If you have a sibling, especially one of the same gender, you were probably called by the wrong name from time to time. Growing up, my parents would occasionally call me by my sister’s name. I never understood why. After all, I had perfect recall of my classmate’s names. Why couldn’t my parents get two simple names right?
Then I became a mom of two boys. 😉 Enough said.
Charlie is the twentieth grandchild on my hubby’s side of the family. My mother-in-law just calls all her grandkids George.
Sometimes I want to do that with my characters. Every so often, choosing a name comes naturally, other times it takes research. I try to pick character names that have meaning for their role in the story. For example, I chose Ardan for the main character of The Stone of Kings because it means “high aspiration.” An average reader probably wouldn’t pick up on it. But for those like me who revel in detail and happen to know the meaning, we realize from the start that there might be more to this clumsy little orphan boy.
Other name selections are more personal, like Sarah McKenna from Harp Lessons. She’s a fictionalized version of myself at that age, so of course her initials had to also be SM. Grandma Maggie is my Grandma Caroline and the story of letting strangers wander into her house for tea in case they were thirsty came from Grandma Caroline about her friend Maggie. 🙂
*giggles* And then there’s George. I couldn’t think of a name when I created the character in Harp Lessons, and I didn’t have time to research something at the time, so I borrowed the trick from my mother-in-law, and simply called him George. In The Stone of Kings, Hannah’s little brother (and Ardan’s alias) is also George. And in my NaNoWriMo book (tentatively titled The Secrets of the Kennel Plantation), George is the family name for the Kennel descendants.
The benefit of naming characters in a story, is that we, as authors, happen to know the character’s story and can name them accordingly. As parents, we have no idea what our children will grow up to do. My boys are William and Charlie, named for Shakespeare and Dickens. Will either of them ever grow to be great writers? I have no idea. But hubby agreed to their names because he was thinking of William Wallace and Charles Ingalls. I’ll be proud of them no matter what they choose to do with their lives as long as they live honorably. Personally, my mom happened to be watching Family Feud just before I was born and thought that the contestant named Shea had a pretty name. 😉
Do you look for meanings in names? Were you named for someone famous? Were you named for family? Have you ever looked up the meaning of your name and found that it totally described you? Does it not describe you at all? If you’re an author, do you have a particular method for choosing your character names?
Words certainly count for a lot, but I’d have to say storyline. And even then, if something turns me off I shut the book. Conversely, if I really love the storyline, I’ll read it again and again. So I guess I’ll talk about the repeat favorites.
As a kid, my favorite book was The Secret Garden. I loved how the magic of a simple neglected garden could benefit the lives of two neglected children. Burnett didn’t even have to mention it, but you could feel Lily’s spirit helping her son and niece become happier and healthier children. Personally, I don’t believe in ghosts but it’s fun to dream about them.
A Christmas Carol is another favorite. Another ghost story. Go figure. I suppose it’s nice to think of a spirit giving us a gentle nudge (or in Scrooge’s case not so gentle) in the right direction. But I’ve also favored books such as Pride and Prejudice, where a girl doesn’t give up her values and marry for money just because her family is in a bind. I was going to list Jane Eyre and The Lord of the Rings, separately, but as odd as it is to lump them together they are both classic underdog stories. I’ve always loved the underdog.
Speaking of underdogs, Harry Potter is another favorite, but more so because of the lesson against bigotry that the books teach. A less epic, but more grown up version of this theme can be found in By the Light of the Moon. I love how the course of the story forces the characters to realize just how strongly they detest bigotry. The bonus in BTLOTM, is the words. Koontz is very descriptive, but I especially enjoy how poetic he seems to get during the more intense scenes.
One of the more frustrating books that I shut? Love In the Time of Cholera. I was enjoying the plot of life on a sugar plantation, but then it turned into page after page of details with prostitutes. What? Okay, really, I didn’t need that. Just a small description of how he went philandering, so I can get back to the plot that drew me in. Ugh. Never finished it.
NaNo word count: 18,912 lol, don’t think I’m gonna make 50,000 by November 30th, but I’m loving how my plot is going. At least it’s been circumstances that keep me from writing and not writer’s block. 🙂 I’ll keep pushing though, to see how much I can manage this month.
I don’t have a pet right now, but am thinking about getting a guinea pig since I miss having a fuzzy animal curled in my lap when I read or write (hubby’s allergic to cats 😦 ). The following is what I imagine what GP and I will talk about:
I walk over to GP’s cage and undo the latch. “Wanna cuddle on my lap for a while?”
GP stays put in the far corner and says, “Nah, I was thinking about taking a nap.”
I give her an incredulous stare. “Seriously? You just woke up.”
“I wasn’t sleeping. I read somewhere that some insomnia is caused by the eyelids’ inability to close. I was just testing mine.”
“You made that up.”
GP looks at a random point past my shoulder. “No, I didn’t.”
“C’mon, there’s shredded carrot in it for ya.”
GP scoots her wiggly butt over to the door and allows me to carry her to the desk. I pass her some carrot and she asks, “So, since I’m going to stay awake anyway, whacha writing?”
“A blog post.”
“You’re not much on elaboration, are you? Are you sure anyone is going to read this post of yours?”
“Maybe. It doesn’t matter yet.”
GP coughs on her carrot. “Doesn’t matter? Honey, I don’t do anything unless there is an incentive. If it doesn’t matter, then why do it?”
“Well, it doesn’t matter that hundreds of people read it. What matters is that it’s going to help me become a better writer.”
“What kind of writer do you want to be?”
“I want to change the way society thinks for the better. Kind of like Harriet Beecher Stowe or Charles Dickens. It’s part of the meaning of life for me.”
“I thought the meaning of life was forty-two.”
“Go to sleep GP.”
“Ah! Now that’s something I can understand.” GP promptly closes her eyes and begins to purr as I stroke her ginger fur.