Writing Advice

name that character

For a while I went through a phase where I just avoided naming my characters. I could never find one that was just right, so they ended up being ‘he’ or ‘she’. Which left me feeling like a terrible parent.

I couldn’t use names of people I knew. I couldn’t use baby name databases.

Eventually I worked out that the names I liked weren’t names at all, they were verbs and adjectives and weird nouns. Names like ‘Lyre’ and ‘Kite’.

I started taking down notes about words that I liked, words that sounded like names, places that sounded like characters. I got less attached to the meaning of the name and more interested in the phonetics and the feelings.

Another tactic that I’m yet to try, I found in this Writer’s Digest article. You visit graveyards, which would be great for me since I love visiting them, and thinking up lost lives for the dead (oh, yeah, I got creepy there for a second).

I still have trouble settling on exactly the right name (which is perfectly normal), but at least now I have a lot more in my arsenal than just ‘he’ and ‘she’.

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4 thoughts on “name that character

  1. Oooh, that graveyard idea is inspiring. I’ve done writing exercises based on making up stories about people who pass by on the street, but the descriptions on gravestones (e.g. Loving father) seem like they would work as morbid writing prompts. Now I just have to convince my partner it’s not weird for us to take a day trip to take pictures of tombstones.

  2. I like the idea of jotting down names for future use because sometimes it’s so hard to think of the ‘just right’ one when you need it.
    I’m fascinated by cemeteries, too! Very nice to think we can give a new life to someone πŸ™‚

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