Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What's in a Name?

Everything. For me the very names of the characters contain the story within them in the same way a seed contains the flower. Today my focus on my FOS WIPs has been to collect all the names of all the characters from all twelve novels set in this story wold into a single document. Some I discovered don't have names or have only a first or only a last. But many have first, middle, last (maiden and married for some women); and various aka: adopted; nick names, alias, pseudonym, stage, pen.

The good news is that I think I've about got them all collected. The bad news is there are over one hundred and about twenty percent have less than a full name--half of those have only a first or only a last and the other half have only a designation of relationship--spouse of, sibling of, boss of, teacher of, coach of, mother of etc. Now I wouldn't have bothered to put them in the list if they were only that roll and not something more in their own right. Many of them once had names which were lost when I lost my manuscripts and files in 2001. So much of what I'm doing is as much reconstruction as construction of these stories.

My head is swimming in names. Not just the names on the list but the names at Think Baby Names that I looked at while selecting names. And not just the names but their meaning, etymology, ethnicity, gender. Because just any ole name won't do for even the most minor of character for the name embodies the character of the character. The name is a symbol of what roll that character has for the story and I don't mean the role he plays in it (as parent, sibling, teacher, waitress, protagonist, friend, villain, etc) but the role he plays as carrier of meaning, theme and image for the story.

The next step now that I've got most of the names collected from the various story files is to start working at discovering the full names of those who still lack them while simultaneously creating a separate topic for each one in the WhizFolder file FOS Worksheets in which to collect all relevant info about them and their roles, keep track of where and when they turn up in the various novels, etc. I've discovered, and not for the first time, that playing in the character files for a story helps me develop the story. By spending time getting to know the character inside and out I have invited them to start telling me their story and most of them are eager to do so.

And while I work on fleshing out my characters with names and roles I will also work at adding relevant dates to the time line in FOS Worksheets as well. And there will be a natural progression from that to listing intended scenes for the stories. And once that builds up a head of steam....

But I know I can't expect to get far in any of the stories until I figure out who the heck is the founder of the cult and why and exactly what it's belief system is. Well, today I believe I discovered approximately when he was born and his probable name. That's half the story...

0 tell me a story:

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