Posts tagged names
Posts tagged names
I use this website for names all the time. The link leads to the last names page, but you can see the other pages in the sidebar. If you scroll for long enough, you’re bound to find something that sounds nice.
The follower of the day is bookcobra.
Here are a couple of tips to make your names more memorable.
Harry is a trochee. So is Potter. Percy and Jackson are also trochees. Snicket is a trochee, though Lemony is not (Lemony is a cretic). A trochee is a word that has more emphasis on the first syllable than the second syllable. The three syllable version is the cretic, where the stress is on the first and third syllables. Trochees are pleasing to the ear. Most common names in English are either trochees or cretics, but there are a few (Ramone, Elroy, any one-syllable name) that aren’t. Trochees make names fun and memorable, and they can be a good friend to science fiction and fantasy authors who want their odd names to eventually become familiar with the readers.
This mainly applies to names that are three or four syllables. Names that have their third syllable rhyme with their first syllable (or even have the same vowel sound) are fun to say and easy to learn. None of the names from Narnia stuck with me as much as Reepicheep, and none of the names from Star Wars stuck with me as much as Obi-Wan Kenobi. If you want names, especially science fiction and fantasy ones, that will stay with your readers, rhymes can go a long way.
Oh, and also: naming a character after a word, unless it’s a nickname, is laughable, not cool. If your character’s name is Danger Johnson, people will be able to smell the cheese from a mile away.
The follower of the day is anotherrolltoplay.
“Oh, honey, I think I’ll name our kid Icarus! Then, when he’s old enough, he’ll be sure to reach too far and then die in a tragic way!”
— the parents of many a character, apparently…
Here are my reasons for why you shouldn’t use symbolism in names. You’ll probably disagree.
It sounds deep. If you want to fill your story with every trick that you learn when analyzing novels in English class, having characters named symbolically is a must. It goes right in between “turning every character, at some point, into a being of pure angst” and “having something similar happen at every character’s death.” Which is to say, it sounds pretentious and silly.
You’re highlighting exactly how much you’re copying. You might think that if you name your character Alex, and then have him get swallowed by a whale for three days before having a religious conversion, people would say that you’re copying Jonah from the Bible. If you name him Jonah, however, the idea goes that readers will say something along the lines of “Oh. Symbolism. It’s okay, then.” This isn’t the case. By naming him Jonah, you are putting a big neon sign on the fact that you’re copying from another story.
It breaks some people’s suspension of disbelief. A mother and father name their kid Socrates? Okay. It’s not a common name, but some parents sometimes do name their kids after historical figures. Socrates is the brainiest character in the group? Well, random chance could make that happen, I guess. Socrates is a philosopher? Yeah, right. You’ve got me rolling my eyes. The government executes Socrates for his philosophy? Excuse me while I go over here and laugh. Realistically, it’s unlikely that somebody with the same name as a famous person or character would have the exact same personality and story.
If you absolutely must use symbolism in names, allow me to make a suggestion. Never, ever name your characters after people from Greek mythology or characters from Shakespeare. You are just showing everybody how much of an enormous cliche machine you are. People will see everything that happens to your character coming from a mile away. Whenever I see a character named after somebody from Greek mythology or Shakespeare, it makes me groan a little.
The follower of the day is filthandflowers.
I’ve seen “don’t use long, unpronouncable names” as a writing tip several times. However, the people who write about it never provide a good standard. Here’s my attempt.
When you name your Pokemon in the video games, you only get ten letters to do so. All 649 Pokemon have ten letters or less in their names. This may seem short, but anybody who knows Pokemon can tell you that several of the names are quite long. Alakazam, Feraligatr, and Pachirisu are examples.
If only everybody kept this in mind when designing the names of science fiction and fantasy characters.
The vast majority of your science fiction and fantasy names, both first and last, should not exceed ten letters. People are being presented with wildly new names, which are hard enough to remember when there are a lot of them. Burdening people with names like Hoogishinoakiltayinsotee is going to make to make the characters impossible to tell apart and a burden to read about. If you really like how your long name that you already have sounds, break it up and give it to several different characters.
Keep in mind the Pokemon rule when naming your characters and you’ll think of some memorable names that are easy on the brain.