Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. When I last left you, in the blog titled “Birth of the Demons”, I had a basic outline from a writing exercise, and I needed to make sure I had a solid plot with some interesting characters. I also had to give them names, instead of calling them Person One, Two and Three, and come up with a gripping title.
I tackled the plot first. I had everything that was required:
- A story goal
After making a few tweaks to the material that tied the different ‘word of the day’ sections together, rearranging some of those sections, making some additions, and creating a few more mishaps, struggles and a sub-plot, I gave it a read through and was satisfied that the ‘big eight’, as I call them, were complete. I could move on to naming the characters.
I had been told by many writers that the best way to come up with names was to look in the phone book. I grabbed mine and wrote down first names, starting with the ‘A’s. After about ten I decided that was way too tedious. Then I remembered that I was suppose to pull characters from my first manuscript, West on the East – Noon Judgment, as the publisher suggested I do. For more on this check out my post From Engineering to an Author. I find two characters that fit the bill for this story, Debra Wright and Patricia Mitchell. I check a blog my editor had written on assigning names to characters. I found that there are really only a few rules – more like guidelines – to follow when it comes to names:
- Don’t name a character the first and last name of someone you know or have known
- Don’t use names that start with the same letter or names that sound similar in the same story
- Create names that only have one spelling
- Use names that are two syllables, three at the most, and are easy to pronounce
- Make sure to include a disclaimer in the front matter stating that all characters are fictional
Heck, that I could do! Debra Wright and Patricia Mitchell meet all the criteria. They would be my protagonists and I made them as opposite as possible. I did the same with the antagonists (there are several) and the rest of the supporting cast, using names such as Levi West and Elena Young, from the original manuscript. Then we have Paula, Luke and Damian.
With the next three characters I got creative and used Latin and Greek names that had a specific meaning that tied into the story (this technique also helped me come up with a concrete title). Malum: (Latin) evil, wrongdoing. Asmodeus: (Greek) one of the seven princes of Hell, Asmodeus is a demon that represents one of the seven deadly sins, lust, and is therefore responsible for twisting people’s sexual desires. Omni Potens: (Latin) almighty or infinite in power, having very great or unlimited authority or power. One of these three can also transform into any being they choose, hence why they may have one name in one chapter and another the next time they appear in the story.
With regular names, I tried to make sure the first and last names sounded real and went together. You might notice that I broke a couple of the above suggestions for names by going with Latin and Greek, but I felt it was necessary.
During the second edition re-write (see the first post in this series, “When is a second edition needed?”), one of the minor characters, Paula, gained a bigger role, which gave me a Patricia and a Paula – a name snafu that breaks my second rule, above. The fix was easy: Patricia became Trish and was only called by her full name a couple of times in the book, and not in the same chapters that Paula appeared in. Then I noticed I had a Levi and a Luke, which presented no problem as one of the two didn’t show up until the last chapter of the book.
Next I had to tackle the title. The story takes place in a jungle, so the natural name would be A Jungle Life. The editor continued making revisions and suggestions, such as, “Joe, you really need to get the elephant off the dead’s woman chest and do something with the body”. When the third draft rolled around (yes, I said third – this was my first book!), everything felt in place and the paranormal was working, along with the characters. I decided to combine the location with the situation to overcome. That’s when I changed the name to Demons of the Jungle, and it went on sale May 24th 2014.
If you have been keeping up with this series of blogs you will know that I have written a second edition, which is being released either late this year or early next year. Once I completed this new edition I contacted the editor who had walked me through the first edition of the book. To my surprise she suggested I get a fresh set of eyes to look at it.
The plot of the story hadn’t changed from the first edition to the second. The players and events, along with the outcome, stayed the same. So what did change? The format, writing style and cover art. The book increased in length as more substance was added to it, drawing the reader into the story with more showing than telling.
Is the book perfect? Not by a long shot. I will consider myself a novice writer until I have written a catalog of ten or more books. Is it better than the first edition? Yes, there’s no doubt in my mind. The beta readers say it’s like reading two different books and the new editor says it is “Stephen King-esque in places”.
Next week we start a set of four blogs about getting to know the main characters. I’ll start with Debra Wright. Also keep at look out for the new cover release and the new sketches that will be added to the printed version.
Blogs in this series: “When is a second edition needed?”, “Birth of the Demons”, “Who is Debra Wright?”, “Who is Patricia Mitchell?”, “Who is Levi West?”, “The Demons”, and the teaser before the release, “A deal too good to be true”.
For more on the ‘big eight’ plot requirements mentioned above, visit “How To Create A Plot Outline In 8 Easy Steps”.
For more about naming characters, visit: “Naming Characters: Make it Easy for Yourself and Your Readers” (written by Eve Proofreads, editor of Demons of the Jungle First Edition).
Demons of the Jungle second edition edited by Keidi Keating @ Your Book Angel.
Blog edited by Clare Diston @ Human Voices.