Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Naming Characters

It's supposed to reach 85 degrees today. The sun is shining. My redbud and daffodils are in bloom.

I'm working steadily on the WIP while letting the actual mss cool. I took another look at the character names. I wasn't wholly satisfied with the surname of one of the alternating POV protagonists and that stopped me until I could find one. Obsessive behavior, no doubt. Along the way, I ended up changing the names of four more characters.

Considerations in naming characters:

Vary in terms of first letters;

Very in terms of numbers of syllables;

Vary in term of the sounds they make (vowels and ending letters have great impact);

Consider the meaning of the name (but not in a too-obvious way);

Consider the age of the character (don't give a "new" name to an octogenarian)

When applicable, consider names' geographic/ethnic history (whether thematic or not; hey, it's a diverse world).

Here's an example of the names from Jingle Dancer (Morrow, 2000): Jenna, Grandma Wolfe, Great-aunt Sis; Mrs. Scott, Cousin Elizabeth. Note the variety of syllables, sounds, etc.

This reduces reader and, for that matter, writer confusion as well as adds resonance. I don't go crazy with it so as not to seem forced, but I do think about it.

Two of the minor characters in my WIP have similar names, but the meanings fit each, they never appear in a scene together, and in many ways they're supposed to be mirrors anyway.