Branding Your Novel As Yours

Sometimes inspiration begins from the silliest places or in the quietest of moments marking the beginning of an irresistible, unforgettable love story. Have you ever been somewhere and when you least expect it, an idea pops into your head? Maybe see something or someone in a situation causing an array of ideas like a flashing neon sign. No matter what you’re in the middle of, the world stops for you to grab something out of your purse to jot down the idea so you won’t forget. I’m guilty of all the above and scribbled on old receipts, the back of bank deposit slips, junk mail and when all else fails the back of my hand. Thankfully I found the note app on my phone so I can stay a little better organized.

Inspiration lit a fire and the fun (ahem), I mean work begins.

Where do you go from there? Do you keep the plot going without having a visual of the character? I have to get an idea of who they look like, before I can help them behave and misbehave. I can’t be happy with them, cry with them or chastise them if I don’t have a visual. The internet provides a wealth of resources, but I also use Pinterest among others. . .magazines, commercials and sometimes people watching. No, I haven’t gone up to anyone and asked to take a picture. Although, not because I haven’t thought about it. Have you ever been in the mall and some piece of eye candy is in the men’s department shopping for a new pair of shoes. . .and you itch to take a picture because he’s the perfect guy for your character. My daughter is usually with me shopping and she would probably disown me, LOL!

Whenever you find inspiration, embrace it. Brand it and make it yours.

I love angst, an emotional roller coaster ride and make my characters go through hell before they find their happiness. I sometimes wonder what draws me to the gut wrenching scenes. Being an avid reader, I love when a book makes me laugh, drains me emotionally and makes me squee when they overcome whatever impossible hurdle stood in the way. . .That make’s an unforgettable romance for me.

When in the madness do you name your characters? When I hear one I like, I add it to a list (yes, I keep a list of names. . .don’t judge me). Once my idea takes off, I pull my file and see if I have a name on my list that compliments my MMC or FMC. What’s in a name? A lot. It possess characteristics representing being strong, alpha, sweet, sassy, or bad-ass. This is one of my favorite stages of branding my story.

Sometimes I outline my plot, but it’s always subject to change. I’m more of a fly by the seat of my pants gal. In my current WIP, Crazy Beautiful Lies, I’m having the time of my life bringing my characters to life. I knew from the beginning how it was going to start and end, but all the in between comes to life as I type. Oh, I outlined it alright, but changed every single subtitle along the way.

This brings me to my next question, do you title each chapter? I love them. I think it adds a little extra.

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed my style of writing tips. . . It’s the way I brand my story as my own.


Kathryn L. James (KJ)


4 thoughts on “Branding Your Novel As Yours

  1. Kathryn,
    This is a thought provoking blog, because I think sometimes we just do things instinctively and when we finally realize what we’ve been doing, we really don’t know why. I’m very much interested to hear what others think is of ultimate importance when they’re developing their characters or their story.

    I agree the character’s name is very important; you can’t have an FBI agent, who is your MMC, named Melville or a French upstairs maid named Brunhilda. Well of course you could but…

    I don’t keep a list of names but I do contemplate, for a long time, about who my character is, visualize him, and then slap a name on him that I think matches.

    More important for me is what they do—for a living. Recently on a whale watching tour, like you, I had an inspiration, well more like an idea as I tried to abate insistent nausea. I would write a romance about the captain of one of these boats. So now my MMC is taken care of, my FMC takes no shape at all until I figure out what she does for a living: a photographer? a teacher? a wealthy widow? For me, that begins to define who she is. Is that a little strange, fixated? A show of hands please.

    As far as the story goes, location is the first thing: continent/country/city/rural, oh yeah, or coastline.

    Once I have location and two characters with jobs (or some purpose in life), then there’s only one more thing I have to figure out: what’s their problem/their constraint/conflict with each other. What’s the basis for all their issues? For me, that’s the hardest to arrive at, because I pretty much have to write the highlights of the entire story in my head–no outlines–fly by the seat….

    Then I throw the conflict at them and say, “Okay, Cass and Adriana, your mission is to follow the highlights I’ve provided and end up in forever-after love before we get to 90,000 words.

    Ready, set, go.

    Uhm, chapters – no. If I had my way, there would be none; just these little things *** here and there. There are no chapters until I write “the end”. I will on occasion type in “new chapter here” just because the last line I wrote sounds like it should be at the end of a chapter. That having been said, I think titling chapters is a great tool (I mean if you must have them). We’re looking for great chapter endings to make the reader continue reading; how about great foreshadowing chapter titles. “Jake finds Beth in bed with Lucy.”

    Nice blog, Kathryn

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for replying and giving insight of how you brand your work. Love, love, love the whale watching part. . .Funny where and how ideas come about. I so agree with you on not having chapters and only *****. Best idea ever 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great post:) I know when I was writing Traitor that I hated naming characters because it When I finished, I realized most had names beginning with A or B, lol. So I had to change a few. It took a lot of research into 13th century names, but I found a great website with lists of real people who lived then and now when I need a name I just go there and steal one. They have names up to early 17th century. My new WIP has two guys – twins – whose names are Egon and Adin. These names are celtic, from the same root, meaning fire, but the Germanic meaning of Egon means edge of a blade, which is really appropriate.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I never use chapter titles,but only because I can never come up with any, but I always enjoy a story where they are in place and it gives you that little taster of what’s to come. I agree that the name is important and I can spend hours trolling the baby name lists, but that’s all part of the fun!
    I’m off now to find out what a ‘note app’ is, It sounds like something I need!!

    Liked by 1 person

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