Jun 292016

I’m terrible with names. I usually come up with main character names, but secondary characters are more difficult. I try to avoid using the names of people I know, but all other names just disappear from my brain.

Generators, especially those with name origins and meanings are one of the most valuable tools for me. I don’t usually care if my characters name means something specific, but searching for a specific character trait gives me a place to start.

So, if you have trouble coming up with character names, give these generators a try. Sometimes just looking at the names, especially the fantasy names, can even spark story ideas.

The Character Name Generator

Realistic character names. Writers: find an ethnically diverse character name and generate a character’s personality with the random character name generator.

Source: The Character Name Generator: Generate a Character Name and Personality

Seventh Sanctum

A site of generators to randomly produce concepts, characters, and descriptions for stories, role-playing games, and art, as well as have fun and alleviate creative blocks.

Source: Seventh Sanctum – Welcome To The Page Of Generators!

Behind the Name

The random name generator can suggest names for babies, characters, or anything else that needs naming.

Source: Behind the Name: Random Name Generator

Fantasy Name Generators

A fantasy name generator for every fantasy character. From Chinese to Viking and from dragon to werewolf, I have a fantasy name generator for all your needs.

Source: Fantasy name generators. Names for all your fantasy characters.

Is the name generator you use not on the list? Let me know!

Jun 152016

Sometimes you just need a little push to get started or continue a work in progress. Generators can come in handy to give you some needed inspiration or just to challenge yourself with something random.

I’m often at a loss for topics to post on my blog. I pour myself into writing fiction and there’s little left over for the blog, so I use generators to come up with ideas. Sometimes. Sometimes I forget to post at all. Generators inspire story and character ideas as well even if I don’t use the exact prompt.

Here are a few generators I frequent…

Daily Writing/Blogging and Photo Prompts from The Daily Posthttps://dailypost.wordpress.com/
Example – (Writing Prompt for May 28, 2016) Epitome – Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

Writing Prompt Generator from Seventh Sanctumhttp://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php?Genname=writeprompt
ExampleIf you don’t know about the starship, then it is too late.
This is a great prompt for a friend of mine. Considering sending it to him and seeing what he does with it.

Genre, Plot, Story, Character, Wardrobe, Name, Setting and more random generators from Springholehttp://www.springhole.net/writing_roleplaying_randomators/index.html
Example from the Creepypasta & Supernatural Horror Story Prompt Generator – At midnight, a lost woman and an insane witch want to transform an eldritch abomination into a disturbing television set.
Someone write this please. I really want to read it!

Daily Writing Prompt Generator from Always Writehttp://corbettharrison.com/writers_notebooks.html#topics
ExampleWas the dishonestly worth it? Write about faking an illness in order to get out of doing something.
Confession time. Almost everyone has done this, right?

Idea Generator from Story Starterhttp://www.thestorystarter.com/
ExampleThe soft-spoken waiter made a video in the barn four days ago to solve the mystery.

Daily Writing Prompt Generator from Language is a Virushttp://www.languageisavirus.com/writing_prompts.html
ExampleDescribe ways in which your character does or doesn’t show dependability.
I think I’m going to do this one. Could be helpful.

Writing/Blogging Prompts from Daydreaming on Paperhttp://www.daydreamingonpaper.com/random.html
ExampleWhat gives you the warm fuzzies? Could also be, “What gives your character the warm fuzzies?”
For me? Kittens. Definitely kittens.

Have a generator you use that isn’t on the list? Let me know!

Jun 082016

I found another graphic for lay vs. lie that is a little clearer. The last one I posted was blurry. I’m not sure where it came from, but I posted it in case someone finds it useful.

I still have to look at it myself to make sure that I’m using the correct form. Second guessing, but I’d rather be sure.

This one also includes present participle which was missing from the first one I posted.


Apr 132016

Whatever you do, please don’t over-animate your characters. Some writers have a bad habit of making their characters move and use body language every time they speak or sometimes every time they are mentioned in a scene. If your character is distressed, they might do one or two of the movements listed below, but they don’t tend to go through the whole list in a few pages.

This sheet could be much longer. For instance, I’d add “looking down and to the left” under lying and “gripping something so hard knuckles turn white” to anger, but this list can help you think of another body language you’ve seen people display under certain situations. As always, this is only a tool to make you think, not a comprehensive list…

body language

Feb 032016

This wheel of emotions comes in handy more often than I’d like to admit. This is one of the writing graphics I snagged off the net that sometimes inspires, sometimes leads my character in a new direction or does exactly what it was meant to do and helps me find a more specific word for an emotion.

