Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ember Star

A character popped into my head last night as I commuted home across the Causeway Bridge. She didn't come fully formed but she came with two scenes that helped me characterize her. And she came with a name. I just don't know whether I should stay with that name or not.

I've been wanting for a while to do a high action SF type story featuring a female protagonist. I've written female protagonists in short stories of the fantasy and horror type, but never for an action adventure story. Those thoughts rattling around in my head must have coalesced last night.

Scene 1: A woman, looking to be in her late 20s, is sitting on the edge of a bed with one half flat pillow and some wadded sheets. She's got blonde hair, shoulder length, very tangled. She's wearing a black t-shirt, what looks like men's boxers, and a single white sock. The echoes of a knock on her door still hang in the room. She's rubbing her face with one hand and she doesn't look happy. Last night
involved liquor it would seem.

Scene 2: The same woman, wearing camouflage BDUs and black combat boots, is stepping over a puddle of vomit in a cluttered alley behind a bar that looks dark and empty. She goes up a short set of steps to a rather rickety door, and she's carrying a blaster in her right hand. She puts a hand to the door, blaster ready, then pauses as she hears a faint sound from inside.


And now the name. The name that popped into my head was Ember Starr. I got a thought that she was somehow distantly related to Belle Starr, although this story would be set pretty far in the future. Something about the name resonates with me, although it sounds upon first hearing to be kind of cliche. I was thinking the name might be a possible source of some comic relief, as she gets asked by some guy if that's her porn name and then proceeds to make sure the guy'll never enjoy porn again. I also get the feeling that she's a bit of a contrarian, and though she started out in life hating the name her mother gave her, she's now decided to lay claim to it.

Anyway, these are some preliminary thoughts. Any comments? What about the name? Too cliche? Does it create the wrong sense of the woman? Is it ok you think to play the character off against the name?

Just asking.
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46 comments:

Paul R. McNamee said...

I like the idea of moving from disliking her name, to embracing it - much to the chagrin of any chauvinistic comments about it.

Sounds like you should take her out for a test drive - as an author, I mean ;)

(I'm in the middle of drafting up some new characters for a new tale myself.)

AvDB said...

It's kind of pornish, but I don't mind it. If I like her character, I'd readily embrace her name.

I agree with Paul (hi, Paul)--take it for a test drive and see how you feel about it then.

Deka Black said...

The idea of mpving from dislike to like... is good. But the name sounds like a ice cream brand or something like that.

is not a bad name, only confusing... and this can help her to confuse her enemies.

Tom said...

Well, if you break it down, the name could provide some hints to her personality...

Ember - 1. a glowing or smouldering piece of coal or wood, as in a dying fire
2. the fading remains of a past emotion

Several connotations pop into my head, all of which could be reflected in her as a character. Sometimes in fiction a name is symbolic. Whether referring to the actual name, or the phonetics involved.

And Starr is just a great name for a sci-fi character. But it does have a campy vibe to it. If anything, I would consider changing that, but leaving the first name.

G said...

Honestly, my first thought about the name was, "ooooh, porno star".

But perhaps she could use the name as something that would drive her to actions of reckless abandond, simply because the name was so cheesy to begin with, that she needed to prove the nth degree that her name should conjur up a vision of pure terror and not a play toy.

BernardL said...

The name's fine as long as the story takes off. She could be a wise-cracking bad ass.

The Golden Eagle said...

I like the idea of a character going from disliking of her name to claiming it--that seems to suggests personality.

Charles Gramlich said...

Paul, that's probably the best advice. Let her roll

AvDB, I'm figuring her parents were maybe 23rd century hippies of the equivalent.

Deka, I definitely would want a double RR at the end to help cut down on the confusion,

Tom, yeah, I don't know how campy I could let it go.

G., I think of the characters Belle Starr and Pearl starr, who were real life women in the west. But we may be beyond the point we can allow that. No one else is likely to get those kinds of connotations.

Bernardl, yeah, if the story quickly develops some momentum any weirdness with the name would be quickly forgotten.

Charles Gramlich said...

Golden eagle, that would definitely be a part of the character. I kind of like playhing with that possibility.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Okay, good to know I'm not the only one who thought porn star. Yeah, keep the first name for sure.

Angie said...

My first thought was that she would have absolutely been teased about her name as a kid, assuming your setting has similar kinds of schools and neighborhoods to what we have now. Heck, I hated my name as a kid for that reason, and it's nowhere near as teaseable as Ember Starr. :) At any rate, I agree that this could be a good character development point.

Angie

Merisi said...

I like Ember Starr.
Her name sounds like a promise, one different from what one expects.

David Cranmer said...

Run with it, Charles. Sounds interesting.

Charles Gramlich said...

Alex J. Cavanaugh, my thought too but it's good to see I can predict a bit of what others might think.

Angie, I'm figuring she might have been edcuated catch and catch can. I'm not thinking of parents who would be very likely to settle down and were probably uprooting her a lot.

