Nine Thoughts about Names in Fiction

by Craig Chambers, Author of Fuck You, Your Honor

Satirical Literary Fiction

March 4, 2018

First, from Indiana Jones to Holly Golightly or Ignatius J. Reilly, the main character’s name should be memorable. If you want the story to be memorable, find a unique name for the main character that suits the type of fiction you are writing.

Second, keep a list of names. I keep a list of interesting and amusing names which I get from people that I meet, from movie credits, and from interesting words that are sometimes also names. Other times, as I am writing a story, the name just pops out at me.

Third, Google the names of the main characters to see how they are used in real life or in popular culture. Certain names have connotations because other writers have used them already, and you need to be aware of how the name might resonate with the reader.

Fourth, not every character needs a name. Some characters are neighborhood characters and in the story for atmosphere or to draw out one of the main characters. Avoid naming incidental or unimportant characters.

Fifth, avoid naming too many characters. Too many characters, really more than four of five, are confusing for the reader.

Sixth, avoid characters whose names are similar. The characters  might be real and distinctive to you, the writer, but to a reader, a character named Doug is similar to a character named Don or Dustin.

Seventh, use diverse names to make the book more interesting. Some people have ethnic names; some people have names with a secondary meaning.

Eighth, some people don’t go by first names. They go by their initials, their middle name or their last name. Don’t be afraid to stir it up a bit.

Ninth, don’t  forget diminutive versions of names or nick-names, either derived from their names or their personal characteristics.

Most people go by more than one name. The name your wife or husband calls you might be different than the name your boss or your buddy from college or what your mother calls you.

Each character should have a first name, a middle name, a last name, and a nick-name, even if you don’t use them. The more you know about the character you are creating, the more interesting the character will become.

Sugar Plum, have fun with names, and a create more memorable characters for the reader.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — 3.5 Pickles/5

A review of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

December 2, 2017

by Craig Chambers, author of F-ck You, Your Honor

I wrote this review because I went to the movies again, and everyone is raving about Three Billboards.

Without spoiling the movie, the film is a quirky dark comic drama set in a small town in Missouri where a women posts three billboards questioning why the local police have not solved her daughter’s murder. These billboards expose and incite all kinds of conflict between the main character, Mildred Hays, played by Francis McDormand, and the local police and the town. It is a very sad movie depicting very sad lives , and the way it is put together, it is entertaining.

I give the film 3.5 Pickles out of 5 because of the excellent acting. The cast is full of nitwits, and its hard to act like a nitwit so easily — unless of course, you are a nitwit.

The movie is well-written, but, as a novelist, contrary to many of the fans, I found the use the letters from the chief police, Woody Harrelson, to be contrived, and the ending left me flat.

There is one scene in the movie where the main character, Mildred Hays, is confronted by the local priest to take down the billboards. In criticizing the church and congregation for not helping find her daughter’s killer, she compares the church to the street gangs in the ’80s and claims that there are laws that if you were in a gang, and another gang member committed a bank robbery, even if you had nothing to do with the crime, and even if you did not even known about the crime, you were “culpable.”

As a lawyer, this is simply nonsense. To be charged with conspiracy to commit a crime, you must do something in the furtherance of the crime. You must commit an “overt act” indicating your agreement to participate in the crime; legally, just because you are in a gang, you are not automatically culpable for the criminal acts of other gang members without committing an overt act.

This is black-letter law, basically Criminal Law 101, and the misstatement about the elements of a conspiracy charge appear to be made-up by Hollywood to make a philosophical point about the church in the film.

Anyway, after such with a huge misinterpretation of the law,  I couldn’t really enjoy the movie.

A Review of Roman J. Israel, Esq.

A Review of Roman J. Israel, Esq.  3 Pineapples 

November 24, 2017

By Craig Chambers,  author of F-ck You, Your Honor

My first movie review! I chose this movie because it’s about a lawyer, and it’s different and more character-based than a typical Grisham. I can’t give it a star rating — stars have been taken — or a tomato rating — used before also.

I’ll give it a rating of three Pineapples, before all the fruits and vegetables are taken.

In the movie, Denzel Washington plays a lawyer displaced by the death of his litigation partner, a famous civil rights leader. Roman was the researcher and brief-writer for the firm.  The death of his partner results in the firm’s dissolution,  and Roman, ill-equipped socially or economically to start his own firm, works for a larger, more commercial firm which is more interested in making money than in changing the laws.

I give Denzel Washington two Pineapples because of his acting. He’s a great actor, and charismatic, as we saw in Remember the Titans; Coach Boone had to really dumb it down to play the sad, pathetic, mouse known as Roman J. Israel.

Roman Esq is  a sort of romantic recluse, socially inept and unable to function outside of the life he was accustomed to at the small firm. These types of people are drummed out of law school or resigned to the job of a paralegal. Law school was filled with nasty A-type personalities (people I now call “my friends”) and while not all lawyers are litigators, those who are not know themselves well enough to never step foot in a courtroom.  

I give the movie a third Pineapple because the practice of law for Roman is mundane, tedious and unsatisfying, which is largely how the practice is.

