Monday, June 27, 2011

What's in a name? Everything.

Some characters have THE most awesome names. And let's face it: it makes the character themselves just a little bit more awesome.

Some characters have just okay names. And that's okay.

Some have completely forgettable names. And that's... okay, too, I guess.

But oh, to have a great name! A name that's perfect for the character. A name that tells so much about the character all on it's own. An unforgettable name. A name that's golden.

That's the real trick.

I glanced through some books on of my Read shelf on Goodreads. These are the ones that stood out.

Kvothe-- Yes, hard to say, but it really fit the strong, powerful character it was attached to.
Joe Solomon-- Pair a name like Solomon with a name like Joe? You get a strong guy who is easy to relate to. I liked him the moment he walked on the page.
Zach Goode-- I LOVE that it has the word "good" right in his name. You can trust that, right? Right?!
Rachel Elizabeth Dare-- I'll admit. You give me a middle name, and the first thing I'm going to do is see what their initials spell. RED is a red-haired girl. And that makes her name that much cooler.
Hermoine-- Can you seriously get a more unique, unforgettable name?
Mary-- Mary is a fine name, really! It's just that... I don't know... characters need to be a little larger-than-life, and Mary is kinda forgettable. Especially when it comes in a first person book, where you tend to not hear the name so much. First person automatically means the MC's name is going to be a little forgettable by its very nature, so their name shouldn't be.
Katsa-- The onomatopoeia attached to this name makes it perfect for a girl who has the grace of killing, don't you think?
Po-- When I see this name, I think of a little short and round, roly-poly creature. I'm just sayin'.
Alcatraz-- All hail Brandon Sanderson for naming his good guys after prisons, and his bad guys after mountain ranges. Seriously brilliant, fun, and totally NOT forgettable.
Bastille-- And not only did he name them after prisons, but perfect-for-their-character prisons. Like Bastille. She has the word "steel" in her name, which fits for a knight.
Piper McCloud-- Perfect for the girl who could fly, if you ask me.
Hiccup-- Can I just say that I am in awe of some people's brilliance? How do they come up with these perfect non-names? I want to know.

No, seriously. I want to know. I've got a whole cast I need to name, and names don't come quickly or easily for me.

I know this question is going to sound completely self-serving, but I'm kinda okay with that. So how about you? When you're naming a character, a child, a pet, or (like my daughter) 357,000 stuffed animals, where do you get your inspiration?


Kristine said...

Are you sure you counted ALL of her stuffed animals? I thought there were waaaay more. j/k ;)

Looking through your list above, and thinking if the book each one (that I knew) was in, makes me want to go read this very moment. Thank you for the happy thoughts this morning! :)

My inspiration for names usually comes from a person I know and admires name. Or from a book, or a game. Ya know, I'm kinda a copy cat.

tammy said...

Po. Worst. Name. Ever. Unless you were actually going for the Teletubby connection.......
Loved the character, hated the name. Couldn't get small, red, baby-talking creature out of my head.

Jessie Humphries said...

I read a post about this recently by Janette Rallison that was really cool. She said she studied other great author's use of names and came up with a theory about taking strong adjectives and forming names out of them. Like Malifocent. Or Malfoy. Mal is bad in Latin languages. But for me, I like symbolic names.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Kristine-- I'm worried that soon, she won't fit in her room with her stuffed animals! And doesn't it totally make a difference when you know a person with that name? It can make you totally love or hate a name.

Tammy-- I know, right?

Jessie-- I'm looking up Janette Rallison's blog right now. That is awesome.

Anonymous said...

I think my fave name of all time in fiction is Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. Sounds so regal.

Naming characters can be a daunting task sometimes. Nothing a good cookie wouldn't cure.

I smelled cookies, and had to drop in. Mind if I stay until the next batch is done?


Melissa J. Cunningham said...

Hey Peggy! I wanted to answer your comment on my blog about lacrosse. For girls the rules are different. They aren't allowed to check or anything like that. They don't even wear helmets, just goggles, because they can't hit each other. She'd LOVE lacrosse. I'd let her play. She'll LOVE it! =)

Oh, and great post! I take great care in the names I pick for characters. That's one of the funnest parts!

Peggy Eddleman said...

Bryce-- Atticus Finch is definitely a great one! And yes! Hang out. More cookies are coming out all the time, because IT TAKES MANY, MANY BATCHES TO NAME A CHARACTER.

Melissa-- Thanks for the lacrosse info! I just found out her city league got canceled because of lack of interest. :( I might have to search out a team for her now.

Thanks for stopping by!

Allen said...

My favorite are names which can used as verbs. These are rare, and sure, they have more to do with the personality of the character, but the name it’s self also has to be unique. Here is what I mean:

Wife to Husband: “Boy, you really Ahab’d the paperboy, you need to let it go!”

Mother to teenage Son: “Don’t go all Holden Caulfield on me mister!”

Teacher to Student: “You truly Louisa May Alcott’d your writing assignment, try a few less adjective one your next draft.”
--Ok, so she is a writer...

Guy to Guy: “Do you have to Bob Ewell your Mountain Dew? Take it out of the bag.”

Sister to Sister: “How Emma of you to forget my birthday!”
-Probably not used a verb here, but you get the idea.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Oh my gosh, Allen. You are killing me! Those are the best examples EVER. I especially loved the Bob Ewell one.