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My two sins are the letters A and S. For some reason, I gravitate toward those letters and I have to force myself to use the rest of the alphabet. Again, this gets back to reader expectations.
If you are writing a Western and you have a hero named Giles de Givrey, it most likely won't ring true to your audience. Likewise fantasy readers aren't expecting to come across a heroine named Martha Williams. If you choose a name that breaks the rules, explain it. The above names could work, provided you let the audience know that Martha Williams fell into an enchanted tree while she was visiting a state park in Idaho and woke up in an alternate universe where she now has to battle evil to save the world.
Or Giles might be the child of French immigrants who came out west to start a new life and were then murdered by the bad guy.
Avoid the names others have made famous. Most character names are not trademarked; however, some are. But regardless of whether they've been trademarked, it's always a good idea to avoid the names that other people have made famous. Yes, Anita Blake is a common name, but readers can sometimes get defensive about seeing another author use a name one of their favorite authors made famous—in this case, Laurell K.
Hamilton's famous vampire hunter. Sometimes it happens inadvertently, but you should always try to stay away from other's territory. Likewise, try to stay on top of naming trends in your chosen genre. Certain names seem to run in cycles, and I have never really figured out why. I remember a while back the name Shea was extremely popular in the fantasy genre.
It seemed as if every book I picked up had a character named Shea. When I started writing my book Fantasy Lover, no Julians were in sight. Yet, when my book came out, it seemed to be the year of the Julian. Every book I picked up had the name in it. Use your character names to your advantage. Let them help you develop your story in other ways as well. One of the worksheets that I use in workshops asks the author to think about the character's birth order and how the parents felt about his or her birth.
In one of my novellas, I have a character named Adrian Lesley Cole who is a man. The reason he has that name is that his mother hates men and she was determined that she would not have a son.
As a result, she refused to give him a masculine name. Both the name and her feelings toward him influence their relationship and his life. How a character feels about his or her name is a goldmine of character development just waiting to happen. Never be afraid to be creative.
Remember, regardless of what you're writing, this is your world. These are your people. Make them your own. Use the following advice to help create suitable genre character names. One of the things that I find helpful whenever I'm creating a new world is to pick a culture or language to build from.
In the case of my vampire world, I use Greek as my base language for new terminology and for first and last names. It helps to build consistency, and it gives me a foundation to build from.
Case in point, my vampires are called Daimons, which is the Greek word for "demon," because they predate the origin of the word vampire.
Everything in their world comes from ancient Greece, therefore the realm of Katoteros is taken from the Greek word meaning "nether," and Kalosis is from the Greek word Kalasi meaning "hell.
The Writer’s Digest Character Naming Sourcebook (2nd Edition)
One thing I would always caution against though is using names that the reader stumbles over. Most of us read aloud in our heads. If a reader has a hard time understanding the name, you run the risk of losing him or her. However, when you create an entirely new universe or realm, your characters' names—as well as the names of the realms they inhabit—may have no direct reference to Earth or civilizations, as in the case with Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Death Gate Cycle series.
For example, the elves have lyrical names such as Agah'ran and Rees'ahn. The dwarves' names, Limbeck and Jarre, summon images of solidity and strength. One of the evil magicians, Sinistrad, has a name that instantly evokes the feeling of malevolence.
The main antagonist in the series is a magician named Xar, giving images of darkness and maliciousness. The four realms they use are Arianus airPryan fireAbarrach stoneand Chelestra water.
Reading the names of the realms, the reader has a sense of what that world is comprised of.
Eris (mythology) - Wikipedia
As you can see, when creating worlds of this type, let your mind run free using names with sounds that suggest the image you want to portray. Most horror writers tend to take the mundane and make it spooky.
To me, part of this is taking something as innocuous as naming your car Christine and turning that car with such a wholesome name into a lethal killer.CdZ - 1° OAV - La dea della discordia in 3 minuti e mezzo!
