Category Archives: Writing Wisdom

Surviving “The Grind”

by Andy Peloquin

I’m not a hardcore gamer, but I tend to get lost in the occasional Xbox, PC, or mobile game. My current addiction (as a superhero fan) is a game called “Injustice: Gods Among Us”. Basically, it’s superheroes fighting each other in the style of Tekken, Street Fighter, or Mortal Combat.

With any of this type of game, there is often a good deal of “grinding“—repetition of tedious, often simple tasks for the purpose of “leveling up” or gaining experience/growing more powerful in the game. It may not be the most enjoyable part of the game, but it’s necessary in order to advance in the other aspects. A bit of repetition and tedium contributes to the overall enjoyment of the experience.

That ability to grind has served me well in my creation of stories.

Ask any writer how much “fun” writing is, and the answer will be quite mixed. You’ll get some authors who say that writing is all fun and games because you’re creating something new. Others will tell you that it’s an exhausting, intense, detail-demanding task. Most authors will tell you it’s a combination of the two.

When it comes to writing a book, you don’t just sit down and spill perfectly arranged, magically awesome words onto a page and publish it. You start out by preparing the ground (outlining, a task most “plotters” need before they start writing the book), then you sit down and begin the writing process. But a 120,000-word novel isn’t born overnight. It’s usually created in spurts of 500, 1000, or 2000 words at a sitting.

First-time authors and new writers don’t understand how monotonous and tedious the writing process can be. It’s a daily “grind” to stay in your seat, push past the difficult or slow sections in the novel, or try to figure out some important element that we just can’t seem to get right. And that’s just in the creation process—wait until you get to the fifth draft of the novel, the beta reader feedback, and the final proofreading and editing. By the time I send the book off to be published, I’ve “grinded” for months at it.

But it’s that dedication to repeating the same task over and over that makes any work of art great. Anyone can put a story onto a piece of paper; to make it an amazing story, it takes working and reworking, grinding away until you find the real story you want to tell beneath all the layers of plot, subplot, twists, and reveals.

To be a writer takes a lot of stick-to-it-iveness and the ability to repeat those same tedious tasks day in and out. 500 to 1000 words a day becomes 15,000 to 30,000 words in a month, or 365,000 words in a year. That’s three full-length novels in a year—a pretty good turnout for most authors!

By repeating the same tasks day in and out for years and years, you become a master of your craft. Whether you’re a blacksmith, a car salesman, an accountant, or an author, the ability to “grind” is what makes you great!

Aurora’s Tips for Naming Characters in Science Fiction Stories

by Aurora Springer

Starship Vista SP3 by Veronica Electronica

Some of the tips are recommended to make your writing more accessible to readers and apply to all genres, while others give suggestions for inventing names for characters from other worlds.

Tip 1: The names of main characters should be easy to pronounce in English. This suggestion will make your stories easier for readers to follow. An exception might be when you want to emphasize an alien’s differences from normal humans. For example, txolixi or 2xnl.

Tip 2: The main characters should have names look and sound distinct. Avoid using names like Sam and Sal, especially for a romantically involved couple. Again, following this tip will improve the readability of your story. An exception might be when you have a set of clones with similar names, or twins where you wish to confuse their identities. I prefer to indicate gender with the name, unless the character has a reason for an ambiguous name. Is Samantha called Sam because she is a feisty independent female? Does Salvatore hate Dali and prefer to be called Sal?

Tip 3: Alien names ought to look and sound unusual. When the aliens have two sexes, I prefer to use names with feminine or masculine sounds or endings, like Suzzaine (female) or Radekis (male) in my series Atrapako on Eden. You can use a similar designation for aliens from the same world or culture. The Zarnoths in my Secret Supers Series have names beginning with hard consonants, like the villains, Rigel Zentor, Croaker and the ambassador Zharkor. Names can reflect societal differences. Clones might be designated by numbers. Some siblings in my hive society of A Tale of Two Colonies are named Flower-one, Flower-two, etc.

Tip 4:
Names can be cues to the personality of characters or describe key features. For example, the Zarnoth assassin in my Secret Supers Series is called Karockis or Croaker. The giant planetoid in the Grand Masters’ Galaxy is called Amarylla after the flower. Amarylla is a pink, flower-shaped alien female. Names can add comic effects, like the villain, Mr. Sunshine, in Super Starrella.

Tip 5: You can use names derived from different countries or cultures to indicate diversity. You can find lists on the internet. I use names to suggest a multicultural society. For example, Lira Tong and Srinivasan are two friends of the heroine, Violet Hunter, in the Grand Masters’ Galaxy, and Veena Chandra is a friend of Estelle Wright, the heroine the Secret Supers Series.

Tip 6: You can create unusual names by modifying names of characters or places in real life or from other books. For example, I took the name Athos from the Three Musketeers, and adapted it into Athanor for the Griffin Grand Master.

Tip 7: Ask your readers to suggest names.

Tip 8: Keep a list of names you like or you think would make interesting characters.

You can find a list of Aurora’s books here.