Sunday Night Writers’ Chat #1

I’m just going to open up the writers’ chat super early tonight, and you guys can feel free to reply at your leisure. Or just grab some popcorn and watch. Or not. Whatever makes ya happy. Here is an extremely generic picture representing a chat room. Enjoy!

Tonight’s Discussion

CHARACTER NAMES. Do you agonize over them? Do you pick them randomly from a hat? How important is the naming process to you while crafting a story? Do all of your characters’ names have meaning, or no? Discuss.

My Response: Personally, I tend to agonize over the nuances of meaning in character names to a point. I usually make sure at least part of the name, either the first name or surname, has some underlying meaning hidden within it… And beyond that I just go with something that has a good “ring” to it. I’ll always prefer a good sound over meaning when it comes to a name, if something has great meaning but just doesn’t sound right together.

Looking forward to some responses! No responses makes me sad. Don’t make me sad!

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9 thoughts on “Sunday Night Writers’ Chat #1

  1. I think I’ve only really agonised over one name myself and that was in part after discovering that name was shared with a Stars in their Eyes contestant and I forced myself to change it. Thank the NaNoWriMo community for getting me out of that five-minute pickle.

    Other than that, I just go with what works, within reason. The odd time I still have to put a fair amount of thought into, say, a foreign name so that I don’t end up looking a right pillock (one of my characters is Icelandic, for example).

    • I live in the US and had to look up “Stars in their Eyes” lol. Yeah, that’s one thing I’m always cautious of, is not to let a character’s name or personality reflect something that is already very popular. I don’t think any writers should be throwing out the name Katniss again anytime soon for example.

      On the flip side, I really enjoy using character names to subtly reference something about their personality. For example, my current novel’s MC is named Iko Nakamura. (Japanese much?) Anyway, the name Iko is said to imply – “You sense and feel much that you do not understand, and sometimes you are alarmed at your own thoughts and wonder about their origin.” This is something my character often does, reflect upon the absurdity of her own consciousness as well as the strangeness of human existence in general. Also, she’s known among her peers for being kind of a chess whiz, and the real life current US Chess Grand Master is a man by the name of Hikaru Nakamura.

      PS: Oh man. I love Icelandic names. ❤
      Thanks for the input, Jonathan!

  2. I name characters with care. Their names match traits, personality, and appearance. For example, one character in my novel is an aunt. She is taking care of her dead sister’s children. She is named Louise after Saint Louise, a patron saint of orphans.

    • Excellent. It sounds like most people try to suggest at least a hint of meaning through character names. Thanks for the input, Ms. Nine!

  3. My protagonists’ names just kind of come to me when the rest of them do, too. The last time I changed protagonist names mid-story was probably 10 years ago, and let’s face it–there was a lot more wrong with those stories than character names. Secondary characters sometimes get changed, but usually not; I like to go with my gut. I’ll change them if they resemble another character’s name [in the same story] too closely.

    • I know what you mean about them sometimes just coming to you. I have a character whose name I recently tried to change to give it meaning… and I ended up changing it back to the ultimately meaningless name because it was JUST WRONG.

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