Muddle-headed Kay (mhw) wrote,
Muddle-headed Kay
mhw

This journal has been placed in memorial status. New entries cannot be posted to it.

  • Mood:

On the Naming of Parts

Not this, which is a damn fine poem by a sorely neglected poet, but a writing thinkerdoodle.

How is it that characters get names? Someone mentioned a while back that she was feeling blocked because she didn't know the name of a character. She'd tried using an arbitrary name as a placeholder, but it wasn't working, because she knew, somehow, that it wasn't his name.

I don't seem to have a problem with names. They come in two ways: either the character introduces her- or himself, which is mightily obliging of them, or another character will refer to them by name. It's very rare for me not to know the name of someone about whom I'm going to write before I start writing about them, and if I don't, there's nearly always some periphrasis I can use fairly happily - "Joseph's tutor", "the woman with the constant air of weary disgust", "his former paramour", and so on.

So how is it that a name can be 'right' for a character? Assuming that you know their gender, their historic period, their culture, and so forth so that you can eliminate absurdities and chronoclasms, how can you be sure that someone's an Oliver and not a Raymond, a Phoebe and not an Emily? Logically, there isn't much to cohere everyone named Alan apart from the very obvious stuff, so how can you decide - if you have to - that your character's an Alan and not an Andrew?

I'd be really interested to read your thoughts on this.
Subscribe

  • Kay Dekker, 1959-2011

    I hope you've already heard this sad news, however I post here to reach those who have not heard. Kay Dekker died on the 7th July 2011, and was…

  • Thank you, and a bit of progress

    Thank you, everyone who sent messages of love and support. Very, very much appreciated, believe me! I saw Jerry, my GP, today about the mess of…

  • Easy caramelised onion and carrot chutney

    This recipe happened because of my friend Sue, who is also a volunteer at Willow View. She was enthusing to me about a sandwich that she'd had for…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic
    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 13 comments

  • Kay Dekker, 1959-2011

    I hope you've already heard this sad news, however I post here to reach those who have not heard. Kay Dekker died on the 7th July 2011, and was…

  • Thank you, and a bit of progress

    Thank you, everyone who sent messages of love and support. Very, very much appreciated, believe me! I saw Jerry, my GP, today about the mess of…

  • Easy caramelised onion and carrot chutney

    This recipe happened because of my friend Sue, who is also a volunteer at Willow View. She was enthusing to me about a sandwich that she'd had for…