Tag Archives: fiction

What I’ve Learned While Not Writing

It’s no secret I’ve had little luck with writing lately. I’m not going to repeat the reasons here. But I have learned a few things while I haven’t been writing much.

Stories keep piling up.

I keep thinking about different story ideas. And they don’t stop. They’re in my mind, and they keep multiplying.

Taking other creative avenues.

I’m still remaining creative. My creativity has moved largely to YouTube. With my new science channel, I’ve been working a lot more on the editing and trying to make it look better.

I’m not reading more.

I’m writing less, but I’m not reading more. My reading seems to suffer when I don’t write. Why would that be?

Being busy doesn’t help.

I’ve been busy in many ways. This really doesn’t help my writing. If my days were simpler, I’d be able to write a lot more. But life isn’t simple.

While I may not be writing much, I’m still thinking about the books I want to write. And I want to write many.

Authors Answer 102 – Graphic Literature

Comic books and graphic novels are very popular. Both children and adults read them. There are comics for children, comics and graphic novel for adults. Although they are filled with pictures, they encourage people to read. But are they literature?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 102 – Do you consider comic books and graphic novels to be legitimate forms of literature?

Linda G. Hill

I’ve never actually read one, but why not?

Elizabeth Rhodes

Yes. They are legitimate storytelling mediums with their own styles. The presence of illustration does not change this. Comics have a history of not being taken seriously, but I don’t think anyone who still holds on to this view has taken a look at a comic or graphic novel from recent times. The mediums have come a long way.

D. T. Nova

Graphic novels, absolutely so.

There’s more of a continuum than a sharp definition of distinct categories, so whether most comics are “literature” has at least as much to do with definitions as it does with “legitimacy”.

Paul B. Spence

Literature? I suppose. I think they are legitimate ways to tell stories, but then so are video games and movies. Not sure I’d call any of them literature…

Gregory S. Close

Yes, but like any medium, some of it is better than others.  My fatigue with comic books and graphic novels began in my teen years, mostly around the depiction of women.  While there certainly are great female comic book characters, in general they are treated as Big Boobs in Spandex and it’s just so objectifying.  I noticed it more once I had daughters and realized how the female heroes were portrayed compared to their male counterparts.  I think changes are happening, but slowly, and the industry needs to do more with its female heroes (maybe starting with clothing them more, so that their appeal is based on character and not sex appeal).

Eric Wood

I do. I think they tell a story through image dialogue. It’s not a genre I ever got into, but I do believe they count as literature.

C E Aylett

I’m afraid I don’t consider them at all. They just don’t interest me. I don’t read them – I’m still unsure as to whether graphic refers to pictures or porn! LOL.

However, I don’t like using terms such as ‘legitimate’ when it comes to areas like this. It smacks of elitism, that one particular group can make a judgement call on behalf of the rest of us in accordance to rules they made up towards their specific tastes.

What we’re really talking about is the term ‘literature’ to mean a form of written art. (Technically, all texts that form and communicate ideas are literature!)

Graphic literature is so hybrid I don’t think you can make a judgement in such direct terms. The rules that apply to visual art or literary art cannot be applied to both in the same way. Graphic literature is an art all of its own and any ‘legitimacy’ should be one form of it ranked against another in the same form. A bit like commercial vs literary novels.

At a push, I guess I would compare graphic literature more in line with film. So, is script writing considered a ‘legitimate’ form of literature?

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Absolutely, yes. They are obviously a very different form of literature, being that the vast majority of the written words are dialogue, with the rest of the necessary information being portrayed by the imagery, but literature none-the-less.

Comics and graphic novels aim to do exactly the same thing that traditional novels do: tell a story. And to be quite honest, I’ve read some comics and graphic novels that accomplished that goal much more successfully than some traditional novels I’ve read.

Also, my personal opinion is that reading is a good thing regardless of the exact specifics of the material, so if someone wants to spend their time reading comics…go for it! It’s all literacy!

Beth Aman

They are definitely valid forms of story-telling.  Literature?  Who cares about literature.  If you have a story to tell, tell it in the best way you can.  If that’s a comic book or graphic novel, then there you go.

Jean Davis

I suppose so. Can’t say that I’m a big fan of either, but I have enjoyed one or the other from time to time. If pictures help get people reading, I’m not going to debate about the legitimacy.

