Using titles to underscore a character’s context

I’m not usually one for posting writing tips, as until now I’ve never really felt I have the authority to do so. However, since I’ve just finished my first book (and owing to the fact that I learned a lot along the way) I thought I’d share with you some of the tricks that I stumbled upon.

So here’s tip that involves the use of names and titles to convey a character’s personality or underline the context in which you want that character to appear. Confused? Ok. Let me explain…

My hero is called Horatio Lee. He’s a lieutenant in the spacebourne Royal Navy, and hence there are a number of different names or titles I can give him:

  • Horatio
  • Horatio Lee
  • Lieutenant Lee
  • Lee

What I have noticed (due in part to me trying to avoid repetition) is that depending on what I call him in the narrative, I can convey his personality and the place he currently occupies within story. For example:

I call him Horatio when I want humanise him:

This nightmarish scene was especially disturbing for Horatio to witness as he knew those men were only exposed to that maelstrom on his orders.

I call him Lee when I want him to blend into the scene as just another member of the ship’s company:

“Oh yes,” Lee sounded energised, “it’s definitely a ship, but we don’t think it’s a warship.”

And I call him Lieutenant Lee when I want underscore his rank and position amongst the men:

Lieutenant Lee and his officers received them in the captain’s cabin, which was presently cleared for action and more a part of the gundeck than a cabin.

This method can be very useful when you have characters with titles, for instance: police officers, doctors, university lecturers, &c. It’s a great tool for underscoring their exact place in the story at any given time (as mentioned above), but also avoids having to call them the same thing every single time you write their name. It’s not a book-changing writing tool, but it certainly can alter the dynamic of a section of dialogue or action.

Thanks for reading.

10 Bits of Stellar Writing Advice from J.R.R. Tolkien

Just read these great writing tips from Tolkien and had to reblog. But Writers In The Storm don’t seem to have a reblog button any more so you’ll just have to follow this link instead:

http://writersinthestormblog.com/2014/08/10-bits-of-stellar-writing-advice-from-j-r-r-tolkien/#comment-58373

Number six definitely struck a chord with me. That’s pretty much my style of writing.

Pinning up a cover design

So then. Pintrest. What do you make of it?

I had always figured Pinterest was a little bit girly and just a faster and more efficient way for our female better halves to embark on some window shopping and compile lists of the many things they want, that we can never afford to buy them.

And I was right.

However.

I have just discovered a brilliant way that we as writers can use Pinterest… Well, actually, it was my wife’s idea, and when I say we as writers, I actually mean we writers who self publish and have to design a cover.

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What are you revealing online? Much more than you think

gpeynon:

Very interesting this one. Thanks, Ted, for the original.

Originally posted on ideas.ted.com:

QWA-category-Reveal

What can be guessed about you from your online behavior? Two computer privacy experts — economist Alessandro Acquisti and computer scientist Jennifer Golbeck — on how little we know about how much others know.

The best indicator of high intelligence on Facebook is apparently liking a page for curly fries. At least, that’s according to computer scientist Jennifer Golbeck (TED Talk: The curly fry conundrum), whose job is to figure out what we reveal about ourselves through what we say — and don’t say — online. Of course, the lines between online and “real” are increasingly blurred, but as Golbeck and privacy economist Alessandro Acquisti (TED Talk: Why privacy matters) both agree, that’s no reason to stop paying attention. TED got the two together to discuss what the web knows about you, and what we can do about the things we’d rather it forgot. An edited version of the conversation follows.

I…

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A small but brilliant passage from Kurt Vonnegut

So following my post the other day concerning Kurt Vonnegut, I thought I’d share a quick passage with you from his book, Slaughterhouse 5. The moment I first read this I thought it to be a very clever piece of writing; not so much in its construction, vocabulary, &c., but more for the imagination and uplifting (yet poignant) message it holds.

Enjoy…

Bombers…It was a movie about American bombers in the second world war and the gallant men who flew them. Seen backwards by Billy, the story went like this.

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Agents berated because they don’t like Kurt Vonnegut? Pah!

I don’t know if you’ve heard the story of Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions being submitted to 100 agents and ignored by 99 of them; but if you haven’t, it goes something like this:

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 10.37.03Frustrated at the lack of attention that his manuscript for Swap got from mainstream literary agents and publishing houses, Sam Moffie disguised one of his favorite novels first chapter – Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut – into a manuscript that Moffie called The Perfect Martini, and sent it to the top 100 literary agents in America. Ninety-nine out of 100 passed on the work – a feat that Moffie has used to highlight how difficult it is to get literary fiction featuring satire, humor and conventional culture getting kicked in the tush published. (wikipedia)

Amazing, eh?

Naturally, my initial reaction was one of shock. I mean if an author like Kurt Vonnegut (Slaughterhouse 5, Cat’s Cradle) can’t even get past the query stage, then what hope is there for me and others like me?

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