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Sarah Daffy

Help Naming Character

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Need help naming main character for my mystery. So far my list includes Scarlett, Erika, Nova, Genesis, Serenity, Gianna, Jade, Journee, Phoenix, Zara, Aspen, Ariella, Raven, Sierra, Azalea, Wynter, Dream, Ivory, Tiana, Olympia, Evelyn, and Honey.

 

 

:D

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The name of the character need inherently imply the character (trait, nature, habits) of the character (person). In naming there must be a creative and empowering process. That is biblical. 

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One good quote about naming characters in fiction:

 

" According to Flannery O'Connor, naming is inextricable with seeing, and seeing with truth. Inasmuch then as fiction is truth-telling, says O'Connor, "the accurate naming of the things of God" is its moral basis. Further, "accurate naming" is an artistic aim which can be met, she argues, only by "trying to see straight" {Letters 131). This accurate naming and straight seeing both depend upon a relationship with transcendence, which for her was "an unlimited God who has revealed himself specifically" and who "has a name" {Mystery 161). O'Connor's God is neither an abstract speculation nor a theological idea; he is "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," who calls each particular being by name. His own name is "I AM," the name of pure being, of "actual existence in its absolute perfection" which "stands alone as a frightening mystery at the core of reality" (Gilson 63). The name before all names is both noun and verb, complete, personal, and unlimited. Thus, "the accurate naming of the things of God" in fiction requires language which attempts to see straight to the heart of a reality known by name, by I AM." (Archer 18) 

 

Emily Archer.  "STALKING JOY": FLANNERY O'CONNOR'S ACCURATE NAMING." Christianity and Religion.  
 

Edited by Teddy
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54 minutes ago, Teddy said:

O'Connor's God is neither an abstract speculation nor a theological idea; he is "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," who calls each particular being by name.


I wouldn't get too precious about this. The operative word here is 'being.' Naming fictional characters is no more mystical than naming a faucet.

I have a naming scene in my current WIP. I don't use it to convey character, I use it to convey comedy. In the prior scene, Clay Golem won a race against a man named Djan Theel who drove a carriage with a horse named Obsidian. They agreed to a rematch and this time Djan showed up with a carriage being pulled by two horses.
 

Quote

A smattering of applause went up as Djan drove his carriage into Monarch's Plaza. This time the majestic ebony carriage with the ornate wood sides was pulled by Obsidian and another horse of his same quality. Djan piloted the rig around the fountain and I noticed that in order to get both horses and all four wheels turning, he had to slow down. Way down. Hmm.

Djan pulled up next to me. His team could barely contain their excitement, milling around and pulling against the reins in their eagerness to get out and run. The stallions were two peas in a pod, both black, both highly muscled, both aching to get to it. 

“I see Obsidian has an equally excited racing partner,” I said.

“That’s his brother,” Djan said.

“Interesting. I’ve already met the most excellent Obsidian—who’s his equally impressive brother?”

Djan smiled. “Blackie.”

 

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On good quote about naming characters in fiction:

 

" According to Flannery O'Connor, naming is inextricable with seeing, and seeing with truth. Inasmuch then as fiction is truth-telling, says O'Connor, "the accurate naming of the things of God" is its moral basis. Further, "accurate naming" is an artistic aim which can be met, she argues, only by "trying to see straight" {Letters 131). This accurate naming and straight seeing both depend upon a relationship with transcendence, which for her was "an unlimited God who has revealed himself specifically" and who "has a name" {Mystery 161). O'Connor's God is neither an abstract speculation nor a theological idea; he is "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," who calls each particular being by name. His own name is "I AM," the name of pure being, of "actual existence in its absolute perfection" which "stands alone as a frightening mystery at the core of reality" (Gilson 63). The name before all names is both noun and verb, complete, personal, and unlimited. Thus, "the accurate naming of the things of God" in fiction requires language which attempts to see straight to the heart of a reality known by name, by I AM." (Archer 18) 

 

Emily Archer.  "STALKING JOY": FLANNERY O'CONNOR'S ACCURATE NAMING." Christianity and Religion.  
 

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Even in poking fun at someone (something) is 'taking advantage of some weakness' in the character. Sacramental naming can take satirical twist, O'Connor is equally good in such art. 

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1 minute ago, Teddy said:

Even in poking fun at someone (something) is 'taking advantage of some weakness' in the character. Sacramental naming can take satirical twist, O'Connor is equally good in such art. 


In my example, there are two sibling stallions who both happen to be black, and one carriage driver who happens to be irreverent. ;) 

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Geeze, and to think I just pick at random from my extensive library.  I take the names from the book covers and without a thought I mix them up!  And voila- instant names!

