Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Naming Characters

Giving your characters names that fit them isn't always so easy.

I'm writing what I am sure will be my last DeputyTempe Crabtree mystery, and I had to name some new characters in Tempe's world. (I thought End of the Trail would be the last one, then I wrote The Trash Harem.)

Over the years I've saved graduation programs nad the casts in various plays. Lately, I've been paying attention to the credits of TV shows--and my goodness, what a variety of names are there.

If an author is writing a book set back in time, it's important to not use modern names--for instance a Buffy, Candy, Dusty, etc.

You don't want to give away the villian by an obvious name that will pinpoint him or her--unless it's known from the start who the bad guy or gal is. 

Heroes and heroines need strong names. And I must confess, if I didn't like someone with a certain name, I'll certainly be influenced by that.

It's a good idea to try not to use names that begin with the same letter or rhyme or you'll confuse your reader.

Also try not to use names for your main characters with the same number of syllables. A variety is always better. 

Just a few tips I've learned over the years. 

Happy writing.


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Weather As Character

by Janis Patterson

As you probably know, I'm out of the country now, enjoying my Very Big Trip, so I'm reprinting one of my more popular blog posts from not-too-long ago. I'll be back in October and remember, I'll be writing about the VBT in my newsletter, in case you want to subscribe! There's a sign-up box on my website. 

Picture a bright blue sky glowing with golden sunshine and dotted with friendly, fluffy clouds. Now picture dark grey looming clouds hanging so low you can almost grab a handful of them, while an icy wind scours the land with frigid teeth.

Which would you think of as setting for a lighthearted romantic comedy and which for an angst-filled mystery where terrible things lurk just under the next breeze?

Admittedly, those are two extreme examples, but weather does affect our perception of genre and tone. Now before you jump all over me crying that so-and-so did a terribly horrifying story set on a sunny beach or a rom-com in a storm-lashed castle, I will agree with you. There are always those writers who can take a trope and turn it on its head with great effectiveness. A truly skilled writer can do almost anything – as all of you skilled writers know – but the stormy rom-con and the sun-drenched murder have been done so often that they are almost tropes in themselves. 

It’s a lot harder to take a pleasant, sunny location and make it a place of crime, apprehension and horror. I say let your setting work for you – sometimes. Never do anything exactly the same way every time. Keep your reader on her mental toes. And let’s face it, it’s easier to ratchet up the tension in a dark and shadowy place where who knows what is lurking in that lightless corner we must traverse, just as it’s delightful to see the hero’s eyes crinkle in appreciation on a sunny beach. Proper use of the weather can almost turn it into a character in and of itself, and give both depth and foreshadowing to your story.

People have certain expectations and reactions to the weather. I say use them, or, if you use them in reverse, do it whole-heartedly. One of the most romantic scenes I’ve ever watched was the end of the old movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, where George Peppard (a singularly interesting bit of casting) and Audrey Hepburn find the cat and declare their love in an ugly NYC alley in a pouring rain. Switch upon switch upon switch. 

On the other hand, most readers have certain expectations; I’m a firm believer that as writers, especially genre writers, we don’t have to re-invent the wheel. At least, not every time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

I'm Woefully Behind


And I blame it on birthdays. We had one after another--geat grands, mine, my sister's and my hubby's/

Mine was fun and different. Grandaughter who lives with us, along with her three girls, treated me to a haircut at the beauty school where another great-granddaughter is a student. Of course, she's the one who cut my hair. She always has unusual hair--this time it was half blonde and half dark brown. After, we all had lunch at a hole-in-the wall Chinese restaurant with wonderful food. We had a great visit.

From there we went to a bakery and picked out my birthday cake which we had after dinner that night.

For hubby's birthday, first he was celebrated at church and received a miniature pie for himself. After we went to Thai Kitchen and shared our favorites.  The next day, which was his actual birthday, he received lots of phone calls, even one from one of his old Seabee buddies. They haven't seen each other for years.

I am doing a bit of writing on my new and probably last Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, but have been so busy with other tasks, I've not gotten very far.

I really thought End of the Trail would be the last one, but then I came up with the idea for The Trash Harem and just had to write it. Then my friend, who has appeared in several of the Tempe mysteries under a fictional name, has asked to be in another, with a special request, so that's what I'm working on now. 

And I supposed to be honest, I should just admit, I'm slowing down.

Happy Reading,