Thursday, August 16, 2007

On the Naming of Characters

Lyda mentioned this earlier and I thought I'd put in a different perspective because it's not actually something I spend much time on. I mostly have a really detailed initial outline in which phase I grab an appropriate ethnic names source and pick something that sounds good at the time. I also feel free to change names at any time before or after the project goes through my writers group or groups–no changes in the middle or you will make your fellow writers very cranky.

I do find that certain sorts of names tend to attract my attention. They are generally slightly unusual and two syllables.

One funny side note. After writing 8 novels, heaps of short stories and 40-50 novel outlines it occurred to me that my main female characters almost all have two syllable names ending in A. Funnier still, after noticing it, the very next female lead I wrote was a Fiona, which fact it took me some time to notice. I attribute this to being madly in love with a woman named Laura for going on 18 years now.

Do any of you have naming quirks in addition to naming methods. Things that echo through your work for example?

6 comments:

Sean M. Murphy said...

But... but... Fiona is three syllables, Kelly, so your whole argument doesn't hold water!

For female names, I have similar tastes to Kelly's--Emilia, Ariana, Katya--lots of vowels, often ending in "a". I try to use names to try to frame period, society, ethnicity, etc. In "The Seduction of Ashtonville", which is set in 1950's rural Middle America, the main character's name is Carol, because that was a very popular name at the time. Using Tamyra would have been anachronistic. (Note that even when I pull a name out of my ass, though, it's still multi-syllabic and ends with an "a". Oy.)

lydamorehouse said...

I tend to be attracted to combining names that sound culturally very different, ala Christian El-Aref (Mouse). I particularly like to use that device in my SF because I tend to believe multiculturalism is our future.

Kelly McCullough said...

Okay, it's not always two syllable, but the As definitely have it for me and novels: Fiona, Jaena, Maria, Tasha, Amanda, Kayla, Mara, Kaija, and Riana. The exceptions so far, Diane, Cerice, and Katy.

Douglas Hulick said...

And yet, Kelly, they all still end in vowels. :)

MariAdkins said...

Do any of you have naming quirks in addition to naming methods. Things that echo through your work for example?

I've mentioned this before I believe. I write about a specific area of Kentucky where certain names are very common and over used -- first, second, and last (we're southern; we love our middle names! LOL) -- and where you won't ever hear "new names" (think Sierra or Dakota or T-Shane). So I have to be careful about the names I choose and use. My husband and SO both help with this as they grew up in the county in question (I grew up 50 miles west LOL). I do, however, have a telephone book for the area and lived there for some time, myself, and know what's common "and what ain't". ;)

But this means my people are all called Steve, Michael, Sarah, Emily, Jane, Phillip, George...

Shauna Roberts said...

Because I write fantasy and science fiction, I purposely create women's names that end with a vowel, usually an -a. That way, although the reader is faced with a bunch of names they've never seen before, at least they'll be able to tell the men and women apart.