1. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Names! Gah! Codename Help

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by GuardianWynn, Apr 9, 2015.

    I hate naming. Seriously I am under the impression names more or less don't matter. Their point is only establishing. Heck in my writing I will go as far as to call people (1) or (a) when writing because I can't decide on a name. And I meant the parenthesis too.
    Example: "I don't want to go," (1) said.
    lol
    but names do seem to hold a certain importance don't they? I mean I always held the position that if a name meaning is built around a character that seems well bad. No one knew you were going to that person at birth. lol. Also since there is a page on naming already. I bring a certain aspect to mind. Namely(lol pun) Codenames.

    Codenames unlike real names may often be placed in direct response to a character trait. So how do you, if you do, give a character a codename?

    Me I generally I look up a phase and then look it up in another language.

    Like right now I have two working codenames. I wouldn't mind if you rate them either ;)

    A female terrorist vigilante that adopts the name: Alptraumkatze. Meaning nightmare cat in german it was picked to represent the female touch she tried to give the persona which was meant to be a red hearing to much more serious and male like attitude of her real like self. Nightmare cat meant to frighten and mislead everyone.

    A female assassin given the codename Tsuki No Tora which is Japanese for Moon Tiger or Tiger of the moon. Give to her by her master as more of a joke because her last name is the name of a moon a circling Saturn and her favorite is commonly called the tigers hook.

    Edit: Oops one of Saturn's moons. lol
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2015
  2. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is your story set in the modern world or a fantasy world?
     
  3. A Fellow Stalker
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    A Fellow Stalker Member

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    I always try to desperately avoid 'cool' nicknames like Tiger or Nightmare. Others I avoid but have seen are Shadow, Blaze, Kill, Alpha.

    The more 'cool' or 'badass' the nickname, the higher the amount of eye rolling will be.
     
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  4. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I suggest something like, "Shadowravendarkghostwolfninja"
     
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  5. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Modern world
    How come?
    LOL
     
  6. A Fellow Stalker
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    A Fellow Stalker Member

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    Lot of reasons, really. It sort of feels immature, in the way kids will write horror stories by just packing as much blood and guts as they can. It's a really hamfisted way to make characters seem cooler. There's also the fact that they're unrealistic. In real life, people don't get cool nicknames. Sure you'll, every once in a while like the Desert Fox or the White Death, but those are rare, and even then they'll rarely be used in a regular day to day sense. Not many people walked up to Manfred von Richtofen and called him the Red Baron.

    A good example is on f-16.net, where air force veterans have lovingly listed out all the nicknames they've ever been given or have given. You don't get many Ravens or Deadeye or Pyro's (and when they do get those names, they tend to be incredibly sarcastic), they get names like Stinky or Rub or, my favorite, FUNGUS (F U New Guy U Suck).
     
  7. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okay maybe there is a slight difference of definition going on here.
    Like the f-16 example. Those are nicknames, right? Names that friends call each other out of jest or what not.

    I am referring to codenames or names they use because they cannot use there real name. In both of my examples the characters use them as a way to not drop there name mixed with what they are doing.

    Alptraumkatze being a terrorist. So in a since Alptraumkatze might even be what the police call her because they don't have a name.

    Similar case with Tsuki no Tora. An assassin that does not drop her real name when working.

    Does that make sense?
     
  8. A Fellow Stalker
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    A Fellow Stalker Member

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    Yeah, though it ends up running into much the same problems. Why would the police give her some badass name? Or why would an assassin want a long intricate one? Wouldn't they want something easy to say and use?

    And then there's still the initial problem. When readers like me see a name that's written to make a character sound cool, it's still met with an eyeroll and a muttering of "of course they're called that".
     
  9. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    In Alptraumkatze's case the cops may have discovered it more than created it.
    Example. They catch a suspect and he caves and starts talking. He doesn't know her real name only her codename. A name given to her by her organization or herself. Meant to inspire fear. Why wouldn't her name be bad ass?

