robbie.
How was your weekend? Did you do anything exciting?
Aside from enjoying a leisurely four-day weekend that included a yummy dinner with my family, shopping and watching Black Swan with my sister, and lots of play time with Owen, I also Skyped with Erica for an hour and a half and plotted the rest of my YA trilogy!
As you’re aware, the book I’ve already written is called Flicker, and I wanted titles that both go along with that name AND reflect the plot for each book. Fracture is about someone struggling to adapt to her old “normal” life while dealing with the horrors she faced over the past four years. Fissure is about a betrayal that splits apart everything the main character has come to believe. I just made up those summaries off the top of my head, so if they seem generic… well, that’s all you’re getting.
I love that I’ve found a writing friend who not only has a wicked mind for plots, but is also funny, nice, and a hoot to hang out with. (Yes, I said hoot.) I used to daydream about finding a real live writer who lived close enough to get together with, and I finally have that. Now I hope my writing does these ideas justice.
ETA: Link is live.
There’s a picture!
Synopsis [si-nop-sis] a brief or condensed statement giving a general view of some subject.
Apparently Webster hasn’t met me.
Let’s go with this one instead:
Synopsis [si-nop-sis] a brief summary of the plot of a novel, motion picture, play, etc.
That’s more like it.
An interesting tidbit I picked up during my Weekend of Fabulousness is that it’s much easier to write a synopsis for a book that has yet to be written. It sounded crazy to me at the time, but I’m here to tell you that it’s true.
Think about it. You’re making up the story as you go along — very much like writing an actual book, just much much shorter. There are no pesky details to muddle up the flow. Minor characters don’t exist so they don’t clamor for attention in your 1-2 page single spaced file. All that’s included is the guts of the book.
I wrote the synopsis for book two this week, and while it still needs a bit of polishing (anyone have a spare tub of elbow grease?), it was leaps and bounds easier than the others I’ve written. Including the synopsis for book one. I cobbled that together, much to the amusement of my minor characters who fought to be mentioned, the subplots that scoffed at not being included, and the dance — THE DANCE — let’s just say it’s pissed I didn’t ask it to… well, dance.
Next up is the synopsis for book three.
If you’re wondering why I’m writing synopses for books I haven’t yet written, considering I don’t have an agent or book deal or anything, it’s because I’d like to have outlines ready to go for the entire trilogy when I query book one. I know you’re only supposed to mention one book per query, but it is permissible to mention if a book is part of a series, and I figure I’ll increase my odds if I already have those materials ready to go.
I’ve also finally added an explanation of Flicker to the writing page of my website. Go take a peek if you’re curious…
Don’t forget to leave a comment on Friday’s post to be entered to win a $25 gift card! Comments close Thursday night.
I had dinner with a friend last week that I hadn’t seen in quite awhile, and he asked me about my writing. When I told him I’m working on a young adult novel, he questioned how I can think like a teenager, let alone try to write for them.
I shrugged and said I’ve finally found a benefit to never reaching a maturity level past that of a 12-year old boy.
But seriously, writing YA feels more natural to me than anything else I’ve written (besides this blog…) and to my great relief, other people seem to agree. Four people have read Flicker — two who’ve read all my novels, a fellow YA writer, and an honest-to-goodness teenager! (at least I hope she’s honest because she told me she loved Flicker and I’d hate to find out she was just being nice) — and the feedback has all been positive.
That’s not to say I don’t have things to work on. I’ve written a new opening chapter that helps set the tone a little sooner, I plan to change a detail at the end that will set up book 2, and I still have a bit of weaving and cutting to do throughout the entire MS. But the two who are most familiar with my writing agree that I’ve improved and seem to have hit my stride with this novel.
I can’t even explain how happy that makes me. If you’d told me two novels ago that I’d be okay with still improving as a writer on novel #3, I probably would have responded (in my head) about how I’ll be one of the lucky ones who sells her first novel and goes on to be a huge success. *ahem* Because we’ve all thought that. Time has given me a perspective I wasn’t sure I’d achieve, and now I can only hope for the best.
