Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations.
Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text.
The next post I’m going to revisit is What’s Her Name? . Originally posted on . The reason I’m revisiting is that I’ve been naming a lot of people lately and wanted to talk about it.
What’s her name?
I thought naming my baby was difficult. This is worse! (I actually find it fun now, a lot of fun.)
The characters we create are people, but with a twist. I formed every aspect of them, the history of their likes and dislikes. Personality and flaws. Physical appearance and even emotional state. I get to play with their development or regression in the storyline and yes, I can even play God and make them fall in love or snuff them out. *insert evil laugh here* (I still adore this aspect. Having complete control over a character is empowering.)
I found controlling a person in every way made me feel responsible for them and attached. Therefore, a fitting name is important and I needed to get it right.
The thing I discovered with a name is that it can be a well of opportunity for humor, banter and even ridicule between characters and in dialogue. To my surprise, I also found it could shape how a person develops or stays stagnant. People need to grow and change, good or bad it doesn’t matter as long as they learn something along the way.
How do I pick a name? It depends if I have a character already in mind (This is harder) or if I’m creating someone new that I just added because the story demanded it. Minor and sub-minor characters get the close your eyes and pick from a list method. (Baby name books work great for this. Also websites and movie credits.)I was joking the other day about using scrabble pieces or boggle to create names. (I’ve never done this, but it’s still an option.)
I sometimes go for cheesy and name people things like Rose Thourne or I just look around, pick an object, and go with it. I’ve struggled with names and often I’ve asked someone what their favorite name for a girl is, or a boy. Or what name they think is sexy or annoying. Catch my drift? Ooh. Catt Drift. Nice and convenient. Except I like the 1-2 or 2-1 syllable rule for names. That would make her, Catelyn Drift or Catt Drifter. If the first name is one syllable then the last should be two or more and vice versa. (I still like this rule that I happened upon years ago. I don’t always follow it, but I often prefer the sound fo a name that is 1-2 2-1 1-3 3-2, you get the idea, each name should be different syllables. Not always, but it’s what I prefer.)
I actually used a placeholder for two characters until I found the right names for them. One was AAA and the other was SSS for no reason other than they would be easy to search and find and replace. They were my two main characters. (I use this type of placeholder for a lot of things now. Only I keep track or use a standard *** or XXX to hold a place. I never use more than one or two types nowadays to keep things simple.)
I wrote six chapters, hated someone’s name so much I changed it. It’s my story I can do what I please. That’s the beauty of being the all-powerful creator behind the Curtin pulling the strings and blowing smoke. (This still happens. However, a word of caution to blindly using the search and replace features “replace all” if its a name like Art then all words containing art will be changed. For example Art –> Doug. fDougther will replace farther. Simple names can be tricky. In this case, go one by one using the search and replace feature.)
Naming characters can be tricky but it can also be fun or meaningful. I now put more thought into names. I’ll check to see if certain names have typical personalities or how they are perceived. Is it a strong name? Is it a villainous name? Does the name have special meaning or is it a direct translation from an another language that might have meaning or be part of the plot? If it is an ethnic name, I check to make sure it’s not offensive and that I am using it correctly.
The thing about naming a character is that I tend to pull from experience and history. So if a name seems too familiar or too convenient, I sometimes google it to see if it pops up in something recent, such as a movie or book. I’ll also say the name out loud a few times to see if it sounds good or not. “Hello, my name is Catt Drifter.”
My advice about naming your beloved creations.
If you don’t like it or you’re having a hard time visualizing your character because of the name, change it. Baby name books, baby name websites and ‘popular’ name websites are great. But don’t forget the old outdated names, I have found they make for great nicknames, shortened names or fantastic humor. Ironic names are fun if you know where the character is going or if their past is significant work it in.
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