Posted in Stories

Conflict: Series Introduction

Conflict is the driving force behind any plot. Whether it’s a character conflicted over the choices they’re making and actions they’re taking, or two opposing forces trying to accomplish opposing goals, conflict drives your plot forward. If you don’t have some form of conflict, you don’t have much of a story. To illustrate:

Johnny walking home from school is just Johnny walking home from school. Not much interest. Johnny dreading getting home from school because of a bad grade or because his mean older brother will be watching him creates conflict. How is he going to deal with that bad grade when he’s confronted about it? What can he do to avoid his older brother?

Much like there are similar plot scenarios, conflict takes six particular forms.

Each form of conflict has its own traits, which I’ll cover in the upcoming posts. You’ll be able to return here to catch up on any conflict posts you’ve missed.

Posted in General

A Recap on February

Although February still has a few days left in it, there’s been quite a bit that happened this month. At the very least, it feels like it’s been a busy month.

Unfortunately, the largest event occurred about two weeks ago when my father had a stroke. Thankfully, he’s doing alright now and the hospital is looking to discharge him within the next few days but the doctors did discover evidence that this stroke was in fact, the second one he’s had. Handling that has been stressful and there’s still a lot of obstacles to getting him home and back on his feet ahead.

On a more positive note, although I’m technically ‘behind’ in actually writing the blog posts, I’ve got at least one more series of posts planned out now, and I did manage to get some short stories written. I don’t think I’ll be able to post one here this month, but there will be at least one, if not two for March.



Posted in General

Naming Characters

Naming things is hard work. Kids, pets, places are all examples of this, and characters are no exception. In some cases you can get away with just using a placeholder name until you can find the right name for the character. Nonetheless, when you’re hunting up a name, there are a few things to consider.

The most obvious might be that your character’s name is appropriate to the genre. Although this seems like a no brainer, it is something to consider, especially for genres like historical fiction where you’re constrained by particular time periods. You can’t exactly name your character Yosemite Sam if you’re dealing with Spain in the 12th century without raising a few eyebrows. There are definitely places where bending the rules around names are allowed and thoroughly encouraged (I’d personally say fantasy and sci-fi are the top two examples of this, but please keep in mind I don’t have facts to back that up). Even within those genres however, there are still generally excepted naming conventions and rules that apply.

When looking for a name also keep in mind the meaning of a particular name. We all know Belle means beautiful, and in the case of our favorite Beauty and the Beast Princess, and it suits her well. There’s no need to question what her role is. She’s the beauty, and she’s there to tame the beasty. That being said, also keep the flipside in mind: it’s not all that often that characters get to choose their own names, so a name laden with lots of meaning might also place a lot of expectation on a character. While that can be used to help you flesh out a character’s family life and backstory, depending on how well-known the meaning of that name is, it can also mean your readers bring expectations to the table with them.

In the cases where you need to name characters that are related to another, consider family patterns. Often parents want sibling names to go together nicely (Mary Kate and Ashley Olson; Chris, Liam and Luke Hemsworth; Jaden and Willow Smith; Fred, George and Ginny Weasley; Sokka and Katara). There’s always exceptions of course, but when naming siblings consider choosing a soft rule to go by, such as a specific number of syllables, or that each one contains a certain letter pairing such as double a or an l and an i. Those letters may not need to be together, but they’ll help give a cohesiveness to the group of siblings as a whole. This doesn’t need to be a hard and fast rule though, sometimes names sound nice together without any sort of pattern. And of course, sometimes names within families just don’t match each other.

Also to consider with family names is the generational aspect: sometimes names get reused and varied. A real life example here being that my middle name is Jean and my grandmother’s name is Jeanie. One of my uncles also shares his first name with another family member. That’s all on one side of my family. There are plenty of unique names for certain, but repeating a name from a generation or two ago is an option in some cases.

Finally, when naming character consider the region and heritage you’re working with. Although again, this isn’t a hard and fast rule, many names can be handed down to someone because of a heritage, and most especially with last names as these often are handed straight down from parent to child.