What’s in a name?
There’s plenty in a name. Names have meaning. Names carry memories and culture. Names tell people about who and what you are before you are seen. There can be strength and honor is a simple name, and danger in more complex ones. But, we have to be careful with names. They can cause trouble for many. However simple or complex a name is, we all have one. As humans, we name everything from our body parts to inanimate objects and everything in between.
In writing, names take one more than just something we call something or someone. Names bring about personality to the characters and places. What catches us the most are the names of our creations. Book titles draw us to these written works like moths to a flame. Not all appeal to everyone but we each have one that calls to our soul and imagination.
Names can be anything. In one wonderful novel I had the pleasure of reading by the great Jean M. Auel, an animal was named for what he was, a wolf, but she made it known that the wolf’s name was from a particular language, not just that word in all languages. The lead character showed how much she loved the animal to give him a name and that name gave him a presence within the pages of the book.
If you haven’t guessed the name of that book with that single clue, you need to locate Mrs. Auel’s book and start reading. Each is thick but full of life built around archaeological finds in Europe.
This brings us to my own books and their titles. How did I come up with the name Society of Night and Lies for this NaNoWriMo title?
It wasn’t easy. I’ve never been able to come up with titles for books or characters so i let the story help name them and use placeholders until something suitable comes to mind. This also explains why the first character introduced isn’t named until late in the first chapter and the plot begins to show itself. Adds a bit of mystery and lets the narration build up at the pace I want.
What does this title say to you? To me, it says this book is about something not normally seen everyday. What happens there is kept secret, but even the secrets aren’t telling the whole truth. But, this probably won’t be the title that it’ll be published under unless the agents and editors think it fits that well. (Yes, I intend to actually submit this manuscript to various publishing houses once the rounds of editing, padding, and polishing are done)
A lot of my stories have placeholder names. Only Black Friday went through without a name until I was ready to do the final polish and it took a friend to help come up with the name because the story itself didn’t readily give up one. But, there is significance behind it within the story. Pick up a copy to find that significance. 😉
Even the names you give your primary and secondary characters need the same presence as what goes into the title. Sabrina’s name came naturally after I spent some time re-reading the story. Her place holder worked, but it wasn’t very suiting for the story itself. Her personality fit the name though while I was going through and correcting spellings and that was the suggestion given, so it stuck.
I don’t know how Jason got his name, but it also fits him very well. There are many names to add into this thought, but there’s not enough time to mention them. But consider these things carefully as you write or even role play your characters. Let the name give personality to your character. It will give them their first definition then the plot defines them further into someone we’ll love or hate depending on what role they play.
naming anything isn’t easy. Find your favorite naming sites and find which one jumps out at you while you think about the character. Who knows, one day, someone could come knocking on your door and asking to play that character in a movie or TV series on day.