Friday, August 21, 2009

Names

I love clever character names. If I had to say, from my limited, English-speaking USian point of view, Dickens and Rawlings are two of the best namers of characters. And Pratchett, can't forget him. It seems to be all about onomatopoeia, word origins and connotations. If you have a few hours to spend, check out the character lists on David Perdue's Charles Dickens Page.

I have a terrible time naming my characters. I have a tendency to use place-holders, and when I first started, I used an"AAA" and "BBB" system. Now I tend to use the names of similar characters from books and movies or the names of people I used to know or would like to know. I'm trying to match impressions of characters, not facts or reality. When I know them better, I give them proper names, but I wish I could just find the right name immediately.

Are you the kind of writer who just knows your characters names, or do you labor over it like me? Do you have a favorite character name? Am I asking for trouble by admitting I use my impressions of real people in creating fictional characters?

2 comments:

Laura Bradley Rede said...

I love names and own about five billion baby name dictionaries. In my current wip, I got my main character Cicely's name from a little girl in my son's playgroup. Her love interest Ander got his name because one of the meanings was "man" and, as a werewolf, one of his main issues/themes has to do with whether he is a man or a monster. I usually have an idea of what the character's name is from the start, but every once in a while I'll change it if the original name doesn't fit.

Laura Bradley Rede said...

One of my favorite names in current popular fiction is Bella Swan in Twilight: the way "swan" makes you think of the neck-- perfect for a vampire story!-- and the way her whole name foreshaddows her transformation from an "ugly ducking" human to a "beautiful swan" vampire-- plus the sly wink at Bella Lugosi... I know Stephenie Meyer said she just named the character Bella because that's what she would have named a daughter if she had one, but I think she must have put a lot of thought into that one...or possibly I read too much into things? :)