H. Anthe Davis

About half of my recorded Goodreads entries are graphic novels or manga, so I absolutely consider them literature.  Setting aside such materials as the X-Men or the Justice League, which most people think of when the idea of comic books crops up, there’s the Sandman series — which won a literary award that was subsequently clarified to be not-for-comic-books — and such materials as Persepolis, Maus and Zahra’s Paradise, which tackle serious memoir- and literary issues that just happen to be best shown through illustration.  Sure, there are plenty of throwaway superhero stories in the genre — but 90% of every genre is throwaway crap.  Comics’ throwaway crap is just more visible because the visuals make them easier to translate to the screen, and the somewhat disjointed stories are more easily massaged into screenplays to support whatever the movie studios want.  Just like it’s hard to find literary mysteries under the pile of James Pattersons, it can be hard to find literary comics under the pile of Avengers and Batman — but they exist.

Jay Dee Archer

In general, I’ll say yes. Maybe my definition of literature is a bit broad, though. I consider it any form of print that use words to convey a story or a message, just as long as it isn’t just a scrap of paper. It should be a book, at least. Even short ones. But if I were to narrow my definition down to books that are written to tell a great story rather than to simply entertain, then it depends. There are a lot of comics that merely entertain and don’t even tell a story. Garfield, for example, although I love it, probably wouldn’t be considered literature. However, something like Sandman would be considered literature.

How about you?

Do you think comic books and graphic novels are literature? Let us know in the comments below.

Top Ten Time Periods in Historic Novels I Want to Read

I love to experience different cultures through books. Seeing what life is like in different countries is very interesting. However, while we can experience those easily in modern times, it’s much more difficult to experience times from the distant past. Here are the time periods (and places) I’d like to visit through fiction:

  1. Ancient Greece, more than 2000 years ago
  2. Ancient Rome, more than 2000 years ago
  3. Ancient Japan, around 1000 years ago
  4. Mayan civilisation
  5. Incan civilisation, pre-Columbus
  6. Norway, around 1000 years ago
  7. Scotland, more than 1000 years ago
  8. Australia, before European colonisation
  9. North American plains, before European colonisation
  10. Mesopotamia

What are some time periods and civilisations would you like to read about in fiction? Let me know in the comments below.

What Would You Ask an Author?

Authors Answer has been going strong for eighty-three weeks now without a single week off. That’s eighty-three questions. By the end of this month, we’ll be at eighty-six. Not so far from a hundred!

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveBut now is your chance to ask the authors some questions. If you could ask an author any question, what would it be? This is not for a specific author, but for authors in general. Keep in mind that the simple, obvious questions have already been asked. Think of something unique and creative. You can ask your question (or questions) in the comments below, and you’ll see the answers starting after June. I will also be linking back to your blog, if you have one.

So, what are you waiting for? Ask some questions!

Ariadne Stories from A to Z

Last year, I participated in the A to Z Challenge, and for that challenge, I wrote a very brief story about a person who lived on Ariadne for each letter of the alphabet. It grew into something bigger than I imagined it would. It became an actual story and sets up the first novel a bit. This year, I didn’t participate because of our move to Canada. However, in honour of the challenge, here is last year’s challenge, all available in one post with links to each part. Read it all if you like. Each part will be very quick to read. Enjoy!

I hope you stuck with the entire story. I mostly just skimmed over some of the parts, and realised that I really need to read it again. Get my mind back into Ariadne and the characters so I can continue to write Journey to Ariadne and the first novel.

Please leave comments below, or you can leave comments on the story posts. I’d love to hear your impressions.

Authors Answer 77 – Naming Characters

Names are important, especially in fiction. They need to be memorable. They need to stand out. They shouldn’t be boring or forgettable. But it’s not the easiest thing to do. Some names are overused, some names sound cheesy. What’s the best way to choose a name?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 77 – How do you choose character names?

Paul B. Spence

For main characters, they are just there when I create the concept. For others, I glance through name books and pick combinations that I like. Sometimes I work the name of an author from my bookshelf into secondary characters’ names.

Gregory S. Close

A few names come unbidden through the ether and pop into my brain.  Other names have been carefully sourced and researched based on some imagined criteria I’ve come up with – based on Celtic or Native American roots etc.  Baby name websites can be handy, especially if they provide meanings and allow you to sort by derivation.

