Coming Up With Memorable Names

Coming up with names for your characters is so important. You want these namesakes to stand out and embody the very essence of your characters. Of course, there are some genres that tend to use common everyday names, but a lot of writers seize the opportunity to use more flamboyant names like Phillius McFlinn – because why not? You want your characters to be memorable!

At the moment, I’m writing a fantasy novel, so I’ve been running wild with names for the places, characters and creatures that inhabit my world. Coming up with names can be a challenge, especially when you think about it too hard. The best names usually come to me quite instinctively through some sort of divine eureka moment.

If you’re having trouble naming your creations, then don’t worry. The beauty of naming things is that names are interchangeable and altering the names of your characters can be literally the last thing you do when redrafting. So if you’re struggling to find a name for Sergeant Grim-face, then just call him Sergeant Grim-face while writing – or Bob – until you find a name that fits.

There are thousands of name generators out there, whether it be for fantasy, sci-fi or any other genre. There are also baby name websites that have an untold amount of name options for you to peruse, which is probably why kids nowadays are called names like Neveah and Atticus. Let’s not even mention Khaleesi..

What I also do is keep a list of any interesting names I come across, as well as those that I ‘invent’, because one of them might end up being the perfect name for Sergeant Grim-face! Having a stockpile of awesome names on standby can save you a lot of pondering when it comes to naming things.

So have fun with naming your babies! You don’t have to worry about your literary children getting bullied for their outlandish name (unless that’s part of the plot) – name them whatever you bloody well like! Seize your creative liberty and revel in playing God!

Ideas That Refuse To Go Away

This week, when sorting through my writing notes, I made a very interesting discovery. In one of my journals, I found the initial seed of the idea for my first book, written two years before my supposed eureka moment!

Amazingly, this piece of paper had been completely forgotten about, yet the idea stayed in my subconscious and resurfaced two years later, as if for the first time! While the initial seed differed slightly from what I thought was the initial seed, it was the same idea in essence.

What I’ve learned from this is that some ideas are very persistent and will stay with you throughout your life, begging to be brought into the world. They may lie dormant for a time, but they always find a way to return to you. This is reassuring for a writer like myself who clings on to his notes for fear of losing his ideas – clearly such written prompts are not needed, nor are they re-visited much once written. Of course, I’m not saying you shouldn’t keep notes, as you just don’t know what notes might spark your imagination, but I’m merely pointing out how persistent our ideas can be.

Throughout your life, you may have many ideas, some great and some not so great. What I recommend is focusing on the ideas that really sing to your heart. Don’t give a hoot what others might think. If you’re going to express yourself, then it should be something that appeals to you.

You are the judge. You are the gatekeeper of your ideas, who gets to decide which ones are worthy and which are not. But how do you choose what should take priority? Oh, that’s easy! I think you already know deep down which ideas are special. They are the ideas that refuse to go away.



Crystalising Your Thoughts

It matters not where you write down your thoughts. Whether it is on the back of a napkin, a scrap of paper or a pre-ordained notebook, what’s important is that you capture your ideas in any way that you can. Most inspired thoughts fade quickly from your awareness, so it is always good practice to jot things down.

You just never know where an insight may lead you. One little sentence could be the beginning of a whole creative project, growing from a seed into a vibrant, fully-fledged piece of work. Some seeds take years to come to fruition, while others do not grow at all. But unless you cultivate your imaginings, then you are not creating the ideal environment in which they can thrive.

Sometimes, ideas are only worth writing down when you give them a little time to ferment in your mind. It can often take a bit of daydreaming before that inspired eureka moment comes along. Trust in your creative process and learn what is worth writing down and what isn’t.

We are all creative beings and we should rejoice in the fact that we can crystalise our thoughts and transform them into great works and projects. Whether you jot things down on paper or a digital device, always make sure there is a place where you can capture your brilliance.

Writing as a linear process

For me, writing is a linear process. I cannot jump ahead and write future scenes if I’m stuck because the unfolding of a story is so organic that unexpected things happen along the way. New characters can come into the fold, the plot may take a different direction or some scenes may no longer feel necessary. None of this may happen if you begin to time-travel.

