Tag Archives: building

Building a Better Story: Names

26 Aug

You and I, together.

Sometimes I advise, sometimes I don’t. This was one of the times I did.

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Question: How important is the name of a character?

Answer: It doesn’t matter and it DOES matter.

It doesn’t matter because, frankly, there are plenty of stories where names that mean complete gibberish are used for lead characters, and they work fine. I’m sure you can think of many examples, especially in the fantasy department.

On the other hand, it DOES matter because if you have 100,000 people read your book, and only 50 to 100 notice, “Oh my God, his name means _______! HOLY CHRIST-MUFFINS! THIS GUY’S A GENIUS! Brah, brah, brha…” then it was worth it. Especially if you run into one of those “elite” fans later on in your career and they’re like, “Hey, hey….I noticed it.” You guys will high-five the $#!* out of each other’s hands at that point.

So, I guess it depends on whether you want your hands to be hurting a lot.

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~D.

Building a Better Story: Characters

21 Aug

Poison and cheer!

Building a character and building a person are, relatively speaking, the same thing. Just go ahead and start designing the character, and then, at intervals throughout their creation, ask yourself, “Is this what a real person under these circumstances would do? Is this how they’d act? Would Iact this way in the same situation? Would anyone I know act this way? Is this the kind of character who would even have a ‘human’ reaction to these events?”

Doing the above gives us a sense of reality in relation to the character, regardless of whether they’re a man, a machine, an alien, or whatever. When we can observe the character realistically, no matter how strange they might be, they’ve been designed properly.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE: designing a character purely for interest is not interesting. We’re not interested characters because they’re interesting. We’re interested in characters because they themselves are interested in the world around them, thereby becoming “interesting.” We are interested in the interested.

Realistically Designed Characters: Han Solo, Andrew Detmer, Commissioner Gordon (BEFORE The Dark Knight Rises), Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, President Josiah Edward “Jed” Bartlet.

Characters Designed for Interest Alone: Jar Jar Binks, Mudflap and Skidds (from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), the Catalyst, Gurgi (until the later books that is).

In short, make people, not characters. And don’t force them to be interesting, because that’s not interesting.

~D.