Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What's In A Name?

     What's in a name? A. LOT. Names are important. They mean something. I spend more time considering the names of my characters than I did my kids. Weird, but true. With my kids, it was a matter of finding a name my husband actually liked. With my characters, I want names that flow easily across the tongue, that suit the character who is already formed in my head, and that mean something that relates to the character.
     Almost all of the names I chose for Daze and Knights have meanings that relate to the characters themselves. Example (and I know that different name-books give different meanings, these are the ones I found): Jessica means "He sees". Alric means "Ruler of All". There are others, but if you know the meaning of the names, it kind of gives things away.
     I have a really hard time when authors use names that are unpronounceable. This happens most in fantasy or sci-fi. Sometimes these names are pronounceable, but they just don't come easily. I stumble when I read them. Example: Galbatorix from Eragon. I LOVE the name Eragon. But Galbatorix? Ugh. It's not like I can't pronounce it, but everytime I read it, it slows me down. It takes me out of the story. And that's something that no author wants.
     Another name I had a hard time with: Katniss. I think because it was just so weird. Not pretty. Reminded me of Catnip. I got used to it. But for the first book I couldn't help but cringe inwardly everytime the name passed through my head.
     Divergent also had a name I couldn't stand: Four. Four is not a name, it's a number. There's a reason his name is Four, the author explains it, but I still had a really hard time with it. I still stopped each time and thought, "his name is Four? Really???" It got easier later on as he starts to go by his real name. But still.
     So, is it just me? Am I the only one who has issues with names? Do you take time to really consider what your characters names will be? (If you don't, I suggest you do, just sayin').
     There is another post about this on a blog I follow and you can read it here.
     Completely unrelated... I'm entering Elana Johnson's contest to win "Forever" by Maggie Stiefvater (I love, love, love her). Check out that contest on her blog.


  1. Love this post. And Katniss reminded me of catnip too! Great minds think alike, right? ;) Thanks for the shout-out! :D

  2. LOL I had trouble with a lot of names from The Hunger Games at first. Peeta was always Peter said in a British accent, Prim reminded me of prim and proper, and Gale I always associated as a girl's name (even though I know it's also a guy's name). But when I started getting used to them and realizing the meaning behind them, I wouldn't change them.
    But ugh, fantasy names. Sometimes they're just too much. I love fantasy, but I don't know what the problem is using names we know. They don't have to be ordinary like John or Mary, but just something we can get used to.

  3. I had a hard time with Gale too! It's SO a girls name, I forgot about that.

    Chantele- great minds totally think alike! I read your post this morning and laughed because it was exactly what I was thinking about.

  4. Have you ever picked a character name without knowing its meaning, only to find out later that it means almost exactly what you need it to mean? I feel like that happens to me all the time.

    And I know what you mean about Galbatorix and Katniss and Four. Galbatorix always sounded like a name that was just made up on the spot, like Paolini just threw a bunch of syllables out there and hoped they stuck. Katniss.... took me a while. At least it was in first person so there wasn't a constant stream of "Katniss did this" and "Katniss did that". And to be honest, I cringed whenever "Four" came up, but as soon as we learned his real name I was wishing for the number back.

    Great post!