Names- Hello, My Name Is _________A Lesson by TopHatGirl
Naming your character.
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!
Added on January 4, 2010
Last Updated on May 21, 2013
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