Names are the essence of who a person or character are. It is their first source of identity and individuality. Bonds and relationships rely on names to solidify the connection people make in everyday life. It is the way in which someone remembers who you are, it gets someone’s attention, and it influences the way we show respect.
At the start of writing, I didn’t consider using interesting or thought-provoking names. I never understood the importance of a name given to a character. Now that I’ve written many stories, I’ve learned that the name is going to be attached to emotional baggage and can draw anger, sadness, or happiness when I read or hear it. It wasn’t until I wrote more of my fantasy books (hopefully, I’ll be able to share those in the future), that I delved into names and why they shouldn’t be chosen willy-nilly, but have a true meaning (whether for the character, or the author).
To create unique and meaningful names, I had to find a way to grasp something from thin air, and build it together. I’ve looked a little into linguistics, focusing on names and language development, but when it boils down to it, names have to be appeasing to the eye but still be easy to read and say.
I eventually found a way that gets me something different every time and it’s fun! I used to ask friends and family to assist, but it wasn’t random enough. So, now, how I make names is I determine the length I’m wanting (this is probably a mood thing, over anything else), find a number randomizer (put at 26 [I’m an English speaker]), and basically hit submit until I get the number of letters I want. Once I have my letters, I play scrabble until something rolls off the tongue.
I have to be able to say the name aloud without struggling with pronunciation. I’ve read books that it’s difficult to tell how the author wanted names to be said. There shouldn’t be confusion like that. Readability is the most important when writing. I get some neat names!
My favourite name through this process is, Jardimec, from my work-in-progress Faery Tale. It just rolls off the tongue, and it’s fun to yell or softly whisper.
What I have to remember, as a writer, is a name doesn’t need to be unique to be fascinating. Sometimes, just the story on how the name came to be is the most interesting part. Such as, when I started writing The Egyptian Heir, I was actually walking and doing my paper route (again, 13-years-old at that point). I walked by a fountain. For some reason, that fountain resonated with me. I used to speed swim and am a fish in the water. I reached out, touched it, and the Waters were created. Many characters’ names have changed during the many years from the start of my journey into writing, but the Waters’ family name has never changed.
Never forget that a name holds power!
We live in a day-and-age that technology is the go-to for convenience. Writing has evolved into something that you do in front of a screen at a desk or relaxing on a comfy couch (or bed, which is what I tend to do on a regular basis). Whatever happened to placing a pen on a piece of paper and feeling each letter coming into fruition?
Even in this digital age, I am drawn to a notebook. Is it because I can review my mistakes? Once a computer saves the latest changes, those are gone forever (I’m not a techie by any means, so I may not know the tricks). I'm someone who likes to look back, review what was originally written, and scribble out or add the right words.
Or, maybe, it's the feeling of crinkling paper as you turn the page? Maybe it's the way my pen glides across the lines, and each letter combines with the next to create a mystical world from my imagination. As a notebook writer, yes, I have a favourite pen that I feel lost without while writing.
Computers are cold and emotionless. It's so hard to write a heart wrenching scene in front of a computer. Your eyes hurt, and your characters are no longer people gallivanting around this mystical world of wonder, but they suddenly become stagnant clicks of the keyboard that carries no life in their world. I tend to struggle when giving descriptions over a computer and have to write it in a notebook just to retrieve the words I’m looking for.
Don’t get me wrong, computers are awesome space savers! The mountains of notebooks I've accumulated over the years have begun to clutter my closet in my office. Computers also make editing easier! As someone who struggles with grammar, spell check is a God Send!
I can admit that I tend to write more on a computer nowadays, because it's so easily loaded up and I have all my reference points available. If I'm experiencing writer's block, I can jump from story to story. Every writer has at least two stories on the go. Since starting to write, I probably have nine that I juggle through with ideas and will eventually complete them.
The reliance on a battery can be annoying, especially when for the life of you, the charger is no where to be found. There’s always the worry that your computer may crash. The devastation of losing over a hundred written pages is insurmountable. The trust for a computer to maintain all your life’s work without losing everything is terrifying. At least with a notebook, it takes a fire or water to destroy that.
When it's hard to focus on something, the one thing that always provides clarity is removing myself from technology and just writing without a thought of grammar, story continuity, or flow. Just write unjudgementally. That is the purest form of writing.
The big debate, computer versus notebook?
My vote is for the simplicity of a notebook! I prefer carrying around a notebook and scribbling any ideas that pop into my head.
Which do you prefer?