Someone hears you are a writer and they say “oh it must be great to sit down and write, so much fun.” Because that’s what we do; sit at our desks watching our story play out on the page while sunlight through lacy curtains casts delicate patterns of dappled light and shade…right? No. No, no, no.
Why not? A writer must simply sit with pen and paper and the words will flow seamlessly onto the page. How I wish. Or maybe I don’t. That actually sounds a little boring. How about the struggling penniless writer in a loft in Paris, trying to keep fingers warm by candlelight. Romantic? Mmmm, a little too Dickensian.
So what is the reality? If writing is not like this, what is in the Writer’s Job Description?
- Reading copiously – yes this is in the job description. Read in your genre, read the classics, read not in your genre, read whatever interests you. Read.
- Research. Where is the story set? When? Is fashion a factor?
- Snatching moments to write while working the day job and juggling family commitments.
- Editing – because no one else does that for free.
- Editing again and again and again…
- Struggling with Imposter Syndrome. Ok this isn’t exclusive to writers but it is real.
- Fielding questions from friends and foe like, “Have you written anything I have read?”
- Keeping up with social media connections. Someone out there will want to read your words.
- Looking for those notes you scribbled at 3am and maybe that is what the cat is now throwing up under the bed.
- Making the time to write.
- Finding somewhere to write.
- Trying to keep those ideas in your head while negotiating peak hour traffic.
- Making yourself accept that though you haven’t written a word on your Work In Progress for days, you are a writer because of the above and more.
- Reciting this mantra daily –
I am a Writer
I am a Writer
I am a Writer
I could add more to the list, but if you can relate to a few of the points above, guess what? Yep. You are a writer.
Can the name of a character make or break how we react to or even write them? We all know the Rose reference in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but do names have an effect on how we see people, read characters or even write them?
In a recent post, a well known author mentioned that she now had the name of her character; she could begin to write her on the page. She was now real to her.
This struck a chord with me, or more correctly jolted a light bulb moment. I am in the process of editing my WIP but during the actual writing process up to and including this point I have not felt I know my protagonist well. As well as I should; I mean I know her story and her emotional journey, I know what she looks like and I can hear the sound of her voice, but I don’t feel a closeness that I experience with the other characters. Now I feel I know why. I haven’t chosen her forever name.
My protagonist’s name is Victoria. Before that she was Kate. But she isn’t either one of those and in the back of my mind I have known that I will change her name. When the time comes. I realise now that time was at the beginning. The relationship between myself and this character is crucial to her story and I have been keeping her at bay, at arms length by not giving her her ‘real’ name.
Not to get all Shakespearian but a rose by any other name is still a rose, right? Still as beautiful and fragrant? This might be true for the rose but to hark back to my original question – do names have an effect on how we see people, read characters or even write them? I believe so.
Look at the names of past fictional heroines – Emma, Elizabeth, Jane, Anna…these names still invoke ideas of old fashioned feminine strength and at least internal beauty. So how to choose the right name for my character? A baby name book? Go through the alphabet? Is she like someone I know? I haven’t had this problem in the past but I know that this time round I have to get it right.
Let me know if you suffer the same problem, or maybe you find it easy? Well, I am off to find my protagonist’s forever name. Wish me luck.