Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What's In A Name? A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet or would it?

Names are important.  When we find we are about to produce a child, we study names, sounding them out and trying to select just the right one, a good strong name that will carry them through life.  Since most of us know at least a few people who hate their names, I made every effort to give my children a name that they would like and as far as I know, they do.

When it comes to writing, naming our characters is also important.  Try to imagine some of your favorite literary characters from a favorite book and then think about how it might be if they had a different name.  Would Scarlett O'Hara be as vivacious or tantalizing if her name had been Betty?  Would so many fans think Harry Potter was as magical if his name had been Mortimer, Mort for short?  What if Bella Swan, heroine of the ever popular Twilight series had been named Tiffany Smith or if Edward Cullen had a more mundane sounding name like Bob Brown?

I take some time in naming my characters, striving to find a name that suits the personality that I envision.  So far, I think that I do a fair enough job - at least no readers have complained to me that they don't like the names.   Once in awhile, I just "know" the characters name but often I find myself looking up baby names, sometimes consulting the Baby Name Genie online (but that's more for sport than serious name selection - it can be rather addictive to keep making that poor genie give me names), or if it is historical, looking up popular names of the period.

Titles or book names are important too.   I think of potential names and then to be sure that no other novel is out there in the world with the same title, I run it through several search engines.   More often than you might think, another creative soul has latched onto the same great title so I have to put my thinking cap back on and try again,.

Shakespeare wrote that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet (and so would Romeo were he not Romeo called) but sometimes I wonder.

1 comment:

  1. Names are very important. I love a well named character. However, I really struggle with names. I have to use a baby name dictionary to find a good name, and then I also have to look up the meaning of the name to make sure it fits the story. Like if my hero is a cop, I don’t want to give him a name that means fragile and easily hurt. I tend to change my character’s names often. Usually, after I finish writing a novel, at least one character has been renamed.


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