Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Name Game

Whenever you decide to sit down and write a story you have to come up with the plot and location and twists and exciting endings, but just as importantly you need to name your characters.  Finding a name for a character is liking picking out a style of clothing or a facial feature.  A person's name tends to define them.  For example, if you have a warrior, you can't name him Snowbell, unless it's an ironic nickname or a silly comedy.  You typicaly want a name that sounds powerful and unbeatable.  Snowbell won't exactly strike fear in the hearts of the enemy.

Having a large cast of characters is hard enough.  You have to consider their motivation, their expressions, their way of speaking and you need a name that people can remember and pronounce and works well with the identity that you have created.  Some people use family members or childhood friends as inspiration.  Other people use names that fit with a genre or cultural heritage of the characters.  You don't want an traditional Irish character to be name Boris.  It doesn't really fit.  Personally, I scroll through baby name lists for different countries.  I either look for a name that means something or I go for a certain sound.  I have to like the name if I'm going to type it a thousand times a day.  If I need a name from a specific period of time I will pull up lists of popular names from a year and a location.  The internet is a wonderful thing.  Once in a while a name will just pop into my head and I'm ready to go.  Those of course are the exception to the rule. 

In addition to naming characters, I also have to name groups of people.  It's like naming a high school basketball team.  Again, you want something that is easy to say, easy to put on a jersey and easy to paint on your face, but it must also characterize the team and the school and motivate the teams.  Having gone to a Catholic School, not really a shocker if you understand that my main characters are angels, I understand the importance of having a cool, kick butt team name.  Our school team mascott was a Seraph.  Have any idea what that is?  I didn't for the first year of school.  I was told that it is a 6 winged angel and high up in the ranks of angels.  I don't know if I was told or it was implied that they were tough.  Currently Wiki is blocking their content due to the government wanting to limit the information on the internet, so I can't give you the actual definition.  Regardless, angels don't strike fear in the hearts of the other high school teams especially since they were mostly public schools.  If the Catholic kids don't have a clue what their mascot is, it is unlikely that anyone else will either.  We faced off against the Lions, Eagles, Colts and the Admirals.  Somehow angels didn't seem to stand a chance against them, unless you are talking about some of the Fallen angels that I'm writing about, then that would have made our opponents cry for their mothers.  So when I am trying to name my groups of people I turn to the Google Translator.  I usually have a word or a phrase associated with my group and I try to find a cool sounding translation for that word.  For example, night is translated to Nacht in German.  Personally I think that sounds cooler.  Or you can go with Nott in old Norse.  (There is an accent over the o.)  Again, I like it.  In short, the Google Translator has saved my butt on more than one occassion and I swear by it. 

With all of my name experience, having created about 80 different character names, so far (I've just scratched the surface) and having to use a spreadsheet to keep them all straight, one would think that giving someone a name would be a breeze for me.  Well, apparently my mad naming skills have deserted me when it comes to one person in particular, my husband.  In a previous blog, I referred to him as "hubby" for the lack of a better word.  Forgive me, but I was trying to be cute.  He somehow took it as an insult.  He said he would rather be called something else, anything but hubby.  So I gave him is big chance to some up with his own nickname.  He shrugged and said he didn't care.  I asked if he prefered "jack wagon", which I saw on a commercial and it never fails to make me laugh.  He said would still be better.  So I have wracked my brain and I still haven't figured out what to call him.  I could be snide and come up with nasty ones, but I'll save those for "that time of the month" and try to pick something a little kinder.  In the meantime, I guess I will have to use a symbol when I refer to him.  <3 will have to do for now. 

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