1. jazzman
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    jazzman Member

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    character name help

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by jazzman, Nov 18, 2014.

    Hi all, I'm rather new at this but as a ambitious writer I've come to realise I need advice from other writers, mainly to reassure myself that I'm on the right track :)

    I'm currently in the process of developing a story idea that I have and I'm stuck on naming my two main characters. The book is divided between Glasgow and Belfast, twenty years apart. My two main characters are detectives, investigating a case that will span this time.

    My Scottish detective name is proving to be a struggle, although I am liking the surname Dryden. But I have changed it from Coburn, Crichton, Merrick, McAvoy, Tremaine and Brochan. Does anyone have any idea of a good first name that goes? It doesn't have to be traditional Scottish. A rough background breakdown would be 35-40 years old, working class background, a Detective Inspector. All suggestions would be appreciated.

    For my Belfast detective I have 3 names, just wanted to see which one sounds the best: Ed Malloy, Lorcan Maguire/Quinn, Declan/Aiden Rourke. The (/) means either name.

    Any help would be really appreciated. My mind at the moment is like a pretzel soup. Thankyou xxx
     
  2. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I can't really speak for the Scots names, but it seems you are wanting your Belfast detective's name to reflect Irish ancestry not British. To me Lorcan Maguire sounds more like a solicitor, (not sure where I'm picking that up from ;)) so I'd be more inclined to go for one of the other two. Myself, from what you've told me, I'd go with Ed Molloy.

    Could you give me a better idea of time frame, and whether the detective is part of the Police Service or a private detective?
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014
  3. jazzman
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    jazzman Member

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    time frame would be in the 90's, around the time of the good Friday agreement, and he is a police detective
     
  4. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Any of those above would work, given time frame... we're talking the P.S.N.I. rather than the R.U.C. I'm sure you already know where I'm coming from with this: prior to the agreement, Catholic officers were very rare, and may as well have had targets painted on their backs as they were considered to be spies in the camp by the loyalist paramilitaries and even by their peers on the force. Since your book takes place after, these Catholic sounding names don't quite stick out like sore thumbs the way they would have done prior to.

    ETA... On thinking more, if you are wanting to reflect that part of the Northern Irish divide, It might be an idea to make a substitute for 'Ed.' Ed being short for Edward.. it's less likely someone with that surname would bear the name of a British monarch. Not impossible, but much less likely.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014
  5. chicagoliz
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    If your characters are 35-40 years old in the 1990s, google something like "Most popular baby names 1950 Ireland" See what you find. I know the US Social Security administration publishes the most popular baby names each year and have been doing this for quite some time. I don't know if Ireland has something similar, but someone's got to have a list.

    The names you've listed all strike me rather similarly. Ultimately, I don't think it's going to make much difference -- just like with real people, your character will become the name. Eventually, you won't be able to think of your character by any other name once you settle on one.
     
  6. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I've been skirting round the issue as background hasn't been given to us but, on this rare occasion I've got to disagree with @chicagoliz. In the case of the Belfast name, it makes all the difference in the world. For example; Lorcan O'Riordan - Catholic. Roy Walker - Protestant. Sean Paul Doherty - Catholic. Ian James Lawther - Protestant. I dunno, maybe it's something you have to live with to understand the relevance of.


    Back in the day, if I was accosted in the street, I would generally be asked three things; my name, where I was from, and... believe it or not, I'd be asked to recite the alphabet. As a rule, Protestants drop their h's, Catholics do not. All this factored into the mob's decision as to whether I was from one side or the other. Generally the name would have been enough.

    Of course that's not to say that the character comes from either of these 'traditions.' There are many thriving immigrant communities in Belfast and also, on occasions, you will find those with names that break the mould, but they are less common. For example, I have a friend that goes by the maiden name Murphy. It might be assumed that she comes from the Catholic/Nationalist perspective when in fact, her family are Protestant and have a long standing history of military actions with the British Army. Nationalists, they are not. But, like I say, these exceptions are rare.

    The character's experience of working within the police force will have been coloured right from the off by the name he bears. It's a sad fact, but true. If the character has any amount of back story, and the OP is wanting to produce an authentic character, the name is important.
     
  7. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    @obsidian_circatrix is right -- I confess I didn't look carefully at your names, but I do recall that there are Protestant and Catholic versions of names, so given your setting you do have to be careful to give your character the right one for his family background. (You could give him the "wrong" one if you have an explanation, which could be interesting.)

    So, yes, when you have a particular setting or culture where names do have a particular significance, it is very important to get those names right, insofar as choosing one of the names that is common within that culture. However, when you're choosing between two names that both would be "acceptable" in terms of the family history, it doesn't make much difference, and many authors tend to get too wrapped up in worrying whether they pick the right one. That's where my point that the character will grow to fit the name comes into play.
     
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  8. jazzman
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    jazzman Member

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    Thankyou so much for this information, its good to have more background to flesh out my characters. I was wanting the character to be catholic, because I liked the idea of him being an outsider in an overwhelming Protestant police force, and even though I really do prefer the name Ed Malloy, I don't see a catholic in Belfast being named such a traditional English name. I could always change his background to Protestant because I'm sure they had their own struggles. But if I were to keep him being Catholic, do you have a name preference? Or one that might ring genuine? I just think a name like Lorcan Maguire seems convoluted.
     
  9. chicagoliz
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    Your response makes me a little nervous here, jazz, because this is something you have really got to *know* -- backwards and forwards if this is the setting of your story. So, if you're not already familiar with all this history and this setting, you need to immerse yourself in research to make sure you get it right and know it so well that some of these characteristics just flow out of you. "I'm sure they had their own struggles" is kind of a red flag -- you've got to know what those struggles were, because they're a part of your character, his family, and the setting. (And remember, you don't have to tell us all of the struggles, but you do have to know them.)
     
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  10. jazzman
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    jazzman Member

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    Thanks everyone for their help but I'm going re-work his background and go for the name Ed Malloy. He is going to fall in love with a catholic woman and this will play an important role in the story.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on the Scottish name?
     
  11. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    @jazzman

    Just to say, if you ever have any local knowledge type questions, feel free to pm me. :D
     
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  12. jazzman
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    Thankyou so much, I am sure at some point ill need to pick your brains :) x
     
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  13. Savila93
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    bible names
     

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