Now I Sit Me Down to Write

Now I sit me down to write

I ask God for words not trite

I wish I can, I wish I might

Pen a masterpiece tonight.


Many times as we sit down to write, visions of grandeur fill our minds. After all, how hard can it be? I am sure Charles Dickens or Samuel Clemens simply put on paper whatever came to mind didn’t they? It is simply a matter of letting the words flow from our exceptionally creative minds through our fingers to the page. Right?

Good Dialogue – The Author’s Goal

Readers choose books with lots of dialogue and not so much narrative, somehow feeling that dialogue makes a difference between a dull or great book. They don’t know how dialogue defines the characters, brings them to life and creates the tone of the story. Nor do they understand how the writer purposely used dialogue to evoke an emotional response in the reader.

In the following excerpt from my third cozy cat mystery, Black Cat and the Accidental Angel, Black Cat and Angel have just sent their first kitten to her new home. They discuss how they feel about the kitten leaving.

Where to Put Those Words: Scrivener vs. Word

by Michelle Janene

Where is the best place to write your masterpiece? There is the old standby Microsoft Word, and there are great programs like Scrivener. What should you use? It depends on what your needs are.

Scrivener is a software program created by writers for writers. It is very inexpensive and jam-packed with more features that any one person could ever use.

It is good for fiction authors and I think even better for non-fiction works. It helps organize not just your manuscript but every piece of research as well. It will store text, web links, photos, just about anything you need to write your masterpiece. Need a name for a character? There’s a name generator. Need some place to flesh out your characters? There is a character sketch form ready to fill in with things like age, education, occupation and more. You can also put a picture of your character on each one. Amazing!

Too smart for my own good

by Michelle Janene

Not that anyone would ever accuse me of being too smart, but I have been doing some reflecting on my recent writing struggles. I participated in my fourth NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) in November. Love challenging myself this way and I’ve succeeded in the past so I went into it with great expectations. But getting the words on the pages this time around was like slogging through an alligator infested swamp.

49756985 - girl with laptop in the hand in comic style. woman with notebook . girl showing the laptop. girl in glasses. hipster girl. sexy blue hair girl with laptop.I had a project in mind. Had been mapping it out and mentally filming it for a couple of months. I couldn’t wait for November 1st to stike on the clock. The goal to complete the challenge is 1,667 words pre-day. Day one saw not quite a thousand, and each day that followed saw few and fewer. The weekends I couldn’t seem to catch up. What was the matter with me? Honestly, the creation part is the most fun. I love starting a project. Hate ending one. So what was going on?

As it turned out, in stalling for the beginning of NaNo, I filled my spare time by studying some craft. That doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but it ended up getting me stuck.

What If…

How do you come up with your ideas?

I recently shared lunch with a dear writing friend. The talk turned to our works in progress.

“How do you come up with your ideas?” she asked.

I have no problem coming up with ideas. My mind is constantly running amuck. Many writers are not as fortunate. So where do ideas come from? Here are a couple of things you can do generate ideas, or take the beginnings you have to a new depth.

What If…

I15384997 - what if 3d text surrounded by question marks. part of a series.n Conflict & Suspense by James Scott Bell, he talks about playing the “What if…” game. Take any event, anywhere you are, any thing you are doing and ask, What if. My friend and I did this as we sat looking out the window of the restaurant.

·      What if one of the cars out there on the street is carrying a cache of weapons on the way to an old employer’s office?

·      What if someone put a bomb in one of the cars?

·      What if there was a man on the way to break up with his fiancé?

·      What if one car was full of balloons and supplies to set up for a surprise party?

·      What if someone was driving their newborn home from the hospital?

·      What if a scientist had a time machine that was jostled by a pothole, and triggered so he drove his car in to 1385?

James Scott Bell talked about seeing a billboard of a woman getting sunscreen put on her legs. Here are some of his what ifs:

·      What if the man applying the lotion was sent to assassinate her, but he’s fallen in love?

