Sunday, November 24, 2013

Their Questions Now Our Questions

Most of us by now have had the opportunity to ask questions to our assigned authors. The questions ranged from asking about their characters to asking about their personal life. All the answers we have received have been interesting and some even controversial. What would be some of your guys' answers to those same questions we have asked of our guest authors? For example, how much of your own history do you put in your writing? Or how do you get over writers block? How do titles come to you? What about characters names? I know some of us aren't writers but we could still answer these questions because I think everyone has had the opportunity to write fiction at one point in their life.


  1. Personally I put a lot of my history into my work because I feel that it is the thing closest to me. However, when I put my history into my work I change things because I don't feel completely comfortable putting up an identical story as my original experience. It would be like giving my journal to the world and that doesn't settle well with me.
    I typically write either fantasy or more abstract works. I have a really hard time outlining my works or keeping a specific story line. But even then I don't typically title a work until I am completely done writing it, or until I have written a good number of pages.
    As for character names I use what feels right. In the past I used to focus on the meaning of the name and such things but that takes a lot of time and effort and sometimes even then it doesn't feel right.
    For writer's block I typically listen to some good music and open a blank word document of get a blank piece of paper and force myself to write. Sometimes if even that doesn't work I will write about my day or my week just to get some words onto paper and think about sentence structure and format.

  2. I usually don’t talk much about my own history in my own writing. I use writing and reading to get away from this world and this life, so I don’t directly include anything based in my own reality. However; any ideas I come up with are obviously a product of this reality, so there are some stands of me and my history and past and experiences in anything I write. I think this is true of any author.

    When I have writer's block, I usually give up and write something else or do something else. Often when I am working on a draft you will see “(continue)” in the middle of something because I get suck, and rather than dwelling, I simply skip the part where I am stuck and write what happens next. The draft I’m working on now for another class currently has 3 of these, which is not normal for me in such a short story, but I got really stuck as I was writing it. I will go back to the story later and usually I can fill in the blanks because I now have a clear mind.

    Titles don't' normally just "come to me". I usually have a working title so that I remember what the story is about. For example, the story I mentioned above is called “Rose”. This is because the main character’s name is Rose. That’s it. Simple. I don’t know if this will be the final name, but I like it for now.

    Character names have always been difficult for me. I usually end up with characters named Sue or Bob because I can’t think of anything. “Rose” from the story above was easy; The story was inspired by a song, and so Rose was already named. I know someone who keeps a list of cool names she hears, and then looks at the list when writing a story so she can use one. I would like to begin doing that.

  3. I use some of my own history in my writing. It usually isn't anything very significant. For example, I'll recall an event that happened to me as a child, and I'll find some way to include it in a story. I'll remember a time someone threw a tantrum in fourth grade, and I'll include that in the story--things like that.

    Writer's block doesn't usually happen to me. I always have something to write. I guess I am sort of like Melissa then. If I no longer feel like writing something, then I'll just switch to something else or skip to a part that I want to write. But I've never really felt blocked from writing. Usually, if I don't feel like writing, the best way to get over it is to write anyway. So, for that reason, writer's block doesn't really happen to me since I've found a way to get over it so quickly. Well, I've been writing more than normal this month, so maybe next month I'll feel a little blocked. Right now I feel like I could write a lot, and I am writing a lot.

    Titles are the hardest. I rarely come up with a title I like. I usually just find something that works and go with it.

    Character names are just what feels right, like what Summer said. I used to spend a long time picking names for characters, but I now find that if I just go with the first name that feels right, then I am satisfied.

  4. I only put very small details of my own history into my (rare) fictional writing. For example, for one of the writing exercises in this class, I used the description of the same piece-of-crap 1982 Mercedes that belonged to somebody I used to date. Beyond that, I actually try to avoid borrowing from my own experiences, for one because I think it limits my creativity sometimes, and for two because I'm paranoid that people will somehow figure out who or what I'm talking about. =)

    When I get writer's block, I'll do one of two things, depending on my deadline: walk away completely and go do something else for a while, or just dive right in, writing little buzzwords that occur to me until something more significant starts forming.

    I hate titles. I tried to get away without writing titles in school for as long as I could, because nothing ever seems to fit my work well, or fits without sounding completely boring and mundane.

    When it comes to naming characters, I've never had a reason to put much thought into them. I've actually gone to baby-name-generator websites when I've felt really lazy. I figure that our parents didn't know what our personalities would be when they named us, so there's no rule saying that the character has to "match" his or her name either. The connotation of names can be changed by the character's personality sometimes too. For example, there's one particular trait I (and probably you) immediately think of when hearing the names Ron, Fred, George, or Ginny.

  5. What a great discussion topic, Karla!

    I put little bits and pieces of my own history; I don't like to create characters who are exactly like me. In fact, I often do the opposite: most of my protagonists are single children who grew up in the lower class, rather than in a middle class family of four like my own family. Some aspects of my life are pervasive, though; the relationship I have with my father is often reflected in the plot.

    I don't really get writer's block; sometimes I get it for one particular project, but then I just turn to another. If it gets really bad and I just can't handle writing--usually when I'm stressed out about a non-writing problem--I try to take care of that as much as I can and get some reading done. I might try Anne Hillerman's mini-road trip method, though. That sounds like fun!

    Titles used to be very easy for me, but these days it's much more difficult. I try to find one thread--maybe a word, a common metaphor I use, or in the case of my creative project, a taste--that weaves through the whole story and fashion a title that seems fitting.

    Character names depend on the genre. If they're in the "real world," I try to look up names that match the character's cultural heritage, especially when I don't want the assumption to be that they're white men. But in fantasy/sci-fi genres, I take words with aesthetically pleasing letters and rearrange them until I like them.

  6. I try not to put any of my history, because of what Summer and Emma said. I feel like I’m giving my personal journal to the world and I don’t want the person I’m writing about to know it is them. I do try to incorporate little pieces of my history, but not too much that I expose myself completely. How I get over writer’s block is by doing something else. Doesn’t matter what it is as long as it is not said writing. The problem for me is that I get distracted to easily and don’t want to return to writing.

    My titles are not very creative. Sometimes I get this inspiration for a title and I’m like yes that is the title for this work. However, more often than not I just give the document a title I can remember it by so I can find it later. Names are the same way for me. I also go to a name site and pick a name I really like from the list. I remember I had to pick a fantasy name for my Star Wars character and my Dungeons and Dragons character and I couldn’t come up with a name and I had to go online and look up fantasy names.

  7. Taking your questions in order, I don't tend to put any personal history into my stories at all. My life simply isn't interesting on a day-to-day basis (for which I am extremely grateful); all the cool stuff goes on inside my head. I prefer it that way for now.

    When it comes to writer's block, I either pace or try to find myself a dark, quiet space to think. A relaxing walk sounds about right. If you ever see me walking around campus, I'm probably zoned out, so it might take a bit of extra effort to get my attention. I don't mind! My expression is naturally stern!

    For me, titles aren't too difficult. Part of what I do at work is writing headlines, which is tangentially related. There's the option of twisting a cliched phrase, using what seems to be an oxymoron, playing with rhyme or alliteration, or working a character's name in. Modern titles tend to be curt--the fewer syllables, the better--so there's always that to consider. I feel like the title of a story is the least of my worries.

    For character names, I tend to look for names with the right meanings behind them, or else for ones that involve word play, or else I mess with anagrams...I'm very picky, so what I end up being satisfied with tends to be the product of a fair bit of research. Sometimes inspiration strikes and I come up with something good right away, but that's more rare.


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