In Stephen King's epic Dark Tower series, readers automatically know they are going to be reading a "dark" book. The name gives the g character historical complexity as well as meaning for the reader. Odetta Holmes is a woman with a g dual personality, one that she is unaware of. Her alter ego, Detta Walker, gg is a tough, mean, street-smart killer. When King meshes these two m personalities into one and forces them to take on each other's attributes, the result is Susannah Dean, formal and kind a s well a s tough and street-smart.
One thing that King has brought through several of his works from The Stand to The Eyes of the Dragon to the Dark Tower series is the consistent use of the same letters R.
The constant use does not only intrigue the reader, but the implication instantly frightens, which, of course, is King's ultimate goal.
No hard, fast rules exist for naming a romance character. My personal tastes run to using a softer name for my heroines and a stronger name for my heroes. That being said, I don't always follow through with this. Romance readers seem to be open-minded about what they'll accept.
In contemporary romance, the writer can take many liberties since the names don't need to be historically accurate. When first introduced to the heroine, Dr. Kelly Ashton, the reader will picture a vibrant, spunky woman who is also intelligent and proud of it.
Regional settings often dictate the names of the people in contemporary stories. Here is where it pays to do some research. Find out what groups settled into the area. Local white pages or community phone books are an ideal resource for regional names. The surname Boudreaux might be a common name for Louisiana but would sound distinctly out of place in downtown Chicago. Armed with the knowledge of the surname origins, you can then look up the ethnic section of this book to find a larger list.
Case in point, the French settled Louisiana. Therefore when naming a Cajun character, the best place to look is under French. With historical romance, the readers do like to see traditional names of that time period, and as I have seen, if readers don't believe the name belongs, they could become irate.
Johanna Lindsey keeps her readers and characters rooted in the tumultuous Regency period with her Malory series. It is not just a matter of utilizing names that the reader will believe were used in the early nineteenth century, it also means having the correct use of titles as well as the names of residences, which reflected the owner. One of the characters in the Malory series, Anthony, is a rather handsome rake. Society knows him as Lord Anthony, a name tied to power, status, and fear.
Yet, his family calls him Tony, and the reader instantly knows that the persona Tony portrays to society is nothing like the real man, who is a jokester and charmer. Another character is Regina Ashton, niece to the Malorys. Most call her Regina, invoking the image of refined beauty and elegance, of which she is. However, one of her uncles calls her Reggie, instantly making the reader picture an imp of a girl getting into all sorts of trouble without thought to consequences.
Yet another uncle calls her Reagan, and we get an additional picture of the character, this one of a strong-willed and levelheaded woman. And as we read through the story we find that Regina is indeed all those things and more. Lindsey captures the heroine in each of the names. In the case of the protagonists, the trend seems to be for short average names such as Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan or J. Again, strong names are the norm. Readers seem to expect something catchy and smart.
In the case of W. Military writers are careful to assign their characters names that are also geographically and culturally correct. Griffin uses names that were common in high society at the time, as most of his characters were not only successful military men but also wealthy and prominent in society. The first teen books that usually come to mind are the Harry Potter series. With her spellbinding books, J. Rowling has immortalized the name Harry—a boy who starts out average but then turns out to be special.
Teens want to read about people their own age. They don't want to read about a Florence, they want to read about a Carly or a Madison. Meg Cabot has also captured teens and young girls across the country with her Princess Diaries series and heroine Mia Thermopolis. One of the premiere writers of westerns, Louis L'Amour defined the genre with his unforgettable pioneer family, the Sacketts. From Barnabas to Orrin, the names fit the characters like well-worn boots. The Old West was filled with such hard names as Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, and Doc Holliday—and readers of Western fiction have come to expect their characters to have names along those lines.
Surnames may vary; however, one must be careful to remain true to the period and history. For example, a lot of Irish people immigrated to the West but not many Russians. Agatha Christie captured the genre with her Belgian sleuth, Hercule Poirot. Hercule is a French form of Hercules, and to read that name invokes an image of a man with more strength and integrity than a normal person has. It was the perfect fit for the brilliant detective. Another example is Elizabeth Peters and her Amelia Peabody series.