·      What if they are having an affair?

·      What if it isn’t lotion but something that will turn her into a half woman/half squid?

 

What if is a lot of fun and can generate many possible plot lines to play with later.

 

Make it worse

This comes from a class another great writing friend took from Donald Maass author of Writing the Breakout Novel. You have the beginning of an idea. How can you build on it, and take it from an idea to a full novel?

Go back to the what if about the man driving to break up with his girlfriend.

·      Make it worse.

He has a terminal illness and doesn’t want to leave her as a widow before their first anniversary.

·      Make it worse.

After he as crushed her with the break up, he realizes how very much he needs her, but there is no going back.

·      Make it worse.

He is abducted by an alien life form who cures him so he can save their planet from destruction.

·      Make it worse.

In order to save the planet he has to battle a creature, save a princess, and marry her. But he still loves the woman he left behind on earth.

These are some fun ways to get the creative juices flowing. Have fun. Play alone or get some writing friends together and play as a group. There will be no end to the possibilities and your “To be Written” file may soon be larger than mine.

What if …

We all had too many stories to complete for God’s glory to keep working at anything but writing?

Michelle Janene Murray blissfully exists in the medieval creations of her mind most days. She published Mission: Mistaken Identity in 2015, helps edit the Inspire anthologies, and is working to expand her personal press to publish other authors.

What’s In A Name?

Creating the right name for every character

‘A rose by any other name, may smell as sweet,’ but what about our characters? Are all names the same? Can they be interchanged and still carry the same meaning and impact? Does a Fred give the reader the same impression as an Alfred? What kind of person do you picture with the name Marci, how about Mariamne, or Mary, or Meraera, or Malith?

Names have power in our stories. But how do we create the right name for every character?

When I first started writing, I bought a baby name book. When I created a new character I’d pick a letter I wanted the name to start with and then go through the pages looking at meanings and spelling variations until I found something to suit my character.

As time passed and I roamed the web more, I discovered a plethora of sites to find names. Most baby or new mom sites have a dedicated page for names. But I took my naming to the next level by choosing a name based on its meaning. Sites like the following are a small list of possibilities for search by the meaning.

name generatorIf you don’t want to waste hours on the net and have Scrivener, there is a name generator built in. You can to pick a name based on gender and nationality. (Edit > Writing Tools > Name Generator > )

 

 

 

 

 

I have also found some apps I enjoy: (these are free for Android, but they might be found for Apple as well—or something similar)

  • Name Generator
  • Fake Name Generator is fun. It will give you a name: First and last, along with an address, occupation, fake SSN, and a long list of other stats.

fake name generator

Since I write most of my books with a medieval feel, I have several sites bookmarked for Old English names. Here are some of my favorites.

I have also looked for names popular in the old west. More recently I Googled ‘most popular names in 19—’. When you know the age of your character you can get a feel for the names many parents were giving their children the same year as your character was born.

Here is another free app for fantasy names

  • Fantasy Name Generator. This one has an extensive list of possible fantasy characters to choose from, including: hobbits, elves, angels, dragon, dwarves, and a host of others.

By far, one of my favorite new finds as a fantasy writer is Donjon. You can create an entire world with this site. Each of the names below is link within site that leads to worlds of possibilities. You can name your characters, your world, and the locations in your world. There are occupations, population stats, maps, and diagrams. A person could spend days on this site—and never get a word written.

http://donjon.bin.sh/

  • Fantasy Name Generator
  • Random Generator
  • Fantasy Calendar Generator
  • Fantasy World Generator
  • Medieval Demographics Calculator
  • Random Adventure Generator
  • Random Dungeon Generator
  • Random Inn Generator

Do you have any tried and true ways of naming characters? Share your insights and happy naming.

Michelle Janene Murray blissfully exists in the medieval creations of her mind most days. She published Mission: Mistaken Identity in 2015, helps edit the Inspire anthologies, and is working to expand her personal press to publish other authors.