Posted in General

Creating Last Names

I’ve touched on names a couple of times before, but in this case, I want specifically focus on family names. Family or inherited names can be used to help trace genealogy, but when it comes to writing and creating characters, they also serve to help flesh out your world.

For those stories set in the real, or near-real worlds, last names become incredibly easy. Searching for a surname is as easy as check with Behind the Name, or running a search for common last names of the appropriate nationality. Location names such as Alamanni, Appleton, Yorkshire, Caivano and others are also useful and tie back to real world places. Occupation names also provide easy options. Names like Baker, Cooper and Shepherd give you a clue as to what the family has done historically.

For those who need to create names, things get a little harder. Depending on your setting, occupational names are still very much a possibility. If you’ve created or are using a fictional language, occupation names can be made by translating your given occupation into the language of your choice. Keep in mind that not all things translate well, and errors do happen–when all else fails, change just one or two letters. Baker becomes Bacer, Daker or even Bakor.

Location names are also still a possibility. For fantasy settings, ‘of Landmark’ names work well. You can end up with names like ‘of York’ or ‘of River Edge’. Within the context of space-faring sci-fi you also have constellation and planetary names to utilize. Someone with the last name ‘Andromeda’ might very well be from somewhere in the Andromeda galaxy. Alternately, the last name Jupiter can be used to indicate someone from a colony on or near the gas giant. And again, you can alter these names slightly to help fit: Andromedus or Juptus can be readily used to indicate someone of the Andromeda Galaxy, and Jupiter respectively.

You can add an affix such as ‘-son’ or ‘fitz-‘ as needed to the personal name of a parent to help create another name such as McNeal or Johnson. In more real-world based settings, make sure you’re paying attention to regional affixes.

And, when all else fails, try mashing names and words together. For fantasy names, something like Blacksword indicates a family name with ties to a black sword, even though it’s simply compounding two separate words. For a different feel you could try mashing together two names like Ashley and Robin, resulting in Robley or Ashin (this works well for first names too).

 

Posted in Exercises, General

30 Day Shorts IV

Part I is here. Part II is here. Part III is here and you’re on part IV right now!

Day 18 and 19
Absolutely no shorts written. To be fair, the 18th was also another writing-free day.

Day 20
I got a short written early this morning. Hoping I get more done as I’m about five shorts behind.  Current title is ‘Learning’.

Day 21
Finished one short early in the day titled ‘Petal Soft’. I also managed to start another short before bed titled ‘A Sister’s Love’.

Day 22
Managed to finish the short I started yesterday. Also did another short currently titled ‘Big Announcements.’ Still well behind where I should be but getting closer to catching up.

Day 23
I managed to get three very short flash pieces done today. The largest of them, currently titled ‘An Adventurer’s Binds’ is only 306 words. The other two, ‘A Suitor Declined’ and ‘Desert Wood’ are 230 and 233 respectively.

Day 24
Just one short finished today, bringing my current total up to twenty-two. Latest title is ‘Words and Actions’.

 

Posted in General, writing

30 Day Shorts III

You can check out the first two parts here and here.

Day 11
I ended up not writing anything today. Mostly spent it working on some art instead of writing.

Day 12
Another writing-free day. I spent it looking through my various projects and organizing some notes.

Day 13
Got some flash pieces done! They were more to get me back into the mindset of a particular series so aren’t much more than fluff scenes. I ended up with two; ‘Puppy Love’ and ‘Marry Me’.

Day 14
Ended up using today’s word list to get a short piece done for my main project. It spanned a little longer than I expected it to, clocking in at just over a thousand. Currently titled ‘Genius’.

Day 15
Nothing short written today, but a little bit more done on one of my main projects.

Day 16
Again, nothing short written, but a lot of good stuff written for my main projects. A little worried about how I’ll catch up on all the shorts at this point, but that’s the point of a challenge is to push and see how much I can do.

Day 17
I got a short flash piece done this morning! While I’m still behind, having one done takes some of the worry off. Current title is ‘Housekeeping’.

Posted in Exercises, General

Your First Fan Theory

Confession Time: You are not the only writer out there who dreams about what your fans will say and think of your work. You’re also not the only one who wonders what sort of insane theories they’ll come up with. That’s just a fact. Human nature makes us wonder what other people will think of our effort.

If you follow any of the fandoms associated with your favorite shows, you probably know that the theories others can come up with are well-thought out. A lot of them might even use some of the tiniest parts of source material to support those theories.

That can be both a good and a bad thing. As a writer it’s hard to keep every tiny piece in line while writing. So, today I have an exercise for you that will help you keep some of those tinier moments under control as well as developing the hidden backstory.

As an exercise:  Write out five to ten theories for your WIP.  Go as far out as you like! Who is secretly whose parent? Why does this character have this ability but not another? Does Character A know Character B’s secret, and if so why don’t they reveal that they know?

Then come up with the supporting evidence for each theory. This might be a line of dialogue or how a character reacts. It’s possible that some of your theories might explain why a character isn’t in a particular scene.

Optionally: You can also write out some false theories and find their evidence.