Generating dramatic foreshadowing and irony.

For the best part of this evening I’ve been writing up a short story; it’s not going brilliantly, since I’ve had to cut a page from it because it just wasn’t up to standard, so I thought I’d take a break and I started working on LARP linears.

LARP linears are scenarios, or miniature campaigns, in which a character(s) can take part in and, in essence, roleplay through. It’s a simple concept and bears many similarities to writing scenarios for such things like Dungeons & Dragons (D&D).

Being me, I have a hundred ideas for plot.

Being me, I have a hundred ideas that I can’t think of. 😛

So it came to the point in which I started looking at plot hooks online, just to see what sort of inspiration would strike me. It comes at odd times, so reading what someone else has written may actually give me that creative kick in the mental arse and start writing like a 1930s New York office.

Hundreds of typewriters. Glorious.

What I stumbled across at some point was a series of generators. Now I’m not detailing generators of some kind of power system but rather the kind of generator that gives you names of ships, characters, story titles etc..

I thought that these were interesting at first, since they can help those who are stuck and give them an appropriately awesome name and then they could carry on with their tale or roleplaying.

Thinking about it now, I think it’s an easy way out despite my knowledge of writer’s block and what that can do to someone’s creativity. Writer’s Block stifles the mind in the same way that Chernobyl did to the population growth of Pripyat.


Above: Writer’s Block City.

When you have a generator create names for you, you ruin your chance at adding an extra level to your writing. A well placed reference can emphasise your point to another degree. It can  your point that the character was doomed all along, either with a little research or by people looking at the name and pondering. It can give a character that extra air of bombastic mannerisms, a planet a dark side that just sits at the back of your mind, or a named weapon that hints at what possibility lies in a character’s hands.

In some cases, it inhibits dramatic foreshadowing. A cliche example would be to call a spaceship the ‘Titanic’. Everybody knows what happened there, and thus everybody who reads the name knows that the ship is doomed. A talented writer could make use of this cliched name and foreshadowing.

Give a name like Prospero to a staff. Just a staff.

Anybody who knows a little Shakespeare could tell you that it might not be a mundane staff, and that it has every potential of becoming or being magickal.

Of course, this also paves the way to dramatic irony, so imagine the suspense in which a knowledgeable reader knows that when a bomb named ‘Fat Man’ is due to blow up, it doesn’t. All the suspense would go into the belief that Fat Man is meant to blow up, yet someone had just defused it, or it was a red herring.

It’s also a chance to name a character something meaningful and close to you, and can help you develop a character beyond just a name, an accessory, and the colour of their hair. A name is incredibly important.

Having a generator name a character something like ‘Brad Elfbane’ has the same potential, much like ‘Locke Soule’, but they sound horrid and reminiscent of those sci-fi fantasies that just end up boring and predictable. However, this isn’t to say that it doesn’t have potential.

Using a generator gives you the opportunity to overcome a block. If you find a name that you like, it can evolve into much more than that. You can give that name meaning; some names have no meaning, or just a poor one, so you have the opportunity to create a meaning for that name. What’s stopping you? Sparek meant nothing before it came to me, and it evolved. It can happen to you too.

You can make names your own, but I think that I’ll continue making references here and there, just to add that extra flavour.

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