Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Character Naming 101

My Dear Reader,

If you knew how much time I spend looking at baby name websites, you would probably be very much concerned. Sometimes, I wonder if I think about names more than expecting parents do, and I might. You see, it just so happens that baby name resources are also perfect when you have to name a fictional character, which I do a lot.

I really like to take special care when I match a name to a character, because no matter what Shakespeare says, a name carries meaning. You think something differently about a Hank than you would a Henry, in terms of age, social class, and even personality. A Leonard is older than a Michael. A Susan is more serious as an Ashley, and etc. Perhaps the most fascinating part for me is the meanings and origins of the names, because sometimes a beautiful names will have an ugly meaning, or vice versa, like my name, which means "blind." I sometimes use a name meaning as irony or to decribe the most basic, essential layer of a character's outlook in life, personal mission, or function in the story. You can name your character after a real or fictional person to connect your story to the outside world in a variety of ways. In the end, names are actually very important in a story. Here are some names I find especially interesting at the moment:
  • Roland ("famous land," or after this Roland)
  • Eloise ("famous warrior")
  • Angus ("one strength")
Last names are a little bit different, because they aren't as personal and don't have to be as unique. Still, I find that the right last name is still important for characterization. When it comes to last names, I generally get what I need from my trusty writer's notebook, where I write down pretty much every interesting last name that I see. When I worked in the MTC Cafeteria this was a piece of cake, since I could just scribble down the missionaries' names from their name tags as they walked by. Nowadays, I get my names off of everything from street signs to the British Parliament. Here are some real names I've found:
  • Sweat
  • Vendassi
  • Salterthwaite
  • Rowberry
  • Wipf
  • Prentice
  • Brazier

I know that it might seem a little trivial to you, Gentle Reader, but names are something that I actually think about a lot. It might have somethingt to do with the fact that my name means "blind son of Harry," which is less than an accurate description, or perhaps the fact that it's a lot easier for me to solve fictional problems than it it to solve the problems in my life. Either way, the next time you see me take my notebook out of my purse and scribble something down, maybe you could suggest a name for me to add to my list.

Regards, best wishes, and roses,

-Cecily Jane


Anonymous said...

haha i like Vendassi...
like vendaaassssssiiiiiiiiii
sounds like fantasy but with an accent... like an italian accent. and it seems like it would fit like the super amazing studly hero in the story :)
i got your voicemail the other day! i forgot to call you back though...
but thanks for calling me back! you're amazerling :)
i miss you!

Patrick, Adrienne, & Bella said...

haha i dated a boy whose last name was sweat. and thought about marrying him at one point. can you imagine? adrienne sweat? how sad!