Questions 3 and 4 I don’t have a lot to say on, so I’ll do both in one post:
3) How do you come up with names for characters (and for places if you’re writing about fictional places)?
I don’t really have any set ‘way’ for doing this. Usually, one name, either first or last, will occur to me for a particular character, and I’ll cast about for the rest of the name so as to come up with something that sounds distinctive without calling attention to itself as The Writer Being Clever. Rarely will I go hunting for a name based on its ‘meaning’ as described in various baby name books and websites, though often once I have a name I’ll take a peek at said ‘meaning,’ just to satisfy my curiosity.
4) Tell us about one of your first stories/characters!
Twilight Zone-ey, and someone, possibly a ghost, got impaled on a bunch of spears at some point. I remember it as having stood out from the other stories being written by my classmates–slice of life High School stuff, near as I can recall–but no more than that.
2) How many characters do you have? Do you prefer males or females?
There’s no way I’m going to try to count all my characters from everything I’ve written, of course. There are about eight or nine ‘major’ characters in my novel, Brutal Light, plus a handful of minor ones and the usual hordes of the unnamed and unnamable. To be honest, I’m not quite sure what this question is intended to reveal; to me, quantity alone is meaningless, whether it has to do with word count or character count or whatever else count.
‘Preference’ is a different matter. Being a guy, I suppose I find it ‘naturally’ easier to write from the perspective of a male character, but not to a degree where I feel an actual catagorical preference. If I know enough about a character to where she or he is more than just the sum of her or his ‘categories,’ it matters less to me what those categories actually are.
(Of course, it should be noted that whether or not I can successfully write a character who occupies categories other than my own is a different question, and a different debate altogether. Which is why I’m leaving it for a different day.)
1) Tell us about your favorite writing project/universe that you’ve worked with and why.
My favorite universe is that of the Superguy shared-universe humorous superheroic fiction group. I poured a lot of work into the various series I wrote for it in the early-to-mid nineties, and made a lot of friends there along the way. Writing for it was an experience that affected me in too many ways to count, large and small. The most obvious of these, to me, is that it gave me a chance to write a lot for an audience that, while generally appreciative, did not stint on the criticism where warranted (and, let’s be honest, sometimes where not warranted–when I recall some of the things we argued about that we thought were so terribly important, I have to shake my head in disbelief). I would not be the writer I am without Superguy. It’s a part of me, and I’m still happy to write for it (though I write a lot less for it than I once did).
The ’30 Days of Writing Questions’ are a meme set of 30 questions I originally encountered on J. Koyanagi’s site, even though the meme apparently originated on LiveJournal. Even though it says ’30 days,’ I’ve decided to take a much slower (one day a week) approach to answering these. I’d rather promise weekly content and deliver than promise daily content and renege.