Of course, writers are the creators of their own worlds and ultimately can time-travel if they want to (indeed, it may be part of the plot). But from experience, I have found that I never fully stick to my plan as my story comes to life on the page.

I tend to stay true to the main essence of the plot, but often the best parts of my prose come from nowhere. So travelling from A to B, from beginning to end, is the way that I operate. No chopping or changing, no jumping ahead to future scenes, just staying there with my characters from the first page to the very last.

How To Choose The Right Title For Your Project

Choosing a good name for your project is very important. If you don’t label it correctly, then you might mislead people or fail to capture its true essence.

Whether your project is a book, film, play or other medium, make sure that it is named correctly. The name is the first thing that most people will see, so it should stand out and be intriguing. Ensure that it is attention-grabbing!

There is no right or wrong time to come up with your title. Some people have their title ready before they even start a project and others leave it right up until the project is finished – it has varied for each of my books so far.

A lot of people find it difficult to sum up their project, as it often has many themes and messages running through it, but you’ve got to get to the heart of what its about. How would you describe your project? If your project was packaged in a box or a tin can, what would you write on the label? Try to be clear and keep it simple.

Some titles have double-meanings, which can be very clever indeed, but the trouble is that a lot of people try to be too clever with their titles. Don’t overthink it and try to avoid being too pretentious, unless that’s the feel you’re going for. Ultimately, you should go with what feels right. You can usually tell if a title feels slightly off-kilter.

I’ll use The Secret Life of Walter Mitty as an example. This title just doesn’t ring true with what the film is about. I wouldn’t say that Walter’s life is particularly secretive, but he does work at Life Magazine, which I suppose is meant to be a double-meaning. The film is actually about the search for a missing photograph, so why not call it The Search for Negative 25? I have a sneaky feeling that Ben Stiller wanted the film to be called The Quintessence of Life, which is the nickname for the missing photograph, but the film studio probably told him that it was too pretentious.

So there you have it, folks! There’s my advice for naming your project. Do yourself a favour and give your project that name that it deserves!

Be Proud of What You Do

It isn’t easy to follow your dreams, especially if people don’t support you. But you’ve got to do what makes you happy, regardless of what other people think about it.

Doing something creative, such as writing or art, seems to raise the most eyebrows in our society. This is because being a creative person doesn’t fit in with society’s view of a ‘proper’ job. And if you’re not making money from your creations, then people find it even harder to understand your motivation.

Last week, I went to a socialising event where I met a load of new people. I’ve never been good at small talk, but I particularly despised it on this day. One of the first questions that most people asked was: ‘What do you do?’, which is a question that puts you in a box from the get-go. When I told them that I was a writer, this evoked many more questions, which I tried my best to answer, but I felt like most people were silently judging me for what I did.

Unfortunately, I was lacking in self-belief at the time, so the admission that I was a writer was very feeble. I came away from the event feeling dejected and doubtful, but then my partner reminded me that there was something missing from my life….. self-love. Until she pointed this out, I had not realised that my confidence and faith in my own ability had completely slipped away. But since that night, I have been reclaiming my self-assuredness and conviction.

Be proud of what you do. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do anything. Whether you have an obsession with unicorns or you like to make rude sculptures, then don’t be afraid to admit it! Your quirks and passions make you unique and if you take pride in what you do, then other people will love you for it. And if they don’t, then screw them… some people just like to judge.

If you find yourself feeling doubtful, then give yourself a pep-talk. Seriously. Get in front of the mirror and tell yourself that you are amazing. List all of the reasons why you are great. Remind yourself of everything you have achieved. If you can’t do this by yourself, then ask your friends and family to lend a hand. Sometimes, a little bit of encouragement goes a long way, whether its from yourself or somebody else. So go forth and believe in yourselves!

Patience Is A Writer’s Best Friend

Being a writer is a long-term commitment.

If you’re not patient, then you will get frustrated that things aren’t developing faster or even beat yourself up for not going fast enough! We writers can be tough on ourselves, right? But you’ve just got to relax and enjoy the process.

