What’s in a name?January 15, 2010 at 12:37 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
Imagine this. You are at the racetrack and two horses come out. Both look exactly the same. Same size same gait same everything. For the sake of argument lets say that they are genetically modified clones of each other. The announcer comes up and labels the first as Bandit’s creed and the second as Slow and Steady. This announcer tells you nothing else but his name but you’re already building conclusions. You will be one of two camps. You will either go for Bandit’s creed assuming that he is the fastest thing since overnight express mail or you will remember the old story of the tortoise and the hare and give Slow and Steady a chance. Without knowing anything about them you have formed a judgement on them. Now in reality horse racing is far more sophisticated but none the less a great deal of betting revolves around the name.
This is an asset that can be used to give your reader an immediate gut feeling about the character. Think about star wars. Say Jabba the hut and my mind thinks large, bubbly, and gross. Hear the name Han Solo and I think about a guy who is an individual who always follows his own way (at least initially).
You could use this phenomenon to your advantage in the opposite way. You could reverse it you it as a way to trick the reader. Remember in Buffy when we were introduced to a vampire called Angel? The reader wonders is this guy a good guy or a bad guy and you immediately have them hooked.
But names alsp clue the reader into so much more, ethnicity age, date of birth, or surprise the readers when they learn their actual data. It’s all about hooking people and getting them to think that a character will behave a certain way before ripping up their preconceptions and keeping them riveted the whole way through.
Now far be it for me to tell you that a name will be the be all or end all for a book. But next time you go through your manuscript looking at your characters names ask yourself are you using the names pre-conceptions to its greatest advantage.
So Twfities and loyal readers… How do you choose names for your characters??