What does it mean when your characters name themselves?

This week I read an interesting post the importance of choosing the right names for fictional characters. One of the points the post made was that authors should avoid doing anything that might bring a reader out of the story, including having names that sound alike. I first ran into this specific problem when I was about to publish my first book, Maids of Misfortune. Most of you know the story by now: I published this book thirty years after I came up with the plot and twenty years after I wrote the first draft so, as you might imagine, Read more…

Outlining: Straight-jacket or Lifeline?

One of the arguments I had with my father when I was in grade-school was over the necessity of outlining when writing. He was for it, I didn’t see the need. By college I had a better understanding of the importance of having a clear organization for essays. However, what I tended to do was sketch out a very short outline, then write a quick rough draft–getting all my ideas down, then I would go back and write a new outline (now that I knew what I really wanted to say), and finally I cut and pasted the material into Read more…