Names- Hello, My Name Is _________

Names- Hello, My Name Is _________

A Lesson by TopHatGirl
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Naming your character.

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        NOTE: This is the updated version of this lesson. The first version was written three years ago, when I was around 12 or 13. That was not a very good lesson. I am sixteen now. This is only  slightly better.


Names. They're important.

But are they?

When I first wrote this lesson, I thought that the first thing you should do after jotting down basic details was naming your character. That is something you should do before actually writing, especially if you're going in a 3rd person POV direction.

But please, for the love of all that is holy, do not build a character around a name. There are a lot of things to think about when you name a character. Their nationality, their parents, and their background is one. No one's personality is known when they are first born. That is impossible. But as an author, you can do some pretty creative things with a character.

As an example, I'll talk about one of my characters for a novel I haven't written yet. His name is Victor, which works perfectly since he is Hispanic, and his entire arch is about his triumph. AKA, his 'victory'. (cue groaning). I like his name because I like puns.

What isn't important is the name. What is important is how the world around your characters reacts to the name. Victor hates his name because for the first portions of the novel he believes that it's a constant reminder on how he'll never truly succeed at anything due to his crippling social anxiety. My other character, Adam, hates his middle name 'Joan' because he's constantly teased about it.

Characters don't have to have traditional names. Your elvish character might have a mystical name. Another character might have a title for a name.

One of the most brilliant names I have ever read was in Jerry Spinelli's Milkweed, where the main character assumed his name was Stopthief, because that was what the shopkeeper yelled after him when he stole something and ran. This is clever and also reflects on his character; Stopthief was very young and didn't remember much.

Getting ideas for names is simple. Open up a newspaper or baby book. Flip through and point at something random. Keep the setting (time) and nationality in mind. If your character's name is unusual for any reason, comment on it. Is your character named Harmony Windbreeze in a world of Joes and Mary's? Tell us why.

Names are our identity, but don't define us! Happy writing!


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Comments

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Posted 3 Years Ago


Good post, but one question though; How do you introduce the hard-to-pronounce-name of a new character?
ex: ...her name was Aoife (pronounced as EE-Fa)
How?

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Posted 3 Years Ago


Thanks for all your advice.

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Posted 3 Years Ago


This is good, getting used to the character before you name him or her, after all we are not naming him or her after our cousin or grandpa or someone that he or she looks like or has the nose of.

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Posted 4 Years Ago


great advice...the 'hilga' part was funny...hahahahaha lol:):):D.

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Posted 4 Years Ago


Good advice though.

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Posted 4 Years Ago


I support Akanksha's philosophy on this matter. She is awesome!

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Posted 4 Years Ago


I like to come up with names that no one has ever heard of or rarely uses. However, this is good thing to consider before coming up with that "final name"
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AK

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Posted 4 Years Ago


Well..I doubt a person is exactly like his/her name. They get a name long before they can even walk or talk.

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Posted 5 Years Ago


From what you described, in a sort of ironic way, Melody would have been the perfect name for that girl. It would've made it a more barbed hook for my eyes to where I wouldn't be able to stop reading until I'm blind! But still :) I like your guide.

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Posted 5 Years Ago


I did what you said and I came up with the personality of my character before naming him and now I have the perfect ironic name for him. Thanks!

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Added on January 4, 2010
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TopHatGirl
TopHatGirl

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Hi, I'm TopHatGirl! If you're here about my character lessons or to get some advice, email me instead of messaging at brightflower17@yahoo.com. This is because I don't go on this site as much anym..