1. ~Artemis~
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    ~Artemis~ Member

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    Character names in a novella-type work (adult themes mentioned)

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ~Artemis~, Nov 23, 2015.

    Hi all,

    I'm going to preface this by saying I'm new to the whole writing forum scene; I'm used to asking questions like this in person where I can clarify what I mean if need be, so I apologize if my question isn't clear.

    I'm writing a collection of autobiographical fiction short stories that more or less form a cohesive work (it's complicated). The stories all focus on a female protagonist, and each story follows her dysfunctional relationship with a different man. The collection begins with her first and perhaps most emotionally significant relationship, which more or less dictates the trajectory of her ensuing love life, and ends with her most damaging and abusive relationship, with the stories in-between featuring abusive relationships, relationships based on a need to be loved rather than actual romantic interest in the SO, and men she mistreated due to her own mental instability.

    My question is this: names. (Okay, that's not a question, but stay with me.)

    I have named the protagonist Artemis for a couple reasons: 1. I want there to be a sort of emotional disconnect between Artemis and reality; that is, I don't want this to be strictly realistic. I want to portray Artemis' unreliability in part through her name being unrealistic; how many Artemises do you meet walking down the street? It's not a traditional name these days. It has a more fantastical feel than if I were to choose a traditional name. 2. I really like the irony of Artemis being named after the Goddess of Virginity and Purity while the entire work is about her relationship with various men and the impurity associated with such a subject.

    I want to name the first male character Orion, partly to reinforce the emotional disconnect/unreliability of Artemis as she connects to the real world, and also because Orion was, according to some versions of the myth, the only man ever to steal Artemis' heart. I then want to name the last male character Actaeon, again to reinforce the emotional disconnect with reality, and because, according to the myth, Actaeon attempted to rape Artemis, which more or less corresponds to the character in my story. However, I want to name all the other characters in my collection, both SOs and minor characters alike, traditional names, since their emotional impact on Artemis is less dramatic than those of Orion and Actaeon.

    Do you think that the combination of both ancient Greek and traditional names would work in this case? Do you think the ancient Greek names pull their weight, or do they force the reader to do too much work? I've been struggling with this for months; any and all input would be most appreciated!

    Thank you,
    ~Artemis~
     
  2. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Honestly, I'd ditch the two male names. Anyone who knows Greek mythology will catch the reference right away, and it will likely turn them off -- at least it did for me. It's too convenient, that Artemis just so happens to meet two men with the exact same names from the myth.

    Instead, I'd go for myth inspired names. Look at the movie Warm Bodies. Sure, it was a comedic zombie movie, but they had many references to Romeo and Juliet. The main characters names are R and Julia!

    So maybe instead of Orion, you just do Ryan. Make his last name start with O, so if written backwards, it'd be O., Ryan. Or make his first name start with an O but he goes by his middle name Ryan. I don't have any good suggestions for the other name though, sorry. :p

    Just my two cents.

    Edited to add: I realize I didn't answer your questions quite the way you wanted. I like the use of Artemis, and typically I don't mind the mixing of classic names with traditional ones. But as soon as you said Orion, I cringed. It's just too close to the myth for my comfort. If it were real life, there's probably zero chance of an Artemis meeting an Orion and having a relationship with him. But I guess you're going more fantasy with the names on purpose. So I guess if you're okay with that, then go with it. But I personally would be put off.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2015
  3. ~Artemis~
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    ~Artemis~ Member

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    That all sounds understandable, and those are great suggestions! Thank you :) At the risk of sounding defensive and inflexible (and I apologize if I do), I have a follow-up/clarifying question. Basically I'm not sure if I in my original posting expressed this aspect well, so I'm going to rephrase to make sure. I hope to portray through the writing that the three names aren't the characters' real names, but only the names that Artemis assigns to herself and the two men because of how she views them. She's dissociating from reality by assigning them fictitious names. With that in mind, would the names still be too heavy-handed? I'm trying to blur the line between reality and fantasy and I'm just not very skilled yet, haha.

    I really appreciate your input and advice, and I do really like the idea of naming the one character O., Ryan. That's really cool ^.^
     
  4. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, I must've misunderstood that! Thank you for clarifying.

    I do love the idea of her disassociating and creating these fictional names for the guys. However, if it's done incorrectly, it can appear that you -- the author -- named them instead of her -- the character. So maybe at first, you could reference them with normal names, then slowly have her reference them as Orion and Actaeon. But I'm not sure about that... It could get confusing. Maybe someone else could weigh in on how to do that properly?

    As long as it's done correctly, I don't think it'd be too heavy-handed. I think it's pretty interesting, actually. I've never seen it done before. Sorry for misunderstanding. :p

    Glad you liked O., Ryan. I love playing with names. lol The main character in my urban fantasy that is very envious of her sister's good looks and easy demeanor and constant attention. My MC's initials? NVS. (Get it? En-vi-ous? :rofl:) I wanted to call her Envy throughout the whole story, but people here on WF thought it would be too convenient. So I dropped it.. But I'm keeping the initials, dammit!
     
  5. ~Artemis~
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    ~Artemis~ Member

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    Yeah, writing it so that it's clear that my MC is the one naming them will be the tricky part, and I definitely haven't mastered that yet, but I will or die trying! :bigwink: NVS is so cool! I'm overall terrible at naming characters; I even began writing in second person just to avoid it :dead: I hope I can learn to be as creative with names as you are; that's quite a skill :) Thank you so much for your opinion and advice!
     

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