Sunday, February 28, 2010

What's in a Name?

Couldn't go to sleep last night and was wondering what to blog about this morning. Then it hit me - names! I could talk about names!

But what's in a name, you ask? Loads! Especially for writers.

With a name you can give the reader a bunch of information without ever actually having said anything. Let's try 'Jorge Winchester' for instance. What does it tell you? On a guess, you might say that Jorge comes from a couple with Spanish heritage, probably on the mother's side, and a more English/American bent from the father's side possibly California. (We're talking about assumptions here, guys, subconscious items you can seed in your readers' minds, so you may not have come up with exactly the same. Yet the clash of two cultures is still evident.) So right away something's already been stated about Jorge without ever spelling it out. Of course as the reader continues to learn about Jorge more will come out and it will be seen if this might even be a point of conflict for the character.

(Laughing at myself right now. First name I picked was Jesus. Spanish speakers would have read it in the Spanish as I'd intended (hehsuus), everyone else would see it in English (Geesaus) as both are spelled the same but pronounced differently - doh! But something else to keep in mind as well when choosing names!)

If possible try to keep a list of the names you use as came up with them for a story or book. Reason for this is so you can make sure to make the names different enough from one another so as not to get the reader confused. The bigger the cast, the more important this becomes. You should try not to have characters with the same beginning letter for their names. If you have an Ash, Ann, Arthur, and Alice the characters will start running into each other especially if there's large gaps between their sections. Much easier for the reader if they were called Ash, Mary, Lance, and Deidre as they are all varied and unique. The chances for confusion then are greatly decreased.

In fantasy or science fiction names are a great way to differentiate between races and even social status in your worlds. But you also have to watch not to get the names too gangly or long, as you'll lose the reader that way too. If you find someone needs to have a long fancy name, make sure that while someone speaking to them might use the long form, when you refer to them in the narrative, you have a shortened version or nickname to refer to them by. This will help the readers immensely but also give you the benefit of using the name itself as a variable on the culture.

I have a character in one of my novels called Daltimonious, but when he's with friends or when referenced in the narrative, I used the shortened form of Dal, which is much easier to read and recognize. (Plus he hates the longer name anyway - a fact Rostocha is very well aware of and therefore loves to use it on him on occasion just to watch him cringe.)

Consistency is also key if you're making your own societies or races. The uniqueness will help segregate and again build things in the background for you that won't necessarily need to be explained, but will shine in their own context. A perfect example is the Spanish use of 'Don'. In reading a story if characters call out to older men as Don Diego and Don Rodrigo but call the boy only Simon, the subconscious will pick up on the implication that 'Don' is an honorific of some sort and possibly an address of respect. In English, 'Don' has the equivalent use of Mr.

Just more details to keep in mind as you go about your writing! Hope it was at least semi entertaining! See you!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Catch Up Ramblings

Yo, all!

Had back to back conventions so have not been able to do any blog posts. Work's been busy too! Darn it! So let's see what kind of damage I can do this morning, shall we? Heh heh

February 2-5, 2010 saw me at AggieCon. It was nice to be able to go on down there again. Run by alumn and also current students, it has been a staple at Texas A&M for many years. This was the first year it was held off campus, as most of the space that used to be available for the convention has had to be converted for other things. Been seeing many of the ConCom's peeps at other conventions in 2009 trying to see how others did things. For their first time in a totally new venue, I thought they did an awesome job! Congrats, guys!

What I did enjoy more than usual too were the room parties. Mostly put on by other conventions trying to attract pre-registration members, and groups doing World Con bids, they tend to be incredibly packed affairs. I'm not like the biggest party goer around (I tend to be more of a wallflower. I'm shy... I just am!) and when it's wall to wall people, hot, and noisy, it tends to put me off. But because of the new venue and possibly students needing to go to bed early (crazy, right?) they were much more lightly attended than normal and that was awesome! Made the parties quite relaxing! Even got to harass some peeps. Bwahahahahaha! (Oh and being on a panel with A Lee Martinez and Rosemary Clement-Moore when they're both real tired was a blast! Oh the blackmail material! YES! Bwahahahahahaha!) Ahem...

And while I have done readings at the Yard Dog Press Road Shows before, this was my first time actually taking a part in one of the small Who Done It Bubba Mysteries. I gave all my clues away as I didn't know how we'd know what round we were in, but was able to errr salvage the situation. Yeah! I said we had us a Government Conspiracy! Woot! Heh heh. Was a lot of fun.

Also had an added treat, as I was asked to introduce Martha Wells (Texas A&M Alumn) at her Q&A and reading session. Only mispronounced a thing or two. And didn't fall on my face, so it was mostly successful on my part? Eek!

Want to thank Rie Sheridan and Mel White for helping me and Kathy Sullivan with rides to and from the airport down there. The ride with 3 of us in Rie's small pickup was an adventure all on its own. Hee!

February 12-14, 2010 was spent at ConDFW! Since it's super local, I dragged my daughter along so she could ply her wares for Chibi Chains as I hocked books. Weirdly enough while people enjoyed looking at her colored chainmail jewelry, it was her Japanese chainmail blocks that were popular! Especially with teenage girls. The things are fun to play with!

Had a great time seeing peeps and talking up a storm. Also helped judge the costume contest for the first time ever! I even tortured those who showed up for my reading with a short story I've been kicking about and then asked them for comments to help improve it! Bwahahaha! (Bet they were not expecting that! Hee hee!) Ended up being too tired to do the party runs. Ugh.

What else? Oh, I'm going into Movie Theater withdrawal. Between the cons and all the OT hubby's had to put in at work, we've not made it to the movie theater in weeks! Eek! And there's stuff I wanna see out! Oh noes! Need to sneak in one or two somehow before I come up to the next convention. lol.

Have an awesome day, ya'll!
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