Thursday, January 7, 2010

a writing challenge for me -- and I need your help!

When it comes to writing, I'm a stickler for two things: names and titles.

Character names a big deal for me. The name Andi Cutrone was the result of Andi being my favorite girl's name when I was a teenager (Andrew my favorite boy's name), and Cutrone was the last name of a boy I liked in high school. The joke of Andi dating a guy named Andrew was too good to pass up, and I also wanted Andrew to give her an unusual nickname, hence the phonetic shortening of her last name, "Cutch". (I like nicknames too, if you hadn't noticed.)

Way back when I had first conceived of Faking It, I had thought to play on names that juxtaposed with very Catholic associations. (Maggie came from Magdelene, and Christian explains itself). Devin came from "devilish" -- but I also wanted him to have a name that meant something really special. I learned that David means "beloved".

Sam? That was my blatent homage to Sam Seaborn from The West Wing (right down to the Rob Lowe description-- I was watching a helluva lot of West Wing at the time). The name Vanzant came from my perusing my bookshelf and looking for a last name that would go well with Sam.

Like charcter names, titles have to "feel" right to me. They have to be eye-catching, ear-catching, and they have to take on the identity, the soul of the story. The original title for Faking It was The Escort. (I had played around with a different title for Ordinary World, too -- Making It -- too corny, I decided early on).

So I thought I'd give myself a little challenge. Sort of a writing improvization. You give me either a title or a character's name, and I'll write a story, or a chapter, or an essay, or hell, maybe even a poem using that title or name. I figure I'll take the five best titles/character names, and write one piece per week and post them here. (Then again, given my schedule, it might have to be one per month!)

I'll give you a week. You can submit as many titles or character names as you want.

Whattya say? Do you dare me?


Elisa said...

Afterthought: Much to my delight, I seem to like the same names that Aaron Sorkin does. In addition to my paying homage to Mr. Seaborn, Sam was always one of my favorite names. I equally like Abby, Joshua, and Danny.

Rob said...

I know exactly what you mean. Character names have to fit. As with titles, I try to do something hard-hitting or unique.

Here are some character names I've come up with:

Steve Plinko
Amos Sheridan
David Mink

I usually spend some time in a bookstores combing through Baby name books just to find the right first name for a character. Hope those names help. :)

Elisa said...

Love "Steve Plinko"!

Terri said...

When I was a teenager, I started a story called "Lelani's Tomb" about the ghost of a murder victim. The story never made it far past the title, but the name has stuck in my brain for all these years. Why don't you give her some life (pun intended) for me, Elisa?
Happy New Year, by the way!

Elisa said...

Happy New Year to you, Terri -- and kudos to you for challenging me with both character and title in one fell swoop!