A Rose By Any Other Name…Matters
What if there was a beautiful flower with delicate petals and a fragrance that made people swoon? It was known for sealing romances, repairing relationships, and conveying the concept of love. And instead of being called a Rose, it was a Picktick? Doesn’t have the same ring, does it?
Getting the proper name is something all parents have addressed. Should we pick a traditional name or a new and clever variant? What will look better on a future letterhead?
You would think names would be assigned by personality but parents normally bestow the moniker on their babe before the kid sees the light of a hospital light bulb. I wonder if the child takes on the essence of the new name or if it is just a label they get used to.
Names have impact. Melissa Sue Grayson. What does the name make you think of? A high-powered criminal attorney? Do you think she would change it to Mel Grayson to sound less frilly in a male-dominated field?
Big business has been using the implications of phonetics in branding for decades. Phonetics determine whether a product is seen as big/small, light/heavy duty, soft/hard. Using the example of Tide detergent, the T, I, and D are hard. Hard consonants infer strength. Hard vowels work the same way. A detergent named Whiff might be seen as less effective
Let’s take another example from Star Trek: Christopher Pike, Katheryn Janeway, Benjamin Sisko, Jonathan Archer, William Riker, Jean-Luc Picard, and James T. Kirk. All names of captains or first officers of starships or space bases on Star Trek. Look at all the hard K, J, and C usage in the names. These men and woman are in control, disciplined, but with enough soft sounds in the first name to be seen as compassionate.
When we name characters, the perfect combo may come upon us like a gift from the Muse. More often, we work and work to figure out how to convey personality with 26 letters matched along accepted rules of the language.
So how do we name characters? Grab the phone book? Borrow from the people around you? Baby name books? Encyclopedia? (Yes, they still exist) Or do you close your eyes and just let the character speak to you? (My personal favorite) Here is a site that might spur your imagination. http://thewritelife.com/6-creative-ways-to-name-your-fictional-characters/
Wimpy McSnively is just not going to work for someone that looks like Thor and smashes stuff like the Hulk. I see Wimpy as one of those characters you expect to be a sidekick to the real bad guy. Conversely, Mike Jackson, with all those K and J would probably be seen as more dominant.
I found a Character Name Generator that I really like. You choose ethnicity, sex, and decade (for some). It gives you a name, personality, employment, and more. http://character.namegeneratorfun.com/ It’s really fun. Kind of like character roulette. Don’t like the first pick? Press the button again.
There are many name generators out there. The fact is, you do what you need to do to get the name. Ask friends. Jot down one you see on television. I found one that intrigued me and I may still use…George Papsidera…what a wonderful name. It is so rich with ethnic history and seems so genial.
So create a checklist of places to check and don’t be afraid to jot down a name you might hear or see. Choose wisely, my friend.