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How to write a novel | names

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When you’re beginning a novel, you have to decide on names for characters and maybe a name for the novel. You also have to decide on a place. It could be a mysterious place. I have started today’s blog with a mysterious wall. There is some white at the bottom of the wall and a little graffiti, the door also has graffiti and that leads me to believe that it’s been cleaned recently and all the graffiti didn’t come off. The balcony and the dark line of bricks level with it, makes me think that there is a walkway on the other side, level with that little balcony. The reason for this wall and it’s unusual design? I don’t know. It seems to be designed so people can look out. Perhaps there is a secret garden at the other side of the wall?

I hope my picture has inspired you to think of a place, but how about names? You need a unique title for your book and names that don’t come up in search on the internet would be useful. If you use unusual names though, the reader might have trouble remembering them or associating with them. Readers do associate themselves with the protagonist in a novel. The protagonist in a romance is usually female because women read more romance novels than men. Catherine was the female in Wuthering Heights, but the antagonist was given a more unusual name and who can forget Heathcliff?

I think Charles Dickens used some good names in his novels too. Oliver Twist and David Copperfield are known to most of us and he also had a way with titles for his novels. One of my favourites is ‘Great Expectations’ and in that he shortened Philip to ‘Pip’.  He came up with really memorable names, but some very unusual ones too, like Mr Pumblechook . His names tended to be appropriate like Biddy who was a kind but poor school teacher. Mr Jaggers was a lawyer. In his novella A Christmas Story  he called Timothy Cratchit, ‘Tiny Tim’. That made the boy sound vulnerable, which was the intention. 

If you are going to write a novel, you can do a writing course, that will help with the technicalities of grammar, punctuation and so on. It is a good idea to read a lot of books though and it doesn’t have to cost so  much these days with classics available as downloads for eBook readers. You could also consider writing short stories or a novella before embarking on the daunting task of writing a complete novel. Writing something shorter will give you experience of editing and reading it back over and over again, checking for errors, until you have it perfect.

A lot of people want to try to write a novel and today with computers there has never been a better time. Not only can you type it in and turn it into an eBook, but you have a wealth of information on the internet for research. If one of your characters is going to drive from London to Birmingham, how long would it take? Little details like that can add realism to a story and if you ask for directions on Google maps it will tell you. Those little details that add realism, that make a story plausible, are important. ‘Beam me up, Scotty’ might not sound like a plausible phrase to use, but it had a precedence. It referred to teleportation, which had been used in popular stories before.  The whole idea of space travel has been plausible for a long time, but more so now it’s not only possible but has been done. The more plausible you can make things that appear to be improbable, the more realism you have in the story and the more you will fire the imagination of the reader. Science fiction is based on real science and so learn a little science, then stretch the truth and you have science fiction. Is invisibility possible? Yes, of course, we have invisible gases, radio waves, magnetic fields and the air we breathe!

There are more amazing blogs on the Home Page. What are you writing? Please comment…


3 responses

  1. There are so many books out there on the art of creative writing, but if I had to recommend just one, it would have to be ‘On Writing’ by that giant of storyteling, Stephen King.
    Excellent post, and thanks for the pingback! 🙂

    2, May 2012 at 1:47 pm

  2. Or storytelling, even!

    2, May 2012 at 1:48 pm

  3. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for the comment. I am doing these hints each week and doing pingbacks to blogs that are similar. It’s such a complicated subject and one that we tend to forget what we’re doing. I use rhetorical devices, but when it comes to naming them all, I’m lost! Analysing what we do is always difficult.

    2, May 2012 at 3:27 pm

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