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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What's in a name?

"We should be aware of the MAGIC contained in a name and realize that this single item is wholly and completely owned by the person with whom we are dealing...and nobody else. The name sets the individual apart; it makes him or her unique among all others." (I think this was from Dale Carnegie).

The most beautiful sound in the world? A persons name.
If someone says your name you respond, even if it's not you they're talking to. If you have to find your name on a page of 500 other names, you usually can spot it right away. Am I right or am I right?

Have you read a book where the names mean something to you? Honestly, I didn't pay attention much before Harry Potter. Then I only thought it was obvious that the characters got certain names like Draco (dragon), Goyle (gargoyle), Filch (steal things), Minerva (Goddess of wisdom & war), Skeeter (mosquito), Severus (severe), Narcissa (narcissistic), and Voldemort (flight of death).

This leads me to ask about character names. Do they name themselves? Most of my characters name themselves as I write the story. After I realized many authors purposely find meanings for their characters, I tried it too on my latest WIP:

The dad, Hank = ruler of the home.
The boyfriend, Aiden Shields = Fiery Protector.
The BFF, Monica Stillman = Quiet advisor
Angelica Savage = (any guesses??) (my critique group helped me name my MC)

While names are intriguing and thought provoking, there have been times a name has been distracting. For instance, the spelling throws me or it's a forgien name I can't figure out or ridiculous names. How about Harry Pitts? I have a friend named Rob Roe. No big deal, right? How about his brother named Rocky? Or sister, Sandy? Or dad, Skid?

What does it amount to? The name has the potential to take the reader out of the story. No writer wants that to happen. Choose carefully my young padawan writers.

How do names affect you? 
How do you name your characters?


Andrea said...

When I am picking a name I try to go with what feels right. A lot of times I end up changing after I get to know my character better.

Wall-to-wall books said...

I love all the different names in books. I always wonder how the Author comes up with them. A few times when interviewing an Author I have asked them where they get the names. Some of them just make them up and a few have said they actually are a name of someone they know.
I just think the whole name thing is very interesting.
I have thought of keeping a list of all the neat book names I like.

Rachel Frost said...

When I start to picture a character, they tell me their name. I've heard of people writing entire stories with names like XXXX and then filling in names after, which feels horrible to me. Not that you can't rename them later--perhaps they change enough to warrant it, or you realize it doesn't fit them--but a person's name should be tied to their character.

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