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Author Topic: Creating and Naming Characters, by andone - From TMP  (Read 561 times)
« on: July 25, 2010, 09:18:51 PM »

Creating and Naming Characters
Posted by andone on July 6, 2008 at 9:40pm

Hey all the writers out there in the masque.Andy here with another discussion seeing as I'm now back and ready to write thought i'd come up with a discussion .

This one is to do with how we as writers create characters for any stories we set out to write and what advice you have for those out there like myself who tend to struggle with this aspect of writing.How does everyone do it ? Does the subject matter of the story influence the characters creation? Also how do you name characters and does the characters physical aperance tie in with their name? And what sources work best for Names?

Please share with all here how to do it and what works for you.Hope this gets a good resonse

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 Permalink Reply by Benevolent Goddess on July 7, 2008 at 12:07pm
Delete Hi there, Andy! I use a lot of sources for names. The first is actually a huge baby name book that I picked up used at a garage sale a few years ago. Also, I google "popular girls names" (and boys) and even name sites - of which there are a LOT.

With my huge story, I have to use a lot of non-everyday Anglo-American names so I end up picking an ethnicity/country and googling names - i.e. "Traditional Irish Names", finding one that I like because of the ring, the look or the meaning and going from there.

Unless it's a toss-off name for something like Story Orgy, I usually put more time than most folks do into looking for names because of my personality and the nature of my story (my names give clues about characters, if one takes time to look them up).

I always avoid names of people I know (unless it's so buried that only that the one person knows it and gets a giggle). I also always avoid using my own name, just because it gets so stale and it becomes insertion of me and my fantasy into a story, rather than a STORY. (This is called a Mary Sue in fanfiction, actually, and is *wrinkles nose* not considered to be good form.)

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 Permalink Reply by dweaver999 on July 8, 2008 at 9:58pm
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Delete Andy,

Naming characters is probably the least ammount of work that I do. I usually just pluck names that happen to float through my head. I rarely use names twice in a story and rarely twice between stories written at near the same time. Having different names helps me keep the charcters straight. One importan thing for me is the names of charcaters in sci-fi and fantasy. Those tend to be unreal names, almost random sylables, especially for aliens and other non-humans.

Now, for the characters themselves, that's an entirely different thing. I put both a lot and very little work into the characters themselves. What do I mean by that? Simply put, the charcaters are defined within the story itself. In the first chapter of a new story, you learn only a little about the characters. As you read more, you (and I) learn more. I always start with a basic concept and let them develope themselves, sort of a getting to know you idea. I've found that this leads to incredibly conplex and rich characters, ones who may have contradictions in their personalities, just like real people.

Take for example, the character of Valerie in my novel of the same name. I only decided on three things about her before I started. She was a great dancer, able to dance in all forms of ballroom and popular dance styles. She had no knowledge what so ever of BDSM (my big suspension of disbelief for that story). She was perfectly willing to engage in casual sex. By the time the first chapter was over, I discovered that she had an irrational fear of lesbian sex, that she was aroused by some things that she found unpleasant or was frightened of, and that she worked for an advertising agency. Note: I did not know those three things going into the story, I allowed them to develope. In fact, the Valerie stories (there's more coming) have a tendancy to write themselves. For example, I intended for Valerie to fall in love with Charles, but instead, she fell for Sally!

I realize that this may not help you much. Part of this process of mine was driven by a college writing education that foced me to write near perfect first drafts. My basic composision class was fifty days of writing an essay in class, turning it in, getting it back graded in time to write another. No revisions, no editting, nothing. I was taught that writing had to be done right the first time. Thus, I tend to think my stories through as I write them, since I, at least subconsciously, don't belioeve I'll be able to edit them. It helps to have a memory for obscure details, especially in my reading. The gist of this is that I rarely edit my work, and have only recently learned how to proofread my own stuff (something I suck at still). Thank God I've found a great and fast proofreader recently.

As for appearence of characters, I tend to be vague unless the story itself calls for detail. I'm a little more detailed about non-humans in sci-fi and fantasy, since the otherness of the aliens is part of the appeal of the story. Even then, it's mnore of a "they all look alike" kind of description. The only reason I included ethnicities in Valerie was to simply keep the eight people in Charles' collection of submissives straight. That's a lot easier if they all look very different!

I hope this helps some. Good luck with the writing!


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 Permalink Reply by Just Prowling on July 19, 2008 at 1:56pm
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Delete As most of you who know me, are already aware. I don't write. I translate images. The only thing I have in mind is the general direction of the story and that's about it. When the time is right the characters tell me their names, who they are and what they stand for. I don't want to have to slow down to think over it when the nature of the story will fill in the details for me, all in due time. Oddly enough though a great source for names is a baby book. We have one on our shelves for those rare occasions that we have a nameless and want to match it to the type of person they are.

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 Permalink Reply by Sonoran Mamma on July 25, 2008 at 7:23pm
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Delete Since I'm petrified of anything baby related in my house anymore (well you never know, stranger things have happened), I don't own a baby name book any longer. However, the web serves it's purpose. In fact I tend to like it better because I can also get specific and granular in my search ie: Celtic, German etc. I seldom choose names before I begin, like J, I let them evolve. That is when I even use names, some of my BDSM stories are just he/she because I like the randomness of it all. Sometimes names have different connotations for different people so I keep it anonymous on purpose.

However, that being said, in this latest endeavor the Chains book, I knew my female lead right off the bat. I took the first name from the group story I wrote in 360. I love the name, to me it's feminine but strong. Which my character needs to learn she is and can be both. Interestingly enough though, I had a name chosen for the male lead as well but changed it one or two chapters in, because the name didn't fit his evolving persona.

As a side note, I agree with both Dave and J when I say that I let my characters evolve on their own, especially with Chains. In my outline, I had the male and female leads getting involved, but as they grew, interests went elsewhere and now the female lead is getting involved with someone else, who may or may not become the male lead, I'm not sure yet (that would require that I open the darned thing and write).

Like Dave, I find it extremely difficult to self edit. To say I suck would be an understatement, I struggle with it. Thankfully I have some awesome proofers as well, and I'd be lost without them. Hell, I even have a proofer by proxy, BG hasn't even read the story yet, but she's been able to give me feedback based on conversations and has helped me steer clear of a huge error in timing.

I am also horrid with creating the physical description. I tend to leave out expressions, give details of surroundings. Maybe because when I read I tend to gloss over such things as superfluous, which isn't the greatest of maneuvers, but give me the meat n taters and leave out the garnish. I also tend to leave things vague so the reader can envision on his or her own. And of course when there's finally a screenplay, the casting director will have an easier time of it *grins*

Hope this helps somewhat.
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