Writers' Quick Question Thread

[name_m]Hi[/name_m] berries, since the Quick Question Thread, originally created by @kibby, is so helpful I thought that it would be a good idea to bring it to the Writers’ Corner. If you haven’t gone on the other thread, one person will answer the last left question and then leave a question for the next person to answer.

My question: I’m currently thinking of using either the pseudonym E.B. Spelling or E.B. Spellings, but I’m not sure whether to keep or leave the s. What are your thoughts?

This is a good idea! I hope it works out as the Writer’s Forum doesn’t seem to get that much traffic. Spellings sounds a lot more like a last name to me personally, I’d be less likely to question it if I saw it on the front of a book. I like E.B. Spellings, it sounds professional & is abstract enough without seeming silly.

I’d really like to have [name_f]Aurora[/name_f] as the first name of my pseudonym as it’s my actual real name and it gives me a feel of ownership over what I write. What are some good last names for first name [name_f]Aurora[/name_f]? I’m think [name_f]Aurora[/name_f] [name_f]Acadia[/name_f] or [name_f]Aurora[/name_f] [name_f]Clementine[/name_f], or [name_f]Aurora[/name_f] [name_u]Scout[/name_u] but they’re pretty sweet sounding and I feel like they aren’t last-namey enough. I want something distinctive, perhaps alliterative, that would work for a horror/thriller/YA writer (I’m not sure my genre yet.)

[name_m]Even[/name_m] though [name_f]Aurora[/name_f] [name_f]Clementine[/name_f] is really pretty, I agree that it does not sound very last namey.
What about…
[name_f]Aurora[/name_f] [name_u]August[/name_u]
[name_f]Aurora[/name_f] [name_m]Rhodes[/name_m]
[name_f]Aurora[/name_f] [name_m]Thorn[/name_m]
[name_f]Aurora[/name_f] [name_m]Abram[/name_m]
[name_f]Aurora[/name_f] [name_f]Harlow[/name_f]
[name_f]Aurora[/name_f] [name_u]Roan[/name_u]
[name_f]Aurora[/name_f] [name_u]Raleigh[/name_u]
[name_f]Aurora[/name_f] [name_u]Abbey[/name_u]
[name_f]Aurora[/name_f] [name_u]Flannery[/name_u]
[name_f]Aurora[/name_f] [name_f]Lenore[/name_f] (maybe not last namey enough, but I really like this one)

On the topic of pseudonyms, how do you decide if you need one? I’m pursuing a career in science so I might be publishing papers and I’m not sure if I want my name connected both with fiction and scientific papers. It might seem unprofessional. Or maybe not, I don’t now

I would use your own name when publishing scientific papers, and then use a pseudonym for your fiction. I don’t think that it would be a real problem if they were both under the same name, but it might be good for readers to be able to differentiate. I’m not sure if it would be considered unprofessional, but I don’t think it would. However I think the best person to ask would be someone who has published their scientific papers.

No question, you can answer the previous one

@rouverture, I decided to have a pseudonym because my full name is really basic. My first name is [name_u]Abby[/name_u], which is one of the most common names for girls right now, and my surname is a common English word (not common as a surname but well-used in English). I chose a new first name—[name_f]Essie[/name_f] or [name_f]Esmae[/name_f]—and I plan to use my real surname.
To answer your other question, that’s an interesting one that I’ve never considered before. I’m also pursuing a career in science and the thought never occurred to me but now that you bring it up, I think it’s worth considering. I don’t think being a successful author will ruin your credibility in the sciences. Depending on your target audience, you may be able to avoid the connection altogether (unless you get my mom, who is a clinical psychologist and researcher who also loves YA novels, lol). Tbh, having a scientific and creative mind will probably be seen as an asset.

[name_f]Do[/name_f] [name_f]Lorelei[/name_f] and [name_f]Stella[/name_f] work well as sister names? [name_u]Story[/name_u] takes place in present day USA and the girls are 7 and 4 years old. If not, what are some other names that fit well with [name_f]Lorelei[/name_f]? I want names that are recognizable and somewhat popular but aren’t overused (something that a non-name nerd would name their daughter if they wanted to avoid popular names).

@sparkleninja18: I think [name_f]Lorelai[/name_f] and [name_f]Stella[/name_f] work well as a sibset! They have a similar vibe.

