Fiction Daily.
A blog on writing, writers and why we read. Posted most mornings by Marion Blackburn.
Name as meaning
So here I sat, with an opening sentence -- a "life sentence," I might say, when I realized I had started a novel without meaning to, at all.

The next step was to figure out what to do next. In my mind, the whole thing was a cloud. It had shape and form, but not much of either. It had nature, contents, a past and a future but who could derive anything of meaning from such a vague formation?

With this cloud-novel in mind, I set out to make something more concrete.

The first step was the situation and that was somehow clear: It involved two sisters, one who was dying and one who was returning home. Naturally, there were conflicts and unresolved feelings -- this is a southern novel, after all.

Next, I had to find out their names. These names had to represent the weight of their culture, a theme which more or less haunts the entire book.

I struggled for several years with their names ... long enough for my real sister to actually have her own daughter and give her the very name I had already chosen for ...  my fictional sister in the novel.

What's more, my fictional sister in the novel begun in 2002 also had a daughter ... actually three children, two daughters and a son.

By the time my little neice was born, I realized I had to develop another name and possibly even another voice for some of my characters, as I had an even better understanding of family chains and emotions.

So, there I was, with a sentence, some vague ideas and no real names.

At last, one name came to me, but it was for neither sister.

AHEAD: A name, a life

TOMORROW ON PRE: Forgive this shameless self-promotion ... Part One of my audio diary airs again at 8:49 tomorrow,
2008-01-08 14:44:40 GMT
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