Friday, April 22, 2016

Character Names

My post yesterday on my own fiction writing was about names - naming characters and all that kind of good stuff - so I thought I'd continue the trend and talk about names in books.

I think one of the greatest things about character names is how they can tell you something about the story just by hearing them. I mean, you hear names like Nobby Nobbs and Carrot Ironfounderson and you already know it's not going to be a serious book. You could also probably guess that it's fantasy. (Guards! Guards! By Terry Pratchett, to be exact.)

Or how about names like Dimity Plumleigh-Teignmott and Linette de Limmone? Sounds like fake British, upper crust, doesn't it? So guessing that it's a England setting and not exactly the one we all know isn't such a stretch, right? (Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger, in fact.)

I love how names can really set the stage for the story and the world building. How they can tell you a little bit about what your getting into.

I also definitely adore the fantasy names - especially when the author takes the time to make sure that the names fit culturally. (And I do like all those names with '-' and ''' in them. So sue me!)

But there's also a total time and place for 'normal' sounding names. I remember this sci-fi TV show I watched and even though it took place far into the distant future where human's had colonized other planets, the characters still had names like Sara and Ralph and Charlotte. I remember thinking that was really cool and it was so not what I was expecting so it messed with my preconceptions.

And that's something else that perfectly chosen names can do. You can get names that are tailor made for a character. That means something - whether it's a part of their personality or their own past. But also names can lead a person to think the character is one thing while they're something else entirely.

The fact is, I love a well chosen name. A name that works for or against the character.

Do you have a favorite type of character name? Do you prefer the simple sounding ones or the ones you have to really look at to figure out how to pronounce? A name that says something about the character or is the opposite of the character? I'd love to hear your thoughts on character names!