I mentioned in the last post that I was at loose ends with my latest project being complete and available on Amazon ( http://www.amazon.com/At-Wits-End-A-K-Lawrence-ebook/dp/B00H89B31G/ ). I mentioned I would begin blogging about the process of writing the next book from Inspiration through the Publish button. This is the first in that series. As I do not currently have a title for the new project it, and the blog posts, will be considered Project X.
My Companion and I were talking about names the other day. They are a pretty key component to our identities. The pronunciation can be important. His immediate superior is from India. His name is not difficult to pronounce but my Companion has co-workers who simply refuse to make the effort. It’s lazy and rude and, were I that boss, would be correcting the pronunciation every time I heard it. In keeping some personal information out of a very public blog I will give you a separate example that is equally important.
There was a young girl in an elementary class. Her name was (and still is) Shithead. I would like to believe the parents were going for something Irish and didn’t think to look up the correct spelling. Point being a mispronunciation in her case is definitely rude and potentially catastrophic for any potential business partnerships. The correct pronunciation of that name, by the way, is Sh-uh-THAY-d and not what most people were thinking.
When I start a book I generally like to have fun with the names. In Freedom’s Treasure I created a woman named Anna Molly Mylan. I enjoy that when you say her first and middle names together it becomes Anomaly. In At Wit’s End the characters name was Marie Lee Chase. Again, when said together quickly the first and middle name become Merrily. Merrily Chase. In a romance. It’s almost too much.
For Project X I asked a friend to name a main character. I left it completely open. She did what any sane mother and wife would do and took it to the dinner table. Over what I assume was a lively dinner conversation about mayhem they came to a family decision. She brought the name back to me and the family suggested he’d make a great bad guy.
They are so right.
So, greatI I have a name for a character in a book with no plot. Baby steps, my friends, baby steps.
I wrote the name – and a suggested nickname – on my white board. That board is on a wall in between the kitchen and living room. I glance at it briefly every day because of the location. It’s a perfect spot for jarring my brain. I was going to post a picture of that board with this post but I fear it came out all sorts of awful due to lighting. Also, I have to figure out how much information I’m willing to give out during the writing of Project X. It’s important to keep people interested and curious.
I took this kernel of information with me to the gym. I have some of my best ideas while walking on the treadmill or riding the stationary bike. I took the name dead on and tried to see what this guy would look like, what kind of bad guy he would be, what made him that way.
We have preconceptions of people based on names. An example of that: I used the name Eliza in Freedom’s Treasure for the main character’s mom. She was elderly, spry, nosy, etc. That name, to me, screams elderly lady. A friend of mine read the name as Elise. Slightly different but got the same point across because that name was more familiar to her so I didn’t correct it. Score one for laziness but I also didn’t want to embarrass her, if that’s was something that would.
I locked on to the last question. What made this hypothetical bad guy bad? I started him young. I thought of a dark-haired boy on a farm somewhere. His parents are refusing to talk to a man in a suit about him. The man wants to take him away to a school. His parents won’t let him go to a friends house much less school. The man tries again a year later. The parents refuse. The boy runs away at age 12 etc. etc.
About 2 years ago I was pet sitting for a friend. She has a beautiful kitty named Hermione. While staying at her place I realized that every night at the same time I would hear a long, short, long train whistle. The sound would move closer and closer and then… nothing. The tracks are right next to her house. I explored the area and tried to figure it out.
I invited a friend over and they heard the whistle at the same time I did. I said something like, “That train that’s never going to come is coming again.” It’s an odd description but very apt. We decided it would be a fantastic line in poetry or a story. Every now and again we drop the phrase on the other person as a reminder.
So, a train that seems to come so close each night but never does. A smart little boy who hasn’t seen more of the world but understands there’s a lot more out there for him than a farm in the mid-west.
I now have two thoughts bouncing together. A name and the hint of an idea based on a feeling. Baby steps, people, baby steps. As I know more so shall you.