Thursday, September 27, 2018

Naming Characters

Names are so important. The difference between naming a hero Timmy or Lance changes how the reader perceives him. Which one do you see with a broadsword?

I've got some very important characters coming up in my latest book and their names are giving me fits. How symbolic should they be? And should the symbolism be obvious or subtle?

Sometimes when I'm reading a book and I come across an unusual name, I wonder if I'm missing the significance. Is that a Greek god or Scandinavian? Is it a reference to a Native American origin story? And then I'm totally thrown out of the flow of the story because I'm thinking too hard about the name.

I've been spending an inordinate amount of time in the thesaurus. I'll pull up a word and click through to various synonyms looking for exactly the right feeling. I spent half a day looking things up. That really cuts down on the word count.

I spent another afternoon lost in baby name sites. There are a lot of derivations of names. Changing the spelling on something simple isn't going to work in this instance.

And I've been warned not to use too many names that start with the same letter. In one rough draft, I once had five people talking together and all of their names started with the letter L. They were all very distinct in my head, but my beta reader was very confused. I try to be more careful now.

Changing the name of an already established character can be very hard. So I've got to get these right or my readers will definitely call me on it.

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