Merisi, I like the idea of playing against type, or playing against the name.

David Cranmer, thanks, I appreciate the thought.

laughingwolf said...

i like the ember part, but anything to do with star/starr rubs me the wrong way... including starbucks!

too many clowns in scifi named starbuck, too GRRRRRRRRRRR

Erik Donald France said...

"Is it ok you think to play the character off against the name?"

Absolutely. It does not self-destruct -- works for me. And really, whatever works for you is mosr important.

Besides Belle Starr (and we had a Lab named Starr), only other immediate connection for me is the funk-ish band Midnight Star(r) -- "Operator, This is an Emergency . . ."

David J. West said...

I'm inclined to say follow your gut and if thats the name that came first, stick with it.

I echo a number of other comments-but run with it.

Steve Malley said...

Ride with the name. Take the scenes and the name and follow 'em to see where they go.

Ember's name may change as you get to know her better. As you know, Maeve was Moira for a time, but she also started life as a Siobhan. More trashy and less murderous, too.

Oh, and Poison Door started with Sarah as a bad guy. Take the threads you have now and see where they lead. :)

Cloudia said...

your muse!





Aloha to you
from Honolulu!


Comfort Spiral

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Charles Gramlich said...

laughingwolf, that's true. Hadn't really thought of that.

Erik Donald France, I've not really done that before so it would be something new.

David J. West, the name popped up fully formed, which doesn't usually happen to me. That alone is interesting to me.

Steve Malley, that's definitely the best thing to do, I think.

Cloudia, good point. :)

Travis Cody said...

My first thought on reading the name was that some over-worked social worker might have dropped her into the system, and some clerk misunderstood and wrote her name down as Ember instead of Amber.

I like the name, and the conceptualization of the character in the two short scene sketches. And the possible distant connection to Belle Star is intriguing. It seems like there might be many opportunities in the idea to build an alternative future.

Let it cook. See what boils over.

Ty Johnston said...

I like the name Ember, but Ember Starr does ring somewhat cliche to my ear. Still, I think it could be made to work. Charles, you can do it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Funny how idea come to us. Now my husband would have just had a dream about her but you're taking her out for a spin.

Barrie said...

How very fun--a character who arrives with a couple of scenes and a unique name!! I say go with the name. If you decide partway through the book to change it, well, there's all that the find/replace key. ;)

Deka Black said...

By the way Charles. suddenly i imagined she have black hair. I'm right?

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis Cody, I considered amber. I've actually known someone named ember, but spelled with two "Rrs." Sounds like the consensus is to let it ride.

Ty Johnston, yeah, it's an approach/avoidance thing. i like it and don't like it at the same time.

pattinase, she seems to want to tell me a story.

Barrie, that's true, and something to keep in mind.

Deka Black, I'm seeing her with blonde hair. Not sure why.

Ron Scheer said...

Don't ask me about names. When I first heard the name Lexus I thought it was a stupid name for a car...

Ocean Girl said...

i think it sounds great. I already picture Angelina Jolie stepping over the vomit.

Lana Gramlich said...

I like the name, personally. Glad you're thinking up new tales, too. :)

Travis Erwin said...

If you write it, I'll read it and make certain not to offer her cash for a lap dance.

Barrie said...

I think Ember Starr owns a milk frother! :)

Kate Sterling said...

I certainly was intrigued by the two scenes you just sketched out. The name came to you for a reason - ride it and see where it leads.

ivan said...

A little tinkering, and I've come up with Star Amber.

Charles Gramlich said...

Ron Scheer, lol. It seems to have caught on.

Ocean Girl, that would be nice!

Lana Gramlich, you sweet.

Travis Erwin, lol. That might be wise.

Barrie, I can't imagine that would be true. :)

Kate Sterling, that sounds like good advice.

ivan, That sounds perilously close to Star Chamber.

Scott said...

Charles,

Sounds good to me. Run with it!

Deka Black said...

You're not sure? hmm ask her!

Charles Gramlich said...

Scott, thanks, man.

Deka, I will. :)

ivan said...

Charles,

Good. Makes her sound like she means it! She bad.

Charles Gramlich said...

Ivan, she bad, she realllll bad. :)

Carole said...

Both scenes are intriguing. I really like Ember. Starr, not as much. Still if you incorporate her name into the story line it would be good.

X. Dell said...

I have a fictional character with a similar name, and she's very much into action--not the sci-fi kind, however.

Charles Gramlich said...

Carole, sometimes it's good to go with your first thoughts, sometimes not. I'm torn.

X-Dell, ahh, I think I understand. :)

jodi said...

Charles, we used to have a local band named 'Ember Swift'. I like your vision on Ember, but I think you should spell Star with two r's-more modern!

Charles Gramlich said...

Jodi, I will definitely use two "rrs" in her name.

Barbara Martin said...

Sounds like a great beginning, Chalres. Now you just have to fill in the other pieces.

Charles Gramlich said...

Barbara, yes, the 'easy' part. ;)