(I don’t have a question, so the next poster can ignore this)

It may be strange, but the first thing I thought when I read [name_f]Lorelei[/name_f] and [name_f]Stella[/name_f] was that they were step sisters. [name_m]Don[/name_m]'t get me wrong, they could very well work in a sibset. I think it’s the fact that [name_f]Lorelei[/name_f] is a tiny bit frilly compared to the streamlined [name_f]Stella[/name_f].
Some suggestions with [name_f]Lorelei[/name_f]:
[name_f]Estelle[/name_f] (nn [name_f]Stella[/name_f])
[name_f]Rosalie[/name_f]
[name_f]Sylvia[/name_f]
[name_f]Fleur[/name_f]
[name_u]Ariel[/name_u]
[name_f]Delilah[/name_f]
[name_f]Carina[/name_f]

[name_m]How[/name_m] do you balance researching and writing? I tend to get stuck because I feel that I do not know enough about subjects to accurately write about them. For example, if there is a character with a background in foster care, how do you balance researching how foster care actually works and actually getting words on paper?

Until very recently, I usually wrote my first drafts without doing any research, making anything I didn’t know that much about rather vague on purpose. Then afterwards, when I’m burnt out from writing, I do all of my research in preparation for the second draft.

For my current novel, though, I’m waiting until Camp NaNoWriMo to start the actual writing process. This gives me lots of time to research and prepare. I guess I’ll have to see which method works better, but either way, dividing the two tasks into distinct chunks of time helps me resist the urge to research when I should be writing.


Intentionally or otherwise, are there any common themes in your writing? Or recurring character archetypes?

I do this to an extreme! I’ve found that no matter what I write, it always tends to look a lot like everything else I’ve written.

@sulpice: I try hard to keep my characters different from one another, but I do tend to gravitate towards the same themes. I feel that character who are respectful of others are underrepresented so I have to plan carefully to make sure there’s actual external conflict between characters, lol

I could be off, but I’m making a leap and guessing you’re mainly referring to first drafts? In that case I’d have to say a lot of it does look the same as I don’t refine the differences in how characters speak, finer plot points, etc until later.

My question: how deeply do you as a writer tend to develop, for example, the economies and climates (as opposed to weather) or whatever of your fictional worlds? Or any other day-to-day details that don’t show up in the story as exposition (or if they do, they make a very limited appearance) but will from a “show” point of view define your characters lifestyle?

I develop both fairly extensively. I have a money chart that tells me the currency of the worlds they stay in, their conversion rates, and what you could by with how much money, roughly. The same for the climate, I have a rough idea of where the countries would be if they were in our world, and base the climates off that. I’ve also got a language chart, as the main country has 3 common languages, a calendar for days/months/years, and several religious systems.


[name_m]How[/name_m] did you decide that your book was ready to be sent to an agent/publisher? After how many drafts?

@islandmoon, oof I have no idea. I would say when you feel confident about it. When that is would be different for each person. For me, I hate it when people give me feedback on things that I don’t feel is my best work because it’s not helpful for them to point out things that I already know I need to fix (this is why I hate it when English professors have us write a “first draft” to critique because I know my procrastinating self will half-ass the draft last minute and then I don’t benefit from the critique). This is all to say that I wouldn’t send something to an agent or publisher until I think the feedback they give me will actually be helpful in advancing my craft.

Number of drafts would be hard. I’m already on draft 4 of a current story and it’s nowhere near done.


Which spelling do you prefer: [name_f]Briony[/name_f] or [name_f]Bryony[/name_f]?
Both would be pronounced [name_m]Brian[/name_m]-ee. I’ve had it spelled [name_f]Briony[/name_f] on this character for years because I think it fits her best but I understand this is more likely to be pronounced wrong. To complicate things, her nickname is [name_f]Bri[/name_f]/[name_f]Bree[/name_f]. Part of me just wants to say F it, people are probably going to say it wrong anyways if [name_f]Bri[/name_f]/[name_f]Bree[/name_f] is the nickname, no matter how I spell it. But then part of me doesn’t want to go into it already admitting defeat.

So, after all that, [name_f]Briony[/name_f] or [name_f]Bryony[/name_f]?

I prefer [name_f]Bryony[/name_f], and I think it makes the pronounciation clearer. I admit two y in a name looks a bit much, but it still seems to me the more natural spelling.

Any tips on how to decide where one book ends in a series? Should every one have an introduction, a middle part and a great finale on its own, or can they blend into each other?

I think it depends on the book. I think mostly they read better with an obvious beginning, middle and end, but I’ve also read series where it doesn’t work like that, things just happen when they happen. That was because the author just wrote the whole thing in one go and cut it up based on word count. They were good books, but you did have to read them back to back.

