Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Importance of Being Named

I just started a new novel.  It's so much fun to draft and explore this world and characters and I'm very excited about it.  The only thing is none of my characters have names yet.  I know, it's weird. Whenever I come to a place where I need a name I end up writing some sort of identifying information like GHM, which stands for Golden Haired Man, or Young Soldier, or Hired Man. 


All these characters have names, they just haven't trusted me with them yet.  I know the characters will tell me when they're ready, but I hope they get ready fast.  It's quite awkward.  In the meantime I might just read a few name databases to see if anything resonates. 

How do you come up with names?

23 comments:

  1. The first thing I always do is spend hours looking for the right name for my characters. I swear I spend more time figuring out the names for my characters than I did for my kids.

    Baby naming websites are my fav, especially ones that allow you to pick the country of origin. Last names are the ones I struggle with most.

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    1. I do look at baby name websites. Sometimes I need to see a name to know it fits a character.

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  2. Maybe that's a good strategy as it could help you to develop the characters based on how they look, talk, act, etc. You may end up with well developed characters.

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  3. Yikes! My main characters seem to come with names. Even the bigger secondary ones do. I can't imagine not knowing.

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    1. Mine generally do. That's why this is kinda weird for me.

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  4. I do the same thing! I usually like to sketch out a character a bit before naming them, that way their name suits them, ya know?

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  5. 'All these characters have names, they just haven't trusted me with them yet.'

    This alone makes me want to read your work.

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    1. I always figured meeting characters was like meeting people on the street. I'm not going to walk up to someone and say Hi, I think I'll call you Bill.

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  6. Superb post! Sometimes characters come to me fully formed (my most recent MC did), but other times they come veiled in fog, waiting to reveal themselves.

    Side note: I heard Gary D. Schmidt speak, and very often he doesn't name characters while he drafts. He waits until he 'knows' them.

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    1. I get both fully formed and misty characters too.

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  7. Interesting post. Most of the names come to me as I write, but I know the MC's name before I write. :)

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    1. Because my novels usually start with a character as opposed to a plot I generally know their name before I start too. But, hey, I'm also writing this one linearly and I've never done that before either.

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  8. Sometimes I have a name for a character in my head ready to go but, like you, for most of planning and sometimes part of writing I use little codes as well.

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  9. Oh boy can I relate. I once had a character say, "Oh please! You aren't really going to name that, are you!"

    Sara, he scared me!

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    1. I laughed out loud at your comment and hubby asked what was going on. I explained about my post and your comment and he just gave me one of those looks and said "you writers are weird" I think he must have meant to say "you writers are amazing".

      Hope you found a name he could be happy with.

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  10. It takes me awhile to come up with names that fit. Sometimes I use baby-naming guides for inspiration, but oftentimes I just think about what I would expect from someone I haven't met yet with a certain name.

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    1. Sometimes names come early for me, sometimes it takes awhile. I think it depends on the character's personalities.

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  11. How funny, Sara!

    I swear my names just come to me... and then later I find out how they work perfectly with meanings and stuff... totally coincidence, some of them! ;)

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    1. My names come to me too, they just haven't this time.

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  12. I do a little bit of that too, give them nicknames until their names appear. Sometimes I give them place-holder names and then find that those were there real names all along. But that's just first names - I have lots of fun thinking up surnames and titles and so on, and relating them across novels, sometimes.

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