First Things First

Hi, all, Jennifer here!

I have to admit that in my personal life I’m very sensitive to order and having everything around me just so. No, I don’t have OCD. But I have joked on many occasions that I could quite possibly be borderline. Luckily, my family has learned to deal with it.

So it stands to reason, that in my writing life I like order, too. Our theme this month at the Heart-Shaped-Glasses blog is FIRSTS, so I thought I’d share what I like to do first when starting a new book.

When an idea first comes to me, it’s really vague. For example, in my recent novella, A LITTLE BIT CUPID, I knew I wanted to write about a woman who had never been in love and I also knew I wanted Cupid to help her find Mr. Right but have her want someone entirely different.

See? We’re talking really vague.

Before I can go any further with plotting, the first thing I need are NAMES.

Believe it or not, I can write without a working title, but I NEED NAMES for my characters or they just won’t feel real to me. Without a name, it would be like writing about a cardboard cutout figure. And I just can’t get into that.

So where do I start looking?

Actually, I have a nifty little Baby Name book called Beyond Jennifer and Jason, Madison and Montana: What to name your baby now. It’s an awesome book and I highly recommend it (even if you’re done having children of your own). It categorizes names for you, which makes it ever so convenient, especially if you’re looking for a masculine or feminine type name or maybe a good-girl name, or a no nonsense name, etc…

Once my characters are named, I’m good to go and I can then create my character profiles and then a brief story outline. See? Very orderly. But that’s me. I’m a first things first kind of girl. 🙂

How about you? What’s the FIRST thing you like to do when beginning a new story?

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her upcoming sweet romance: WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH releasing December 5, 2016.
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6 Responses to First Things First

  1. Nina Croft says:

    I’m sort of the opposite, Jennifer, and totally disorderly both in life in general and writing, so it tends to vary with every story (though I do need names of the main characters before I start as well). Maybe though, because I write a lot of paranormal and sci-fi, the first thing is probably deciding not so much who my characters are as what they are.

  2. Bethanne says:

    First things first, I need the idea. Funny, then I need the name. I wouldn’t have admitted that before, but it IS what I do. Get the name down. Although…maybe once or twice, I’ve changed a name, so it’s not something I cling to. 🙂

    I’m trying to be more orderly with my beginning, having a plot set, etc. 🙂 I love it!

  3. Bethanne: I’ve noticed when I don’t have the name down right, it affects my writing. (I was never really sold on Clare and Graham for some reason…) 🙁

  4. I agree. I have to have the right name for the hero and the heroine. I had trouble naming my hero with something that sounded like a cowboy but wasn’t over the top or cheesy. But now I’m completely happy with the name I found for him.

  5. Sutton Fox says:

    For me, it’s a vague idea of the plot, similar to yours, Jennifer. Then I’ve got to have a working title. The title helps me get into the story. I know titles are subject to change and all that, so who knows why it works that way. The character names follow the title. Names are sticklers, though. They’ve got to fit what you have in mind.

  6. Have to have names and have to have a title. I just can’t work without either one! I have a book called “the secret universe of names” and it’s great for giving the origin of the name and some traits associated with it – I love that because I then use that to start forming my characters.

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