Sunday, November 23, 2008

Name that Character!

This post was inspired by a post on the Second Wind Word Press page, by Pat Bertram. In it, she talks about how a character name shows a lot about the character. I started this as a comment to her, but it got too long, so I moved it here. Dellani


I believe a name tells a lot about a character. One can be as obvious as “Young Goodman Brown” or as subtle as Duncan Chandler. The reason I cite the latter as an example is because he is one of my characters whose name represents two distinct facets of his personality. Duncan means “Dark Warrior”. He is the son of the protagonist, himself a dark warrior (both in aspect and action). Duncan is looked upon as a warrior, the next generation. Chandler means “Light Bringer”. The reason I chose this name is because he is also looked upon as the new hope, the one to fight the darkness and evil that threaten.

That got me interested in a few other names that I’ve used in the same series:


Matilda (Duncan’s mother) “Fierce in Battle”

Wilhelm (his father) “Determined Protector”


Marcus (his paternal uncle) “Of Mars - Warlike”

Rebbecca (Marc’s wife) “Enchantingly Beautiful”


Benjamin (his older brother) “Of the Right Hand”

Emmelia (Ben’s wife and Chairman of the Board of the Mining Guild) “Work”


Except for Duncan’s name, which I looked up and chose carefully, all these names were given by chance. But looking at their personalities, the names fit them incredibly well. Matilda, his mother, is a warrior and as fierce as her husband in a battle. Wil protects his family, friends, and those who fight with him. Marc is also a true warrior and his wife, Rebbecca, is beautiful. Ben is his father’s right hand, his wife Emmelia is one of the hardest working women in the galaxy.
My readers will probably never know the meanings behind the names, nor why I find them significant, but I found it an interesting way of fleshing them out.

I Did It Again!

I finished my second NaNoWriMo novel! I had the word count fairly early on, but I wasn't sure I'd finish. With being sick last week as well as having a two week deadline on novel revisions, I didn't know if I would get it done, but I did! YEAH! As my daughter says, "The deserves a woo." WOO!

If you aren't familiar with NaNoWriMo, check this site: www.nanowrimo.org and discover the fun of writing a complete novel in the month of November!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Write it Right or Yes, Virginia, Mechanics Count

When I was a child, I couldn't spell. I'm still spelling impaired and love spell check above any of the other features of my word processing program. I am, however, glad I have a good background in punctuation, because word processors are woefully inadequate there. Rule of thumb, if Word corrects your punctuation, it is probably wrong. Second rule of thumb: If you rely on Word to correct your punctuation, you need a lot of help.

I can remember saying to my mother, "But they know what I mean! Why is it wrong?" Because it is, genius. It simply is. There are rules and conventions in spelling and punctuation that we have come to expect. When they aren't there, they interfere with the message we are trying to convey. I don't remember my mother's exact words, but that is the essence of what she told me.

As a high school A.P. English teacher, I got a lot of that same attitude. My students could not see the importance of spelling, neatness and punctuation until their essays came back covered in so much red ink they looked like they'd been slaughtered by Attila the Hun. I couldn't seem to stress enough, mechanics matter!

Spelling is one of the most ignored conventions in writing. Of course, with the onset of massive text messaging, we ignore spelling completely and go to how it sounds. Abbreviations, typing it in quickly, getting the message to the other party fast - all this becomes more important than saying it right. If you send me a text message, I'm likely to send back the reply "???" Sorry, I don't speak gibberish. Look it up. Dictionary.com is free.

The second most ignored convention is comma placement. Commas crop up in all the wrong places, but get left out of all the spots they belong in. Certain commas are expected. When using direct address, use a comma. "Brad, look at that!" Or "Look at that, Brad!" The comma is there to let the reader know that the comment is addressed to Brad. The speaker is not saying "Look at that brad." He or she wants Brad to look at something.

Another anticipated and neglected comma is the one used to separate items in a list. "The big, black, ugly, smelly, dirty, nasty dog ran over and jumped on me." While on occasion, one may dispense with commas to separate, it's not considered a good idea. If the list is very long, as in the sample sentence, the commas have to be there. They just have to, that's why!

Commas before the word 'and', can be debated until the cows come home. Many will tell you that comma is a must. Others will tell you that it's completely unnecessary and redundant. Choose a method, side with one team or the other and be consistent.

I realize that sometimes the creative juices flow and the urge to get something down now is very compelling. We all go through manic writing phases . We hammer away at the keys and stay up half the night to get the story down. I understand this well. However, putting aside mechanics for speed is not a good idea. Figuring that you can go back later and neaten it up is fine in theory, but not in practice. It is impossible to read through and get all the errors on your own. Sometimes you can bribe a friend or two to look over something you've written. I guarantee if it's too terrible, they will get tired of it and quit. So, pay attention to the mechanics as you go. It makes less of a mess later and won't take so long to neaten up. Finishing isn't as important as getting it right as you go.

What's the point of this article? Am I trying to make people feel bad or insult their intelligence?
No. I am pointing out that each error we make as writers damages our credibility. Make your work as easy to comprehend as possible. Don't interfere with your message by carelessness.

Lone Wolf by Dellani Oakes

Lone Wolf - sci-fi adventure at its best! The year is 3032 and mankind has expanded far beyond Earth’s galaxy. Matilda Dulac is a member of...