SOME TIME AGO I ASKED SOME PUBLISHED AUTHORS TO GIVE MY READERS TIPS FOR BETTER WRITING.
I WOULD APPRECIATE MORE ARTICLES FROM OTHER AUTHORS TO DISPLAY ON THIS BLOG.
I HAVE WRITTEN EXTENSIVELY ON MANY OF THESE TOPICS. HOWEVER, OTHER POINTS OF VIEW ARE INVALUABLE.
THANK YOU GEORGE IVANOFF FOR THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE.
When doing school visits I’m often asked how I come up with names for my characters. I thought this would make an interesting topic for a blog post. So, here goes…
Names are important, in that they can give you an immediate first impression about a character. Names can contribute to how a reader perceives a character. So I rarely just pluck random names out of the ether. My characters’ names are always considered and chosen for a reason.
In my Gamers novels, different names have been chosen for different reasons. Let’s start with the two main characters Tark and Zyra. These teenagers inhabit a fantastical computer game world, so I wanted names that reflected that world. They couldn’t be ordinary names. They had to be fantasy names. But, I didn’t want to have names that were too long or difficult to pronounce. I wanted short simple names that worked well together (as Tark and Zyra are a team) and that would be easy to remember and pronounce. I tried out lots of different combinations and variations before finally settling on Tark and Zyra.
By contrast, the personas that Tark and Zyra take on when they enter the ‘Suburbia’ game environment needed to sound ordinary, and even a little twee, in order to match the environment. Again, they also needed to work together. I remember trying out names beginning with the same letter. I had Tim and Tina at one point… but I decided that was a bit too much. So I ended up choosing John and Tina.
With the villains, I decided that the names should reflect their characteristics. The Fat Man was named as he was because he is very fat. He is also hungry for power, so the name’s association with possible gluttony worked in nicely. The Cracker gets his named from his habit of cracking his knuckles. That name also has threatening connotations, which is appropriate for a thug.
With Princeling Galbrath, I wanted a name that sounded like it could be both a person and a place. Something a bit stuffy and regal. Again, I played around with a number of names before settling on Princling Galbrath from the Principality of Galbrath.
Then there’s the dragon and his enormous wife. I wanted them to have fairly ordinary names because, although they are far from ordinary, there is an ordinariness to their lives. They are married like ordinary people… and this extraordinary woman married her dragon all in the name of money. But I also wanted the names to be a bit old-fashioned, as the dragon was quite elderly. So I opted for Edgar the dragon and his wife Vera.
Sometimes, names can also be symbolic. The second book, Gamers’ Challenge, introduces a new character. She is part of a community of people who refuse to abide by the rules and do not play the game in which they are trapped. She is very special and the community have a great deal of hope in her being their salvation. And so, naturally, I named her Hope.
As a writer, I enjoy coming up with names for my characters. And as a reader, I enjoy considering the character names in the books I’m reading — looking at the connection between character and name. It’s lots of fun. The Harry Potter books are really good for this — there is a werewolf named Lupin; and Sirius Black is a wizard who turns into a black dog. As I said… lots of fun!
George Ivanoff is a Melbourne author and stay-at-home dad. He has written over 50 books for kids and teens, as well as many articles and short stories. He is best know for his Gamers books — teen novels set within a computer game world. The first book, Gamers’ Quest, won a 2010 Chronos Award and is on the reading lists for the Victorian and NSW Premiers’ Reading Challenges. For information about George’s writing and school visits, check out his webiste: http://georgeivanoff.com.au