Monday, April 11, 2011

It’s All In The Name

The most fulfilling and rewarding part of being a fiction writer for me is when the characters I’ve birthed begin to walk on their own two feet.  Once I have them firmly realized, they always speak and operate in ways I had not previously conceived.  It’s as if they begin to breathe and act of their own volition and now guide me to where they want to go instead of me forcing them into my perceptions of how they should act. Character Names Quote By C. L. Kay Old Paper Texture In the birthing phase, I reflect a lot on the type of person I want the characters to be in order to have an engaging story.  This can include personality traits, physicality, quirks, psychological state, moral code, family background, education, social status and all the rest.  Though for me, the name is most important thing.  Once I have named a character, place or group, I’ve given it a specific energy.  There is much power in a name.  I like using unusual or unlikely names for characters.  Most importantly, the name must encapsulate the aura and essence of the character.

The opening paragraph of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is Humbert Humbert’s treatise on the power of the nymphet’s name.  And let’s not neglect to mention the connotations of such a name as Humbert Humbert.  Villains’ names are the most fun for me to create.  Some of the most memorable fictional names come from villains.  Lord Voldemort, Darth Vader, Professor Moriarty. 
The act of naming gives power and life to the idea of the character.  It is akin to spiritual ceremony.  Once the Rite of the Name is complete, the subjects rise into their own authority.  While the idea of the character is the body, the name becomes the breath and blood that animates it.