NaNoWriMo and Names

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Well, NaNoWriMo is off and running. I’d post a lovely participant badge if I could find the lovely participant badges, I have no idea where they’ve gone. Alas. But that’s not my point.

I’ve already changed the name of my protagonist once, and we’re on day 2. And I’m not sure the second name is going to stick. Names are important when it comes to writing.

Think about it. A name has a flavor, a sense of being. You can get a glimpse into the nature of a character simply through his or her name. There’s a weight to it. Pick the wrong name and your character isn’t the person you want her or him to be.

But let me clarify here. Characters sometimes evolve on their own and surprise you, turning out to be very, very different than you thought they were, much like people, really. In fact, good characters should be as much like real people as possible, even when they’re outlandish, like my own Aunty Ida. That’s what brings a reader closer to your fictional people.

So you can’t pretend you know your characters well when you’re just meeting them, just as you don’t know people well from the first handshake. Fine.

But the name is important. The name tells a story. And even with my second go at it, I’m not sure I have the right one. At least not yet.

Update: I got it. It’s amazing, there’s nearly an audible mental click when you find the right name. On we go.

Update 2: Thanks to queenofblank at Musings of Danielle for leaving the link to NaNoWriMo Badges!

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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7 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo and Names

  1. I totally understand about names! When you find the right one, you just know it.

    I easily lose my train of thought if I have to stop and find a name for a character. So I’ve come up with a method that works for me (for secondary characters, at least). Any character without a name gets named “Bob” until I can come back later and assign the actual one. If there are multiples I need, then its Bob1, Bob2 etc. The handy part is that, once I’ve found the right name, I just use the “find” function in Word to locate all the “Bob”s and then insert the new name. That helps me avoid the awkward usage of an old/wrong name of a character someplace that I might not catch when revising! Since I always use the same placeholder name, I can do one final check of the whole document for any instances of “Bob” to be absolutely sure they have all been taken care of. ^_^

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