Tag Archives: character development

NaNo 2019 Days 16 & 17 — Catch-up weekend

Weekends are such a great time to relax. Unless it’s NaNo, in which case they’re a good time to build wordcount and/or catch up to where you’re supposed to be.

While I didn’t find myself totally caught up after the weekend, I did add a good number of words, and I’m happy with a few additions my characters made to the story: Continue reading NaNo 2019 Days 16 & 17 — Catch-up weekend

What’s in a (nick)name?

How many people do you know who go by the name their parents put on their birth certificate?

Okay, probably at least a few, but do you know anyone who ALWAYS goes by that name? And if you do know one or two who do, what does that choice mean?

Why did Madeline L’Engle have everyone call the little brother Charles Wallace even though the sister was Meg (short for Megan)? Does it mean something about Charles Wallace, or about the way the rest of the world interacts with him? Or both?

I’ve been thinking a lot about nicknames. When people know each other well, they often naturally come up with something to call the other that usually isn’t their exact birth name.  Someone named Charles (or Charlotte, for that matter) could be Charlie, Chuck, Chewie, Duck, or something else entirely, depending on how they got their nickname and who is speaking to them.

And the way a person says another’s name, or which name or nickname they use, means something as well. For example, when parents call out to their children, the number of names and the formality generally says something about how much trouble they’re in.

This got me to thinking about what my characters call each other. For the most part, they’ve been using their actual names. Therefore, I’ve begun creating possible nickname lists and backstories as to how they got that nickname. (Though, I honestly still don’t know where Duck came from; maybe one of his friends thought it was funny to call him that because it rhymes with Chuck?)

How do you use nicknames in your writing? How often do your characters call each other by their actual names? Do you create backstories for where the nicknames came from?

I’d love to hear more about your process in the comments below.

Happy writing!

Photo of name badges by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
Photo of George by George Becker on Stocksnap.io

Unlocking the #brain for better #writing? #TEDx

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 10.34.11 AM

I just finished watching a TEDx Talk given by Bill Donius called “Unlocking Your Brain’s Hidden App.”

It’s 17 minutes long, but if you have a few minutes it’s definitely worth the watch. Find it here.

Now that you’ve seen it, did you write down the same animal or a different? What does it mean to you?

Unfortunately, I wrote the same one twice. I was overthinking it (if you know me, you know I overthink a lot of stuff). Plus, in college I used to practice writing the alphabet over and over with my left hand, so maybe that had an impact.*

However, even though it didn’t “work” for me the first time, I feel like there’s something here. I want to figure a way to surprise myself into not overthinking — maybe get my husband to shoot questions at me quick-fire style? — and see what happens.

My hope is that it can help me break through some of the writers’ block that’s been keeping me from understanding some of my characters. If I get a good result, I’ll certainly share…

Happy writing!


*This is a true story. It was during a particularly boring lecture class where the prof tended to repeat himself a good deal. He was an amazing man and had a multitude of experience to share, but he was in his 80s and often forgot which stories he’d already shared. Anyone who took a Cultural Anthropology class at Kent State during the time I was there, you know who I mean. (RIP Dr. P)  Upon realizing I was hearing the same stories for a second time, I got to thinking that if I ever hurt my right hand maybe I should know how to write with my left, so I literally filled notebook pages with left-handed alphabets. That way I’d still get my A for attendance (yes, that’s how easy that particular class was), and I’d look like I was taking notes.

Key for #character development? Need advice. #writing #amwriting


I recently saw a suggestion on Twitter to cast your novel — that is, to think of which actors (or characters from another story) you’d cast if your novel was a movie.

Wow. Mind blown.

Yes, the bulk of character work still has to come from my own head — my character can’t be exactly like someone else’s or else I’m going to end up writing someone else’s story. However, character development is my weaker area. I’m a very plot-driven writer, and prefer to read plot-driven stories with some character development, rather than stories that focus mostly on character and not so much on plot. Therefore, it was a complete revelation that I could get a jump start on character building by gaining inspiration from a character I already know.

Now that I’ve started researching it I realize that there are MANY people and groups who advocate doing this. I don’t know the original source of the idea, but good for whomever had it first, and for everyone who uses it.

Anyone out there who has already been doing this, what do you like about it? What are your hints and tips for doing it well?

Anyone tried it and didn’t like it? Why not?

Thanks, and happy writing!