Didn’t Tracy do a great job last week? I can’t promise as much excitement, but I want to talk about a topic near and dear to my heart: character names. (I’ll be speaking on this subject at OCFW in February.)
Romeo Montague may have told Juliet Capulet “"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” but the same does not hold true for the characters in our fiction.
For instance, can you imagine if the characters in Gone With the Wind exchanged names? If Melanie was the husband stealer instead of Scarlett, or if Rhett was the milquetoast instead of Ashley? Would the characters be as memorable with such mismatched names?
The right name can convey a lot about your character:
1) Family values—from “Prudence” among Puritans to “Moonshine” among Hippies, some names reveal significant information about your character’s background.
2) National heritage: Both first and last names convey a sense of the national heritage of the character. Consider Bridget, Guadalupe, LaShondra; or how about Schmidt, Lee (Li), Jones.
3) Sex: Although there are names that defy categorization.
4) Generation: More so for women than for men. Most popular names shift from year to year. “Linda” was the most popular girl’s name from 1950-1952; it had dropped off the top ten list by 1966.
5) Family relationships. Is he a junior? Or a 4th? Was she named for a relative who died?
Come back for Part 2, when I discuss some nuts and bolts of “how to” name characters. What went into naming my characters Lucy Ames, Cici Wilde, Magda Grace Mallory, Joey Carpenter and Judith Morrison?
For now, share the names of your favorite characters and let us know why you like the name.