    I did also ask what you thought of the names in question. :)

    Also while nightmare may just be a cool word meant to inspire fear. Tiger had a direct meaning. Since her favorite weapon is often called the tiger hook. Joke being she is a tiger, she is from the moon and these are her claws or hooks.

    Then again, doesn't the alternate language stop the immediate reaction for a moment. I assuming you didn't know there meaning directly. Do they sound cool or neat innately? Or still dislike them?
     
  10. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Alptraumkatze is a mouthful. Every time I tried to read your posts with the name in it, I stumbled over the name. It just doesn't flow off the tongue the way I think you want it to. Maybe if you split it up the way it translates (Alptraum Katze) and make it two words, it wouldn't be so bad.

    I can't comment on the other. My opinion would be biased. I have a problem with stories (movies, books, etc) that use Japanese names and/or fighting style. Most of the time, I find no reason for the addition, and I see it as an attempt to bring in a different element just because it's "cool." I'm not saying that's what you're doing... If you have a reason for it, great! I just don't like it.

    I can see both points that you and A Fellow Stalker are making. While I too give a little eye roll at code names, I can understand having them.

    Take the TV show Chuck for example. Chuck Bartowski was working with the CIA. He didn't want the baddies he was hunting to know his real name, so he went by Charles Carmichael. Notice: it's a code name, but it's still a real name.

    But then look at the TV show Breaking Bad. Walter White didn't want his drug thug buddies knowing his real name and finding his family, so he went by Heisenberg.

    I would look really hard at your names and figure out why you picked them. Yes, they sound cool and relate to the character.. But is it necessary? Is it overkill?

    Why is the terrorists name in German? Is the terrorist German? If s/he wants to inspire fear by her/his choice of name, why would s/he choose a code name in a different language? Unless everyone knows German, they'd have no idea what that name means.

    Same with the assassin. Is she trained by a Japanese person? Is she Japanese herself? I can kind of understand the joke in the name. Uses tiger hook weapons, it's like she has tigers claws... Her last name is the same as one of Saturn's moons, so she's of the moon... But why would the assassin keep a name meant as a joke? Wouldn't that be kind of insulting?


    I don't see a problem with code names. I understand how they work, why they're necessary. Just make sure you have a reason for why you chose the names you did, other than their meaning relates to the character. As I pointed out above, a person with no relation to Germany isn't likely to choose a German code name. Same with Japanese. But if ther IS a relation, then that's all well and good, I suppose. Just make it clear that the names are meaningful to the character, not just cool.

    Edited to add: Chuck Bartowski chose his alias because it sounded like a "rich guy's" name. Charles Carmichael was everything that Chuck wanted to be by that age. And Walt chose Heisenberg because Werner Heinsenberg was a famous physicist, and the name represented Walt transforming from weak high school chemistry teacher to badass drug lord. Just so you understand their reasoning. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2015
  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The whole naming thing isn't something I sweat, though I do take note when critics get put off by a name. One of my MC's is named Brena and the fact that he's dude seems to throw people because it seems that across the pond this is pretty much a girl's name. I may do a document-wide search & replace when the time comes, but for now he remains Brena.
     
  12. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Why not just have normal names?

    Seriously though when I'm reading a book that last thing I want to see are complex confusing names that force you to look up on the internet how they're pronounced.

    Also I don't know if it's just me, but aren't codenames suppose to be short and simple anyways? o_O
     
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  13. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    A friend of mine who is German recommended Alptraumkatze and yes it can be written either way. He said it is more common to write it as one word though. Also I laughed at S/he because I did point out she was a girl.
    She does work in Germany occasionally but not often. Most of her work was more England area. Actually yeah personality wise or other wise she has no connection to Germany. But that might help it work. Thinking how you mentioned your two examples. If you asked her she would have said.
    "I wanted a girly name because I am not girly." she is referencing the use of cat in the name.

