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A Character By Any Other Name
Hello, I was wondering how important a name is? Apologies if you had this discussion already. Because it’s a trouble if your character has a common name like Sam, and they can easy relate to other character with the name Sam, and the comparison begins. But if I make it unique, my friends complained its such a ‘marysue’. Help? And thank you for everything, fycd. -Anon
As far as I’m concerned, names are desperately important. Whether because naming is the root of all language and you don’t have power over something that you can’t name, or simply because you’ll have to type this name out about 1,003 times by the end of the book, you might as well pick a good one.
What a name usually means about a person:
Normally, it reveals certain things about the namers. Most people don’t select their own names, so things like name meaning, ethnicity, birth order, etc., come from the people naming your character. Your character might love or hate their name, and it might describe them perfectly, or be totally off. Sometimes, I personally like to have a name on my characters that suits them (or not) in some way, in case people wish to look it up (Shannah disagrees vehemently, which you can read about just as soon as she’ll link it here (I can’t find it! Agh!), and this is my take, with a couple other points). Try’n make it classy, though. If your lady character has some association with darkness or nighttime that you want to play up, I had better not see Onyx Knight. Try Mel Darcy, okay? Just. Try it.
A nickname is often given by other people, later in life, and as such, will reflect their personality (or poke fun at it- like Gus and Shawn’s nickname ‘Lassie’ for Lassiter in the TV show Psych), occupation, or difficulty in name pronunciation. I find that a lot of people who move to America from… a lot of places will adopt a nickname that’s easier for us to say, because, well… we’re not held in that high esteem for pronunciation abilities and people get sick of us saying their name wrong or making fun of it.
Shannah’s got a couple naming rules that I like, such as what she dubbed The Pokemon Rule- you get ten letters for a first name. I’m not saying that it’s a hard and fast rule for always, but longer names are harder to learn and differentiate. (Also note that, while people DO run around with two middle names… I can count the ones I know on my hand). That is NOT to say that shorter names will necessarily be pronounceable. My first name, for example, has the most unpronounceability punch per letter that I have ever seen (Evvy’s my nickname). My real name is three, count them, letters long, and has been mispronounced for as long as I can remember, in new and interesting ways every time somebody sees my name in print. So, in a book, my name would be committed to memory quickly, but really awkward to talk about in groups (“I thought it was pronounced…” …”what?!”).
Now, you asked about uniqueness:
I like a mixture, based on what you want for your character. I actually have a character called ‘Sam’, because I wanted a nice, simple name that would reflect his and his family’s straightforward normalcy. Tamora Pierce (YA author) wrote that she dislikes having names in her books that someone would see and know someone of the same name in real life- what a pain if an innocent side character bears the name or your archnemesis, or weird cousin, right? So she mixes it up a bit- Thom instead of Tom, Daine instead of Diane, etc, while keeping it somewhat familiar. She’s writing medieval fantasy, and makes sure that her names work in that context. Sometimes they get fancier, but they usually shorten to something very pronounceable. (Keladry - Kel, etc). She does a great job with her names, because she keeps these things in mind when changing up her names.
How to pick a name:
There are many names. Maybe you really love a friend (don’t use their full name, legality), which is the writer equivalent of naming for a relative. (Or you name your villain for your real life antagonist, that’s fine too). I’ve got this fat baby name book that’s got the origins and meanings, which I love to flip through and make notes in. It’s also got a sort of connotations list at the front, so that you don’t name your kid something really awful for them growing up, which is helpful. Last time I named two characters, I had no clue what to call them, so I got my buddy, who loves this, to flip through and make a list of names that started with letters that I liked, or had good meanings, and then I made a short list of those and picked. There are a lot of baby name websites, and there’s always the phone book (again, don’t use the full name). You can have as much (like Doctor Who writers with anagrams) or as little (slapping ‘John’ on there cause it sounds fine) fun with this as you want.
Just keep these tips in mind, and find something that you like. You can always use a working name (boys are often ‘Jack’ until I name them) until you find the right one, or change it if it’s not working.
I hope that that helped you out!
Marlins: Florida Marlins: Three Finalists Remain for the Stadium Naming Rights
Florida Marlins: Three Finalists Remain for the Stadium Naming Rights
With the new season just underway, the Marlins are now focusing on trying to seal the deal on the name of their new stadium set to open in 2012. Originally, the ballclub had hoped to have had the deal sealed during Spring Training and then again much earlier in the offseason but there have been delays along the way. Team President David Samson told Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal …
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Image by cseeman
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If only baseball games were four innings long. If that were the case, the Washington Nationals (1-4) would be celebrating their first road victory of the season. Instead, a solid start to the game both on the hill and at the plate was quickly wiped away as the Florida Marlins (3-2) scored six runs in the fifth and sixth innings to take a 6-4 lead that they would not surrender in their 7-4 …
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Marlins, Johnson hope to continue mastery of Nats
(Sports Network) - The Washington Nationals have found success hard to come by in recent meetings with the Florida Marlins, and that’s especially been the case in games in which Josh Johnson has pitched.
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“That's my advice to young people: change your name to something absurd and live up to it.”—Thor Harris
Give me the names for things, just give me their real names,
Not what we call them, but what
They call themselves when no one’s listening—
At midnight, the moon-plated hemlocks like unstruck bells,
God wandering aimlessly elsewhere.
Their names, their secret names.
—Charles Wright, from “The Writing Life” in Appalachia (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1998)
Oh, and a quick note on naming- if you are naming a character who is from another culture, or is named in a language that you don’t speak, it’s really worthwhile to do some research before deciding on a name.
For example, here is a list of ‘Native American’ names that are quite a bit off.
Variable Naming in Objective-C and Cocoa Touch
Very few online programming guides pay attention to variable naming conventions. While it is very important to grasp OOP principles, teaching good code maintenance practice is just as valuable. Without it, your code can quickly become very hard to read and maintain.