Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What's in a name?

My name's Shorty, what's yours?

Names are like the wrapping on a present, offering just a hint of what may be inside the person. ~~ Brandi Reissenweber

Do you struggle with choosing names for your characters? Personally, I hate this part of writing. It should be easy. It's not.

Some writers give their characters temporary names when they start writing, then choose a permanent name when it hits them. I can't do this. Names are very important and do speak to the character's personality. So, I have to go through the process of choosing names before I start writing.

I like simple names. Some writer's choose names that are difficult to pronounce and to spell. That slows me down as a reader. When reading,I have to give those characters nicknames in order to keep from being pulled out of the story by their impossible names.

How about you? How do you go about choosing the names of your characters? Do you have a method?

12 comments:

Shakespeare said...

I choose names from two sources. One is from those I've met over the years. I have many characters named after people I've known (though I never use both first and last names).

My other way is creepier, but I'm more likely to use it. I adore graveyards, and I find some of the most fantastic names on gravestones.

I do, however, often discover better names for my characters... and I am very willing to change them.

Laura Eno said...

Sometimes I'm fortunate and the character gives me their name right away. Other times, I struggle to come up with a suitable name. As a reader, I, too, dislike complicated names that I have to give mental nicknames to so I keep them simple when I write.

Carole Anne Carr said...

Most times it's historical fiction I'm writing so it's a quick search in those old documents, but a bit hard when my mentor was a four hundred year old dog!

Jeff King said...

"I like simple names. Some writer's choose names that are difficult to pronounce and to spell. That slows me down as a reader. When reading,I have to give those characters nicknames in order to keep from being pulled out of the story by their impossible names."

Couldn't have stated it better.

My method revolves around rhythm, both names—first and last, must hum when read, fit together in away they make each other better.
It takes me a while to find that right name, but when I do I know it right off the bat. A good place to see hundreds of thousands of names is collage athletic rosters. Over 200+ collages with more sport rosters than you could read in a lifetime. I’ll find a first name pretty quick, but it takes more digging to get a solid last name.

Of course I never use someone’s real name; just combined the two I find that works the best.

Midwestern Mama Holly said...

Ive never written fiction where I had to make up names for my characters, but I would think that if I did, I would have to have the name up front and stick with it. I couldnt change it in mid stream. Also they would have to be names I could associate with. Maybe I would twist up names of people I know in real life. Such as Holly might become Haleigh or Polly.. something like that.

Gail said...

I do not write much but I understand the problem with naming.

I choose names carefully for the animals I have, having such trouble with getting the perfect name, I know it would be difficult in a story.

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