Saturday, April 16, 2016

N is for Name

NAMES

             “Names have power.” 
                     -Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief           

What's in a name? Plenty. The name you give your character gives the reader an instant impression, even if they don't know what the name really means.

For example, what do you think of when you hear the following names: 


Destiny
Colt
Barack
Ruby
Hester
Sierra
Khan
Jesus
Barbara
Magda
Aloha
Martha
Kofi
Prudence
Lucifer
Bilbo

Miranda
Filippo
Jessie
Duncan
Anjali
Peewee
Ishmael
Ludwig

Ngai
Dae won
Amber
Hercules
Scarlett
Ashley
Midori

Gabriel
Xerxes
Ralph
Heathcliff
Veruca
Hannibal
Roshanna
Ramona
Svengali
 Hans
Isabella
Lolita
Jeeves
Pip
Ebenezer 


Rudolph
Gump
Scout
Winnie
Grendel
Tarzan
Scheherazade


I bet each of them gave you an immediate impression, even if you can't fully articulate what that impression is. 


Well, your reader will have one, too. So when you choose a name for your character, choose carefully. 


Sometimes we choose a name that embodies everything we feel about a character (Hope). 


Sometimes we chose it for its irony (Grace). 


Sometimes we just like the way it sounds.


No matter why we decide on a name, though, we should always do so thoughtfully. 
There should be a good reason. Our readers will expect no less.

Naming links

Naming your characters--Writer's Digest

babynames.com 
babynames
Character Naming Book
Rules of Picking Names
50 greatest names in literature
100 best characters

“What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.” 
― William ShakespeareRomeo and Juliet


“I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.” 
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne of Green Gables


“Names.
What’s in a name, really? I mean, besides a bunch of
letters or sounds strung together to make a word. Does a
rose by any other name really smell as sweet? Would the
most famous love story in the world be as poignant if it was
called Romeo and Gertrude? Why is what we call
ourselves so important?” 
― Julie KagawaSummer's Crossing


“If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things.” 
― ConfuciusThe Analects of Confucius


“Norah looked at her son’s tiny face, surprised, as always, by his name. he had not grown into it yet, he still wore it like a wrist band, something that might easily slip off and disappear. She had read about people – where? she could not remember this either – who refused to name their children for several weeks, feeling them to be not yet of the earth, suspended still between two worlds.” 
― Kim EdwardsThe Memory Keeper's Daughter


“They say a name expresses the thing it stands for, but I wonder if it isn't the other way around—the thing gets more and more like its name.” 
― Haruki MurakamiThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

2 comments:

  1. Great post, Sati! Indeed, names can make or break a character—and, thus, the book. And I loved the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle quote. Great, great book. (Great author, too ;) )

    Thanks for the visit over at Life In Dogs; your comment made my day. (And sorry it took me this long to come visit you... This A2Z has got me mangled and bloody :D )

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  2. Thank you, Guilie! I know what you mean, I'm feeling a bit beat up, too. It has been a ton of fun, though. ;-)

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