1. Morgulion
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    Morgulion New Member

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    Character naming issues

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Morgulion, Sep 15, 2012.

    My work at this moment has a slight issue with similarity of two characters' names: one is named Gant, and the other Hart. In your opinion, would these sound too much alike, or would they be fine? Both are main characters, with one being a first-person narrator, and the other being a deuteragonist.

    On another note, I'd be most glad to hear of your methods for picking character names, or any good online name generators.
     
  2. TrinityRevolution
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    TrinityRevolution Member

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    Guess, starts with M...
    I think the names are fine, easily distinguishable in my opinion.

    As for my methods of picking names, I always try and be original and also pick names that mesh well with their persona.

    So let's say you have a real b*itch of a female character, she's foul mouthed and rude yet her name's 'Grace' it wouldn't make sense unless that's the exact reason you chose it.
     
  3. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    I just pick names that make sense with the characters country and era of birth, class etc, so no 18th century noblewomen called Kylie, for example. I normally pick names off the top of my head, but if needed there are plenty of baby name sites. Personally I'm not fond of names that suit the character's personality in most cases, since usually a person is a baby when they are named and their personality hasn't developed- names actually reflect whoever chose it.

    Obviously I'm not talking about Fantasy/sci-FI here, just regular earth-bound fiction :)

    With regards to your names I think they sound fine, I know what you mean about them being a bit similar but if you like the names I'd just stick with them. I just read a book where the two MCs were Blanchard and Bleichert, at first I thought they were too similar but it was fine really.
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Too similar. Like in Henning Mankell's novel, his MC was Lindman, and the co-MC was Larsson - quite different but nonetheless I kept mixing the two up.

    Hart and Grant would be too similar in my opinion especially when they're both MCs, meaning they both do important stuff and get mentioned a lot.

    I had a similar problem - Kai and Kay, though Kay was a minor character and Kai was a secondary character. Regardless, it had to be changed. Just find and replace, it's not a big deal. Very few of my characters have the same names now as they did when I first started.

    Unless there's some deep meaningful reason for why you want a certain name, just change it. It's not worth the possibility of your readers confusing them. Mankell's example really distracted me from the story.
     
  5. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    They are a bit similar for my liking too, but it really depends on many things - sometimes I don't mind even more similar names, sometimes just having the same initial letter (even if the rest of the name differs) confuses me.

    In this case, I think that just adding a syllable to one of the names would help greatly. The same length is a part of the problem.
     
  6. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    I really struggle with normal names. Names of regular people. "George", "John", "Sally", they just sound poor to me. I like an invented name I used in another thread, "Dayna", for a sexy woman.

    I want to make my characters diverse, but when I used an Indian name for a character, it didn't seem right to me. As if I was attributing the characteristics of the character to her race, and somehow making a statement about British Asian culture, which I was definitely not intending to make. The story was set in Birmingham, a very diverse city. So the choice of name wouldn't be out of place, but I was worried what it made my story say.

    It would be quite easy to write a computer program to help generate names. You'd need a big list of first and last names, and put them together pseudo randomly. You could rate each individual name in terms of a number of characteristics. E.g. male/female/androgynous. You could come up with bipolar constructs for impressions given by names, e.g. between "gentle" and "harsh" or something. Then you could rate all the names in terms of these constructs. It would be easy for someone then to say what sort of name they want, e.g. male/female/androgynous, say where they want the character to be in the continuum between "gentle" and "harsh", and other constructs, push a button, and be given 50 or 100 candidate names to choose from. However, even though the computer program would be simple, rating all the names it knows for those constructs would be a shedload of work, and nobody would want to do it.

    For imaginative names, Lithuanian names seem to be really good, with to my ears good sounds and interesting meanings. E.g. "Ruta" = "Friend". IMHO a great name for a sidekick. "Audra" = "Storm". However, if you write your SF or Fantasy using Lithuanian names, how would it look to people in Lithuania?
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'm in the 'too similar' camp on this... i strongly suggest making one of the names at least two syllables... so you could call them 'gant' and 'hartman' for instance...
     
  8. Jamie Regent-Villiers
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    Jamie Regent-Villiers Member

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    Names schmames! If what you write is fresh, innovative, creative and just plain readable, the names of your characters are of very secondary importance. Get your manuscript accepted for publication and then concern yourself about Gant & Hart. If what you write is awesome, you can call them George and Henry and it will make no difference at all.
     
  9. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    Gant and Hart are slightly too similar. The different initial helps a lot, but the same length and the a and t in common are a problem.

    Gant and Hunt is slightly better and might work if you liked the first one.

    Grant and Hart, as someone else suggested, are fine because now I see the 5 vs 4-letter length and have the initial difference.
     
  10. Morgulion
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    Morgulion New Member

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    Thanks to all who weighed in. Unfortunately, the two-syllable differentiation won't work, as there is a symbolic point in having their names be of the same length. In the original draft, the names were Gant and Holz; would that be more easy to tell apart, or is similar length still a problem?
     
  11. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    Gant and Holz is definitely better than any other 4-letter combinations suggested.
     
  12. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I think your initial instinct of Gant and Holz is probably best. I think if you type in Fantasy name generator on Google a few sites come up.
    They're a bit of a hoot though, I clicked on short name generator and among pearls like Perk and Koid, Laid came up. Lol!

    I invest in baby name books and start tweaking some of the
    names, sometimes I add a letter or take away one to create new names. Also, it's a bit of a project
    but you can come up with some interesting twists -write down on slips of paper tail ends of names, and the beginning
    of names to jam new combinations together - Lyriauel ( Lyric and Laurel ). Buy an old dictionary and browse through
    obscure words and slang. The great thing about this project is the meanings have usually been lost but the
    words are easy to pronounce, unlike some of the fantasy names out there that drop a lot of vowels.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Similarity of names is not the entire picture. If your characters are very similar in speech, temperament, and values, the names will need to be very distinct for readers to keep them straight. On the other hand, if your characters have very different natures that show in their every utterance or action, you could possibly get away with Jack and Jake. Or Daryl and Daryl.

    The name is only one of the ways you make one character distinct from another in the reader's mind.
     

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