Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How 2 Choose the Right Name

Writing Do's and Don'ts 


One of my favorite aspects of writing is the research and development of the characters, specifically imagining their backgrounds and finding the name that could capture their essence. I found a wonderful article with several excellent key points that every author should strive (or at least consider) to use within their guidelines when creating their characters and associative names.

What have been your favorite characters in your literature pleasures?

Something that I never imagined doing was actually pronouncing the name out loud. It might seem silly, but it will help you to cognitively understand the articulation of the name. I know when I was writing, within my own mind, the names looked appealing. I tend to lean toward the unique and different when it suites the character. However, the hoop of the matter was some readers felt strange when they speak to me the names of the characters and are unaware of how to articulate them. 

Have you ever been disillusioned due to a characters name?

To tackle this scenario, in other works that I have read as well, the writer will how the name should be pronounced. I have seen the technical dictionary verbiage and then I have seen where writers try to connect with their readers in manipulation of syllables and such in order to sound out the name correctly.

The first name within Going off Dreams that people tend to look at and wonder where on earth this name originated from is the main love interest - Tobar. At first I was going to nickname him Toby - and I may still go this route eventually - but, like I said, I tend to like the unique and different. 
Mainly, when researching the love interest for the complexities of the main protagonists, I wanted a male that would support her in different ways. The first noticeable way is that he has a vast knowledge of things. Which conveniently helps her since she is new within the realm, so he is able to explain things to her - ultimately gaining her trust in the process. Plus - in considering what I knew of my past relationships and from friend's as well, if I had a dime (or less) every time I've heard mentioned how they wished they didn't have to tell their men what should be known. You know, those pet peeves that can drive us up a wall; or expectations that go unfulfilled. So, I thought - it could be an attraction that Tobar (pronounced toe-bar) would ultimately know what his love interest would want or need. This comes in handy in the bedroom too! Plus, the inside joke is that he's a 'Mr.-know-it-all."

Thinking of a character that you were most attracted to, what where his/her characteristics that drew you to them?

When connecting with our target audience, I think a valid point is searching deeply in the attempt to discover what the readers will most be drawn to themselves. While some women cannot resist the 'bad boys', there are women that desperately swoon over the 'heroes' too. I considered what works drew me in completely, that I had to continue to read in order to know... The key element is that the reader has connected with the character(s). In essence, a relationship has formed from within the words that they have read and continue to pursue.

When researching the characteristic 'knowledge', that I wanted the main love interest to exhibit, now I could begin to research his name. Within the realms and in order to help the readers establish the earthly realm (reality) with other realms (fantasy); in the earthy realms more ordinary names were implemented: Eryn, Lena, Ryan, Alex, and such. In the fantasy or other realms, more unique names were researched or created, such as Tobar, Avlov, and Xylo.

Tobar's name comes from Tobar Segais, otherwise known as 'The Well of Knowledge." The next logical step for me was to read the mythology or theology behind the given lore and legends. Tobar Segais is an within the Irish mythology realm. If I needed to create more for Tobar, such as his unique weapons or the gifts he would bestow to his love, then I would read further into the mythology. 

Avlov's name and characteristics were derived from the Dutch mythology of the Witte Wieven, which I changed to White Wieven, also referred to as the 'White Witch.' The wordage also suggests a women of substantial knowledge. These attributes helped to develop Avlov's appearance and characteristics as well. Her name itself is a derivitive of Norse mythologies regarding 'seers' or referring to 'wands.' Avlov is the backward spelling of the Norse terminology. 

The Villainess of the series thus far, Xylo's name did not reach development completely until further into the drafting process. When researching names that had references to forests or the woods, her original name was Kate. But, since I have a beloved family member with this name I felt uneasy using it to create such a despicable being; even though my reality and relation to the name showed no association toward the creation.  In researching further, a root word used for 'wood' is 'xylo.' Being different of course bells and whistles that were going off told me that this would suite the filthy woodland dryad. Once I looked up how to pronounce the name, the best I could describe it is Zie (pronounce it like as if you were saying 'tie', but instead of using a 't' substitute it with a 'z' sound) Zie-lo. 

Other processes I utilized in conjunction with assigning names to the different characters involved finding sites that you could put a word in, such as 'air' or 'water' and it would generate names in relation. This process I used for both the air and water deities within the series. Aella, having meaning of air and Halia, having meaning depicted from water.

Some characters I researched further, reading more within the different mythologies. Such as with the fire bird clan, within the research it led me toward different dragon mythologies; which fascinated me. While I knew I wanted Zhou to be a shape shifting phoenix, Plamen was created as the black, liquid fire producing dragon within the clan. These were drawn more from Chinese mythology of the dragon and phoenix. Further research discovers the Chinese phoenix mythology as the Fenghuang, which was manipulated within Going off Dreams as the 'fire birds' or other fire shape shifting being's clan.

Another don't I was informed of when writing, was the complexities of multiple characters introduced within a single written work. Some of my readers have expressed that they had a hard time keeping up with all the different clans and different characters. Then again, I have had people tell me that it was not a distraction at all. Going off Dreams is the base of the series, it introduces you to the main characters. It's like saying "hello" when you first meet someone. These later installments, that are on their way, will further dive into the realms and you will build those trusted relationships with some. What I love about a lot of the characters are their personalities. It is fun to have them within my mind and express them in a way that I hope others will love them as I do and continue to.

Tomorrow: Connecting With Your Target Audience

While you're waiting - check out the first book in a "promising new series"
The second book For All in the Hope release spring 2014!