I can't stand introductions. I can't stand swapping names. It's a strange mixture of awkward and ordinary. It's so commonplace to ask someone their name and tell them your own. Yet it feels so unnatural.
Besides, I end up forgetting their name in like seven seconds.
So when I introduce myself to my characters, I try to take a more time with their names.
Well, unless they are an unforeseen side character. Like the guard who gets a few more lines than:
"After them! They're getting away!"
If he starts getting over important, he thinks he deserves his name in the credits.
BUT let's talk about more major characters. Characters we name intentionally. The main character. The main character's bestie. The main characters crush or love/hater. The main character's brother, mother, first dog, and car.
Basically, this is a post in which I tell you stories about how I've named some characters and then I really hope you tell me stories about your characters' names, because I'm curious/nosy and I love stories. Obviously. Stories is my game, people.
How Oddball got his name
Oddball's name is actually how Oddball came into existence. Nothing monumental. The best way to get a story idea is to do something mundane so your bored brain thinks up something weird for amusement.
I was hanging up clothes when I thought up a kid who lives on the border of Od and Bal and his name is Oddball, because he's a half breed. (Note: I didn't realize the term "half-breed" was derogatory until. . . recently. *hides face*
Apparently, I am oblivious to the world. But I still intend to use the term in my book for reasons.)
So yeah. That was the beginning of Oddball. And he thanks me very much for that.*cough*
Even characters like Shocky, Hawk's Wing, and Ratchet have reasons for their names. Oh, and Esin Trik. Say it like it's one word.
Then there's Dauntayus. . .
I slapped a name on Dauntayus. All I could think of was the Dauntless (you know, from Divergent). I have no clue why because the Dauntless have nothing to do with this character or the book, or. . .
Clearly, my mind was wandering and had decided that Dauntless = name. Just tweak it to turn it fantasy. (I haves a weird brain.) And ta-da, Dauntayus!
How I swapped characters' names and discombobulated my brain for half a lifetime
Because. . .
I like that name. Is that reason enough? Although later there is this concept with water that I added much later. But it's very minimal. Her eyes are liquid gray, like water. That's the lowdown in all it's anticlimactic glory. Rayne is Rayne just because.
There's a Terrence, Mikel, and. . . Kiwi. Kiwi is a name, alright. It's the name of a fruit. *clears throat*
Now, here's the thing. I have these two favorite characters. No, that's a lie. All of them are my favorite (which is completely possible and rational, don't argue, just keep up).
So these two characters obviously need special names. Doesn't everyone give their *favorite* characters the *best* of the names?
My favoritest male character name in the universe is Seth. But I have a Seth in this other, older
hopeless failure that will one day be resurrected WIP. I can't have two Seths. THAT WOULD REALLY MESS WITH MY BRAIN. So being a fantasy writer I settled for something that sounds like Seth.
The other name that I picked out is Sid.
So one of the favorites gets named Keth, the other Sid. This is boring Ashley. Why are you putting us through this?
The point is that I gave them the wrong names. Does it matter? Yes. Here's why.
I want the readers to feel comfortable around Character A. I want them, like Rayne, to trust this guy. I want the readers to be charmed on their first impression. In the beginning, Character A gets named Sid.
Rayne's first impression of Character B is distrust. She doesn't like this guy, doesn't understand this guy. And he appears very intimidating. I want the readers to have similar first thoughts. In the beginning, Character B is Keth.
It's just a name, Ashley. Why can't you just leave it that way?
Because I really, really want the readers to have a specific impression. And a name is another tool that will help me give that impression.
Sid is a very short name. It has that sharp 's' sound tacked to the sudden heaviness of a 'd'. It's clipped, almost harsh. If you heard someone whisper it in a dark room, it would be enough of a name that you'd be sure you heard something and yet still question if you had. Whispered in the dark, it'd nearly be a hiss.
Keth is short also. But it kind of lingers. It's a name you want to say. It has the soft 'k' twinned with an equally soft 'th'. It's pleasing to say, it's pleasing to hear. It has the essence of a feather; light weight and soft.
For a more straight forward analysis, is Keth an intimidating name? Gosh, no. Why don't I just name Character B Sue?!
So I swapped their names. It was all for the better.
Except in my head, for the longest time, I had two characters named Keth. And who in the world was Sid?
Do you intentionally name your characters to serve your story's purposes? Do you prefer names that are realistic or funny and paradoxical? Do you have any weird stories behind your characters' names?