Thursday, March 24, 2011

What Character Names Tell Us. Or Don't.

At a recent creative writing meeting, our group did an exercise in choosing character names using a dictionary and thesaurus. We were given a brief description of a setting, as well as personalities and professions of various characters. The idea was to use words that were not proper nouns to fit different characters.
     A person's given name doesn't neccessarily tell anything about their personality, but it can offer some hints. If someone named Walter chooses to use his childhood nickname, "Pee Wee", or prefers others to call him "Bear", that indicates something about him.  If a man named Robert Covington Smith wants to be called Covington, but is called Bobby by all his friends and family, that says something about  his self-image and how he is seen by others. A girl whose family has always called her Princess might have always been treated like one, and that may have affected who she is as an adult. Or not.
     Names can indirectly give information, particularly about characters' families and upbringing. Families that favor ethinic or tradtional names may  have a different world view and values than a family that favors names from ancient myths or classic literature.
     A daughter being given a grandmother's maiden name shows strong roots in the culture of the Old South.   A biblical name might mean the person was raised by highly religous people.  A child could be named after a famous person that the parents respected, illuminating values and traits the parents consider important. Or not.
     A name might be chosen simply because it was great uncle Fester's name, or because parents thought it sounded pretty or dignified. Even this shows something about the character's environment and the influence it might have had.
     While a writer can use names to offer background information about characters, it may seem contrived for a  saintly character to be named Serenity or Patience, or the town's biggest flirt to have the name Chastity. Or not.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Now What?

     I've been thinking about starting a blog. So I decided to investigate how to set one up. Apparently it's pretty easy, because it seems now I have one. Not sure how that happened. And now I'm supposed to post something. Hmmm...
     My debate about blogging mostly concerned the idea that anyone would want to read what I had to say. It should be something worthwhile and worth sharing and center on things that are important to me, like writing and reading. My husband and my family are wonderful and important to me, but I'm not quite so willing about sharing them.
     I have, like everyone, read blogs that seem pointless. That seems harsh. I should say I feel they have nothing to offer me or hold my interest. I also read and follow a few blogs that are entertaining and enlightening. (My real inspiration came from The Black Ichor blog, written by one of my writing friends.) I would like mine to be like that - interesting and useful to others who love things like books and writing. That's what I will aim for.
     Before I made this leap, inadvertent as it was, I did identify a few topics I wanted to write about. My uncertainty about blogging is one of the first and so this is it. Now I just have to remember what the other things were.