Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What's in a name?

Have you ever thought about how writers come up with names for their characters or titles for their stories? When I write my stories, I choose the names of my characters very carefully. I think about the environment surrounding them, the purpose they'll have in the story, and their connection to other characters. Sometimes I get inspired by people I know. Other times I like to use names that are symbolic. For instance, one of my characters’ name is Yesim which means jade in Turkish. I chose that name because one, she lives in Turkey, and two, there’s a connection to this precious stone. The names of characters may have significance so choose wisely. It also depends on the genre of your story. Sometimes a name echoes an adjective or idea. You could also use anagrams (words made from the letters of another word) to make it interesting, e.g. heart is earth. You could choose names from literature or poetry (Ophelia, Juliette, Jane Eyre). I love using strong names with strong significance. One of my heroines is named Beatrice after Dante’s character in Divina Commedia. A character’s first name, nickname, or how he/she will be called throughout the story is the most important naming decision. Choose a catchy name that fits the character and rises out of his specific environment. Keep in mind that unusual names and nicknames can add color and flavor to the character. A unique name can make a character unforgettable. However, don’t use names that are hard to pronounce. It keeps people from getting close to your characters. And last but not least, choose a good title. A bad title will reflect on the story no matter how good your writing is. Someone once said, "Words have meaning and names have power."

1 comment:

  1. Lovely post, Claudia! It really gets me thinking about how much I have taken for granted the naming process for anything. We take so much time to think carefully and still end up second-guessing ourselves, but it truly is all in a name! Thank you for a thought-provoking post.