Time--2017 A to Z Theme

My theme for the 2018 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is "Cleaning the Clutter"--I might literally be cleaning my closets or figuratively clearing the excess from some other part of my life. I'm sure you can think of other things this could mean for you as well.

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Playing the Name Game ( #IWSG )


     If I didn't know people's names then I wouldn't know who was who using an easy identifying label.  However it's all a rather moot point since I usually forget someone's name shortly after they've told me.  So I guess that much of the time even with the names I still don't know who is who...



Join us on the first Wednesday of each month in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group--a forum of writers who gather to talk about writing and the writer's life. For a complete list of participants visit Alex's Blog

Co-hosts for the June 6 posting of the IWSG are Beverly Stowe McClure,Tyrean Martinson, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!



June 6 question - What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

          Coming up with titles is one of my favorite parts of the writing process.  On many occasions I've come up with a title first and then built from there with a story, essay, or song.  In fact, I have lists of titles waiting for something to be created for them.

           Titles come from many sources for me.  It might be something I hear someone saying, a reference to a current or historical event, or some phrase that seems to pop into my head for no reason.  I'll get a title and then start thinking up something to go with it.

        For example, my most recent focus has been on a song that I've written (which I mentioned here and here).  The song idea started with a chord progression, a rhythm, and a somewhat odd melody--no lyrics or title.  As I worked with the song in my head. the concept of running came to me--that's what the music reminded me of.   From there I started with a working title of "Run" which almost immediately changed to "Let's Run" partly because it was a two syllable phrase and it suggested a corporate venture between singer and listener (or writer and reader).  The title came quickly and stuck because it was logical, simple, and I thought it sounded good in context with the song feel.

        The names for characters in stories is a bigger challenge to me.  Since I often picture actual real life people whom I know, it is difficult to disassociate my character with that real person whose name just seems to make sense.  Changing a real name to a fictional moniker rarely feels right to me so I'll try to come up with a name that is similar to that real name or suggestive of something about that real person.  Maybe I should avoid modeling characters after real people, but I think most writers probably come up with characters this way.   After all, it's easier to write about a character whom I can clearly picture in my mind.   That's the way it works for me.

         By the way, regarding my song "Let's Run":   I've been putting together some rough recordings with the help of a couple of my neighbors.  Hopefully, by the end of the summer I'll have something to share with my readers.  I'm writing about it on my blog for legal purposes since I don't know the first thing about getting a song published or recorded.  So this is notice that I've written a metaphorical song with the title "Let's Run."    I'm probably doing this all wrong, but we'll see where this all goes.

          What do you think makes for a good title?   Do you base your fictional characters on actual people?   Do you have any favorite fictional names that other authors have used?


           My most recent Battle of the Bands can be found here.  If you haven't voted yet, please do.  Voting closes Thursday June 7th with winner announced on Friday the 8th.















35 comments:

  1. A most enlightening post Lee about your song.
    I hope all goes well with it and is a huge success. Good luck.

    Yvonne.

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    1. Yvonne, I'm not sure how well the blog readers will like the song. It is a bit apart from my preferred music genres. I just hope I can get a good recording of it.

      Lee

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  2. Looking forward to hearing the song!
    I guess I'm fortunate none of my characters are based on anyone I know.

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    1. Alex, if I get a presentable recording I'll be interested to see what your thoughts are on the song.

      Lee

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  3. I wouldn't want to be a friend or family member of yours and see a name similar to my own in one of your pieces! 😮Especially if the character was similar to me! But then again, maybe it would be ok if the character was the heroin of the piece… Perhaps then I would be flattered.

    Has that ever happened where someone recognized "themselves" in your work? Or do people you know not read your work?

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    1. M&J, since none of my work has been yet released no one has had an opportunity to discover themselves in my writings.

      Lee

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  4. I'm the opposite...but then again, I don't typically struggle with titles much either. I blame that on a wonderful support system of writers, readers, and friends who help me test their appeal.

    For me, characters are never just based on one person. They a combination of aspects from people I've known, observed, or imagined. I guess that's what happens when your subconscious has free reign on their creation, eh? And when you dream them up rather than trying to form them.

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    1. Crystal, I also go more for the composite characters with a heavy leaning toward whatever it was that attracted my attention in my real life relationships. In most cases I don't think any reader would actually see themselves in any of my characters. Not yet at least.

      Lee

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  5. I try not to base my characters on people I know, but I do sometimes see my characters with the faces of actors from TV or film.

