Character Nomenclature

Some character names are well-crafted, like Macon Dead from Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon. He’s a particularly dismal character who sucks the liveliness out of his family and tenants; thus, makin’ dead is a well-crafted name. Other names just story-y. For whatever nebulous reason, they just seem to fit in a story. Perhaps this excerpt will better explain what I mean:

The football might not be first-rate, but the players’ names are a novelist’s dream. Nucla has Seth Knob, Chad Stoner, and Seldon Riddle. Dove Creek has a player named Tommy Fury. Blanding has Talon Jack and Sterling Black, Tecohda Tom and Herschel Todachinnie. Shilo Stanley, Terrance Tate, Dillon Daves: if alliteration ever needs an offensive line, recruiting should begin around the Colorado-Utah border.                                               –Dr. Don” by Peter Hessler

What’s your character’s name going to be?


[[note: I found out through the enormously convenient English Department facebook page that Robert Boyers’s essay, “A Beauty,” got a special mention in the NY Times. Definitely check that one out. The article mentions a list of great, philososophical essays, one of which I just quoted above.]]


A Dang Good Sentence

“M. Bouillon was a small man with bright, liquid eyes, a long nose, like a woodcock’s, and a limp, drooping mustache that looked as if it had been steamed over cook pots until it was permanently of the consistency of spinach.”

-A.J. Liebling, “The Afterglow”

(from Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink. A Folio favorite!)

Writing Prompt II

Write a story/poem/scene/essay or draw a picture that centers around an extraordinary meal. The food doesn’t have to be steak bearnaise–it can be as simple as a frozen pizza–but the meal should have some kind of significance to the characters. Include a recipe, or structure your piece in the style of a recipe.

((Exercise adapted from The Writer’s Block by Jason Rekulak))