When I’m stuck, this is one of the graphics I take a look at to see if it sparks something I hadn’t thought of for my character. For instance, I had a character that was frustrated and I was stuck on what she would do next. After looking at the wheel, I realized that she could easily become hostile, which made the scene much more exciting. Well, exciting to write at least.


Nov 252015

I used to listen to a lot of podcasts and Grammar Girl was one of my favorites. In 2009, she covered Lay vs. Lie and I developed a problem where I didn’t think I had one before. Every time I used the past tense or past participle of lay or lie, it never sounded correct.

I started second guessing myself, so I went to the Grammar Girl website and snagged this little graphic to help.

Lay vs. Lie

Grammar Girl is a wonderful podcast. She provides short, useful tips to help improve your writing. If the battery in my iPod wasn’t malfunctioning from age and overuse, I’d still be listening.

Her most recent tip was about formatting internal dialog, which was helpful and informative.

Oct 192010

Dangers of the Trail and Workaholism presented more information on blocks and how we use them. Food, alcohol, drugs, work can all be used to further block ourselves. I can relate to using food and work as “excuses” or “blocks” to writing. More than once I have turned to food trying to escape from creation. Junk food clogs the brain, makes the gears turn more slowly if not stop altogether. Work is an easy escape. There’s always more work to do and if you can’t find any, a creative person can easily invent more.

Why make these excuses or use these blocks? As petty and insane as it sounds, if I actually create something I might have to show someone and face possible rejection or ridicule. While I know I can’t please everyone, one rejection holds more weight than ten approvals. It’s something many creatives suffer from. I know I’m not alone, but it feels very lonely. It’s hard not to take rejection personally, especially at first.

Creative droughts were discussed this week. I’ve gone through my fair share and I completely agree with the author that they do end. If you do nothing during the drought, it does take longer for the ideas to flow again like water.

Some suggestions to keep going –

  • like The Artist’s Way suggests, do your morning pages (brain dump) every day. Keep writing something.
  • Write something completely different. If you write horror books, write a children’s tale. Allow it to suck.
  • Do something else creative: paint, draw, take photos.
  • Partake of other’s creativity: visit an art museum, read a book, watch an indie movie, go to a musical/opera/play, find a new and interesting indie musician online.
  • Talk to another creative. They often have stories about their own droughts and how they moved on.

Competition was another topic for the week. I’ve watched more than one friend, associate, acquaintance fly by me at the speed of light accomplishing more in a short period of time than I have in years. I’ve been jealous more times than I care to admit. That jealousy has caused me to waste more time and energy causing me to delay my own goals. Jealousy can be crippling and isn’t worth wasting time over. It’s easy to say, “Be happy for them and get back to your own work,” but actually doing it can be hard. When you start to get jealous, use that emotion to egg you on instead of letting it block you. “If they can do it, so can I!”  Again, easier said than done, but worth a try.

Oct 122010

The difference between a blocked artist and a lazy artist was first up this week in The Artist’s Way. Lazy is pretty self-explanatory, but a blocked artist actually isn’t lazy. Just because an artist is blocked doesn’t mean they aren’t expending tons of energy on fear, self-loathing, self-doubt, regret, jealousy, and so on. I’ve personally spent a large amount of time on all of the above, so I guess I can stop calling myself lazy now.

Creative U-Turns was another thing I could relate to this week. A creative u-turn is when artists sabotage themselves. As an example, I thought I had an agent for a time. After discussing what this agent was doing, several colleagues told me I was probably being set up for a scam and to walk away. I talked to the agent and he was indeed setting me up the way they described and I ran away with my tail tucked between my legs. I was hurt. I felt used and unworthy because I didn’t recognize the signs.

A couple of weeks later, an opportunity practically fell in my lap. Instead of jumping on it, I decided to continue to brood and lick my wounds. I wasn’t sure I could trust anyone and I wasn’t sure I trusted myself anymore. Instead of doing a little research to find out if the deal was legit, I turned it down. I scoffed at the idea. Turns out it was legit, of course.

Another example, a short story I wrote was offered publication if I made a few changes. I didn’t even contact them back. I was afraid, but I have no idea why. Afraid of success? I don’t really think so. I think I was more afraid that this one editor was insane and would be the only person in the world to actually like my piece. I remember having a vision of the magazine collapsing after publishing my piece because everyone hated it that much. As if I really had that much power.

The next section, Blasting Through Blocks, was designed to help to identify anger, resentments, and grudges. For some people, simply identifying problems can lead to resolution. When you actively write down these resentments, they can instantly seem childish, unwarranted, and silly.