The name Amelia certainly suits the brainiac Egyptologist as no other name could. Sherlock Holmes and his famous sidekick Dr. How different would the story have been if Doyle had named the characters Robert Stanley, Dr.
The erotica genre has no rules. Some readers prefer the more common names, such as Brandon and Cindy, giving rise to the idea that average, everyday people can experience erotic adventures. Others like names that have great sex appeal, like Delilah or Eve, and Slade or Tristan, which give the reader an immediate sense of sensuality and sexual prowess. You need to be careful as names not normally associated with sex and sexuality, such as Bertha or Percy, can send the reader inaccurate images of your character.
Subsequently, instead of having images of a strong, viral man they would see a scrawny, wimpy nerd. Paranormal is a genre that can take a reader from modern day Houston, Texas, to Renaissance England in the space of a few pages. It allows the writer many degrees of leniency as far as names go; however, it brings its own special restrictions. Rules of both contemporary and historical fiction apply. Since paranormal can encompass any and all genres, from Western to horror to romance to erotica, the rules of the specific genres accessed must apply.
It is perfectly acceptable, and indeed desirable, to find a heroine with the name Makayla who has traveled back in time so the reader will easily identify the character and the confusion and conflict the time travel has caused.
Again, it is usually easier to pick an ethnic basis for your nomenclature. Deciding on these names for alternate or parallel universes isn't always easy. Neither is finding the perfect name for the castle in your medieval story. If you write a historical and your character is a peer of the realm, then he needs a title, sometimes more than one.
You can't name the character's dog Muhammad Ali if your book is set in the Roman period. This is why names are so important to books. Readers have to connect on all levels—from the characters to the animals to the setting. We are known by our names, and every word in the language packs an emotional and mental wallop. Remember the power of a single word to create an image in the mind.
One of my favorite songs is written by Tal Bachman, and I use it often while teaching writing classes. You can see it vividly. People have emotional and mental associations to all words. Achilles and Samson will always be names of great strength.
Percy or Cecil will always been associated with a prissy type of man. But names also transcend the characters. If your work is set in a modern-day corporate environment, you'll have issues of liability. Even if you don't say anything negative about a company, its lawyers might be rather upset if you use its trademarked business name without permission. In my Sex Camp Diaries series, I have a publishing company.
To avoid any unpleasantries, I made it a fictional company, which I named Rose Publishing. Likewise, I seldom pick a real town to set any of my stories in, whether they are historical or contemporary.
The one rare exception is New Orleans, which I use as a setting for my vampire novels for several reasons. One, I used to live there, and two, it is a perfect atmospheric setting for the paranormal. Using an existing place is tricky unless you are extremely familiar with it. People who live there don't like to see a character go the wrong way down a one-way street. You are also limited by real-life history and culture. For that reason, I prefer to create my own realm. But that being said, Laurell K.
Hamilton has done an incredible job of bringing zombies and vampires into St. If you're like me and you want to create believable cities and towns, it's easier to base the initial layout on a town or city that you are intimately familiar with.
Then choose a name that conveys the emotion you wish the reader to connect to your place. Antarctic, 13 Connecticut, has an entirely different feel than Sun City, Connecticut, does. Greenville casts the opposite image than Dust Bowl does.
But whether you're naming people or places, there is something to be said for searching a naming book to find the exact name that matches your image. That "aha" moment when your eyes scan the page, light on a name, and the person in your head begins to call out, "That's me! Many different approaches are used in selecting names for children. The most common themes center around respect for ancestors and a deep desire to carry on the names of the ancestors.
Coupled with this is recognition of the circumstances of birth. Thus, children born on a given day may be named for that day or for the hour or the season of their birth. Many peoples in Africa also name children in honor of relatives or friends who have recently passed on so as to preserve the name and in the belief that the person has been resurrected in the newborn child. One naming system is that of the Gikuyu people in Kenya, who always name children after their relatives in a strict system.
In this system a firstborn boy is named after his paternal grandfather and a second-born boy after his maternal grandfather; girls are named in the same way after their grandmothers. Third-boms and beyond are named after their parents' brothers and sisters, again alternating between the maternal and paternal sides in the same way. This system means that a "Mugikuyu" Gikuyu person will always know both the given name and surname of a child if they know the child's sex, birth order, and the names of the child's parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles.
