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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

More on The Name Game

Started in on "Mongan Manor" this morning, backtracking a bit to pick up the rhythm of the scene. I also had a flash of inspiration about providing Stefanie with the clues to the family secret and treasure mysteries, so I went forward with that. Had to stop and do some research on coats of arms and the various symbols used, and while I haven't yet decided on a key symbol for the story, I'm comfortable with the concept at least.

While doing my research into family names and histories, coats of arms, etc., I'm starting to wonder if I should include a disclaimer in the book when it's done. I want to stay true to the Irish heritage, but not so true that anyone could think I meant to portray real people. I'm making this up out of pure imagination and using facts from research for authenticity. I remember reading about another writer who was getting threats from someone who claimed her book of fiction exactly mirrored a relative's life. Is that how these things get started? Someone reads a book and figures any supporting details which match with him/herself or someone they know in life (notice, I did not say "real life" because life is real and fiction is fiction) and automatically assume that the writer based the book on them. Nonsense like that is nothing but ego and/or greed. I don't know anyone with the last name of Sheehy, the family name in the book. I chose it because of its meaning--eerie or mysterious. I did web searches for Irish-sounding names, both given and surnames, but mainly used those with certain meanings which will be part of the clues to the family secret.

I completely avoid using names or physical descriptions that might lead someone who knows me to think I wrote about them. I don't even like the idea of loosely basing characters on someone I've met. For one thing, when I meet someone, I never think "Gee, he/she would make a great character." It just doesn't happen for me. For another, when I'm developing a story, the characters are contrived to play certain roles in it. I need good guys and bad guys with a large proportion of people who are neither all good nor all bad. The role each plays determines their appearance, age, profession, history, demeanor, attitudes, and all the rest and can change as needed. Even the main POV character is subject to this treatment. Perhaps that's why I don't spend a great deal of time deciding who my character is before I set to writing the story, although that is an exercise many teachers of writing encourage.

Stefanie in the Windsong Lake series is a case in point. When I decided to resuscitate the "Dabblers" manuscript I finished a few years earlier, I decided that the character was too wimpy, too needy. She needed to be stronger. That was when I decided that she had known about her psychic ability and kept it secret for most of her life, even from her husband, Paul. Voila! More conflict was born. And her situation required her to "make peace" with her ability which kept trying to warn her of impending trouble, which meant she would be growing, developing, changing. Once I settled on that, my muse let out a sigh of relief and said, "Ahhh, now we've got it."

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