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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What’s in a Name

Author’s have to not only come up with all the elements of a great story but tear it apart into the appropriate pieces in order to tell the story correctly.  We have to come up with chapter titles, the book title, but also hundreds of characters.  One re-occurring question I see pop up on threads in the various writing circles I haunt, is how do you come up with the names of characters.

I like to have a list of names to choose from.  The phone book is too alphabetical and too hard to throw the right combination together that has the feel, sound, or element in the name to be the perfect name for the character.

So some time ago I started a word document with columns of random I would hear or see.  Then one day lightening struck and I got this brilliant idea.  I always would notice names of contacts, friends, acquaintances, etc.  I have Facebook, Linked-In, Google Plus, Twitter, Goodreads, Shelfari, Pinterest, and more that I a myriad of friends and contacts.  Some of the names and spellings are so original and cool and they are all in a completely random order!

So when I get bored, don’t have the time to really get into a piece of writing, or just have a couple of moments to spare, or just don’t feel like working, I browse through my contacts lists, send messages, try and connect with people.  I also copy and paste every unique, unusual name, uncommon name into one of the columns on my word document of names.  I don’t worry about first or last name, I just add it to the list.

When it comes time to give a new character a name for a book I can quickly and easily look up and down the columns and say names together until the right one sings out that resonates with the character in my head.  So friends and acquaintances as I have fairly warned and stated before many times be careful as you may very well end up in one of my books.
Have a happy and safe Fourth Of July.  American Independence Day!


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