NaNoWriMo: Fruits of My Labor

Today I was privileged to have the opportunity to experience a special kind of reward for participating in NaNoWriMo: at the invitation of Chris Evans, I read an excerpt from Chapter 14 of the first novel of my Bent Parallels Quintology on UVM station WRUV this morning at 10. Aaron Smith, another Verimo, was the other guest and read the beginning of his novel, tantalizingly named The Water Beggars’ Tune.

Bios are here posted on Chris’s blog Writers@WRUV, and tomorrow, Chris will be posting the excerpts and an MP3 of the show, in case you missed it.

One of the interesting elements for me was how much editing I was led to do in the course of preparing simply from the experience of reading aloud. The excerpt I sent to Chris on Monday at his request (to give him an idea of what was coming and allow him to vet it for possible FCC violations) was not—and I cleared this with Chris ahead of time—not exactly the same as what I read on the air.

Because a high percentage of the excerpt is dialogue between two characters, reading the piece was—in effect—acting it out and allowed me to test the veracity of the characterization: did it hold up to scrutiny? My answer when I first read it was, “not yet.”

I changed words to synonyms that flowed more trippingly off the tongue in the particular context; rearranged sentence parts; changed the order of the first several paragraphs to make the “argument” of the section progress more persuasively; added a puzzled interjection from one of the characters at a point where she had earlier said nothing; and repeated one particular word to make a stronger connection between sections.

I’d like to thank Chris again for the opportunity: it was great fun!

NaNoWriMo: Valuable Sources for Character Names

I ran across some useful sources for character names today that I’d like to share.

• Native American names at Writing Adolescent Fiction/Character Names/Native American but be sure to carefully distinguish tribe-appropriate names.

Wikipedia Category: Surnames a listing of a large number of surnames that can be searched by the first two letters

White, a place where you can see the distribution of a surname across the United States and also find out how popular it is

Baby Name Data from the Social Security Administration, in case you have a question like: what boys names were popular  in the U.S. in the 1890s? Data is available by decade and state, and you can also find popular names for twins.

Baby Names World, a particularly useful name site because besides searching by name, you can search by a set of letters that appear at the start, end, or anywhere in the name.

Building Character 2

We call it waiting because we don’t find it valuable in and of itself (if we did, we’d assign a different name): it’s time that doesn’t have its own meaning—a holding place until the real event starts.
These days it’s often possible to avoid waiting—we carry cell phones and lap tops and PDAs to chase the waiting time away or turn it into time with a purpose. But there can still be odd moments when we’re unprepared for the wait, or get bored with or need a break from whatever we brought along to do.
Last week I had an unexpected wait when someone had to excuse himself temporarily from a meeting. After wearing out the other options, I took a look in the magazine rack. Among magazines featuring recipes and decorating ideas, I didn’t expect much of real interest or use. But I got a surprise.

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