Here’s my quick catch-up so we can get back on track. 🙂
3. How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you’re writing about fictional places)?
Many times I don’t name where we are in a story. I describe what the characters are seeing along their journey or the environment they are in, but I don’t put a formal city/town name on it. For example, in one of my stories a man goes missing from work and the story’s setting is the company. I named the company and describe the layout, but not the city where it is located. Part of the ride with some of my tales is to portray that feeling that it could be happening right where you are. That person with something hiding in the trunk could be your neighbor. The weird security guard in the office building could be someone you pass every morning.
As for names of characters, they tell me their names (or not). In the story that haunts me (mentioned here), the protagonist won’t tell me her name. I think she’s withholding that part of her identity for protection or because it was lost somewhere along the way.
4. Tell us about one of your first stories/characters!
One of the earliest stories I remember writing was an elementary class assignment where we had to write a parable. I wrote about a heaven-like atmosphere with an assembly of gods (I think a riff off of the Greek mythology I’d started getting into) where there was a penny god that would be called into action if someone found a penny and picked it up. I forget what the whole moral was…I think there also might have been a god that was sent back down out of the heavens for a bad habit of lying.
There was also a play I wrote in sixth grade about a runaway boy. I think my inspiration came from reading the book Go Ask Alice and I wanted to write something “gritty,” but life experience up to sixth grade didn’t really lend itself to that. So the play was terrible and the character motivation quite stilted.
5. By age, who is your youngest character? Oldest? How about “youngest” and “oldest” in terms of when you created them?
Youngest character might be the boy who ran away in my play. I don’t recall writing about any other children. Oldest characters would be an elderly couple in their 80s where the wife dispatched of the husband. Oldest in terms of creation would be the characters from the parable mentioned above. Youngest would be the current story I’m finishing with a woman who has a history of bad wishes coming true.