N is for Name.

So this is what happens when you join a daily challenge at the last minute. You (I) may not get to write the long, thoughty posts you love, but you’ll learn to be a bit more succinct. You will benefit from pounding something out of the keyboard everyday, because it will stretch writing (blogging) muscles you didn’t know you had.

Today I wanted to stretch my character-sketch muscles. However, being pressed for time, I’ve decided to write about character names.

When you’re writing a novel or short story, what do you look for in character names? Are there names of other people’s characters that immediately conjure up an image, whether or not the story was illustrated or made into a movie?

I’m fairly new to writing stories, and I tend to like all my character’s names to have a certain theme. In a short story I wrote, all three sisters had catchy, 2 syllable names. My current novel WIP ‘ started out with mostly names of English origin (no surprise there). I’ve changed up some of the names. Latin names have replaced some of the old ones after trying for more variety. An ancient language seemed a fitting source for names in a story where one of the themes is origin or roots.

Then, there are the delightfully unusual names that are perfectly suited to characters in beloved stories.
Say ‘Hermione’ and I think of big hair and bigger brains. Say ‘Orual’ and I think of the warrior-queen, her mysterious veil belying a passionate and jealous woman. Say ‘Gandalf’ and I think of power often hidden underneath a kindly smile or an impatient remark.

Many great writers don’t go into detail describing their character’s physical features, and some don’t need to. What’s needed is a unique painting of the character’s loves and hatreds, hopes and fears, reactions and responses. If that is well done, then say (or think!) the name of a familiar character, and the character will form his or herself in your mind’s eye.

What’s your favorite name for a character? What’s the most vivid name/character association you know?


4 thoughts on “N is for Name.

  1. Baby names and historical names sites are great. Sometimes I like to do weird names that sound almost silly, such as my fiction blog, Kandy Fangs, her name is Kandice Knight. She has a friend named, Nine. Seven is fairly common, so I thought, Nine sounded fine.

    I signed up for A-to-Z at the last minute, posting as I go, so I have a few posts that aren’t as well thought out as I’d like. I decided to do fiction (KandyFangs.com) so I’m still posting my normal news and events at my personal blog making the week seem extra tough. Good luck to you.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! Yeah, I agree, blogging everyday is a big challenge for me.
      I haven’t tried any historical name sights. That sounds interesting. Surname databases are also fun.

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