    I also laughed at the Japanese part. Funny enough Tsuki No Tora(Real name Jackie Tarvos) isn't Japanese and her hooks are a Chinese weapon. Actually she was born in China but is not actually Chinese. She knows Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Russia fighting styles. As she says it. "All of Asia is my home." Her feelings towards her name are indifferent. She didn't pick it. In her case it is more a nickname she uses as a codename. I think she would say "If I complain they are either going to call me something worse or never stop calling me it."

    So I think I am feeling a bit more confident on Tsuki No Tora. Side note I did look up Moon Tiger in Korean, Russian and Chinese first but it rolled off the tongue easiest in Japanese

    Less so on Alptraumkatze. lol Does she score points for being near Germany? She loses a lot of points for hard to pronounce doesn't she?

    Real names as code names? Where is your sense of fun!
    A good book should place a meaning and how they are pronounced in the book but yeah. Small point to weird words being hard to pronounce.
     
  14. Lemon flavoured
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    Lemon flavoured Active Member

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    Brena does seem very feminine to me. I would keep it though and if appropriate have other people make fun of it in the story, saying he has a girly name.
     
  15. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Loses points for both. Just because she's close to Germany doesn't mean she'd pick a German name. I'm close to Mexico. I've been to Mexico. My husband's step father is from Mexico. But I wouldn't pick a Mexican name for a code name. I'd pick something that I can relate to. I might pick a German name, because I'm half German. I'd want to recognize my heritage.

    The name is also hard to pronounce, which you definitely can't ignore. You mentioned the name is a post before (a title, I think?) and everyone there mentioned it was hard to pronounce. As a reader, I'm put off by the name.

    Also, I'm sure you said this but I don't remember, what does "nightmare cat" have to do with her? I get the nightmare.. She wants to be "scary." But why cat? She wants to be agile like one?

    The meaning of the name loses points for me. I understand she wants to relate to her name, but "nightmare cat" seems way too cliche and silly to me to be taken seriously.

    To sum up, everything about the name Alptraumkatze is wrong to me. There's no reason she would choose a German name, it's hard to pronounce and the meaning is understandable but silly.

    Your explanation for the assassin makes more sense. But if her weapons are Chinese, and she was born in China, why wouldn't she adopt a Chinese name? Who started calling her the Japanese name? Is that person Japanese? If not, then the reason for having a Japanese code name doesn't make sense. If she's indifferent about her name, then she obviously didn't choose it. So saying "All of Asia is my home" only makes sense if she chose the name. The person who gave it to her would have to be Japanese (or speak Japanese) for the name to have meaning.
     
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  16. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Fair enough. This is why I ask help.

    Actually the idea is she though cat was a feminine word and no one calls her feminine. So she thought calling herself that no one calls her was thus a good idea. I think she secretly likes the persona and used the name as an excuse to wear it. Like she can act her feminine impulses without being put down. Note she probably wouldn't be put down if she acted on them normally but she thinks she will. Does that make sense?

    Yeah, a book idea I have is around this persona returning. Though the name has no plot point in the book behind it. So changing the name won't effect the work except... editing the same name 50k times. lol.

    Now I have no idea what to call her! Sad. Funny enough she is of Irish decent but doesn't know anything more than that. She only speaks English and knows next to nothing of any culture.

    Jackie(Tsuki No Tora) does actually speak Japanese and Chinese. While her teachers were not directly of Japanese decent they likely know the language and the culture. In addition she also knows Japanese fighting styles. Is that close enough in your book?

    OH this reminds me.
    In a really popular anime; Bleach. The MC is named Ichigo and he is a boy and Ichigo is Japanese for strawberry and is a common name. For girls! lol. I could never get past that. This is also partly due to the fact he tries to hide from it by splitting his name when asked. Because Ichi means #1 and Go by itself means protector. So he says his names the best protector. lol.
     
