Friday, April 9, 2010

The Name Game

No, I'm not talking about Robyn, bobbin' bo bobbin, fee fi fo Robyn! but rather the naming of a character.

Most times, I don't struggle with character names. They just sort of come to me. There are other times, when I have to really struggle with the names. I've had one character go through numerous - NUMEROUS - name changes throughout the revision period. In another instance, since the project was about here and now, and included margaritas, well, I had to make sure that not a single name in the project was that of someone I knew in this life. Trust me, that was hard, very, very hard. Not that I was writing about people I know. Surely not! Ha!

Now, I have another project in the works - basic idea, mini-outline, four to five pages of notes, and I wrote the first four chapters a few months back while the idea was burning bright in my mind. I spent an afternoon researching Celtic names for my characters. I don't know why, Celtic just seemed the right choice. I assigned a list of names to each of the three main characters. I pretty much picked out - hours later - the name of each character. I was happy with the names.

Or so I thought!

Then today, on the way home from work, I totally changed the name of one of the main characters. TOTALLY! I love, love, love the new name, and her clever, oh so clever, last name that ties into the whole inspiration of the story. In fact, her last name makes me chuckle . . . in a good way.

So, how do you go about naming your characters? Do you stick with the initial name? Do you make sure you don't name your characters after people you know? I mean, I love the name Jack, but I know quite a few Jacks, so I really don't feel comfortable naming a character, well, Jack. Same goes for Eric. I have two really good friends named Eric. Well, one is Eric, and the other Erik, but you get my point. So, Eric, and/or Erik, is out of the running. Anyhow, back to my questions . . . where do you get the inspiration for your character names? How set in stone are those names? Do they change frequently? Not so frequently? Do they remain the same from beginning to end?



Robyn Campbell said...

As I checked my dashboard (a rarity these days) I couldn't help but be drawn to your post on this fine Friday morn.. Hmmm, wonder why. Uh, and I am the Queen of the name game. You goofed my dear friend, it's banana nana fo fobyn fee fi fo mobyn, Robyn. =) Just thought I'd give that a mention.

The names for my characters come from everywhere. Anna, the MC in my MG novel, is my grandmother's name. Claire just came to me much the same way your new name came to you.

Sometimes I hear a name and write it down for later use. Though, I have done that before and upon looking at the name, wondered who that was and why I had scribbled it down. So now I add a note to self.

I have been known to thumb through the good ol' phone-book, too.

Super post. And I have missed ya. Almost ready to come back.

Have you queried yet?? (^_^)

Scott said...

Robyn - dear, dear, dear Robyn (Ha!), brevity, my friend, brevity. I was being brief with the name game song so I could devote more words to the heart of my post. That's my story, and I'm sticking with it! Ha!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Fortunately I had an easier time naming my children than I did naming my characters. I spend a long time--and I mean a LONG time--going through names on baby naming websites. My guy names tend to be short and all American (as one crit partner pointed out). The girls (I write to teen girls) have more exotic names.

Robyn Campbell said...

Brevity? Me? Really? =)

Your story doesn't fly. It doesn't fly at all. (^_^)

So have you? Started to query? Do tell. Inquiring minds (or nosy as the case may be) wanna know.

Bossy Betty said...

Congrats on getting just the right names! I fall in love with names that are entirely too strange, but then I can't change them!

Lady Glamis said...

I don't know where I get inspired for names, but I usually get quite attached to the ones I do end up picking. Now that I'm working on a fantasy piece, I've found it increasingly difficult to get names that fit...

For Monarch, I chatted with three friends at once to brainstorm names ideas. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Names tend to pop into my head with the character. They're usually short and I usually like them. But I have changed one. After I'd written and revised several times. Took me a while to get used to the new one, but it worked better.

Claire Dawn said...

My MC names just come to me. Sometimes I have to work a little ofr the supporting characters. I've never named a character after a close friend, but it's not something I was purposely avoiding.