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7 thoughts to consider when naming characters Options · View
EDWolfe
Posted: Saturday, March 30, 2013 3:43:12 PM

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I read through this article and thought it would be good to share here.

Thoughts?
Metilda
Posted: Wednesday, May 01, 2013 8:30:44 AM

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Good article. . .one thing I'd like to add is to 'make sure you can pronounce it'

I've seen this pop up in the sci-fi / fantasy area - where names are entirely contrived by the author in a fit of late night creativity. It's fine to make up your own, especially in these genres, but when I read 'Anonioma' and 'Euphanamisia' - I'm not sure if I want to take the time, as a reader, to figure it out. . . .thus, their names tend to be "Anoblah' and 'Euphanblah' when I read - entirely void of any solidity. Throw in a few apostrophes and you have yourself a chemical compound - not a name.

Shorthanding your character with a lengthy, difficult, creative name is only possible if you either 1) give them a nickname (apparently authors can sometimes decide this is ludicrous). Or give some way to figure out the pronunciation (requires creativity - maybe through dialogue). In real life: people who have awkward, long names do exactly this - they have a nickname that's more reasonable which they might give to friends/family. They also might have to correct people's mispronunciation of their name - over and over. And most importantly: when you meet a person for hte first time odds are that new person won't be able to pronounce it right.

If you don't take care at naming/guiding the reader with pronunciation - your character will be robbed of due attention and solidity and it will interrupt the flow of your story overall. You want to enable smooth reading - not hinder it.

Guest
Posted: Wednesday, May 01, 2013 10:48:12 PM

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Joined: 12/1/2006
Posts: 659,267
Sometimes I don't even give characters names. It can make it easier for readers to identify with them if it's just a "he" or "she." Other times, it can be fun to play with names or just keep them to simple, short names. If the story involves nationalities or ethnic peoples then it can be important to add that factor to the name, especially as a last or first name. If you're going for humor, amusing pun type names or names that evoke some quality of the character can add a style element. Nicknames, of course, add another element, especially if it's an ironic one, like Tiny for a large person.Charles Dickens was a master at naming characters. Try to be subtle and creative with names to stretch your writing powers, but make them evocative, for example Charlie Sage is a good western character name or Bonnie Rae for a southern type woman. Make your characters familiar enough to inhabit their skin and memorable.
DanielleX
Posted: Friday, May 03, 2013 2:07:45 PM

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Explicate - I just learned a new word!


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