  17. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Well, in my story (that takes place on a different world) his name isn't any big deal at all. It's just his name. And I really don't have any need to write his name in as a thing he has to deal with. He's got other issues, and enough those without his name also being a thing. :whistle:
     
  18. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh yeah. Not saying it needed to be a thing like that. Just random trivia I thought you might enjoy. :D
     
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  19. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I know, I just mean that my investment in his name and the way I'm writing the character will probably mean that, in the end, his name will probably get swapped no matter how much I would rather not. :bigconfused:
     
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  20. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thank you for clarifying! :)

    It would make the Japanese name more plausible if the person who gave it to her was a fluent speaker, but knowing the most likely know the language, it isn't a stretch to give her a Japanese name. I think it works. :)

    As for the other character, I get all your reasons, I really do. There's just something so impersonal about it, you know? Is she interested in her heritage at all? You could give her an Irish name, in an attempt to connect with her ancestors. Or the first name of someone she admires and wants to be more like. Or a girly name with a dark meaning. Aeronwyn means slaughter. lol Could work for a terrorist..
     
  21. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    You don't have to be Japanese to be a fluent speaker. lol.

    Yeah, you make a point. Actually. Nope she doesn't care about heritage. She cares about her family as in direct relatives but heritage? As she might say it. "A worthless random sequence of genes that people have been using as an excuse to kill each other for centuries. No I do not and will not waste time learning such garbage." lol. Damn I get mean when I channel her. Sorry about that.
     
  22. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    @Wreybies I was one of those voices of dissent over your choice of name. I completely and utterly take it back. Even though I'm used to it being a girls name, and it took a while to wrap my head round it, I have no problem with it now. Same goes for another of your characters who typically doesn't get called by his actual name. It only took a couple of read throughs of short excerpts for me to find acceptance and get on board.

    @GuardianWynn Living in a country that has suffered it's fair share of terrorism, I'm passing familiar with loads of different codenames and covers. They tend to be less than imaginative and very often are laughable when confronted with the person in question. They rarely chose their own. They have a tendency to be a means to an end, for identification purposes, whether it be for claiming responsibility for a murder or bombing on the part of organisations, or for establishing which individual in a cell one is dealing with. An ex IRA man who now serves in Northern Irish govt's codename was 'Fisherman'. Not exactly the sort of name that inspires fear, however, when you throw into the mix reports that he in fact acted as a British agent during the conflict, it starts to make a bit more sense. He was fishing for information.

    Of course this is still disputed, we'll likely never know the absolute truth, but what seemed like a silly name at the time emits all kinds of resonance now. That's the kind of name I'd be aiming for. It'd be great way to get a bit of foreshadowing going and wouldn't seem unnecessarily over indulgent or flashy for the sake of it.
     
  23. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    But you weren't even remotely the only person to get thrown by Brena's name. Even critics from this side of things were like, "Oh, wait, he's a dude? Oh...." :wtf:

    In the other story, I've stuck firmly to my guns about using Marco's inmate number for the beginning of the story. It's part of his story in the long run, but Brena... I can be talked into naming him something else. His surname has changed a dozen times. It was just the name that popped into my head when he materialized. I didn't even consciously know it was a real name. I just liked the sound. It's soft. :)
     
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  24. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    @ Wreybies Glad to hear Marco's inmate number is staying. It worked for me. As for Brena, it was grower but I can understand why you'd be up for changing it to avoid confusion.
     
  25. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    Nicknames happen organically, so let them happen naturally as you tell the story.

    Code names follow some sort of system. Navy seals code name missions after professional sports teams (lone survivor was operation Red Wing). Bombers in WW2 were mostly named after a woman that the pilot knew.

    My recommendation would be to pick a system that provides a lot of options and keep it consistent in the organization/unit/team. Moons kinda seems like a cool idea, so I would say it fits.
     

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