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  1. greatestescaper
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    greatestescaper New Member

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    another name problem

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by greatestescaper, Dec 28, 2008.

    I am new to this forum, and am very overwhelmed with the wealth of information I have uncovered. I am toying around with a new story I am just working the beginning of. It is an adventure of sorts based around a character I am trying to find an alternate name for. I have been trying to find something that works for weeks now and have had no luck.
    My character is Clark Thompson. He's a young man, about 18 with short brown hair, brown eyes and of medium height and build. He's always lost on some imaginary adventure and wishing he could meet the likes of Allan Quatermain, Daniel Dravot, or Peachey Carnehan. In the depths of his own mind Clark Thompson is a great hunter/adventurer who lives many adventures on a regular basis. He is the stereotypical Victorian hero.
    Thompson does not fit in well with the modern world in which he lives. Constantly he wishes that he could have been born into the world of Victorian England. He has few friends and the ones he has do often pick on him for his lust of adventure and obsession with reading.
    The problem lies in the fact that Clark Thompson needs a name for his alter-ego who is basically similar to Allan Quatermain. Does anyone have any suggestions?
     
  2. RIPPA MATE
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    RIPPA MATE Contributing Member

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    I shall be rather random and give a suggestion

    Dr Ernest Abraham Clarkson

    the 'Dr' is optional i guess.
     
  3. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    How about giving the alter ego a nickname instead of a proper name?
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Rather than suggest names, I'll suggest a process that may be more generally useful than "ask a bunch of random strangers to throw names at you." :)

    Some of these questions are obvious in the context of your question, but maybe the process will be useful to others. Also, I encourage other members to add their own questions that help them home in on a character name:

    1. Does the name have an associated nationality, culture, or linguistic tradition, real or in your imagination?
    1a. If so, are there name pools you can peruse for that culture? If not, what linguistic features do you think such a name pool would follow?

    2. Do you want the name to be evocative of certain traits, such as meek, hapless, "common man", adventurer, intellectual, bully, leader. follower, etc? Do some of the names in your pool strike you as better fitting those traits than others?

    3. Gender - do you want a strongly gender-identifying name, or one which is more ambiguous? Or is gender not even an issue for the culture you are modelling (particularly in sci-fi or fantasy)?

    4. Symbolic name? This goes in and out of fashion, but some stories will choose names that deliberately indicate a particular trait. This is somewhat related to question 2, but far more direct. For example, Willy Loman (low man) in Death of a Salesman, or any of the Bond girls in the James Bond movies.

    5. How should your name distinguish your character from other characters in your story, in the same culture or subculture?

    6. (Apply this check repeatedly as you write your story!) Does the name sound too similar to another character in your story, especially between characters who interact frequently? This reason is my most frequent reason for changing a character's name part way through writing.
     
  5. Demief
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    Demief Member

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    You could make it subtle. Like the same name with a different spelling. Clarke Tomson. nah..

    But the above post is a great one and you usually will be more comfortable with a name you create than one that was created for you. At least, i would be.
     
  6. greatestescaper
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    greatestescaper New Member

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    Cogito, that is precisely what I meant. I should have specified. I was wondering not so much for a name but advice on how to develop a name to suite the character. My character is, to describe it, Clark Thompson to the extreme. He is all of Thompson's best qualities combined with those of the adventurer. He is the Victorian hero, wearing khaki shirts and pith helmets, elephant guns, and tall leather boots. Thank you for all the help. For now I will start with a list of words I think relate to the character and give this symbolic name idea a try. I will post whatever I come up with. Thanks again. This has been tremendously helpful.
     
  7. greatestescaper
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    greatestescaper New Member

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    Thanks again for the advice. I made a giant list of words and such associated with the idea of adventure and exploits, and a second of interesting english names. And here is what I've come up with: Alexander Valson. Taking Valson from Valley and son which obviously come from "son of".
     
  8. Hetroclite
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    Hetroclite Member

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    I see your problem right away with you "working with the beginning" of the story. Stories aren't written from beginning to end as you read them in books. The author starts with notes, loads of character notes. A creative writing teacher told me to "gush" everything I want the story to tell; narratives, dialogues, backgrounds, goals, etc. Write everything at random, as they come to mind. Accumulate notes over a long period of time; weeks, even months or years. Then when you "run dry", go back over the notes & start putting them together as a puzzle. Write the ending first, then work backwards, building up the story to that ending. The beginning should be written last. If you're really serious about writing, it would be worth it to take a course in creative writing at a community college.
     
  9. garmar69
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    garmar69 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Huh? :confused:

    I'm kinda glad now that I don't have time for a creative writing class. It sounds like I'm dodging a bullet...
     
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  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I would say that your writing teacher's approach is one way to go, and probably worth trying as an exercise. No one approach works for everyone.

    I prefer not to start out with too many preconceptions. I have some idea of what my characters are like, and where the story will go. The details, though, are subject to change. In fact, they are almost guaranteed to change drastically as I get into the story.

    But your teacher's approach is definitely one you should try, if you haven't already. Maybe it will help you more than it would help me.

    For me, notes are almost entirely for research, and for detils derived from research but not yet in the story. For example, the notes for a sci fi novel I'm working on consists primarily of physical statistics about the planet and star system the story tales place in. The star is real - everything else is fictional, but the planetary data is calculated to be self consistent and to produce the general characteristics of climate and terrain needed by the story. The only other thing in the notes is a list of character names I may or may not use. If I want details about a character, I can search the text, although unless it's a fairly minor character, I doubt I wouldeven need to do that.

    The writing is everything. That's where characters and settings come to life.
     
  11. zebra
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    zebra Active Member

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    Why not Thomas Clarker or something... just throwing it out there.
     

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