Archive | NaNoWriMo

The Problem with Names & Code Name Ravenite

I’m a weird one. For my fantasy NaNoWriMo story, I work out the plot, twists, turns, character personalities, scenes, world setting, and even the linguistics before I know my main characters’ name.

The same level of thought does not go into naming my minor characters. I am happy as long as it fits the linguistics and setting, but otherwise, I will just pick it out of a name from my name database and continue on with my story. For my main characters, I can’t just choose willy nilly and be happy with it. It has to feel right too.

What’s your name?

Currently, I have two main characters, a male and a female, and one importantish minor character, another male. The minor guy had his name since the very inception of the story. His name is Damien… or Damian (most likely Damien). I’ll figure out the spelling later. It was easy for me to choose the name. He is a minor character after all.

I’ve known my female MC for about 5 years now (yes, the story is 5 years in the making.. in my head), but she never had a name that stuck. That was fine by me, because her name is not important to my story (per se), it was what she did that mattered.

Enter NaNoWriMo. As soon as I signed up for this year’s NaNo, I resolved to finally give this girl a name. I jumped between quite a few and once again, nothing sounded right. I spent a few days adding thousands of names to my DB and found nothing. It was frustrating. I had her whole life’s story with no clue what her name was. I lost sleep over this malarky.

So I took a break from finding her name.. to figure out what the male MC’s name was.

Lucky me, his name was found after a brain storming session, mumbling random vowels and consonants together (and getting strange looks from unsuspecting passerby). I decided on Leonce the very moment I said it out loud. It just felt right to me.

Hello Leonce, nice to meet you. 

Since Leonce is an actual French name (it means “lion” if you haven’t already guessed), that pushed me to make up my mind on the linguistics and etymology of his country. (It was a draw between French and Spanish. Just to clarify, I’m only using the language as an influence, not the actual history or culture. The culture in my story is a mish-mash between ancient Greek/Roman, Medieval England, and my own ideas. It’ll make sense later. Promise.)

Deciding on the linguistics forced me to look at French names for my female MC as she is from the same country as Leonce. This helped narrow the field considerably. The next step was to download a bunch of French baby names from somewhere (lost track of source, sorry) and began the process of elimination. It took about two days to go through everything. I even had a rating system. A handful of names were neck and neck (in my rating system), but I kept going back to this one name, Elodie. It sounded so right. Finally deciding on it was an awesome feeling (Dear family, please ignore my random dancing in front of the computer).

Elodie, Elodi, Elody, Elohdie, Elohdi, Elohdy, Ehlodie, Ehlodi, Ehlody.

<in Dave Chappelle’s voice> Gotcha bitch!

Damn, it felt good. Now I can move on to more important things.. like thinking up the title of the first book.

Code Name: Ravenite

Don’t worry, I am not as psycho with the book name as I am with the my FMC’s name. I haven’t actually written the book yet (though I do have a 8k+ outline), so I am not too worried about deciding on the name yet. Besides, I expect it to come to me during the writing process.

I did decide on a code name/project name though. Ravenite was initially the working title. It is named after a certain metal found in my characters’ world called Ravenite. Unfortunately, Ravenite was renamed to something else (not sure what yet, but it’s not Ravenite), so this name is no longer relevant to the story.

I’m just keeping Ravenite as a code name due to laziness and the desire to get on with my life. The names will come to me when they do (I hope).

So have you ever encountered character/place/object naming problems for your fantasy stories? Tell me about it!

P.S. I’ve begun hash-tagging the Ravenite related tweets in one neat place. Feel free to follow it!

Update: Looks like I’ll be changing my MMC’s name to Leone instead of Leonce. I am just paranoid that readers will pronounce his name like they say Beyonce’s name. Ick. Still love the name Leonce though!


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Writing and NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo_logoAs a kid, I always had my nose in a book. The stories I devoured were mostly fantasy novels, then later in my teen years, thriller/ghost stories (RL Stine, anyone?). It was entertainment. It was an escape. It was wonderful.

I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. Not just any writer, I wanted to be a fantasy novelist. I wanted to create wonderful magical worlds for kids like me. I liked the idea of making up a world and its inhabitants from nothing. It was a potent and powerful concept and desire that still influences me to this day.

I wrote a lot of short stories. I thought I was a good writer too – well, maybe not good, but at least not shitty. I even started writing a fantasy novel at the age of 12. It was never finished, obviously, but I still have my notes, the outline, and the manuscript. Maybe I’ll finish it one day.

In high school, English class sucked. English class was not fiction writing class. It was grammar class; it was analyzing and reanalyzing the hell out of literature written centuries ago that I didn’t give a shit about. The teacher was a humorless beast of a woman and I and the class was terrified of her. English class was boring, it was actual work, and I hated it.

In college, I somehow got it in my head that I could finally write for fun! After all, this is where one goes to learn one’s profession, right? I was happy and excited.

My first writing assignment in college was not in an English class; it was for a required elective class about some sociology thing or another. The class was asked to write an essay on some article we read. I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but I didn’t mind it either, so I wrote it and I thought I did well. My TA thought otherwise. She tore my poor little essay a new asshole.

That class and that TA made me realize that I was a very bad writer – and very bad writers cannot be fantasy novelists!

It was the way I wrote. I would outline it first, draft it, rewrite it, rewrite the rewrite, and then rewrite the rewritten rewrite. The end result was a disjointed jumbled mess. I don’t know how or when I developed this writing behavior, but I suspect it was in high school when writing stopped being fun.

My childhood dream had died. It stayed quite dead for a while too.

But… about three weeks ago, I stumbled something called NaNoWriMo. I forgot how I found it, but I do remember it being unrelated to whatever I was looking for. Someone mentioned it somewhere (Twitter perhaps?) and the acronyms caught my eye and I really wanted to know what the hell NaNoWriMo stood for.

I found that NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Its premise is for the participants to write a 50k novel in the month of november. That deep dark place my childhood resided in got quite excited. The adult side of me thought, “sure why not?” just to shut the childhood part of me up.

Also out of curiosity, I started to read a bunch of blogs about e-publishing on Amazon. Because, lets get real, it’s not like I expected to actually physically publishanything through traditional means.

But from those blogs, I also read about the state of the publishing industry (of which, shit has hit the fan) as well as tips on novel writing in general. One such blog that helped open my eyes was Dean Wesley Smith‘s, in particular the posts in his Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing series. Here is my one sentence summary:

Readers don’t generally care about the nit picky grammar the same way my English teacher or that horrible TA cares about (unless it’s really horrible, obviously), they care about the storytelling.

Blows. My. Freaking. Mind.

So I’m going to do it. I will write a novel. I will work on my storytelling. I will get better.

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