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The one thing all your potential names seem to have in common us that they are unusual. I don't sense a similarity in sound or "feel" other than that. So this woman must be an unusual person. 


I'd say pick one at random and go for it. If you find later it's just not her, then you can change, but I think avoiding getting hung up on details like this will help you not get discouraged. Help you to finish up in a month, too, if you're going for that.
 

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All the philosophy of naming is pretty cool, but I pretty much just chose names at random, mainly to attempt to reflect the ethnicity of the character named. Since it's fantasy, I mostly borrowed names from two real-world cultures to do this.

Later realized mist of the characters I like have names of actual people I know, but that wasn't intentional.

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You could also look up the meanings of the names you have and choose one that fits who your character is. For example, Aspen is the name of a tree that is described as having leaves that flutter in the breeze. (I know this because I have a character named Aspen.) The aspen tree is significant in Celtic mythology and associated with the wind, communication, resurrection, and rebirth. All of these things went into my choice to name her Aspen. 

 

This usually helps me choose a name when the name eludes me, and it helps with developing the character.

 

Sometimes, I think of who the character's parents are and how they would have chosen a name. For example, one of my characters got her name from a city that was special to her parents. Parents also name children after family members or people they admire, and names also vary depending on the time period and region.

 

Names say a lot about where and who a character comes from. For example, when I think of parents who name their daughter Evelyn (one of your choices), I think of people who like classic, elegant names, while parents who name their daughter Phoenix are probably edgier and value uniqueness, and parents who name their daughter Honey probably like the cute, sweetness factor.

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Wow, name picking can be deeper than I realized! It has always been a special challenge to me to pick the perfect name for my characters; I learn something new every day! 

 

What sort of character type is this lady in your story, Sarah? 

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2 minutes ago, Erin Cook said:

What sort of character type is this lady in your story, Sarah? 

She's about 22 or 23, a detective, dark eyes and dark curly hair.

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What year does the story happen?

What are the top 100 girl's name for the year she was born?

Why did her parents pick that name?

What does her name say to you that you want it to say?

 

The first three questions help you figure out who she is beyond a simple description. The last question gives you something about her that you want to convey in the story.

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4 minutes ago, Sarah Daffy said:

The story is modern.  She's 22 or 23.

Okay, so who would her parents name her after? (I just peeked at the list of names for 1997, and had to laugh at how many were female star's names. Very funny, since my family named us after family members. I'm named after two aunts. If I was given their nicknames, instead of their legal names, my name would have been Shorty Weezie McLaughlin. xD) Parents really do expect something out of the baby when they name him/her. The name itself hints parental expectation. The baby who grows into that name generally intentionally fails for those expectations. (I think I was supposed to be a regal, timid, self-assured person, judging from my aunt's personalities. At least, Mom got "self-assured" out of me, much to her regret. :$)

 

Try it. If nothing else, it's fun. But I'm pretty sure you'll start noticing stuff about your detective that you didn't pinpoint yet, until you see who she isn't. And after that, it cuts down on your list of names to figure out who she is. Maybe you'll realize what name she deserves. But, ultimately, you'll pick out the one you want, which makes this the most fun.

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Just spitballing, but how about Rivka? It's a variant of the traditional Rebecca, but it stands out more, like some of the names you listed. 

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With five brothers, two sisters, and close to a hundred first cousins, it's hard to find a name that's unfamiliar.

 

Names carry a lot of baggage. My parents never intended for me to be addressed by my first name. I was surprised to find another person in Connecticut named after the same Mayor of Waterville, Maine, a Clayton Edwards, who also used his middle name. 

 

I was terribly disappointed when a recurring character in a major science fiction franchise had the same last name as the MC of several projects I was working on. Another was unconsciously borrowed from The Great Gatsby  I hope the changes I made fit the characters better.

 

Imagine naming characters who don't speak English, who might not even be human!

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Well, these are just wild picks, but I think either Hannah or Kara sounds like a nice name. Maybe Sylvia?

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1 minute ago, Erin Cook said:

Well, these are just wild picks, but I think either Hannah or Kara sounds like a nice name. Maybe Sylvia?

Those are good picks, but I was kind of more along the lines of a name is is uncommon and unique.

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Hmm...how about...Silia? I honestly don't know how I came up with that, but the idea just popped into my head. Or...Wyndi? It's like Wendy only spelled more uniquely. 😊

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So, I've decided on a name. . .now for a last name. Thanks everyone for your help.

Edited by Sarah Daffy
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