Monday, November 25, 2013

Character Naming Part 3: Are Significant Names Important?

In parts one and two we discussed how to first gather names and then organize lists to help you choose the perfect name for your character. However, if we jump back a little, think about this: you want to find the perfect name, but how much thought do you wish to put into your research? We all drool over and revere those creators who used something so simple as a name to convey a greater meaning; is this best for your story?

For example, though I haven't read the Harry Potter books, I know author J.K. Rowling is rather famous for her anagram names and names with a special story meaning them. Hermione is the female verson of Hermes, who in Greek mythology was the patron saint of high magic. If you've read the books or seen the movies, you'll know that the character Hermione is very gifted in her powers. Though I personally will not read Rowling's books, I have great respect for her care in the names she chose.

Another example is from the movie Inception. Nearly every character's name has a meaning, but specifically Cobb's wife; she is called Mal, which means "bad," and she was portrayed as evil in many of Cobb's dreams. A simple but significant meaning.

(**If you're interested in discovering if more of your favorite characters have significant meanings in their names, I suggest starting with The Hunger Games. There are a couple of articles written online about the characters' names, and I found it quite fascinating.)

If you've ever researched the meanings of names from different stories, it can be very inspiring, and you may find yourself pumped to do the same thing. However, I will warn you: it could hold you back.

Searching for special names with specific meanings can be a lot of fun, and also at times frustrating if you can't find a name to fit the perfect meaning. I remember one time I was developing a character name, and I spent hours trying to find the perfect name. I finally had a few names that had the right meaning, but none of them fit the character otherwise. I was exhausted, upset, and I still kept searching. Eventually, I just had to stop and search for an average name, and I ended up finding the perfect name.

Sometimes a character just doesn't want to cooperate with your grand schemes. They need simple, tried and true names. Yes, having a character name with special significance can add depth when you first discover it, but remember, adding meaning to a name for your benefit and for curious readers' benefits can be interesting, but the character himself doesn't have any idea, and it doesn't add his story.

If you enjoyed this little series on naming characters, please vote on the poll to the top right of the blog! :) (closed)

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