Name Game for NaNoWriMo

8 10 2010
The film's famous sequence where Jack sticks h...

I officially registered for NaNoWriMo yesterday and I’m totally excited about doing it this year (for the first time). I feel pretty confident that I can do it, but I know it’ll be a new challenge for me, so I’m keeping my mind open about all of the potential pitfalls that are surely going to snag me up at some point. Because I’m so inexperienced, I’m not even sure what they could be, but that’s part of the charm.

What I am doing is starting to sketch out some ideas, outline the plot and think about the characters. The latter is a big problem for me and something I seem to struggle with every time I try to write something, since most of the names I come up with are either far too common to be interesting or too heavy-handed and unusual to be believable. And I think this is a pretty normal problem to have. I want to have a regular guy in there with the usual problems, but I also want everyone to be exceptional. Jack won’t cut it. Jack is not a unique snowflake. Unless you’re Stephen King who can make a really scary, classic Jack.

So, again I’ll struggle not to name my main character George Gordon Byron or Steve, but rather I’ll agonize and stare at the paper until I find something that’s just right. But what always really strikes me as weird is that when I see other people’s character names, I find them so completely natural and I accept the names almost universally without question. Yes, I suppose if someone named a modern gothic hero Edgar Allen, I’d probably raise my eyebrows (and then laugh and toss the book in the dumpster), but that almost never happens.

I did look around and see what else was out there on the interwebs to use as a resource, coming across this article on a baby naming site. I think the most salient point here is that exotic names are for “romance novels, soap operas and strippers.” This gives me a chuckle and makes me want to write an action/adventure story about a team of zombie strippers, but I think I’ll suppress that urge (but hey, Anthea, you’re welcome to the idea if you want to run with it!).

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6 responses

8 10 2010
Anthea

LOL! I’ll keep it in mind. 🙂

I think one thing to remember is that your characters are not their names. In fact, if you want to name them MC, SC and Antagonist and then change the names later when you know them better, that is perfectly ok. 🙂

You might find this article useful: http://hollylisle.com/index.php/How-To-s/how-to-create-a-character.html

I don’t always follow her suggestion *not* to start your character with a name, but I don’t always not follow it either. 😉 I think it’s useful to have a variety of writing tools and techniques to draw on in different situations.

8 10 2010
mARTy

Congrats to joining the fun! Although NaNoWrimo can be exhausting– this writing challenge is worth all efforts. So, write as much as you can and have fun!

13 10 2010
robdougherty

I’m really looking forward to it.

10 10 2010
elirosswriter

Another NaNoWriMo action-hero-writer! Yay!! Need a writing buddy? It’s great to have a partner, but no pressure.

13 10 2010
robdougherty

Absolutely! I’ll add you today!

13 10 2010
elirosswriter

You’ll need to search for me under my WriMo moniker, Citycyclist. And that’s me who sent you a NaNo email.

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