Friday, July 29, 2011

Writers: How important is character naming to you?

Over at Faithwriters there is an excellent article called Seven Tips for Naming Characters. It set me to thinking about how character naming is more important to some writers than to others.

I'm sure there are some writers that could just pluck a name at random from a name book and use it for a character--- if they came up with 'Carol' that would be just as good as any other name and they'd have no problem with it.

Other writers agonize. I have one character who commonly goes by the name 'Mina Bayern'. Some time ago I came up with the absolute perfect name for her actual family name (which is also the name of her House, a clan-like grouping). But I don't know where (or if) I wrote it down and it's driving me crazy and I can't just pick another name because it won't be the right one.

Because of this name-obsessiveness I collect a lot of name books. I have one or two ordinary baby name books, 2 baby name books in German, a book of Esperanto names, and a book of Celtic names. I also have an encyclopedia of the Saints. I also have a hand-written list of Korean names gleaned from Korean dramas over the last 4 years.

Some writers have a real talent for coming up with appropriate names. J. K. Rowling comes to mind. Think of the names of Hagrid, Dumbledore, Severus Snape, Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, or Lord Voldemort. Aren't they just-right names for the characters?

Romance novels tend to have romance-y names for the heroine and her love-object. Some realistic writers make a point of using the most commonplace names they can find, one almost might think they derive the names from common-name lists. Science fiction names can include the weird, the unpronounceable and the randomly hyphenated. (like F'nor in Dra'gonride'rs of P'ern)

It's also possible to use temporary names for minor characters--- like Mr. Alpha, Miss Beta, Senator Gamma--- to keep the flow of your writing going rather than stopping for an hour to name them.

So--- how do YOU handle the name thing? How important is the just-right name to you? Do you have naming methods that you use? Please let us know in a comment!

Here are eight Korean female names: Namju, Haebi, Dohui, Chunja, Boksun, Sunok, Juri, Sojin
From these, pick the names of:
1. a young main character from a poor family, who loves a rich boy, Taemin
2. an older woman at the market who sells dumplings
3. the maid of the rich family
4. a hateful over-the-top female villain (think Bellatrix from Harry Potter)

What do people want from this blog? According to this blog's stats, what people are looking for on this blog is mainly Billie Piper pregnant (all time most popular search terms), David Tennant naked, and Torchwood Miracle Day nudity. Just in case you were curious.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Holignes! I lost my notebook of cool word verification words!

When I am writing and a new character, place, or alien species pops up, I often take out a small notebook of word verification words I've encountered, and pick one more-or-less at random.

It's better for my writing than stopping the writing process to search for the perfect name for an hour and a half. And some of those word verification words are worth keeping in the final draft.

But today, alas, in between trading kittens around to different cat mommies and feeding a newborn kit milk with a spoon (she won't take a bottle), I discovered that my little word verification notebook is missing in action.

This is doubly tragic as I have started work on a writers' naming book. It will have a section on German names, one on Korean names, one on Welsh names, one on Esperanto names, and a list of word verification words as a source for alien and other odd names and words.

So--- I've had to start a new notebook. Luckily I have a spare one that's the same as the one I use for Korean names. I'm also going to start files on my computer and enter the WV words into that whenever I have a page or so. I already have similar files for Korean names.

But it's an ednesh lot of work, so if you have a cool WV word to share, mention it in your comment and it will be added to the list.
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