Zooming through character names
I always find it odd when I see writers talk about naming characters. It’s usually a fairly labor intensive process, involving many resources and sometimes determining the meaning of the names. In fact, I used to do something similar. I’d go through a baby name book, pick six or seven names, then start eliminating them to get the one I want.
Then I wrote a novel with 30 characters, and that changed. I could not do that on each and every character. It would have taken forever. During that book, it was slap a name on a character on the spot and done.
I think it hit me then that most readers aren’t going to notice or care that I spent a lot of time picking it for just the right reason. They’re going to be more interested in the story and what the characters do in the story.
Though I’ll admit, even with my original process of picking names, I never got why writers picked names based on the meaning of the name. If it was important in the story, it was going to be lost on a lot of readers who weren’t going to know unless it was explained in the story. I mean, what reader drops reading a novel, rushes to a baby name book to check the meaning, then goes back to read? Might be .001 percent of the readers?
Now the naming process looks more l like this:
First name: I flip through a baby name book. I’ll try the G’s today. Quick scan. There’s one. That one will work.
Last name: Depends on the ethnicity of the character. I hit a newspaper or the obituaries of the setting to see what I can find. Pick one. Done.
- Posted in: Thoughts