Dawn L. Stewart
Your story idea is brilliant, the plot convoluted enough to keep any
reader guessing, the setting real enough to visit. So why the hesitation?
Ah, the characters lack names and memorable characteristics. Picking names
out of the air isn't working, so where will you find those elusive names
and the personality quirks to bring the characters alive?
Baby name books contain the meanings and origins of names as well as
pronunciation and a name's various forms, such as Anne, Ann, Anna. If
you're like me, though, you enjoy unusual names that lend flavor to a
story, particularly if the story is ethnic or "other-worldly"
like a science fiction tale. One of my favorite books is The New Age
Baby Name Book by Sue Browder, which lists over 3,000 names. One
example is a girl's name: Nunki (NOO:N-kee), which refers to The Archer, a
star in the constellation Sagittarius. Remember, just because the book
suggests names as first names doesn't mean they can't be used as last
names or even nicknames.
NUMBERS NAME GAME
character has already chosen her name (as some fictional characters tend
to do, whether you like the name or not!) and you can't quite target her
personality. You Are Your First Name by Ellin Dodge Young is a
versatile book that uses numerology to analyze over 1,000 names; and if
the name you need is not in the book, the author provides the formula for
determining any name's personality characteristics. It's easy to develop
an entire character from the lists of character traits available for each
THE STARS SPELL YOUR
Once when I had
trouble fine-tuning a character in a novel, I sought the advice of an
astrologer who worked a chart for the character. It's amazing how many
details surfaced that brought the character to life, but you don't have to
rely on an astrologer for personality analysis. Linda Goodman wrote two
wonderful books, Sun Signs and Love Signs, which translate
the movement of the stars into a universe of usable material for creating
WALK THOSE FINGERS
The telephone book
is a vast source of names. Not only does it list first, last and sometimes
middle names; it includes street and town names. I have used street names
as character names, especially when the story demands an unusual twist to
how a character is viewed. The name Greensleeve Johnson is a street name
combined with a last name. Perhaps Greensleeve Johnson is a florist. Mix
and match words to create the perfect name combination.
DON'T FORGET THE
The internet is one
of my favorite research tools where helpful information awaits the
persistent searcher. Here are a few sites to try:
WHAT'S IN A NAME
Character names are
just as important as "real life" names. So choose your
character's name with the same care you would name your child, and watch
your character grow into a "real" person.
© 1998 Dawn L. Stewart
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be
copied or used in any way without written permission from the author.
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