How did you know you’d found your writing niche? Have you changed genres over the course of your writing career? (except Adam who JUST started writing and has sold like 20 novellas)
Thursday will mark one year since I left stepped off a plane from Mexico, introduced my Mexican puppy to snow, and pressed restart on my life.
But that’s not what this post is about (that’ll be Wednesday). The new beginning I’d like to talk about today is for my latest novel. I’ve received wonderful feedback so far, and one reader made the observation that while she loved my character development, the plot takes a little while to get started. Which is kind of a bad thing.
I spent the weekend brainstorming and had a general idea for a fix when I hopped in my car and headed to Chicago. Wouldn’t you know the perfect opening line came to me while I was driving on the highway.
Fortunately I’d tossed a notepad in the car, so with the cruise control set and a quick check to make sure no other cars were around me, I scribbled a page of notes for the new beginning. Now I just need to get started.
A lot can be said with a shift in expression. A change in mood, a sudden thought, a devious plan. As writers we know what our characters are feeling, but showing those emotions is often easier said than done.
It’s easy to fall on those simple words he was surprised or the dog scared her, but if the context of the story is done well, you shouldn’t need to utter the actual emotion; the facial tics should do it for you.
I’m sure you can recall a time in your life when the look on someone’s face said more than words ever could. The next time you’re facing a scene when the weight of the world rests on your MC’s shoulders and he, and he alone, has the formula that will save the world, use the memory of that real moment to describe how he looks.
Do you have any tricks for describing emotion?
Get ready. This post might be a bit of a stretch.
Last weekend I bought something I’ve coveted for nearly ten years:
It’s an elliptical machine! Good for the heart, good for the knees, and no annoying aerobics instructor telling you to give her eight more! And, um… it’s in a box.
Yes, I bought exercise equipment that required a LOT of assembly. No, I’d never done anything like this before (unless you count IKEA furniture), but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I started slowly… first I opened the box and laid the pieces out in front of me so I could see how they’d fit together, then I grabbed the piece labeled A and went to work.
Kind of like with writing. It’s daunting looking at that blank page and not knowing where to begin. Then you open the box (your mind) and a jumble of pieces that make absolutely no sense spill all over your floor. What’s a writer to do?
If you’re me, you make sure to have plenty of snacks and beverages on hand, as well as all the tools necessary to finish the job. (Who knew needle-nose pliers could bend metal?) Then you find pieces A and B, shove them together, then dig around for the rest of the alphabet. And just when you think that last piece WILL NOT FIT NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES YOU SMACK IT WITH A WRENCH, you discover the little packet of grease at the bottom of the box and the last gear slides into place.
I’ve begun brainstorming for book 2 of my trilogy while my beta readers critique book 1, and I’m hoping this bad boy will help me during those in-between moments.
Ahh… technological devices designed to make our lives easier. When will I ever learn?
One of the comments from my first beta reader pointed out that I had a lot of extra spaces in the document, as well as some wonky apostrophes. (I blame the PC, as usual.) I hit Control F, plugged in the offending double space, then did a silly thing that would turn out to be my downfall: I selected ‘Replace All.’
*waits for everyone to stop rolling their eyes*
Yes, I’ve heard the horror stories. I KNOW you have to be careful when wielding the power of Replace All, yet I used it willy-nilly anyway.
Friday evening my mom began reading Flicker and around chapter 18 discovered a lot of words that had run together. I checked my THREE versions (after the backup fiasco I have a number of copies all over the place) and the errors were on my end as well. After going through the entire manuscript I determined that I’d somehow deleted quite a few em dashes–which I use a lot–and made a mess of my story. (My mom’s favorite was zoothe: zoo–the.)
I did this in the first draft too, but only encountered one goof. I changed a character’s name from Justin to Kirk, accidentally turning the word adjusting into adkirkg. D’oh!
Care to share your Find & Replace horror stories?