Thursday, February 2, 2012

What's In a Name - Naming Your Characters

Hi There,
If you like writing or are interested in how writers name their characters, read on! And check out the cover of my new book, Dancing Daze, out in September - pretty cute, isn't it? I love the tiny ballet shoes!
Names are VERY important and I always put lots of thought into choosing them. Here are some of the names I’ve chosen for various characters in my books and why I picked that particular name:
Amy Green – My daughter’s name is Amy (Amy-Rose to be precise) and she loves the fact that Amy Green shares her name – big mummy points here. It’s one of my favourite girl’s names and it’s a name lots of girls can identify with – most people know an Amy. I added Green as I wanted a surname that again, is well known, as Amy in the books is my ‘every girl’ character, a girl that readers can hopefully relate to. Being ‘green’ also means helping the environment and Amy Green loves helping people.Her nicknames are: Ames, Green Bean, Beanie, Greenster and Bean Machine.
Remember to give your own main characters nicknames – most of us have them in real life!
Amy Green’s best friend is called Amelia Starr or ‘Mills’. She’s just that, a star, and most Amelias I know are shortened to Milly, so I thought Mills was a little bit different.
Clover Wildgust – Clover is a little bit crazy and she powers around the place like a tornado. I chose the name Clover as it’s a bit unusual but not too whacky to be unrealistic, and Wildgust is a name I found in a graveyard in Ireland. I thought it suited her perfectly as she’s just that, a wild gust of wind! Clover is always just Clover, she doesn’t have a nickname.
Graveyards are excellent places to find unusual names, or names that are particular to that region. If you are setting your book in West Cork for example, the names would be different to a book set in Dublin city, especially the surnames. I’m sure it’s the same in London and Devon for example.
Other names I’ve used (in Ask Amy Green) are Seth Stone (Amy Green’s solid as a rock boyfriend), Bailey Otis (Mills’s surfer/musician boyfriend – there’s a famous old song called Miss Otis Regrets), Nina Pickering (who never stops picking on people), and Sophie Piggott (who is a total pig!).
Funny, clever names are more memorable than ‘ordinary’ names – like Mary Smith for example, unless you are using the name to make a point eg ‘Mary Smith was a very ordinary girl, with an extraordinary secret . . .’
Some writers are brilliant at naming their characters:Derek Landy is a naming master in the horror genre – Skulduggery Pleasant, Melancholia, Ghastly Bespoke. Darren Shan also creates brilliant names – Lord Loss and Larten Crepsley.
I love Cathy Cassidy’s names too – Dizzy, Ginger, Scarlett.And Jacqueline Wilson’s – Lottie, Floss, Hetty Feather. And what about J K Rowling’s names, genius! Hagrid, Sirius Black, Albus Dumbledore. And Roald Dahl – Matilda, The BFG, Charlie Bucket. What are your favourite character names?
Happy writing and reading,
Sarah XXX