1. LoneWolfSolace
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    LoneWolfSolace Member

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    Problems with names

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by LoneWolfSolace, Jul 23, 2008.

    (First off- I'm not totally sure this is in the right section, but I thought I would give it a shot and see what happens...)

    I mostly write fantasy/adventure, and I sometimes wonder if my character names don't 'fit' together. I also worry that a horse named 'Bastille' could be a problem.

    Ok, so in one story (Why We Can't Have Nice Things) we basically have a group of bounty hunters who get mad at each other and decide to kill each other. The story is set in a fantasy world called Nagai's Land, where there are shamans, warlords, and things that rise out of the ocean and eat you when you least expect it.

    Problems with names:

    The MC (Agouti) has a steel-grey mare named Bastille, and I worry that the name seems out of place. However, the name is a slight pun on her coat color (Bastille, steel-grey- say it out loud. Har, har.) and it comes into play with a running joke with another character. Throughout the stories, it is sometimes mentioned that Mousse (another major character) is terrible at naming things, so when the group of bounty hunters take over a giant lighthouse to use as their headquarters, Agouti suggests naming it after her horse (she loves her horse, tee hee) and Mousse agrees because he is terrible at naming things. The lighthouse's name is a slight nod to the Bastille of A Tale of Two Cities, as later in the story it is 'stormed.' Basically, the name has meaning, but is a french word too out of place in a fantasy novel?

    Also, the names of my characters are really all over the place. We have Monty Moose who changes his name to Mousse Montague, then Agouti (name has meaning), Pookie (no real reason), Dark Sunshine (meaningful), Kiddo, Solace, Thomas, Rahi, Xey, Perdin, and Borai, and those are just the characters from one story. Agouti, Xey, Rahi, Perdin and Borai sound typical enough for a fantasy novel (perhaps even Agouti and Solace), but what about Pookie, Dark Sunshine, Kiddo, and Mousse? Then there is Thomas, the only 'normal' name.

    What do you think? Where do you draw the line for names 'fitting' together, and at what point are they out of place in the story?
     
  2. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Depending on the range of con-cultures involved, the line can be quite long. As long as this is meant to be humorous, I don't see an issue, though. I'd be careful with "Bastille", just because of the enourmous cultural significance, but otherwise, I don't see a problem.
     
  3. LoneWolfSolace
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    LoneWolfSolace Member

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    The overall story is more dark/adventurous rather than humorous, but there are certain running jokes (such as Mousse and his handful of quirks) and puns. The 'Bastille' name isn't a major feature in the story, but perhaps that can be more fully addressed once I polish up the story a little (translation: completely rewrite it multiple times) and post it in the review room. I was mostly worried that the word was too 'foreign' to have in a fantasy story (like the time I tried to have ninja and samurai... fail! :rolleyes: ). Once the story is presentable, I will see what everyone thinks about the Bastille (as a cultural icon, rather than foreign name/word).
     
  4. BatCountry
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    BatCountry Senior Member

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    I think Bastille fits alright.
    But Pookie is the name of Garfield (the cat)'s teddy bear
    Mousse is some type of food or whatnot
    Kiddo is, well, more of a "title" than a name
    like Grampa, Gramma, Kiddo, Kiddy etc.
    and Dark Sunshine doesn't fit all too well with names like
    Agouti.
    If Agouti was the protag and DS was the antag
    the fight would be
    Agouti fighting against Dark Sunshine
    that seems kind of awkward.
     
  5. LoneWolfSolace
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    LoneWolfSolace Member

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    Pookie has no reason for her name. Maybe I should change it.

    Mousse (which can be a type of chocolate treat, as well as a hair product) was Moose (the people of his tride/family are named after their spirit animals) but he changed it when he went into hiding.

    Dark Sunshine is usually just called Dark, and she isn't a major fighter. She is a side character in this particular story, though in a different one she is a secondary antagonist (though I suppose she wouldn't have gotten her name at that point?). Hmm...

    Kiddo is just a 'Kiddo,' and when she grows older, she get a new name (not exactly sure what her name will be, though?). She is a tagalong who never really got a name, and Agouti started calling her Kiddo, so everyone else did, too.

    Most names have reasons behind them, but I'm not sure that overrides the strangeness of them as a group...
     
  6. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Names....

    The bane of most authors, so let me tell you a trick... names are meaningless as long as they sound like they *Might* Belong.

    Allow me to explain. John is a fine name, John is born in a fantasy world that is a bit Angelo-Saxon (European Area) so the name can remain.

    John is an acceptable

    John has a bother who's name is Averdauloth.

    Ok. Is there something wrong with Averdauloth ?

    No.

    But, the problem is that the two brothers have such drastically different names that it becomes unacceptable.

    So either John needs to have his name changed to match Averdauloth

    IE: John becomes Jahoundiel

    Or Averdauloth needs to have his name changed to match John

    IE: Averdauloth becomes Alvan.

    I hope this helps.

    Now look at your name list:

    Monty Moose who changes his name to Mousse Montague
    Agouti (name has meaning),
    Pookie (no real reason),
    Dark Sunshine (meaningful),
    Kiddo,
    Solace,
    Thomas,
    Rahi,
    Xey,
    Perdin,
    Borai,

    What names "belong" or fit together and what names seem to stand out - also take into consideration the location, race, culture and other things of each of these people as well.

    IE: John is fine in England.

    Where Jean would be used in France and the name would change to Juan in Spain.

    This is also something to consider.

    Now names like Kiddo are not really names but "Titles" like "Big John" or "Little John", in this case "Kiddo" should have an actual name, even if it is not revealed until later or not used at all.

    IE: Little John is a big man, his title is a joke at his massive size, but his real name is John Little so "Little John" is also a play on his name.

    I hope this helps.

    Ungood.
     
  7. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    I also want to caution the use of names that have already been established even if you are not applying it the same way.

    Allow me to explain.

    You have someone in your story named "Brunor" who happens to a "human" barkeep with red hair, a gut, a wife, four kids, and never leaves his pub.

    In this case, you *might* get away with it because this is just a "background" name.

    However, lets say your "Raiding party" has their "tough guy" called Brunor - who is a wide as he is tall, tough and hardy man. Well many people are going to think "Brunor Battlehammer" and disown your story before they even give you chance. (Reference - Icewind Dale series)

    names like Corwin are fine, unless you do something stupid like say "He is from amberville lagoon" Then people put down your book, call you scum and walk away. (Reference - Corwin of Amber, Amber role playing game)

    Even names like "Garfield" might be pushing the line, unless they are there for a reason and not linked to a orange tabby (reference - Garfield by John Davis)

    This is something you the author need to take into consideration. Is the name a direct steal? Are you playing it too close and will this turn off your readers.
     

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