What Is In A Name?

So, let’s talk about something that does not sound all that serious, but might be to some of you: Names.

What do we call you?

Do we call you anything?

Just don’t call me, I’d rather text.

However, I’m not talking about your name N.D. Arthur or whatever trendy pseudonym you want to be called! (Oh wait, that’s right… Who am I to talk?)

I’m talking about your characters.

Like naming a child, dog or a goldfish, when you name your characters you can have a big impact on how they are perceived in the world they live in.

In some unfortunate cases, like their real life counterparts, characters can be the recipients of some really shitty names.

For example, one trend I am seeing a lot of lately are these super fucking weird names YA novels. Like, wtf is a Nimue? How do I begin to say that?

There is a big red line underneath that name in the editor, telling me this is something that does not belong on paper. I don’t know about you, but that red line bothers the hell out of me and if I see that red line for endless pages, I’d flip my laptop over like a triple kick flip.

I get it.

We want our stories to stand out from others and why not start with a unique name?

I mean, Harry Potter is a household name. There aren’t many people in the world named Harry Potter, but, I’m sure those poor souls who have that name hears a funny mockery of it every time they go somewhere.

Imagine, you try to talk to someone at the bar and you introduce your self as Harry Potter and they say:

“Oh hey! Like the wizard?!” And you’re like,

“Yeah, like the wizard…”

And then they rhyme that with “lizard” and call you “Lizard Wizard” because you rocked out drunk to that one Lynyrd Skynyrd song and it was the only other thing that rhymed with wizard.

I’m sorry, Harry Potter.

I’m sorry you have to go by a bar assigned nickname now.

I’m saying this to bring up a point. Just like in real life, naming your character something can either work really well, or backfire horrendously. It has to fit. It has to work to the personality of the character or, in some cases, the time it was set in.

Futuristic? Idk. Something like Nova!

Old timey? Let’s shoot for Clifford!

Switch those around and they get super weird.

Readers are keen enough to know if you have no idea what to name your character. Especially if the name sounds like some weird combination of words you found on the ingredients list on the back of a Clorox bleach bottle. You can always tell when it is done in a way similar to this because your mind just says, “This name is fucking weird.” and always asks, “Why?”

Think about your own name for a moment. You were given that name, but, you are the reason why it rings certain bells.

It shaped you.

It formed you.

Also, it was something you could work with!

When making a name, what does it say when it speaks to you?

How did that name live?

What does that name desire?

“He is named Alpha this because he is an alpha!” Why? Maybe his mother should have named him Robert. Yeah, not an exciting name. But think about it, you could do so much to make their personality own it!

Robert Voy could be a badass samurai sent from the future to stop the evil corporations from pushing their agenda to gain supreme political power!

Or, he could be an impressionist painter who falls in love with a woman who challenges his mind and spirit. He struggles with this because he is afraid of someone getting too close.

Or, he could be a host to an parasitic alien creature that gives him super powers but saps his life force one notch at a time.

See! I did all that with a simple name.

In the pursuit to be beautifully unique, sometimes there is more beauty in being beautifully simple.

But what do I know? I’m writing just like the rest of you.

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