We can only ever take one step at a time, so try not to worry about what lies ahead. Focus on the task at hand and fully immerse yourself in it! If you follow your plan of action accordingly, then you will get to where you want to be in due course. Being impatient just causes lots of unnecessary suffering and stress.

Forgive me, for I’m about to quote a Miley Cyrus song (back from the days when she was a Disney gal), but here’s what she said about patience: “Ain’t about how fast you get there, ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side.. it’s the climb!”

This just clarifies what I said about enjoying the process. It’s all about the climb; it’s all about your journey from A to B. Rather than focusing on the end goal and becoming impatient, just focus on putting one foot in front of the other (doing one small task at a time) and get to the top of that mountain! Everyone seems to be in a rush these days, but speed isn’t everything… so sloooooooow riiiiiiiiiight down and revel in every step of your amaaaaaaazing journey.

Being more patient will definitely benefit you as a writer. Writing a book isn’t something that happens overnight, so you’ve got to be prepared for that. And if you’re more patient, then you’re less likely to cut corners, which will increase the quality of your work. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to write your book… what truly matters is that you’re willing to stick with it from beginning to end.

Where do you keep your observations?

This week, I have taken the executive decision to start keeping a little observations book.

In the past, my observations have been all over the place, either just left unrecorded in my head or jotted down onto scraps of paper. As a writer, things often strike a chord with me – whether it’s a particular character trait or some sort of societal issue – so it’s important to capture all of this for future reference, as anything that I observe could be used as material for my stories!

Since creating an exclusive place to record things, I have been making more observations than ever. I now try to take my notebook wherever I go because you just never know who or what you might encounter on your travels! A wry observation about mothers with prams, the way that people tend to ignore beggars on the street, an overheard snippet of conversation – anything could catch your attention!

So why not keep it all in one place? Human memory is terrible at the best of times, so it’s well worth writing stuff down. Hopefully, in years to come, I should have a wealth of notes to spark my imagination and bolster the reality of my worlds. Already, I have made some very interesting entries and I’ve only been doing this for a week!

Getting into the zone

Having trouble writing? Below are some general tips to fix that…

1) TURN OFF ALL DISTRACTIONS. I know it can be difficult in this modern world, but try to stay off the internet and even turn off your phone if this is providing distraction. You need to focus on your writing, and you can’t do that if other things are taking your attention away! If you like to check your emails, then perhaps check them just once an hour, instead of every few minutes.

2) DO MUNDANE TASKS. Yes, that’s right! It’s scientifically proven that if you do mundane tasks, then it will inspire you to be creative. Avoid tasks that require too much attention (like sudoku puzzles and reading) and avoid tasks that require no attention (i.e. sitting down doing nothing). If you want to get into the zone, then you need to do mindless tasks (i.e. going for a walk or doing the dishes). So that’s great news for stay-at-home writers, because doing the chores can help you to write!

3) MEDITATION. If you’re feeling stressed or something is on your mind, then this can get in the way of writing. So why not try some meditation to stabilise your emotions and clear your mind? I promise you, it really does work! It may take a bit of time to get into the swing of it, but it can be extremely helpful.

4) TRICK YOURSELF INTO TAKING THE PRESSURE OFF. Quite often, we put so much pressure on ourselves to write, which can actually be detrimental. You must approach your project with a relaxed attitude and remember to have fun! Most of us write because we enjoy it, so don’t forget that! If you can convince yourself to stop worrying about your writing, then it can suddenly inspire a creative frenzy. For example, you could trick yourself into thinking that writing is a form of procrastination, as opposed to a chore that you do each day.

5) JUST WRITE. As simple as it sounds, it’s a golden rule. Come rain or shine, you should get those words onto paper (or the computer screen). Don’t worry about the quality of the writing because you can tweak that later. Just get to the end of your first draft and then you can edit it, because you can’t edit a blank page, can you? Someone one told me that it’s better to have a shoddily written first draft than a perfectly polished first page. I totally agree, so write first and edit later! Write one word after another and eventually you will have a finished book.

I hope these tips are of use to people. Every writer is different, so you may find that one tip is more useful than others. Just go with what feels right… all of these tips have worked for me and hopefully they will work for you too. Happy writing =)