And… Some names come from stereo components.

Allen Tiffany

Mostly they just come to me. The main characters, anyway. I’ve been told I should pick names with subtle meaning and clever references, which I do for the secondary characters. But the MCs always just show up with their names already figured out. When I do think about names, I often conclude I think about it too much and make a hash out of it.

Linda G. Hill

I have the hardest time with character names! Once in a while they just come to me and I know beyond a doubt that I’ve plucked the character, name and all, from the universe. But most of the time I drive myself nuts with the decision.

D. T. Nova

I use a combination of the name’s meaning, its sound, and other connotations it may have from other uses.

I also sometimes use theme naming for characters associated with each other.

Jean Davis

I’m really exact about character names. I spend hours researching meanings until I find just the right one. And no, not really. Names either come to me in the moment or I mash keys until one happens. I’ve also been known to turn to someone and say, “Give me a name” and there it is.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

For me it actually depends on the individual stories. If I’m writing a drabble or a little flash fiction piece I’ll usually only use first names, and I’ll snatch those names at random from the long list of people I’ve met or worked with. I honestly won’t think about it too much; I’ll just pick the first name I think of that sounds okay.

With “Nowhere to Hide”, however, I was a lot pickier about my character names. Since it was my first horror novel, and I had every intention of it being published, I wanted to use the opportunity to pay homage to other horror names who have influenced me. My main character, for example, is Nancy King. “Nancy” is for the main character from the original “Nightmare on Elm Street” movie, and “King” is for, of course, Mr Stephen King.

With “The Other World” it was a much sillier process that brought my characters their names. For the purposes of a later plot point I definitely wanted my main character’s name to be Victoria, but I didn’t want to be calling her that all the time so I nicknamed her “Tori”. Since the first letter of her name matched mine I chose her last name from my paternal grandmother’s maiden name. Then, on a whim (since I’d already built her name, in a way, from my own) I named her love interest and best friend to match my husband and beset friend…thus Jacob was born from Jason and Kaima was born from Kelly. In retrospect it seems rather a childish way to name my characters, but I’ve grown into the names and love them now, so they’re here to stay.

Eric Wood

I ask my wife. Or I ask my friends. Or I’ll just grab a name that I like. There is usually very little thought to it.

H. Anthe Davis

Starting in middle school, I kept a list of interesting-sounding names that I either thought up randomly or found elsewhere, and would tweak them until they became something that fit a character.  As I built my story-world more, though, I started reverse-deriving some of the names to build the vocabulary in my fake language, and then branched out to defining naming-conventions for the various kingdoms and territories.  So these days, I check the naming conventions first, and then the language dictionary, and tack something together from those — but most of my long-running characters have names from before that age, so might stand out a bit from the rest of the pack, who knows.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I use a generator for most of my names, usually the Quick Character Namer on Seventh Sanctum. I don’t put too much stock in picking the “perfect” name for a character, but I do need to know what to call a character before I can continue. I don’t want a repeat of the placeholder name I mentioned in the last Authors Answer.

S. R. Carrillo

They often jump out at me. Back in the day, my character names were not uncommonly the fourth or fifth round of a name changed from its original version. For instance, Ero’s name used to be Samore Edorelo (don’t ask), which then became Relo for short and then Ero – at one point, it was going to be Aeiro, but thank God that one didn’t stick.

Other times, it’s a process of elimination – often, when I’m working on a project with someone else. We bounce a series of names back and forth until we find something that fits the idea of the people we both have in mind.

It’s really that simple – and complicated. ;]

Jay Dee Archer

I use a variety of methods. Mostly, for my science fiction books, I search online for names depending on the country or culture the character is from. That’s the simplest method. But for main characters, I look for meaning. For Ariadne, the main character of the first book is a girl named Solona. I searched for names of various cultural backgrounds that mean “wise.” One that caught my eye was the Greek name Solona. And that’s how her name was chosen.

For fantasy, I’m likely to make things up for given names, but family names may be based on geography, birthplace, family history, jobs, or any other appropriate category. I have yet to create any names for fantasy, though.

How about you?

If you write, how do you choose names for your characters? Let us know in the comments below.