Saturday, April 16, 2011

A to Z: Names

Names, what we call each of our characters and ourselves. Something that first answers the "who are you" question at a basic level. I've always found names to be interesting, their means and their origins are fascinating. And of course I like to play with different names for my characters.

When I first started writing I used to spend time matching name meanings to my characters personalities. Then I had an epiphany. If anything a character's name is more reflective of their parents then the character (at least in some cultures). Parents choose a name for their child that they like. It could be passing a relative's name down, it could be an attribute they wish for their child, or simply be something that sounds nice.

I can use my name as an example. For a few months while pregnant with me my mom had the name Amanda in mind. Then she saw a movie (Brother Sun Sister Moon) about St Francis and St Clare of Assisi. She ended up choosing St Clare as my namesake. She is an interesting choice, she started a religious order amongst other things. I remember learning about how St Clare defied her father to join St Francis when I was younger. I like to take out of her story that she was a strong woman who had in mind how she wanted to live her life and did so.

So how do your characters come into their names? Do their parents have anything specific in mind? Are your characters in a society where they choose their own names as a rite of entering adulthood? Do you have any interesting stories about your name?

And because this relates well to my topic, Valerie Comer wrote a nice post on naming characters. She has some good tips in her post.


Valerie Comer said...

Thanks for the link, Claire :)

Jan said...

Naming is an interesting topic. I am a doll maker and name each doll that I create. Sometimes when the doll is finished a name pops into my head and thus she is named. Other times I ponder and finally come up with a name.
The children who receive these dolls often change their names to suit themselves.

Bluestocking Mum said...

Oh I like this post Claire. I did my B word on Bluestocking and why I called myself Bluestocking Mum.

I'm pretty random with character names and tend to pluck the first thing that comes at me. With the other characters all I make sure is their name doesn't start with the same initial.

Margaret Almon said...

I talked about how I got my business name in my N is For Nutmeg Designs post--my nickname was Nutmeg--Margaret=Meg and Almon=Nut
I was named for my great grandmother and for my father's father, since they both died shortly before I was born.

nutschell said...

we must be on the same wavelength! i also wrote about the power of names and their origins in my post today. :) great meeting you through the a-z.

C R Ward said...

Sometimes my characters seem to name themselves. Other times they get all stubborn and their names take a lot of work. Once it took me five tries to get a character's name right.