How to Name a Novel: The CAM Method

I’m not the best at a first-draft name. It’s tough, because I’m usually writing it with little to no knowledge of how the project will actually turn out. I may as well call it NOVEL 09 DRAFT1 and be done.

Inevitably, I’ll have to change the name when it goes to my agent. But what do I call it now? How do I alter the way I think and talk about the book?

I use a chart.

Continue reading How to Name a Novel: The CAM Method

Celebrate Yourself

Let’s face it: unless you are spectacularly lucky, your first book is crap. I know mine was.

Many authors I’ve met over the years never managed to publish their first five or six books. Some of them didn’t publish until they hit twelve or thirteen. Others still have vast bodies of work and a meager to moderate self-publishing audience.

And that’s okay. The first rule of writing is always “you do you.” But it’s lonely to push work out into the void. You’ve done all of this incredible writing, and no one wants to read it.

Continue reading Celebrate Yourself

Make a Meal of Your Novel

I think of a lot of things in terms of flavor. Numbers, for example: I think 3 would taste like a cracker, 9 would be sweet and 5 seems kind of metallic. I’m not going to claim synesthesia, but I have natural associations that drive me in that direction.

I think these associations are a powerful tool to evaluate and improve your writing.

Continue reading Make a Meal of Your Novel

How to Develop Characters

An interstellar con artist forced to crew with the ship she screwed over (ARCLIGHT REDLINE). On office worker whose cynical humor hides suicidal tendencies (THE POWERS THAT BE). An autistic woman who just wants to be left alone, forced into a revenge drama (EVERY MOUNTAIN MADE LOW).

Where can we get colorful characters?

In the first part of this series, I shared my formula for planning a novel. Now, let’s talk character development.

Continue reading How to Develop Characters

How to Plan a Novel

To date, I’ve written 8 books:

  • FESTIVAL OF THE BIZARRE (a terrible first novel)
  • THE GEARHEART (good podcast, bad novel)
  • THE GEARHEART: ARTIFICE (blank-page rewrite of THE GEARHEART)
  • THE GEARHEART: LION & SNAKE (the unpublished origin story)
  • ARCLIGHT REDLINE (working title)
  • HAS BEEN (in progress, working title)

I have a way that I plan them. Care to hear it?

Continue reading How to Plan a Novel

Without People

Tonight, I went walking around Durham, North Carolina by myself. Let me set the stage: the abominable HB2 is still in effect, in spite of the efforts of the noble locals, and Duke is graduating. Everywhere, there’s an air of celebration and shame tied together. I leave on a plane tomorrow for Atlanta. I’ve just visited with my good friends, and no one I know is around.

So, like any sane human, I went on a solo bar crawl to do some people-watching. I grabbed my copy of Meg Wolitzer’s THE INTERESTINGS and set off from the 21C Hotel.

A photo posted by Alex White (@the_alex_white) on

Continue reading Without People

Where to find me at Rocket City Lit Fest

Attending Rocket City Lit Fest this weekend? So am I! Here’s where to find me.

Dynamic Voice Acting for Podcasts

Learn how to bring your best game to directing with a series of acting games and audience participation!

Saturday, October 10, 12:00PM, VBC Meeting Room 2

UX + Your Novel

Apply the principles of great software, hardware and service design to novel writing! Be the quirky nerd you were meant to be.

Saturday, October 10, 1:00PM, VBC Meeting Room 1


What’s it like to be a menial secretary to the gods themselves? Find out at my reading!

Sunday, October 11, 2:30 PM, Reading Corner

World Building 101

There are worlds. We will build them.

Sunday, October 11, 3:00 PM, VBC Meeting Room 2

Gail Carriger: Manners Unabridged

I’ve gotten a lot of people asking me what Gail Carriger is like. I don’t know how to answer that, because she’s a lot of things. My journey with Gail (and partner, A.B.) can only be characterized by propriety and beauty: two subjects in which I sorely lack education.

When I stepped off the plane in San Francisco, I was lost, but her partner was waiting for me. A.B. didn’t carry a sign, instead approaching me outside the terminal with a sure eye and serene smile. I gave A.B. a stiff, Alabama handshake and instantly felt a sense of imposition as I crushed delicate fingers.

Blushing from overzealous affront, I thought I might could load my bags into the trunk. When I’d finished I spun around to see A.B. waiting, robbed of a chance to be a good host by my foolery.

I knew then that it’d be a long trip.

Continue reading Gail Carriger: Manners Unabridged

Be cool, Alex. You look desperate.

A bit of email traffic from my brain.

To: Burgeoning Author Alex
From: Sunglasses and Leather Jacket Alex
Subject: Be cool, Alex. You look desperate.

Hey, Alex. This is the much more sensible side of you, and we need to talk about your literary image.

I know that you’re excited about your new book coming out, and ever since last December, you haven’t been able to shut up about it. You’re doing some things that make me cringe, and frankly, you’re not impressing anyone–you come off more like a cheerleader having a Ritalin overdose. If you keep this up, everyone is going to know that you’re not that great, and it’s going to be middle school all over again.

You remember middle school, right? When the youth group leader let the other kids raid your luggage and tie a pair of your saggy briefs to the bus antenna, and they laughed at you all the way home? We don’t want that, do we?

Let’s talk. I’ve enumerated the list of your faults, and come up with an action plan.

Continue reading Be cool, Alex. You look desperate.