Thursday, January 17, 2013

What's in a name?

I read somewhere an author said there's no such thing as writer's block.  I had to disagree.  I think there is writer's block and for me its when my imaginary friends stop talking to me.

It's true.  I talk to myself, but to justify it, I like to claim that I'm talking to my imaginary friends.  And by imaginary friends I mean the characters in my stories.  If they stop talking, I stop writing.  Simple enough.  So my stories, my books, they're all dictations of my imaginary friends.  They're just an account of the conversations I've have in my head.

You know, the more I write this, the more I wonder if I should seek counsel about these 'voices' in my head.

Names are very important.  Not only the names of the characters, but the names of books and chapters and sections of stories.  I struggle with names because I want them to be perfect.  When it comes to naming characters, I want the main players to have unique names.  Names you don't hear very often that will stick in the reader's mind.  I'm going to use my story Evol as an example a lot in my blog because I learned so much from writing this story.  In Evol,  the main character's name is Venna.  The villain is Merrick, and Venna's saviors are Dorian and Lane.

Unique, yes, but there's more to it.  The name has to fit the role.  It wouldn't be fitting to have the deranged stalker/killer be named George or Carl.  Merrick has that 'creep' factor.      Venna sounds like a song; is elegant yet a bit whimsical.  Dorian sounds like the name of an ancient Roman soldier.  It holds a bit of power.  Lane sounds young and fresh with a spot of athleticism.  All very befitting names given the characters, their personalities, and their situations.  For the less important characters, I don't worry about uniqueness as much.  I just try not to use the same name more than once.

*Spoiler Alert* Let's reference Evol again.  *Spoiler Alert*  In the story, there are seven parts and each part has an equally as fitting name given the contents of that section.  The first part is 'Dreams Do Come True' which holds meaning in more than one way.  Merrick's dream is coming true because he's setting his plans into motion.  Venna's dream is coming true because she's got her dream role and is closer to marrying the man she loves.  The second part is 'Hold Your Breath' because although Venna was reunited with her family, she's just waiting for something to happen again; something she's certain will happen.  The third part is 'Be Strong', a piece of advice Venna's father gave her that she uses to find safety in the arms of her estranged brother, Dorian.  'What Doesn't Kill You...' is the fourth part.  This part highlights the struggles Venna goes through after leaving her home, going into hiding, and depending on Dorian and Lane, Dorian's ex-wife's brother, for guidance and protection.  'What Doesn't Kill You...' is followed by part five, '...Only Makes You Stronger'.  In this part, we see a bit of a rebirth for Venna, who has put a few skeletons in her closet, but is still dealing with a few others.  The sixth part is 'Love Backwards' which explains the title of the book as well as brings a budding romance to the surface.  And finally, the seventh part is 'Sweet Sacrifice'.  That's all I'm going to say about that so not to give too much away.

When I first started writing Evol,  it was originally named What Doesn't Kill Me, but I quickly changed it when I saw a movie with the same title.  Evol came from one of the unlikeliest of places; an Eminem song, 'Space Bound'.  The song is actually quite haunting when you hear the lyrics.  It could be Merrick's anthem in all honesty.  In the song, there is a lyric that says, "And love is 'evol', spell it backwards, I'll show ya."  When I heard this song for the first time, it gave me chills.  If you've read Evol, you should YouTube the song and you might just get the same chills I did.  The song does have explicit content.

Now I've got the challenge of naming my next story.  I've had Evol done for so long, everything planned out from the get go, that I've forgotten how difficult is it to get things named perfectly.  I've already changed the name of my villain twice and this story might remain unnamed until it's completed.  Hopefully, I will find inspiration for the title within the story as it progresses.

Until then, I'll just keep talking to my imaginary friends.

- Jess

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