1. eMotive-
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    eMotive- Member

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    Naming clues

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by eMotive-, May 7, 2011.

    When naming your characters, do you ever do so in order to hint at his or her fate?

    For example, would you name a man about to fall from grace after a King who was overthrown?

    Or do you just give them a name that you think sounds the best?
     
  2. JMTweedie
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    JMTweedie Senior Member

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    I give mine a name that means something, usually the main characteristic of their personality or values.

    My main character is called Katherine, which has a traditional meaning of 'Pure'.
     
  3. Earlychop
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    Earlychop Member

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    I like to throw in little quips and quotes about famous people and places and hide them like clues.

    A fictitious school I created in NY was named after a semi famous poet who was born in NY and one of his quotes is on the art depts wall.

    The School was named Elmslie Jr-High. After Kenward Elmslie.

    Funnily enough there is only one such school with that name and it's an independent girls school in the UK. Also, my protagonist is a boy from Bickley High school in the UK (Renamed Bickley Secondary school). That school is actually a girls school lol.

    I like to put lots of little tie-ins like that in my work.
     
  4. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I do, but now that I think of it, it is kind of useless. The readers probably won't know Alexis means 'Protector of man' or Anieli means 'Manly', despite the name sounding so child like.
    But heck, it's still fun :D
     
  5. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    Rather than picking the name that sounds best, I pick the name that seems to fit them. Sometimes I don't even like the name. It also has nothing to do with the name's meaning; picking names specifically based on meaning irritates me: my name certainly doesn't describe me.

    However, thinking about it, any name could be twisted to have significant meaning to the novel.
    • For example, the name of the MC I'm writing in the novel I plan to start this summer goes by both his forename and middle name depending on his company - both are (Italian) variations of two of the Four Evangelists names. This character is presumably Christian, referred to as both a saint and an angel by other characters and there's religious symbolism in the novel. Yet, he isn't strongly religious or preachy and it's not a religious story; the name was picked simply because I thought it fit him well. Turns out the name he goes by most means "light" which is relevant to his character -- the idea of him remaining loyal and seemingly innocent in a setting where other's morals might decay is a large part of the story -- but it has nothing to do with why he received the name. I don't even feel like I chose his name: I was daydreaming and it came out naturally without needing to pause to think about it. I didn't even know the meaning of his name at the time nor did I know the novel would have religious themes. Heck, it's only by writing this post I realised that variations of his names are "Mark" and "Luke". So, all of this irrelevant. But anyone who went looking for any special meaning as to his name could find it easily.

    Like the above, almost all of my characters are named "naturally" through daydreaming. Of course, this leads to some odd-named characters. I don't mean made-up or rare names, I mean names like: Kitten, White Hat, Starshine, etc. But it's also resulted in fairly commonplace names too (these three characters names don't exactly have exciting given names). This is also how I named my hamster, Haru(春).

    When not using odd code names, I try to go for names either relevant to the setting or the character. My novel is set in an area with a diverse population and the cast reflects this. The majority have names native to the area (with their surnames often indicating their family's origins) while others have names that represent their ethnic background. For example, the character above with the Italian forenames is actually English by nationality - he's English, Italian and Filipino by ethnicity. My novel isn't set in any of these three countries... :rolleyes:
     
  6. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Symbolic names are kind of pointless, IMO. Sorry if this is a little crass, but I don't care how much thought you put into the character's name. If I don't know what the name means (and chances are I won't), then I certainly won't be bothered to look it up and ponder any hidden meanings that might be there. I simply don't care.

    I take that same approach when naming my own characters. I give them names that seem to suit them and move on.

    Although, after reading Youniquee's post and the meaning of the name Alexis, it seems I may have given a major character a symbolic name without even realizing it. That's the second time this has happened. :confused:
     
  7. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't typically make names too significant. I did pick "Martel" as a surname cause of it's meaning. And I am picking names specifically for my latest plot where the names are significant. BUT, for the most part, I don't make my names too much a plot point.
     
  8. TheSpiderJoe
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    TheSpiderJoe Senior Member

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    Actually, that's one of the central themes of my first novel. I'm curious to see how well it will play out in future sequels.
     
  9. Misticauthor
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    Misticauthor New Member

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    With my characters i used there heritage and looked up names from that country...
     
  10. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It depends. Normally I just go for what 'sounds good'. In real life names don't always correspond with what someone is like as a person, do they?

    It may work for some genres, fantasy/mysticism etc.

    I also don't give my MCs names I don't like... now I think about it.
     
  11. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    I do the same thing. Since my book has characters of varying ethnicities and races, I usually have to make sure if the name that I picked for any of the foreign characters is decent or appropriate or even real.

    For example, I wanted to name an Indian character Jungu, but when I approached a friend of similar background (she's Sri Lankan, but she knows quite a bit about Indian culture), she said that the name meant something about the butt of a firefly and didn't seem appropriate for an Indian family to call their son. So I scrapped it and asked my friends for help.

    So I always have to verify if the names are okay. I like to think that, once my book is published (if ever), it is highly accurate when it comes to culture. Also, I like well-rounded characters and, personally, a name does become a part of that character's personality. So I always drop hints with names about a certain personality, just for the fun of it. It looks good on a trivia page, too.
     

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