Tag Archive: help


The Hardest Part

I’m a writer. If my past posts haven’t already drilled the hell out of that point, then it’s time to drive it home yet again. As a writer, that means I write, obviously. Now I try to start doing work with a  plot outline and all that, characters sketched out and everything so that there’s nothing to lose track of, so that the story will keep a good, consistent plot line and won’t lose track of itself. I don’t know about other writers, but usually I start out with a plot outline in my head, or at least a theme or other sort of event that can trigger a story. If not that, then usually I start out with an image of a character or multiple characters that will generally turn into an important bit of the  story. On occasion I am lucky enough to start out with both of these, and that’s just awesome. Probably because I never seem to have much trouble with those two, I have been cursed with the problem of the third.

I start with a good image of the character and an understanding of the character’s mentality, opinions, past, life, all that good stuff; what do I not start out with? A name. Nothing. This character is completely nameless person, and so are all the other characters, more often than not. I try to do what I can to dig up a name that fits the character in personality and appearance, their perfect name, but usually that doesn’t work out. And when I find a perfect character match, if they end up reminding me too much of another character from other stories, they instantly get scrapped. Sure, it might be unintentionally done that they are so similar, but I can’t accidentally borrow someone else’s character.

Unfortunately, even that isn’t the case for my current main character. He’s a guy who starts out as an underdog in an abusive home where his family treats him like garbage. Insert stereotypical twist that he is not the biological son and a terrible accident that overcomes his village, typical of fantasy, and you have him out on his own, growing to become a hero. A man who is blunt and generous, simple yet true, brave and noble, faithful, pretty much everything that you’d want to be. Sounds like a Mary Sue, but he’s growing into this man and even after his growth he isn’t perfect. His name? No idea. None at all. So in my lack of knowledge, I put it to you: do you have any names that I should use for him? Any name that is conjured up by these descriptions?

For the other ten or so characters that he encounters after leaving home, a group known as the Freedom Fighters, I shall struggle to come up with more fitting names though I have already found apt names for a few and will admit to borrowing something of the character of Locksley from Sir Walter Scott, though he is not such a noble and heroic, virtuous man as portrayed in the past. Fitting to the character, he is a master archer. Am I the only writer who agonizes over names like this? When I read I don’t pay so much attention to them as I do when I write, I’ve noticed, but writing it seems so essential; probably because while writing I can twist and turn the narrative to my fitting to some degree while with reading, it is not yours to interpret usually.

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Start Your Engines!

As a blogging site, it is almost to be expected that a good deal of people here know of NaNoWriMo, something that occurs annually in November. For those of you who don’t know what it is, the handy acronym stands for National Novel Writing Month. This year being my first year, having signed up for it almost immediately after bumbling into it, I am prepared for anything. I’ve been flexing my writing muscles and working on them daily. 50,000 words as a minimum for a single month when I go all out is beginning to sound pretty easy.

Since I have also just started to utilize plot outlines after realizing that, as much as I might wish to be able to, I cannot complete a massive and expansive tale without them, I have also started to work on a plot outline for NaNoWriMo, as much as it might sound like it could ruin the spontaneity of it. According to the website, it is fair game to do so, but writing of the material cannot begin until November first at 12:01PM and all. All fine and dandy with me! Figuring I want to move on from what I’m currently writing and work on something new, I started a story that has been burrowing at the back of my mind for as long as I can remember. First rough, uncompleted draft of the idea went alright, not too great. For at least one of the difficulties, see my last post.

Then I decided that for the initial book, the plot was too massive. Rather than a single tome of some huge epic, I figured it would be better to do a series. I already am working on a series of books that shows no end, which, in this train of thought, has begun to look rather discouraging. I’d really rather not get wrapped up into a second series when I’m not even sure I can end the first. Ditching this series for  a month to move onto another wouldn’t be my best idea. Then, of course, the brilliant idea of a trilogy struck me and actually sounded pretty good. Something about a set of three just works out well. Not sure if it will work out, though, because I can’t think of a proper enough filling in that is original, and, thinking about the plot outline vaguely reminds me of countless other fantasy books that are also a trilogy, something that isn’t too great. For a trilogy to work, the initial conflict cannot be changed, which also provided an irritating dilemma.

From the look of things, this current idea I have, tentatively called “Under Grey Skies” will go the way of Neil Gaiman and “The Graveyard Book.” Maybe it will rattle around in my skull for twenty-some odd years like his did, and then it will come clear to me. Or maybe it will crystallize itself overnight and I can stop staying awake at night trying to wrestle with it. Now I’m no great writer, but I can already offer some advice to other authors, advice, which, if I could follow, would make my writing a lot easier.

Don’t try to  cram all of your favorite ideas into a single book.

You have the great idea of an individualistic hero and leader and also about a trio of pure-hearted leaders, oh, and then the one about a rebellious man who is aware of the fourth wall and keeps getting called into supernatural investigations? (Yes, all three ideas I’m having some trouble with; the last is the one I am currently working on, the series.)

Maybe those three are not supposed to live in the same world. There is no division. My main conflict is that the hero of “Under Grey Skies” is quite possibly my favorite character and I want to make him the best as well, so I am tempted to drag his story on or else put in elements of other character’s tales, ideas which alone warrant their own story. Example? A man who has the willpower to stand up to death. Completely different tale, but I feel like I should incorporate it and give my hero this heavy background. But it doesn’t fit in. Other ideas run around in my head late at night, but for now they refuse to come to my call; maybe that’s for the better? I cannot say for certain. Maybe their refusal to come to my beck and call is a good sign. Maybe it is a hint that my complaining about this and rambling nonsensically about it is coming down to something in the end and I’ll be able to start on “Under Grey Skies” without any further issues. I doubt it, though.

What do you think? What are your problems with ideas bogging themselves down in your mind? How do you manage to single out the ideas and limit which belongs where? If you’ve suffered through this post, you can tell why I could use the help!

How many characters are too many?

I don’t have much to say, and judging from the lack of activity on my blog, I haven’t had too much to say for a few days. Part of this is because I was out of town, but that’s not important now. Now that I’m back, hopefully I’ll be able to crank out and do some more writing than before, especially blogging; creative writing is going pretty well. At least what I’m currently working on; I have another plot idea that is boiling in the back of my head, an epic, or at least so I believe. And that gives rise to my question: how many characters are too many?

I’m undecided; the tale is for the most part something of a stereotypical fantasy epic and a lot of the characters are there as help to further the story and make it more believable. All of them have interesting back stories that I could,  if I wanted to, probably turn into their own short story at least, even if that is quite a large bit of writing to undertake. The fact that this epic is supposed to be a single book really makes me believe that character-wise, I should limit myself to a maximum amount. In a series I’ve been working on, you can introduce a handful of new people each book and still keep it fresh, without overwhelming people. In a single book, I fear that the mass of characters will just be overwhelming. But many of these characters I see will not fit into the series, unfortunately, and I’d rather not have homeless characters in the streets of my imagination. I’m trying to come up with an idea for what to do here but I find myself at a loss.

Any ideas? Anything will work, even if I’ve already said it; split off into multiple short stories, cut it off, use them elsewhere, whatever. What are your suggestions?

Or if you take an issue with my opinion on slowly introducing characters throughout a series, tell me your own. I will admit that minimum and maximum character amount has always been my weakest point in terms of storytelling.