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    1. Tamara, if I picture an actor in a character role it's usually someone from older films or TV shows since I don't keep up much with modern actors.

      Lee

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  6. I also love to come up with book titles. Character names are harder for me. I feel as though I've already used all of them, which, of course, I haven't, but it is a struggle to come up with new names for every book.

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    1. Chrys, I know what you mean, but I guess name combinations are endless. Doing a series would limit the number of characters needed perhaps.

      Lee

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  7. I'm looking forward to hearing your song!

    I've never based any of my characters on actual people. I did name my main character with a D name because I hero-worshiped my brother (Dustin) at the time. But that's the closest I've come to basing it on a real person.

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    1. Loni, a letter can cover a lot of names that fit people types.

      Lee

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  8. I've taken traits from people I know but never mostly a whole person.

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    1. L.Diane, I tend to create either idealized versions of people I know or focus on the more unlikable side. I just like to have an image in my head that probably transfers differently on paper.

      Lee

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  9. I think I might take the odd character trait to use in my writing but I don't think I've ever had a particular person in mind when creating a character. But then, some of my work is fantasy based so that might be quite hard!
    Good luck with the song.

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    1. Suzanne, I never write fantasy or so far any characters other than Americans who would be expected to have certain kinds of names. I don't know that any of my characters would be precisely like those after whom they were modeled, but I tend to focus on certain attributes that stand out to me.

      Lee

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  10. Hi Lee - I try to be 'careful' on the net ... so weave traits together. Choosing names - I've yet to go that route ... choosing blog post titles is bad enough! Cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary, blog post titles can be a challenge!

      Lee

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  11. That sounds like a great trait to have titles come to you and then make something from them. Usually they're the very last thing for me and I always struggle.

    Good luck with the song! Great to have another creative outlet and I hope you get a good recording.

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    1. Nick, I wish the stories would come to me as easily as the titles!

      Playing with this song has been a refreshing change and it's given me an opportunity to better get to know some neighbors.

      Lee

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  12. Hi Lee!

    I, too, have a list of one-line or a couple of word thoughts, though they were meant as poem beginnings, it occurs to me they'd also make excellent book titles - thanks for the thought!

    While many characters are based on people I've known or observed, their traits are based on how I felt about the interaction, not the (real) person.
    Your upcoming song release sounds better with every mention of it!

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    1. Diedre, I tend to approach the characters in a similar way. I get a feel for my imagined impression of a real person and make them a fiction.

      Lee

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  13. I love that you have lists of titles waiting for something to be created for them. Think I might start a list too and see what happens.

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    1. Lynda, making a list like that can be a fun creative exercise. And doing it might end up with some useful results.

      Lee

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  14. I can't wait to hear your song! I much prefer coming up with character names. Every once in a while, I come up with a title I like. Often I come up with one that I like and no one else does--sigh.

    While my characters are based on people that I know, I never use their names. Except for my cats, and I think they expect no less.

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    1. Susan B, my neighbor got a pretty good instrumental track finished and now I'm trying to add a decent vocal. I'll be interested to see what the reaction to the song will be.

      Lee

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  15. I get a "concept" and a character. Sometimes that character comes with a name. Those are easy. I agonize over titles though.

    Cool that you are writing a new song. I'll bet that is a lot of fun. And work.

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    1. Dolorah, the song recording would probably be easier if we had a better "studio" circumstance and more time to devote to it. Right now we got schedules and obligations with which to deal and I'm getting ready to leave on a trip. If need be we can polish our work when I return.

      Lee

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  16. Going out for a walk brings phrases to mind when I'm not even thinking about titles and this often helps me clarify a name for the theme ... . Let's Run sounds a great title Lee!

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    1. Susan S, I find walking to be a great time for thought, reflection, and creative thinking. I need to walk more often.

      Lee

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  17. I love titles with symbolism from the book, or inspired by lines from literature or song lyrics. I've based a number of characters on people I knew/know, though they've developed their own personalities over the years. When a character is a barely-fictionalized version of a real person, with no attempt made at originality, I'm not going to connect with that character. Such authors would be better-off writing memoirs instead of passing these stories off as true fiction.

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  18. Wow...you've got a great brain to keep coming up with titles. I can see my characters and sometimes they do look like an actor or actress.

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  19. My titles are devised in conjunction with the concept - or if that fails, they emerge during the outline stage. I avoid basing characters on people that I know, although they might owe some characteristic with a real person - but not their symbolic name.

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Lee