As a writer you probably have your “go to” resources for gathering information about your characters, location and time period, but on the off chance you would be interested in knowing about a few others – here are some I have found interesting.
Selecting Character Names
Did you know that the most popular girls’ name was the same every single year from 1914 to 1946? Can you guess what it is? (Answer later in the article so keep on reading)
If you want your character to have a name that was used during the last one hundred years the Social Security department can help. They offer top names by year, gender, state and U.S. Territory.
Check out http://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/index.html
Did you know that in the 1940s the following clothing items were all the rage?
- rolled-up blue jeans
- narrow “”drainpipe”” trousers
- matching skirts and sweaters
- halter tops for women
- sleek evening dresses
- the pageboy haircut for women
- the “pompadour” hairstyle
- cork-soled “wedgie” shoes
- baggy pull-on sweaters
- Hawaiian shirts for men
If you are writing a novel that takes place in the last 110 years, check out Fact Monster for their analysis of the clothing of each decade. http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0878570.html
Are you drawing a blank entirely? The Seventh Sanctum offers ideas that can help you determine:
- Plot lines
For example, if you like writing about adventure but need an idea of where to place your action, here are a few of the suggestions:
- Aquatic Spire of the Dark Lord
- Arena of the Unholy
- Burning Arena of Inescapable Horror
- Cairn of the Giants
- Canyon of the Inquisitor
- Decrepit Tomb
- Frozen Domain of Doom
- Great Mountain of Memories
- Magic Coliseum of Oblivion
Visit the Seventh Sanctum for ideas across all genres. http://www.seventhsanctum.com/index.php The Seventh Sanctum is also great for help with fantasy, evil and monster names. Do you have a Cat Leader in your supernatural novel? How about naming it:
How well do you know your main characters? K.L. Eden is the “Arm Chair Author” and in one of her blog posts she shares a multiple question survey that she completes on each of her main characters. Visit her blog to show how she uses the survey to develop three of her characters. Character Study Part 1
Click here for a copy of the word document that lists her questions.
By the way, before I go on, Mary was the number one popular girls name for almost the entire first half of the 20th century.
Curious about the difference between gothic versus historical, fantasy versus science fiction. Writer’s Digest Workshop has published a fairly comprehensive list of definitions. Genre definitions.
Ways to Kill Off Your Character
Did you see the movie A Million Ways to Die in the West? Yeah, me neither, but you might benefit from learning about a few unusual ways for your character to kick the bucket.
Ways to Die – 350 has an on-going, reader updated listing of some of the most unusual and iconic ways people have actually died. Check it out – if nothing else, they are great conversation starters. If you know of a story you can add to the list, there is a form at the bottom of the website.
If you want your character to truly suffer, you might read the article from Mother Board entitled Scientifically the Worst Ways to Die.
Connect with Other Writers
Finally, sometimes it just helps to connect with someone who is writing in the same genre as you.
Nanowrimo.org is an international nonprofit encouraging creativity and novel writing. It is free to sign up and participate. There are several writing events you can participate in but for the purposes of this article, after you sign up, check out the forums. Here is a link to the forums that are genre specific. http://nanowrimo.org/forum_categories/150
You’ll find discussion in these categories:
- Chick Lit
- Historical Fiction
- Horror & Supernatural
- Literary Fiction
- Mainstream & Realistic Fiction
- Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense
- Religious, Spiritual, & New Age
- Satire, Humor, & Parody
- Science Fiction
- Young Adult & Children’s Lit
Read what others have to say, join in the discussion or pose your own question for comment. It is a great way to learn, share and connect.