Hereditary surnames are not a part of native African culture, although some populations commonly use patronymics. Areas of Africa that are Muslim often use Arabic naming practices, and surnames are used in some areas heavily affected by European colonization. In some areas, a child is given a Western surname and often a first name as well when he or she enters school. Naming practices and forms depend on tribal culture, native language, local religion and colonization.
Peter Zak mystery series. Under the pen name G. Ephron, Hallie and neurop- sychologist Donald A. Hallie is one of the four writing Ephron sisters. It took us forever to name our mystery series character. Thank goodn e s s for the global find-and-replace feature in Word. Finally we settled on Peter for a first name because it's masculine but not macho. For the last name we wanted something short, strong, and easy to remember. We settled on Zak. We might have chosen differently if we'd realized that the name would have to be modified in the Dutch translations.
In Dutch, both Peter and Zak axe swear words—I believe for the same unmentionable. In fact, few people had any form of identification other than their given name.
In the century before the Norman invasion inmore and more of the English were referred to by their occupation, a distinguishing feature, or their home—for example, Aiken the Miller, Sherrard the Bald, or Aisley of York.
Anglo-Saxon parents searched hard to find distinctive names for their children, names that hadn't been used by an ancestor and weren't being used by anyone in the village or town.
To aid in this endeavor, they turned to literature and also combined words and names to form unique names. Edwyn, for example, is a combination of the prefix Ed- which means "wealthy or noble," and Wyn, which means "friend. Additionally, names can be descriptive and occupational.
Adults are seldom called by their given name except by close friends and family. It is insulting to call any parent or older person by his or her given name. Moslem names are taken from the names of the prophet Muhammad's immediate family and from the Koran.
To help in this endeavor, Muslims combine names that incorporate the necessary religious names. An Arab's complete name follows this order: Sometimes, names are shorter and are made up of some combination of the above. Nazirah, daughter of Nur, mother of Lufti. Common genitive articles are: His most recent novel of the series is The Closers. He is also the author of The Poet and its sequel The Narrows. His books have been translated into many languages and are sold worldwide.
I think the naming of characters is one of the most important elements in storytelling. If you start with the belief that your story lives or dies with character, then you begin to s e e how important a name could be.
I believe it is important that the writer never misses an opportunity to say something about character. A name is a starting point. In Hesiod's Theogony —Strife, the daughter of Night, is less kindly spoken of as she brings forth other personifications as her children: Strife whose wrath is relentless, she is the sister and companion of murderous Ares, she who is only a little thing at the first, but thereafter grows until she strides on the earth with her head striking heaven.
She then hurled down bitterness equally between both sides as she walked through the onslaught making men's pain heavier. She also has a son whom she named Strife. Enyo is mentioned in Book 5, and Zeus sends Strife to rouse the Achaeans in Book 11, of the same work. The most famous tale of Eris recounts her initiating the Trojan War by causing the Judgement of Paris. The goddesses HeraAthena and Aphrodite had been invited along with the rest of Olympus to the forced wedding of Peleus and Thetiswho would become the parents of Achillesbut Eris had been snubbed because of her troublemaking inclinations.
She therefore as mentioned at the Kypria according to Proclus as part of a plan hatched by Zeus and Themis tossed into the party the Apple of Discorda golden apple inscribed Ancient Greek: The hapless ParisPrince of Troywas appointed to select the fairest by Zeus.
The goddesses stripped naked to try to win Paris' decision, and also attempted to bribe him. Hera offered political power; Athena promised infinite wisdom; and Aphrodite tempted him with the most beautiful woman in the world: Helenwife of Menelaus of Sparta.
While Greek culture placed a greater emphasis on prowess and power, Paris chose to award the apple to Aphrodite, thereby dooming his city, which was destroyed in the war that ensued. In Nonnus ' Dionysiaca, 2. Another story of Eris includes Hera, and the love of Polytekhnos and Aedon.