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Friday, October 5, 2012

Blog Chain Post #1 WHAT'S IN A CHARACTER NAME?


I used to be of the mind that character names are extremely important. I have always chosen mine very carefully, probably even more carefully than I named my own children. Names do shape personality, so, to that end, I always thought, a character’s name is critical.
For instance, in my very first book, a book I have buried in a very deep dark hole never to be unearthed again (even my agent begged me to let her read it and I wisely refused) I still love my character’s name. The mc was named Will and basically, his name was a pretty concise characterization of his personality. He had a very strong Will! And you know what his love interest’s name was? Faith! Oh, but the book was a hot mess. I couldn’t even tell you what genre it was.
I have two other characters from shelved books whose names I love so much, that one I am bringing one of them back in a different book. That would be mysterious and stormy Xavier. Man, I love that name, and I love that character! The other character whose name I felt fit the sweet gentle soul of a poet was Mateo. And because I love that character and the name to go with it, I do plan to bring him back.
But, my favorite character name is the mc of my forthcoming book, Breaking Glass. That would be the ironic and troubled Jeremy Glass, and I have to say, his name came before anything else. It just seemed to fit.
But do names really matter all that much? 
When I first started reading the Hunger Games, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around those names! Katniss Everdeen?? Peeta? Gale for a guy? They were just so odd, and seemingly random. And now they are household names. In a lesser book, they might have been borderline ridiculous.
I am currently reading a wonderful fantasy series by Cinda Williams Chima *psst--interview coming in a few weeks* called The Seven Realms series. The main characters have complicated, almost clunky names that bothered me at first. The male main character is named Han, and the female is named Raisa. I don’t particularly care for the names as they are not every lyrical or descriptive in my opinion. However, after the third chapter, I ceased caring. Han, simply became Han. Though the name told me very little about this complex mc, eventually, his multi-faceted character defined the name!
And what about Harry Potter? I don’t believe there is a book I can site with better and more appropriate names. Severus Snape? Please, someone do better than that. Delores Umbridge, is perhaps my favorite. The names add color and wit to the tale, and enhance the whimsical world of JK Rowling.
So, the verdict? Write a great character and weave an excellent tale, and the name will come to fit the character rather than the other way around.
 For further reading, here are some links to other articles on character names.


And do be sure to stop by and visit the blog chainers for more reflections on character names
 Visit Katrina Lantz the previous link in this chain!
and be sure to pay a visit to Michelle McLean, the next link in the chain. She posts on Monday!

By all! See you round the blogosphere!

9 comments:

  1. Good examples of names! Thanks for letting me know about The Seven Realms series; I'll have to check it out.

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  2. AHHHHHH yes. And go visit Cinda's website and check out that trailer! It is breathtaking.

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  3. I agree with you about the Harry Potter names--none better! It's great when the character names work almost as hard as the prose to introduce who a character is!
    I have a hard time choosing names, and I change my mind a lot. The MC of my WIP has been Emma, Claire, and three other names. I swapped one character's name with another, and every once in a while I mess up.
    With the Seven Realms, I chose the names way back when I wrote my first books in that world (The Star-Marked Warder) and so I stuck with them. So that would be like ten years ago.

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    1. Thanks for stopping in, Cinda! So now my next question is--is that a book that I can get my hands on??? *addict who has become friends with her dealer, lol*

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  4. Ooh, I love that you listed resources for finding new names! Delores Umbridge is a personal favorite of mine, too! And naming real babies is so much harder because you don't know anything about a baby before he or she is born. At least with a character you know if the name should be positive or negative, light or dark, fancy or silly or straight.

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    1. Yes. Delores Umbridge and Severus Snape. And and old, old favorite of mine from the Lord of the Rings--the elfin queen Galadriel. I use to say that name aloud, over and over.

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  5. I LOVE the name Katniss, and am totally team Katniss all the way. I was never a fan of the boy's names though. Peeta was... oookay, I guess. But Gale. It just never felt right.

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    1. It's funny. I found it got snagged on my tongue. Another one that I still don't care for is Katsa, from Graceling. And Po. But I still loved the book.

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  6. yeah I had a hard time with the Hunger Games names originally. Harry Potter names rocked though!

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