Friday, November 21, 2008

What's in a Name?

I read a very nice blog about character names the other day on Market My Words and that got me thinking... I find it hard to name my characters. I had no trouble at all naming my children, but characters are tougher. (and titles, forget about altogether!) In my first and only published picture book, Hop Plop, I went with Mouse and Elephant. I wasn't copping out. The story takes place at a playground and is very dependent on the differences in the two character's sizes. Giving them names would have only served as a distraction.

But when I do need a name, I can never seem to find one that feels like a perfect fit. In a new manuscript that is still untitled (See? I wasn't kidding!), my co-author and I chose "Scooter" for the little scurrying critter who gets bullied, "Mack" for the bigger bustling badger who bullies him, and "Tank" for the even bigger brute who bulldozes Mack. I was so proud at my cleverness for selecting three vehicle names until I discovered that not a single reader caught the metaphor.


Rebecca Gomez said...

But sometimes names are just meant to be a personal choice, and if nobody every gets why, it's okay.

In my NaNo project, the characters' names have just come to me, as if they were introducing themselves. My main character's name is Soren and she has a little brother whom she affectionately calls Dent (short for Denton).

Doesn't always happen that way, though. And there have been times when a character's name had to change because the name didn't seem to fit his or her personality.

Katie Anderson said...

Oh that's funny. I sometimes have trouble with this too. I look at baby name books frequently.

Actually, I notice character's names a lot these days. I'm always jealous of people who find really interesting, cute names.

Sherrie Petersen said...

I have a tough time with names, too. I have a baby name book on my desk right now because even if the reader doesn't know, I want to know the meaning behind the name before I assign it to someone. Of course, in the book I'm sending around right now, I knew the character's names before I ever wrote a word. So who knows!

Anonymous said...

Creating names is one of my favorite parts of writing.

But I may be unusual. I remember playing school as a child just so I could write a list of fictitious names and do roll call. By the time I finished attendance, I didn't want to play anymore!

Hellas Villas said...

maybe you should consider who you're asking when you need an opinion. i think your names are great and I get it, no need for explanations. i'm no smarty pants either. but i am a writer...
keep up the great blog!