Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Forays in Fiction: Naming Characters

ai woan antsir  to that name
moar funny pictures/center>

One of the things I've discovered (and I don't know how much it is a peculiarity of my own) but I can't proceed to writing scenes for my stories until I have settled on names for the main characters. More than once I've come across advice to just grab whatever name pops into your mind and go with it because you can always change it later. But I don't even know my characters until I know their names. Thus trying to write scenes with the wrong name feels like manipulating wooden puppets on Popsicle sticks. They are unresponsive, unhelpful, unmotivatable.

Once I have found their name they come alive and all their traits, mannerisms, wants, quirks, fears, etc. quickly coalesce. They walk on stage fleshed and dressed sans Popsicle stick and even the strings I know must be there because I occasionally feel an answering tug are invisible.

This week I've been tentatively prepping my NaNo novel and had reached the stage where going forward required names for the two main characters. I thought I would share with you the tool I've been using for this since at least 2007: Think Baby Names. This site provides several search criteria: by boy or girl, by ethnicity, by meaning, by similar sounds. They also provide the etymology (history of use) and indicate the popularity of the name over decades and whether it is a common surname.

The meaning of a name is crucial for me because my characters embody the theme of the story and thus their name must reflect that in some fashion. It's not always as blatant as Jubilee Faith Gardner nee Fairchild and her twin Julia Love Fairchild in my FOS stories but it always has to be present.

The theme of this new novel has to do with the backfiring of revenge the ensuing bitter regret and the healing grace of repentance and forgiveness.

0 tell me a story:

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