January 14, 2013

A Writer's Life - Countess Latisha? I don't think so.

I'm sure you will all agree that the names of fictional characters can sometimes make of break your love for a story. Just imagine stumbling over the name of your childhood nemesis which instantly makes you wish that the lovely and kindhearted heroine gets slain by hungry vampires in chapter two at the latest. Not much you can do about this other than finally make peace with the brat that glued your hair together in fourth grade. The point is, as much as names in a book are beyond the reader's influence, the writer can do a lot to avoid spoiling the joy of reading it (well, except for that childhood nemesis thing).

Every writer wants to find the perfect names for their characters, but sometimes we shouldn't give in to temptation and, say, pick the name of a close friend or maybe choose that cool-and-exotic-sounding-name of the newest Hollywood starlet. So, heed my warning or live with the result (which, trust me, might be reflected in unpleasant kind of reviews if your choices really hit rock bottom).

Let me introduce you to my cousin Amanda ...
This won't mean that much to the reader, but ten years down the road you might find yourself in a place where you wish you had picked any other name than that of your cousin who ran over your dog as she was fleeing from the scene after being caught in the act with your spouse. You get the idea. There are so many names in the world, take my advice and don't choose one simply to pay homage to that special person in your life.

My countess looks exactly like a Latisha ...
There's a time and place for everything. That includes names. Unfortunately finding modern names in historical settings isn't such an uncommon thing and it drive's me up the wall every time. It's not as though you'd write your novel without any research (I would hope), so don't stop at looking up street names in the city where your story takes place, keep on going and take a turn at people's names too.

Once there was a Gabrielle now there is a Gabysia ...
And while we're talking about times and places, there is good news about getting exceedingly creative with picking names after all. Books set in the future. Need I say more? You can practically have a field-day here.

Fellow writers, are there any additional tips you would like to include concerning the quest of finding names for characters? 
Fellow readers, have you ever stumbled upon names that spoilt the whole reading fun? Please share!

1 comment:

  1. lol, I often judge a character based on his/her name! Sometimes I just fell in love with a name because of the way it sounds, sometimes I hate it, even if I've never known someone named like this. But usually. if the book is good, a name is not enough to spoil the fun!