Monday, October 29, 2012

Naming Conventions

This is a post I've been thinking about for awhile, but when I found a thread about the subject on one of the EMCSA-related forums (Sorry, I can't find it again now and don't remember which forum it was on), I decided to hold off since people were already discussing it. I skimmed the thread a little but didn't read it carefully, so I might or might not repeat some of what's in there, but I guess it doesn't matter since all of you won't have read that thread anyway.

So. Onward. Every author has their own method for naming their characters. Some pull names out of the air, some go for the exotic, some go for the symbolic, and some name them after people they love or hate. Me, I try for realistic.

I don't know if I succeed (and I guess I probably don't, always), but this is how I play it: If I'm writing fantasy, I try to make up names that don't "get in the way." I don't want them to be so exotic that the reader can't get past them easily enough to just enjoy the story.

On the other hand, if I'm writing a story a story set on present-day or near-future earth, I make up names that sound almost, but not quite, the ones you hear every day. I try for a mix of nationalities and use sources like this Wikipedia section to find common surnames, and then I ignore the most common ones in favor the fairly common ones. To my way of thinking, a surname like "Smith" is so common that it does get in the way of the story; it leaves the reader wondering why the author didn't choose something a little less obvious. Now, I know Stephen King did that on purpose with The Dead Zone, naming his protagonist "Johnny Smith" to show just what an everyman Johnny was. The thing is, I didn't think it worked. Sure, King is a hugely successful celebrity author and I don't have a single published title to my name, but that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

But why am I going on about all this now? In part, it's so I can offer you another teaser on my next story (to be called "Sleepwalkers."). It's set about a hundred years in the future, in an empire composed of the entirety of North and South America plus Greenland, so I've tried to seriously consider the names that would be common in a population like that. I figure that mixing Canadians with Americans would lead to a slight uptick in the number of French names, while the mixing of all of South America with North America would lead to a bigger uptick in Spanish names - especially in Phoenix, where my story begins. Then I factored in the shifting popularity of first names over time and went for slightly a few cases.

I don't know how obvious these thought processes will be to you when you read "Sleepwalkers," so that's part of why I'm making this post. I've put a hell of a lot of work into the backstory, doing real world building (I hope), and I want to brag a little. ;-) Expect more of these kinds of posts in the future.

In the meantime, and in no particular order, here are the names of a few characters who appear in "Sleepwalkers": Reynaldo Cruz, Angela Boyd, Vadim LeFebvre, Melora Boykin, Paul Medina, Shara Sullivan, Josue Valenzuela, Aimee Pender, Zane Hammond, Charlotte Moody and Marcus Choi

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Please give a warm welcome to our special guest blogger

As you know if you've been reading this blog for awhile, I'm currently working on my longest story yet - basically an X-rated SF novella. Since the plot is so complicated, I've asked Lady K, with her great eye for detail, to help me keep the plotlines straight.

She was happy to oblige, and when she offered to write a guest entry for my blog describing her experience, I was happy to oblige her. It's a nice teaser for my blog readers, and for me, it's fun to see how someone else describes my writing approach. I'm shy about sharing rough drafts, but when I do, the people I share them with invariably give great feedback.

So now, without further ado, I'm turning the mic over to Lady K.

Hi there, readers of thrall's blog. Lady K here. I've been a friend of thrall's for a few years now and have long been an admirer of her fiction. I've even served as a beta-reader for Ethna Redux. My fascination with Celtic mythology finally came in handy on that occasion. Recently, thrall asked me if I'd like to be a beta reader for her current saga. I jumped at the chance. This was a chance to read one of thrall's stories from its beginning stages. How often was I going to get a chance to do that?

Mostly, thrall has me looking for holes in her logic, whether the inductions are clear and the continuity of the story. I'm very honored. You have to understand that thrall almost never lets anyone read her rough drafts. I'm getting a really Interesting look at the creative process behind thrall's work.

First off, I can safely say that her rough drafts are more polished than a lot of the finished work I see on EMCSA. She really cares about her writing.

So far, I've read the first and second drafts of chapter one and the rough drafts of chapters two and three. The plot has a strong sci-fi theme and it makes sense. thrall has created a new world where a particular type of MC is a logical offshoot of the society. The characters are strong and the inductions are hot. 

In one of her emails, thrall expressed some concern about the continuity between chapters one and two. So she went back and added a new character. This new character fits seamlessly into the story, explains a couple of plot points and answers a problem with the logic. That's how much she cares about her fiction.

However, I should say that this is not a stroke piece. It's MC fiction written for MC fetishists. 

So far it's looking like another winner from thrall. I'm just really happy that I get to see the story as it develops. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Goddamn ASSTR

I just want to say how frustrated I am that the EMCSA is still half broken. I checked into the MC Forum and MC Garden yesterday, just long enough to see if there were any updates about the situation, and it appears that there aren't any. What's more, some folks are expressing doubts that the ASSTR will ever get around to fixing the problem. If they don't, I can imagine people eventually migrating their stories to other sites, but it would be a shame to see the EMCSA go down. It's been such a unique and wonderful resource for so long, and Simon's a hero to maintain it like he does.

But I'm getting way ahead of myself. Maybe the ASSTR will fix things, or maybe Simon or another EMCSA regular will find a workaround.

In the meantime, those of you following Tabico's Compromise will be happy to know that the ten chapters she posted before all this trouble started are still available, and even if she doesn't get the chance to post the rest of the story, she's left off at a very good place place. Not every question is answered, but most of them are - barring a last-minute twist. Slave Shuu's odd advice Lady Li-Hwa is still on my mind, as well as Slave Shuu's even-odder behavior afterwards. Maybe someone will save the day...or at least try.

Anyway, if you've started "Compromise" but are having trouble getting to chapters nine and ten, just go to the end of chapter eight and do a hard refresh* (or two or three). Eventually you'll get the right-pointing arrow that takes you to chapter nine. You might have to hard refresh again at the bottom of nine, but eventually you'll get get to chapter ten.

It's a great story. If you're missing your EMC fix and haven't started "Compromise" yet, now's your chance.

*Control + F5

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Just FYI, the apocalypse is upon us

Just found this over on io9. Count the memes. I've got four so far:
1. Bert and Ernie are gay
2. ___ raped my childhood
3. Rule 63
4. What has been seen cannot be unseen.

Feel feel to share your own. This is good(?) stuff.

BTW, this is not my usual weekend post. It's just something I stumbled upon and felt compared to share. God knows why.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Love Kills

As you know if you've been following this blog, I've begun work on the longest EMC story I've ever written. My current outline calls for eight or nine chapters. It will be a purple story, according to the EMCSA's color codes, and it will have straight and gay inductions of every possible combination.

Not too long ago I wrote a particularly nasty M/f induction for this saga. I knew going in that if I was going to write an M/f induction, I had to go all the way with it. I couldn't skimp on the details just because they made me uncomfortable - and some of them certainly did. But the relationship between the man and the woman in this scene made it satisfying for me to write, from a hot-button standpoint. You'll see what I mean when I publish the story. Me being me, I won't post it until I have the whole thing written; and I'm still not sure how long that will take. But I can tell you that I'm so excited about it that I'm writing or at least brainstorming in every spare moment.

Meanwhile, I stumbled across this video last night on YouTube. The theme of the song ties in neatly with this post, and the famous Metropolis robot scenes provide an added dash of fetish - especially since they're presented with almost no context.

Finally, if you're still in the mood for betrayal stories, you might enjoy (and/or be horrified by) this poem Neil Gaiman recently offered up on his blog.

Happy pre-Halloween.