Oct 052010

Time is something I struggle with every day. People that are exceptionally productive are a mystery to me and sometimes I believe they’re like Bigfoot; either rarely sighted or completely exaggerated. Mourning the lost time or time that I did not spend being creative when I should have can be devastating, distracting, and counterproductive.

I often feel like the years are slipping away and my goals get further and further out of reach. It’s like the dream where you’re running for the exit and it keeps getting further away no matter how long and hard you run. The truth of the matter is, I didn’t run long and hard. I took a nap in the middle of the hall. That nap cost me time that I can never get back and it’s hard to forgive myself for that.

In the text is the question, “Do you know how old I’ll be by the time I learn to play the piano?” and the answer given is, “The same age you will be if you don’t.” This is rather poignant. There’s really no reason to put off doing something creative. Neither age nor time constraints are a good excuse for putting off your dreams until a tomorrow that never comes. While I still argue the money factor to a degree, I do agree money is not usually a valid excuse either.

While this week was about time, I didn’t feel like the text really helped to identify immediate changes I could make like the introduction suggested. The tasks at the end of the week also didn’t feel like they were aimed at dealing with time. It’s a difficult subject and one that cannot be solved formulaically for every person, but some ideas or suggestions or time saving devices or time finding devices would have been a nice addition to this section.

I realize the check-ins have become more like a review of the section and my personal thoughts about what I learned rather than following the outline provided in The Artist’s Way, but I hope they are more useful. Reading about how many days I did my Brain Dump/Morning Pages and what I did for my Artist’s Date seemed to be boring and uninformative.

Sep 282010

The first section was about listening, but what I found interesting in the text was the difference between “thinking something up” and “getting something down.” Thinking something up is always more difficult and while we might strive to think up something brilliant, the easier and more productive route is getting something down. When you get something down, you’re writing something that’s already there just waiting for you to put the words down on the page. I’ve heard people call it “not testing your limits” but just because something comes easier doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time to write. On the contrary, it’s probably what you should be writing or were meant to write at this time.

Perfectionism was defined this week, much to my displeasure. I suffer from perfectionism to such a degree that I stopped posting on my blog for a very long time because what I wrote was not perfect. It wasn’t interesting enough and didn’t say exactly what I wanted it to say no matter how many hours I poured into a simple post. I haven’t gotten “over it” or “passed it” but I’ve been forcing myself to post no matter what. I just type, hit post and walk away instead of spending hours going over and over it. So, I’ve actually been working on my perfectionism problem for a while now.

My only advice is, walk away and get involved in something else. If you find yourself correcting or rewriting the same line or paragraph over and over again, put on some music and go bake some cookies, paint a model, read a book. Do something that gets your mind off your writing and doesn’t let you easily come back to it. Give it some time and when you go back to writing, do not read what you’ve already written. Tell yourself you can do it later and write on. Do not let yourself stay stuck in that line or paragraph.

The biggest danger you face when editing and reediting or writing and rewriting is what you have in the end is actually worse than what you started with. I’ve seen this with my own work. I’ve published blog posts that were edited so many times they became disjointed and lacked flow or cohesiveness. I still do it, but instead of trashing everything and not posting at all, I post it anyway. Maybe if I see the mistakes I’ve made, I’ll learn to edit at the end once and leave it alone.

Hand in hand with perfectionism is risk. Perfectionists have a hard time taking risks because they’re afraid. Whether it’s fear of looking like an idiot, fool, or that we aren’t good enough, aren’t perfect enough, taking risks others would take easily is something we would never do. I can honestly say I have a hard time letting anyone read my work because I know it’s not perfect. It’s not going to be praised, published, become a #1 best seller, and so I don’t show it. If I can’t be guaranteed that good things will come from letting someone read it, I won’t take that risk. Even writing anything at all was taking a risk not so long ago.

I don’t know who said it first but anything worth doing is worth doing badly. It’s taken me a long time to believe this and even longer to act on that belief. Now, I’m writing blog posts and taking the risk of posting them for all to see regardless if anyone even sees them or gets anything out of them. I’m also writing again because I enjoy it and don’t worry about what anyone else will think when it’s done. Most days I actually pull that off now.

The biggest problem is, we tend to compare ourselves with the seasoned artists out there. We don’t compare our starting work with their starting work, but rather with their best seller that just hit the market and that often leads to jealousy. While jealousy can often be the success of someone in our field or genre, you might be surprised to find that jealousy can simply be masking fear. While I don’t agree with the author on all points about jealousy, I do agree that jealousy can cause us to believe there’s no room for us on the stage with that seasoned artist. Yes, there is only one Stephen King, Joss Whedon, and Neil Gaiman, but they are not the only ones in their field or genres standing on that stage of greats.

There is room for you, too.

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