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Have you ever been introduced to someone whose name
doesn’t seem to work? When something about the combination of first and last
names doesn’t sound good together? I have and it’s jarring. I went to school with
a John John and in yesterday's obituaries here were a Thomas Thompson and a Bob Olive. All I can say is, “Why?” For writers, characters’ names should
be as important as they are to prospective parents.
A good name gives a character hint. Due diligence is required.
I rooted through Google and came up with
some interesting articles. For example: according to the website
Livescience.com, the most hated boy’s names in America are Jayden, Brayden, Hayden,
Aiden, Kayden, Madison and Addison, and Nevaeh is the name most “likely to put
people’s teeth on edge.” Nevaeh is what is known as a trope—that is, “a concept
audiences will recognize and understand instantly.” A trope can be a plot
trick, a setup, a narrative or linguistics structure or, in this case, a
character type because Nevaeth is heaven spelled backwards. The name was
non-existent in the 1990s but came into popularity in 2003.
The most disliked girl’s names are Mackenzie,
McKenna and Makayla. Makayla sounds made up--as
though the bearer came from a low-income family or one of low socioeconomic status.
It’s a good trope for a writer but might well handicap the possessor’s future.
People also don’t like names which imply
virtue, such as Destiny and Hope or those that hint at violence, such as
Hunter. Michael is considered boring and Bentley smacks of being a brand name.
Mystery writer, Elizabeth Sims, has
seven rules for chose characters’ names:
1.Check the root meanings. For
example, Theodore means “gift of God.” Book buyers are smart.
2.Get your era right. The TV
show, Dynasty may have given us the
name Crystal (Krystle) but it wasn’t common before then.
3.Say them out loud or use a test-to-speech
software service such as Readplease to hear how a name sounds. Readplease has a
4.Manage your cast by using
names of varying syllables and which start with different letters.
5.Alliteration can be useful but should be used sparingly;
consider Severus Snape.
6.Be sure foreign names
and a character’s nationality match.
Other tips: avoid names that are awkward in the
possessive form, such as Ross, or have a spelling that will trick Word’s
spellcheck; names can tell the reader something about the character; be
consistent, i.e. use the name or the nickname but don’t jump back and forth;
avoid middle names. There might be many Karla Stover(s) but one person with the
name, Karla Ann Stover could sue.
The website, Be-a-better-writer.com suggests using a
name generator, which I did. For men, I
got Victor Cancel, Connor Lilly, and Alfred Charm. Suggested names for women
included, Harper Rekdal, Lolita Adams, and Kennedy Avignone. Yikes! Those are
A Master Passion - A Founder's Marriage Angelica, older sister to Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, was a piece of work. Perhaps you've met someone like her--enchanting, intelligent, daring, filled with boundless energy, bubbling over with wit. She was also a champagne tastes kind of gal who brought the party along with her, brightening any room she entered. Men and women alike adored her. She had admirers not only in America, but in France and in Britain, too, among them the leading lights of the time. The French Statesman Talleyrand, the Whig Leader, Charles Fox, the play-write Richard Brinsley Sheridan, as well as Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, and the Marquis de Lafayette were among the many luminaries who fell beneath her spell. We can no longer see the glamor in this picture of her and her first child, painted by Trumbull. Fashions in beauty change. In one letter to his father-in-law, Hamilton speaks of Angelica and his wife Elizabeth as "our b…
As a writer
I know the power of words, and I’m constantly searching for the right words to
make my stories live. But recently I discovered the word “feminism” has been
misunderstood. I had no idea until daughter Andrea received a rude response
after she admitted she was a feminist. Made me wonder, why has this word been
demonized? Dictionary.com defines feminism as “advocating social,
political, legal and economic rights for women equal to those of men.”
Merriam-Webster has a similar definition. The term feminism originated in 19 century
France, I learned. A second-wave began in the United States during the early 1960s
with Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine
Mystique. Friedan wrote this book after talking with friends, who had
given up their careers to become housewives. These women felt unfulfilled in
their domestic roles, Friedan claimed. She blamed women’s magazines, run by men,
for encouraging women to become mothers and housewives, rather than career
women. A dif…
I grew up in
an engineering family and worked many years at Boeing. There, great flying
machines are built to stay in the air for literally hours and hours and jet halfway around the world without refueling. This is well engineered
stuff. With that in
mind, I’ve always considered the human body a high maintenance machine. It is
fragile and can’t take much without breaking down. It must regenerate (sleep) for
a huge amount of its shelf-life. It requires hours of upkeep, always needs wiping
down or, over the years, completely submersed in water with gallons of soap.
The human body must be constantly refueled which produces prodigious amounts of
venting waste. This turns out to be an expensive, never ending maintenance slog.
have thunk this a good design? Not me. I’d really like a conversation with the
designer and tell him my thoughts on how the human body could be improved. But
with that conversation unlikely, I’ll have to stew over poor engineering. Let’s take
one of the abo…