A rose by any other name is a goldfish

My wife’s cousin recently had a baby and so we were thinking of names. Their surname is Rice so we came up with for a girl:

Ava

and a boy

Barry Matthew (shortened too Baz Matty)

Names can be fun.

Originally posted 09.05.11

Having just done some work on developing characters, I got thinking. I had fleshed this person out, given them a background, appearance, disposition, etc. and was about to sit back happily, when I realized I hadn’t given him a name.

Easy, pick a first name and surname and job done, or is it?

I am pretty sure Lord Voldemort wouldn’t have been as scary to children if he had been called Tim McFluffywuffy, although it would explain why he was so angry.

Harry himself has a relatively simple name, a common British first name and surname, so an outlandish name isn’t necessary for a successful character.

A name can imply so much, Arthur or Albert are both viewed as slightly old fashioned and traditional currently, although would be great for a WW2 drama. Jean-Michel suggests the person will have a French connection.

J.K. Rowling is actually very clever with a lot of her names, Professor Lupin (a werewolf) has the surname that is Latin for wolf, Professor Minerva McGonagall (who can transform into an owl) is named after a Roman goddess whose sacred animal was the owl.

Colin Dexter hid his character Inspector Morse’s first name till the penultimate book in the series, creating intrigue into what it might be.

I digress as usual, so does it matter what we call characters? 100% yes and 100% no.

My character could be named anything, his characteristics and how I write him are much more important, no super cool name is going to make up for bad writing.

That said a name can add to good writing, making a character memorable, unique. Calling them John Smith is fine but they may get lost in the crowd a bit.

I chose Leighton in the end for my character in case you are interested.

PS. The best name I have come across to date is Spider Jerusalem. Now that is a name with some attitude.

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