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Thursday, 13 August 2009

What's In A Name?

I love names. I love unusual names. They add something extra and indefinable to a character. They can suggest all kinds of qualities or faults or social status. Even though you might think a name is just a couple of words, a story can be really enhanced if the name is apt.

Rodney Smythe-Harrington is unlikely to be a tinker, but wouldn't he be interesting if that were his occupation? Just as intriguing would be Dave Potts marrying royalty. These stories would be much better than if the situations were reversed for the two characters. Stories should carry an element of the unexpected to keep them fresh and the pages eagerly turned by the reader.

Names should be thought about and enjoyed when the ideal one occurs to you. I have heard some writers moan about choosing names, as though it were a chore. For me, it is one of my favourite aspects of writing. Once I have the name, the character can be visualised. My lovely spiv, Johnny Carpenter. My amazing pub singer in lurex, Clint Hotpants. My suave and sinister Professor Savage. Their names make them all real.

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