I’m super thrilled to announce the theme for next month. For the entire month of May, every post will be dedicated to the Mystery genre. I’m talking hard boiled detectives, femme fatales, plot twists and more! I’ve always loved the genre, so why not celebrate it?
What does that mean for the blog? Prompts of the week will be mystery themed, hopefully sparking ideas for your own whodunit. Fridays are a mixed bag of goodies. Some days may be writing advice, like how to create a detective character or how to write a plot twist. There may even be a mystery short story too.
And who knows? There may be some surprises along the way. You never know.
So, make sure you follow, like, comment, all that cheesy good stuff. May Of Mystery is right around the corner.
Well, It has been a busy, and emotionally exhausting, couple of days. Lots of work writing to do. However, I did have a small burst of inspiration for that work-in-progress novel of mine. Frankly, I’ve been struggling with writer’s block with my WIP. I jotted a couple of new ideas down, for whenever I find time to write for myself. Which, let me tell you, is such a luxury when you’re a freelance writer.
Then I had a thought. Recently, I’ve been thinking about changing the name of a character I have had for five years. Although this may be a difficult transition for me personally (He’s had the same name for years, calling him anything else will be strange), it’s been a nagging thought for the past couple weeks.
A Bit of Backstory
Years ago, I had an idea for a character, a detective named Henry B. Cooper (Later H.B. Cooper.) In short, he’s a grumpy old man, from across the pond, who resides in New York during the 1920’s. No matter what I was writing, this character was there in the back of my head, sitting in the living room of my brain, waiting for me to tell his story. “I’m right here, dear, whenever you’re ready.” (Me talking to imaginary people is probably unhealthy right?)
After I graduated college, I wanted to write a novel. Although I was split between fantasy and mystery, my two most beloved genres, I ended up choosing mystery. I ended up choosing Mister Cooper. You’ve probably seen snippets of him in short stories I’ve posted on this blog. Even 5 years later, I’ve still very fond of him.
Recently, I’ve considered changing his name. As any writer knows, names are so important to the character. It’s like naming a child. (A fictional child that won’t stop bothering you. ) This blog is about creating an open dialogue for writers. So let’s pretend we’re in sweatpants, eating salty potato chips, and I’m trying to explain to you the reasoning behind renaming my first born.
Did The Research
Look, I’m not a historian, by any means. However, since I am writing a historical story, the facts have to be straight. The names I picked, for all the characters, had to fit the time period they lived in. Simply as that. For example, my narrator’s name is Oscar Fitzgerald. Not only does it reflect the early 1900s, it also reflects his heritage. And I wanted to do the same thing for the detective.
I knew the last name ‘Cooper’ was a common English name, but I never dug deep into it. Apparently, in Victorian England, surnames often originated from religious text (Lewis, Thomas, James) or one’s occupation (Taylor, Baker, Smith). Since my detective is born during this era, these are factors I will have to take into consideration.
Okay, this might be a silly worry, but it still bugs me. H.B. Cooper is very similar to some other characters, both real and fictional, that I know of. First off, around the time I created Mister Cooper, my family got a dog, who coincidently, was also named Cooper. While I did like the fact that these two, unintentionally, shared a name, now I feel like the detective needs his own identity.
Second, for the mystery nerds out there, H.B Cooper sounds a lot like D.B. Cooper. Plus there’s like two other detective Coopers in fiction already. I may be overthinking this, but I think my main character should have a moniker that stand out a bit more.
Thank You, Next
I have a couple ideas in mind for his new name. For some reason, I’ve always loved the name ‘Barnaby’, from an old Laurel and Hardy film I grew up with. Maybe I’ll play around with that. Frankly I still need to do more research. Once I find the right name, things should click into place. At least I hope.
You ever walk into a room and say to yourself, “Man, I should change the color of these walls.” Right now, I feel like this character needs a new coat of paint. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just something I think he needs. It’ll be hard, losing that name he’s had for years, but this is just a step in the evolution process. His personality and backstory won’t change, just his name tag.
Got any ideas for a name? I’m curious to see what you guys think. Also, have you ever had to change a longtime character’s name?
I’ll be honest, my WIP has been trudging through the swamps of writer’s block lately. Last night, during a thunderstorm no less, some ideas sprung to mind. I scribbled them on paper, in total darkness. It was nice to just stop, tune everything out and brainstorm.
Hey Writer Bees! Sorry, I’m a bit busy and sick this week, so no writing advice post today. Instead, here’s a short story inspired by this week’s prompt of the week. For more exclusive stories, or if you just want to support a starving writer like me, check out the Patreon. Coming out with new goals and reward tiers soon, so stay tuned. Hope you guys enjoy this story!
“I’m sorry… What were your names again?”
“Jonathan Cobalt, pleasure to meet you, son.” His handshake was far too aggressive. My wrist almost snapped. The man tossed a moon-eye glance towards his lady companion. “And this darling doll is Dorothy Pink. My angel. The spring in my step. The…-“
“Oh honey, stop it.” With a playful giggle, the young lady caressed his dark blue tie. Her dress was a pretty lilac number, adored with beads and sequins. Those two must’ve came straight from some ritzy event. They couldn’t take their eyes off each other. Leaning over, Miss Pink gave one big smooch, leaving him with a lipstick stained cheek. “He’s a real charmer. I adore him.”
“Ain’t she a peach, fellas?” His proud grin was infectious. Like chicken pocks. “Yeah, sure.” I agreed, with a shrug. Usually, we get some shady characters, these lovebirds, all twinkly and bright, were a nice change of pace. What screwball names, though. I stifled a laughed. My employer did not seem to find the humor in their names.
“Mr. Cobalt and Miss Pink,” The detective pressed on. “You require my assistance for something?” His narrowed eyes hid under thick eyebrows. All this lovey-dovey stuff was making him sick.
With a snap of his fingers, Mister Cobalt remembered he was in a Private Detective’s office and not a hotel room at the Plaza. “Oh yes! That’s right! Show them the letter, sweetheart.”
Out of her cleavage, Miss Pink pulled out a small, square envelope. She handed it to me. The paper felt warm. I quickly passed it over to the detective. With a dramatic sigh, her fingers intertwined with her lover’s. “Someone’s been sending me such awful notes. Lately, they’ve become more and more threatening. I’m worried.”
Eager to jump to the rescue for his princess. “Don’t worry, angel. I’m sure a professional detective can take care of this in no time. He’s the real McCoy.”
Mr. Cooper read over the note carefully. I tried to glance over his shoulder. Messy cursive writing, warning Miss Pink to watch her back. Creep. “Do you have any idea who would send you this letter?”
“It could be my ex-beau. He was the jealous type. His name Mr. Vernon Greene, from Staten Island.”I chuckled to myself. Wouldn’t you laugh too? Mister Cobalt and Miss Pink needed help finding Mister Greene. What are the odds? When did I leave Coney Island to go to Wonderland? What’s next? The Red Queen storming into the office? “You think you can find him, Mister Drooper?”
“Detective Cooper.” My boss corrected.
“Sometimes, they call him Mister Purple and me Mister Orange.” I mumbled the joke under my breath, trying to contain my laughter. I couldn’t resist.
He rubbed the bridge of his nose in frustration. “Oscar…” He warned. “It’s not that funny.”