As  a movie-goer, I didn’t like the main character. Although he had an admirable and romantic view of the law, I didn’t sympathize with him, I mostly felt sorry for him. Sometimes these types of movies are helped with humor. Little or none of that in this movie. As a novelist and short-story writer, I thought the plot got lost in the details on the practice.  

At some point in the movie, Roman  breaks a serious legal Rule, which results in a downward spiral for Roman.The Rule he broke — which I will not explain so as not to spoil the movie — this scholarly character wouldn’t have broken without more (or some) rumination and self-reflection. I spent great lengths to make sure my novel, F-ck you, Your Honor, was legally correct. I showed it a really experienced criminal attorney as well as a family law lawyer. Denzel didn’t do that.

The Rule he broke in the movie would have resulted in disbarment, not in criminal prosecution.  You’d think with all the money they spend on making the movie,  they could spare an hour or two to run central legal issues to the story by a practicing attorney.

Sorry to say, when I see obvious legal errors in a movie,  it ruins the movie for me. 

Launch of F-ck You, Your Honor

by Craig Chambers, author of F*ck You, Your Honor

Vol 1.4 June 5, 2017

My satirical literary novel, F*ck You, Your Honor,  launched today. There was no countdown for the launch and the earth didn’t move. Except for the earthquakes caused by the fracking up in Firestone.

Check it out on Amazon or my own website, If you like it write a review; if you don’t like it, forget you ever heard of the novel .

Thanks to all the people that helped, readers, editors, artists designers, critics, and friends.

Thanks especially to Jami Carpenter, Cedric Chambers, Michael Bozek, Judy Lucero and Rebecca Winters.

The book is available on Amazon and related book sites both as a paperback and as an e-book. I’ve gotten good reviews so far, at least, four, which means that at least four people liked the book, a fact I find extraordinary.


About the Title: F*ck You, Your Honor

Platte Canyon Review 1.3

Literary Fiction and Legal Satire

by Craig Chambers, author of F*ck You, Your Honor

Fuck You, Your Honor, published by Black Letter Editions

January, 2017

My novel is called  F*ck You, Your Honor, which is a satirical literary novel about a low-end attorney and real estate broker who is ordered by a judge to write a book to save his law license. The title evolves from a passage in the book, so if you want to see where the title comes from, sorry, you’ll have to at least skim through the novel.

One of the problems with the title is that there are many ways to spell it. There’s Fuck You, Your Honor, F*ck You, Your Honor, F-ck You, Your Honor, F–k You, Your Honor, F U Your Honor, to name a few.

Some people are offended by the title and don’t want the book glaring out at people from  their coffee-table for anyone to see. They treat the book like they found a dead rat in the kitchen and want to wrap it up in newspaper and dump it the garbage.

Other people love the title. Real estate brokers especially seem to like the title because most realtors hate lawyers. Lawyers also seem to like it because apparently lawyers also hate lawyers. And because lawyers studied the 1st Amendment back in law school and are therefore constitutional law scholars.

The best I can tell you is I think the title suits the subject of the novel. There is a rap song with a similar title but no one would confuse my book with a rap song. And the title conveys the feel of the book, its tone and personality.

Some people think the book is offensive; other people think that for the title, F*ck You, Your Honor, the book is not offensive enough. Since you can’t please everyone, why bother to please anyone?

Whether you like the title or not,  I hope you give the book a try.

Short Chapters

Platte Canyon Review 1.2

Literary Fiction and Legal Satire

by Craig Chambers, author of Fuck You, Your Honor

Fuck You, Your Honor, published by Black Letter Editions

April, 2016

The novel, F*ck You, Your Honor, has little short chapters. As I lawyer, I am not good at math, but last time I counted there are 61. Some people have complained the chapters are too short, like they feel a chapter cheated them somehow.

Short chapters are good because you can stop and take a break from the book anytime you want. It is a good book to take on an airplane. To the dentist’s office. When you hold an open house. Or to read during a business meeting.

The chapters are short because that’s how I write chapters. There’s not a lot I can do about that. You can go to writing school, get an MFA, live off student loans, and avoid a real job for a year or two, but no one can teach a writing style. I write how I write.

“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”

Platte Canyon Review

Vol.1. 1 October, 2015

Literary Fiction and Legal Satire

by Craig Chambers, author of  F*ck You, Your Honor

Fuck You, Your Honor, published by Black Letter Editions

“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”  Muriel Rukeyser

I am the author of Fuck You, Your Honor, a satire on the legal system. I was a literature student long before I became an attorney. A lawyer is a writer, anyway, writing a motion or a brief for an audience of one, the judge.

Becoming a lawyer helped my writing become clear and direct. But I still can quote an obscure poet, like Muriel Rukeyser, along with the best of my old lit major friends — most of whom spent their careers at community colleges as English professors teaching English composition.

This first blog is to acknowledge some of the writers  who have influenced me. Here’s to my more learned masters: John Ashbery, Edwin Morgan, Donald Justice, Elizabeth Bishop, Lisel Mueller, W.S. Merwin, Charles Simic, Frank O’Hara, and The British Revivalist Poets of the ’70’s and ’80’s.

And here’s to their fiction-writer counter-parts: Milan Kundera, Saul Bellow, Jerzy Kosinski, Mavis Gallant, Raymond Carver, Charles Bukowski, Henry Miller, and Vladmir Nabokov.