Wednesday, December 19, 2012

RTW: How I Name Characters

Wow, I haven't done a YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday in forever...  (although, on my current side of the world, it is already Thursday...)

This week's question is How do you decide on names? Would you ever name a character after a friend/family member/ex?

There are a few ways that character names come to me.

1. They are just magically there when I think up a character, and the fits absolutely perfectly and I love it and can't imagine any other name.

2. I can't think up a character name right away, so I think up a placeholder name. Eventually, I can't think of the character by anything but the placeholder name, so the placeholder name is then no longer a placeholder, but the character's actual name.

3. I can't for the life of me think of a good name, and I spend hours and hours on end scouring and other useless baby names sites where all of the names are really weird or unpronouncable. After that, I spend days asking family and friends for names that they like and they answer oh so helpfully with names of other family members. Or my name. At that point I usually go back to #2. (So, no, I wouldn't name a character after someone I knew. Mostly because I'm sure they would forever think oh, so that's what she thinks of me? Is that supposed to be what I'm like? etc).

So! That's my very inefficient way of thinking up character names. How do you think up character names? Maybe you could give me some tips...

Monday, December 10, 2012

How to Make It Feel Like It's Canada Outside When It's Not

For me, winter usually means 6 months of cold and snow and wearing long pants. I am used to white Christmases, toboganning on Christmas break, layering, frozen eyelashes, bundling up, being able to see your breath, and walking through snowdrifts.

Winter in Canada
Well. I am currently living in the Philippines (if you didn't know that already go here to get the scoop). It is 30 degrees Celsius pretty much every day, and stinking humid all the time. I've worn jeans once since I got here (and came to the conclusion that that was a mistake), and I almost never wear sweaters or socks.

Yet I've figured out a few ways that I can still have little tastes of Canadian winter, even though I'm in a tropical country. And if you follow the suggestions below, you can experience some Canadian winter too. Just... be prepared to use your imagination. ;)

Winter in the Philippines
1. Go running in the 30 degree heat and humidity. Once you've started to sweat a bit, just imagine that you've been tobogganing for a few hours and have worked up a sweat climbing up the toboggan hill so many times, and now you're at the point when your three layers and snowsuit feels kind of stifling. You're just going to have to use your imagination on the frozen nose and fingertips, though.

2. Go inside your apartment. Shut and cover every door and window so you can't see outside. Turn on all the Christmas lights, and crank up the air conditioning (or "aircon" as it's called here). Make some hot chocolate, and then cuddle up with a good book. Try to ignore the fact that you are wearing shorts and a tank top.

3. Stick your head in the freezer. Ignore the smell of frozen meats, and just bask in the numbness in your nose and the frost on your eyelashes.

4. Get some white paper. Cut out some circles from the paper. Then fold the circles in half, and then half again. Cut shapes all the way around the outside. Unfold, and you have snowflakes! It's even more like snow if you count all the tiny little white scraps all over the floor from the shapes you cut out.

5. Get some marshmallows somehow. Stick three together with a toothpick. Decorate with raisins. You made a snowman!

Yeah... not really comparable to a real Canadian winter, but you've just got to make do with what you have I guess. :) What's winter like for you where you are? 

Monday, December 3, 2012

The NaNo Mindset or, How to Get Things Done

Hello!! I know, I know, it's been a while. Over a month, actually... whoops. But I figure it's OK that I've been MIA here on my blog, because most people go missing in action during November anyway because of that NaNoWriMo beast.

I didn't do NaNo, although a couple of days before November I was determined to, because I watched this video:

...and I realized that all those excuses Kristina Horner shoots down in that video? Well, those were my excuses.

However, it was a day before November 1 and I barely had an inkling of an idea. As well, I'd decided to make a goal of running 60 miles in November. With the schedule I have, plus running every day, I knew I wouldn't be able to crank out 50,000 words. So I just scaled it back to 30,000 words.

And guess what? I did it! I actually ran 60 miles, and wrote 30,000 words in November. After November ended, I couldn't help but ask myself, how did that happen? How did I manage to write 30,000 words while being as busy I was, especially when I have gotten way less writing done in other months that are way less busy? How does that even work?

What was different?

Then I realized that I had put myself in this mindset. Here are the steps for my personal NaNo mindset:
The NaNo Mindset:
Step 1: First of all, I was absolutely, completely determined to make both of my goals. I wasn't wishy-washy about it, like I sometimes am with goals. It wasn't "well, I'll try to write 30,000 words, but if I don't, that's okay too." Nope. It was "I am GOING to run 60 miles, and I am GOING to write 30,000 words."

Step 2: I prioritized. I wrote when I would've done other things, but since reaching my goal was important to me, I made the time to write.

Step 3: I took advantage of every possible time to write. I like Kristina Horner's suggestions in her pep talk video when she shoots down the "I don't have time" excuse. What about those times when you sleep in? Or go watch youtube videos? Or read your book? I actually had lots of time, but I just usually didn't use it for writing. If I had time, using that time to write was the first that came into my head.

So, I definitely think this mindset could work for anything, not just writing or NaNo. You just have to shape your thoughts into a certain mindset so you'll get things done. Convince yourself that not writing (or whatever else) isn't an option.

How was your NaNo, if you participated? How do you motivate yourself to write or get things done?


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