What’s the matter with the middle?

My theme this month is the middle of the story, an area that can cause a lot of writers trouble. My first prompt is to ask you about the middle.

Writers, if you have had trouble in the middle of a story, what was the matter? Character development, plot points? I’d love to hear what your problem was and how you solved it.

Readers, have you read a story and bocame bogged down in the middle? Why? Did the story lose focus, throw in too many characters, or contain pointless plot twists?

Tell me your experiences and we can work together on what’s the matter with the middle.

Unusual Inspiration for Names

What’s the most unusual inspiration for names you’ve used? It can be for your writing, a character or place, or in your real life, a name for a child or pet.

My sister gave her daughter the middle name Gennai. One of her favorite movies is The Inn of the Sixth Happiness with Ingrid Bergman. It tells the true story of missionary Gladys Aylward, who lived in China during the 1930’s. Gennai was the name she was given in China.

I was inspired to name a minor character after a road sign. In the country, many roads have two names, like Smith Brown Road. I think it’s because the roads were named after families who lived on them. I found one called Bean Oller Road. I imagined that Bean is the nickname for a man whose last name is Oller. Nobody knows how he got the nickname because he changes his story every time someone asks him about it.

Let me know about your most unusual inspiration for names.

Help me create place names

Could you help me create place names for my fictional county in Ohio? I need to invent names for tiny, rural villages and a river. I have two names for towns already. The county seat is Wellesville and a village is Barton. I’m finding the river to be the tricky one.

Rivers in Ohio have Native American names or anglicized versions of words from Native American languages, Ohio being a prime example. Other rivers in the state are Muskingum, Sandusky, Scioto, and Olentangy. I want a name that fits in with the real rivers.

I’d love to hear your ideas!

Personal Taboo Names

Everyone has personal taboo names, names they hate for good reasons or no reason at all. As a kid, I had traumatic confrontations with children named Tracy, Shelly, and Troy. I don’t like any of those names as an adult. When I needed a name for a shady character, I picked Troy but not to get revenge on a past nemesis. I just didn’t see why I should give a name I like to a character I don’t.

Then there are names I don’t like simply because I don’t like them. When my husband and I were searching for names for our second child, he came up with a list of three boys’ names: Cole, Gabe, and Nate. I told him under no circumstances could we use Nate. I have never liked Nathan or Natalie or any name similar to them, like Ethan. In the first short story I published, a murderous woman is named Natalie. It has nothing to do with any people associated with those names. I just don’t like the sound of them.

Your turn. What are some of your personal taboo names?

Taboo Names

My theme for July is names, how to create characters and place names in your writing. My prompts will be more prompts for discussion rather than for a story, starting off with taboo names.

What are taboo names? These are names that are so closely associated with a person, fictional or real, that it’s difficult or even impossible to reuse the name for a character.

Sherlock Holmes has had the lock on his first name for over a hundred years. The same goes for Ebenezer Scrooge and Ichabod Crane. Scarlet O’Hara had her first name pretty much to herself for sixty years, but now enough time has passed that parents think they can name their sweet daughters Scarlet and people won’t immediately think of the strong-willed Southern belle.

Wilbur and Orville have been reused–Wilbur the pig in Charlotte’s Web comes to mind–but people still think of the Wright brothers as soon as they hear those names.

What names can you think of that authors should steer clear of because they have already been taken by memorable people or characters?

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