I’m really going back and forth with spellings for some of my characters names. They’re Gaelic so I anglicised the spellings to make it easier, but they look so odd. [name_f]Do[/name_f] you think I should keep with the English spellings, or revert back to the Gaelic ones? The names I’m looking at are: [name_f]Aoife[/name_f] vs [name_f]Efa[/name_f], [name_f]Roisin[/name_f] vs [name_f]Rosheen[/name_f], [name_m]Oisin[/name_m] vs [name_m]Osheen[/name_m], [name_f]Fionnuala[/name_f] vs [name_f]Finula[/name_f]. There’s more, but those are the ones with the least obvious spellings, I think.

I’d definitely use the Gaelic spellings. They look better, it’s more authentic and people can just look them up? It might mean they learn some new names! Equally, a lot of these names are becoming better known so I think people would be fine.

[name_f]Do[/name_f] you think it’s too confusing if a character goes by more than one name in a book/story?
[name_m]Just[/name_m] as example, I have a character who goes between [name_f]Lydia[/name_f], [name_m]Lio[/name_m], Lids and Liddy, depending on who she’s talking to/how she feels. Is that too much?

I think it depends on the role of the character. If she is one of the main characters, I would even consider it something natural to do. However, I would stick to one or two nicknames. If it is a minor character that the reader is not meant to get really invested in, I would try to keep it at one consistent name.

[name_f]Do[/name_f] you ever rule out names for your characters just because you know of other characters with those names even if you think the name would fit perfectly your character or because you personally know someone with that name and you wouldn’t want them thinking it is based on them? Example: I’d love to use [name_f]Helena[/name_f] but my mother and grandmother are named [name_f]Helena[/name_f] so I could never write a character named that.

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Yep, I rule out names for those reasons all the time. I have a character who’s long been called [name_u]Rowan[/name_u], but I changed it entirely because I didn’t want to association with another fairly well known fictional [name_u]Rowan[/name_u]. I also renamed one of my main character’s mum’s name from [name_u]Linden[/name_u] to [name_f]Sorcha[/name_f] because I didn’t want anyone to think she was based off my step-mum, [name_f]Lynda[/name_f].

I been noticing recently that quite a few of my male characters look similar. Not characters in the same novel, but across all the ones I have written/planned. [name_m]How[/name_m] big an issue do you think it is? The ones I’ve noticed particularly are tall, slender, red haired, white men (of which there’s 4) and smaller, slighter brown skinned men with long black hair (again of which I have 4). I don’t seem to do this with women the same.

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I worry a bit about the number of redheads just because I think authors in general tend to include too many red-haired characters compared to the actual population. Only about 2% of the human population and 2-6% of the American population has naturally red hair so unless these characters exist in a scenario where all of them having red hair makes sense (for example, the Weasleys in HP makes sense to me because the parents both had red hair so the genetics match up), then I might think it’s a little odd. With characters that look similar, it’s important that you find and emphasize characteristics that they don’t share so it doesn’t seem as obvious to readers. However, with this all being said, if this is across many different works, I may not even notice at all.

[name_f]Do[/name_f] you think [name_f]Ksenia[/name_f] would be too difficult for the average American reader to pronounce?

I’m sorry, but I think it is! I answered you on the other quick question thread as well I believe. The average reader needs to already have the name in their vocabulary, be able to sound it out or have it explained to them (the way JK Rowling had to do with [name_f]Hermione[/name_f].) I think [name_f]Ksenia[/name_f] just doesn’t work, unfortunately, which is a shame because it is a really cool name!

Thoughts on [name_f]Aurora[/name_f] Townes vs [name_f]Aurora[/name_f] [name_f]Acadia[/name_f] for a pen name?

I prefer Aurora Townes I think. It sounds more like a real name.

One of my main character’s love interests is called Roisin and I’m thinking of changing it to Rowen. I do prefer Rowen for her, but as her older sister is Aoife and her parents are Lachlan and Fionnuala, Roisin fits in with the family better. What do you think?

I think [name_f]Roisin[/name_f] works well with those names but [name_u]Rowen[/name_u] doesn’t stick out in a bad way. If [name_u]Rowen[/name_u] works better for her, then use it.

What do you think about sisters named [name_f]Charlotte[/name_f] “[name_u]Charlie[/name_u]” [name_f]Magdalene[/name_f] and [name_f]Imogen[/name_f] “[name_f]Immy[/name_f]” [name_f]Ophelia[/name_f]?