Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I name thee....

First, for all those who want to know, I am fine! No rioting here in the immediate vicinity :)

Today I'd like to talk about names. Personally, I like names that are difficult to pronounce and/or pronounced differently from how they look. My own name is one of these, and in my life I have answered to many different pronunciations of it, which I mostly find funny. For a while my favourite name was Caoimhe (Kiva), but I have been persuaded that any possible future offspring would not appreciate being landed with the name.

It's different when you're writing, though. You don't really want a name that has to have its pronunciation explained, and if you do choose such a name you'll have to explain it at some point (e.g. 'Hermione' is explained in HP GoF). So I try to make the names I choose straightforward, and I try them out on people to see how they pronounce them. I still like uncommon names, though, so it's a fine balance between the obvious and the interesting.

One problem I have is names beginning with A - I have way, way too many of them. This is not just because A is the first letter in a naming dictionary - some of these names I made up myself. They pop up everywhere. In one book I originally had two of the point-of-view characters, a boyfriend, a best friend, the villain and a secondary character starting with A. It took me a long time to realise this, and then I decided to go through and change half the names so you didn't get mixed up (I was getting mixed up). For the next book, I was determined to avoid A-names altogether - but then an unexpected plot twist meant I had to have a main character with an A-name. Next book: Main characters both have names starting with A. I thought a long time about this and decided it had to be done. And yet another one (the one I've most recently been working on): two secondary characters have names beginning with A, and I did not notice this until they were in a scene together and I kept mixing up their names (they both also have n's and d's). It may not seem like a big thing, but it's surprisingly difficult to keep them apart in your head.

However hard I try, they just keep popping up.

And another thing: I keep running into people whose names I've used. In the last few months, I have met a possible flatmate, an actual flatmate and a writing buddy sharing names with different main characters, and none of the names are particularly common. One of my colleagues shares a name with a secondary character, which is really weird considering I made that name up.

Maybe these names are following me around, telling me to get writing, get writing!

Do you have any naming preferences?

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