Thursday, November 30, 2017

Revision is a Process by Catherine E. McLean


Character Creation 
by  Catherine E. McLean 

The truth is that all stories begin with an idea. However, an idea is brought to life by two main story characters: the protagonist (the hero or heroine) and the antagonist (the who or what that thwarts the protagonist). Everything you need to know about your characters is hidden in the noise of their name and how that name looks (the spelling).

You see, on a subconscious level, a reader judges a name as negative, positive, or neutral. Heroes need positive name resonance. But it's also good to enhance a villain's villainy by utilizing the negativity of the sound of their name. For a Romantic Lead it's best to use a positive name. Neutral names better suit Sidekicks or Major Secondary Characters because such names don't syphon attention away from the main characters.

The fastest way to turn off a reader with the names in a story is to:

            A. Let your conscious mind pick the name. Do not fall for the advice that says "it's your story and you can do whatever you want." If it's your story, of course you can do what you want because you are writing only for yourself. However, if you want to share that story, share that vision, then you have to know what appeals to readers.
To get those readers to love, respect, and root for your characters, all names should have a resonance that hits the reader's emotional cord on a subconscious level. To achieve that means evaluating all names (including ones for places, things, gizmos, etc.) by how they look, how they are easily sounded out or pronounced, and how they resonate. It's the difference in a romance between the hero being named Jake and one being Ennismore. Does Ennismore resonate or conjure the idea of an enema? It certainly did with me years ago when I judged a romance contest entry that had that name for the hero. Yes, the name was memorable for me but in a distasteful way.

            B. Do not always trust your subconscious to give you the correct name.

The subconscious loves rhymes, rhythms, and repetitions of consonants and vowels as well as their sounds. The subconscious also likes to slip in faux pas, hints, and Freudian slips that go unnoticed by the logical mind. Which means it is necessary for the logical right brain to check each name just to be sure it's the best one for a story.

So, how do you know you have a winning name for anything in your story? The best way is to use a word list. The simplest word list is to take a sheet of lined notebook paper and put the letters of the alphabet from A to Z down the left side. Then fill in the full names for all characters, places, gizmos, things, robots, tools, weapons. Be sure to cross reference names. One more thing—be sure no other name uses the alphabet letter of the protagonist or antagonist (and romantic lead if you have one). Why? To make it clear to the reader that those characters are the most important ones in the story.


Revision is a Process –
How to Take the Frustration Out of Self-Editing
by Catherine E. McLean

GENRE: Self-Help, Self-Improvement, Non-Fiction


A first draft holds the possibility of what will be a great story. Revision turns that rough diamond into a spectacular gem worth a reader's money and time.

Writers are individuals but to be a producing writer means creating a system to revise and polish a work so the reader thoroughly enjoys the story. Revision Is a Process is a guidebook for writers and authors that shows how a simple 12-step process can be tailored to eliminate the most common and chronic maladies of writing genre fiction. This valuable guidebook contains secrets, tips, practical advice, how-to's, and why-to's for taking the frustration out of self-editing.


From Section 1, An Overview of Revision is a Process

. . . revision is a process .  A logical, straightforward process where you don't try to find and fix everything at once. Instead, you break the monumental task into component parts and focus on only an item or two at a time.

Okay, so the reality is that creative people,  especially writers, hate logic and straightforwardness. And it's a fact that logic and creativity have always been at war with each other. After all, creativity gives a writer a high like no other. It's the fun part of writing and storytelling.

On the other hand, revising, rewriting, and self-editing are linear, logical, objective—and not fun.

But necessary.

Ever so necessary if one intends to be commercially successful in the writing business.

Here's something I've learned about writing and self-editing—a writer should find a middle ground. That means having the logical part of one's mind work with the subconscious imagination (the creative self).

It's about adopting a different view of self-editing—calling it a process—and diligently organizing that process into small steps that can easily be done. This gives a writer confidence that they have polished their story and increased its marketability.

I strongly believe, and have seen, that revision-as-a-process enables a writer to use both their left (logical) and right (creative) brain to become even more creative.

That's because the writer not only tailors a one-of-a-kind process but they also develop their own revision master cheat sheets. As a result, the creative subconscious (the imagination) becomes aware of the pitfalls and glitches that must be checked for, and subsequently, little by little, the creative self dishes up better first drafts with far fewer errors.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Catherine E. McLean's lighthearted, short stories have appeared in hard cover and online anthologies and magazines. Her books include Jewels of the Sky, Karma & Mayhem, Hearts Akilter, and Adrada to Zool (a short story anthology). She lives on a farm nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains of Western Pennsylvania. In the quiet of the countryside, she writes lighthearted tales of phantasy realms and stardust worlds (fantasy, futuristic, and paranormal) with romance and advenure. She is also a writing instructor and workshop speaker. Her nonfiction book for writers is Revision Is a Process - How to Take the Frustration out of Self-Editing.

● Website for writers:

● Writers Cheat Sheets Blog:

● Linked-In:

● Facebook:

● Amazon Author Page:

● Link to buy REVISION IS A PROCESS at Amazon:

● Link to buy REVISION IS A PROCESS at Barnes & Noble:


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  1. I really enjoyed reading the guest post, thank you!

    1. Thank you Nikolina for dropping by and enjoying this post. Have a great day.

  2. Good morning - and I thank This and That Book Blog for having me as a guest today! I'll be stopping by periodically to answer questions or just chat about character creation or naming or any other aspect of writing fiction and storytelling.

  3. Your A to Z list for names is a helpful idea. And Ennismore won't show up on any of my lists. Thanks, Catherine.

  4. Great information. Thank you for sharing.

    1. You're very welcome and thanks for stopping by today.

  5. The day comes to a close, and I thank my host and those that commented. I wish you all success with your writing. Goodnight.

  6. I have never put much thought into character names before. Thank you for the advice in your post.