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First of all, I freely admit that what I say isn't gospel. I am a total amateur at art and writing. I've learned everything that I know via the internet and a few drawing books. It's just that I appreciate all of the tutorials here on dA that have helped me out, and I want to put a little bit of my own methods back in.


First things first; I have a quick, but essential assignment for you.  Read the following three sentences below, out loud:

A weird name does not a unique character make.
A weird name does not a memorable character make.
A weird name does not a good character make.


Say it.  Say it twice.  Say it three times if you must.  I wish someone had made me do it years ago.  You must remember that the reason that I write these tutorials isn't because my writing is super-duper-perfect now.  It's because it used to be absolutely ATROCIOUS, just plain awful.  I've made most, if not all of the mistakes that I talk about, and I had to learn the hard way how to fix them.  Here, I hope to teach you in a few minutes what took me years to learn.

**********************************************

So what is a name?  Technically put, it's the series of symbols that allows your reader to identify which character your piece is referring to.  Emotionally put, it's where readers direct their affection and connection to your character.  There are names that make my heart skip a beat when I see or hear them, not because they're anything special, but because those people/characters mean a whole lot to me.  A name is the essence of a character's soul and being!  It's the purest form of character expression! So names are super-important, right?!

Well… yes and no.  Yes, a name can provide a facet into which you can cram all sorts of symbolism and surprisingly detailed information about a character.  But at the same time, you can do those same things through other methods.  To be honest, a name may be the LEAST useful or important part of a character.  When I name mine, it's usually extremely late in the character creation process and very open to sudden change, unless I have a specific meaning that I want to put into it.  Names are tools, not character traits.  Now that I'm climbing off of my soapbox (sorry), let's get started and I'll give you some concepts to consider when naming that special character.


Structure: Length and Pronunciation

When naming your character, think of their name as a balancing scale.  On one side, you have a heavy rock, which represents your audience's tolerance level (a stupid/pretentious name will irritate them).  On the other side, you have your character's full name (first, middles, last, titles).  They are perfectly balanced, and you want to keep them as close to balancing as possible.  It is ok if the rock weighs more than the name, but not if the name is more than the rock.  To put it simply, it is ok if the audience's tolerance is higher than the super-duper specialness of the name.  You don't want to go past what the audience can tolerate.  I'll use this concept several times throughout this tutorial because a good name is all about balance between its parts so that they can work together as a whole.

Length is one thing to consider when you make a name.  How many names will your character have?  Two or three names are standard, a first and a last or a first, middle, and last.  These structures make the name lighter.  More names usually add a lot of weight, since most people don't do this without a very good reason.  


Implausible: Robert Reginald Wallace Duncan Emerson Nicholas White
Plausible: Robert Duncan White



However, certain cultures, like the Hispanic culture, sometimes tend to give their children multiple middle names.  If your character belongs to such a culture, these names add only a tiny bit of weight that can easily be balanced out in other areas.  Doing this is not just an easy fix; you need to know why each name is there and why it is exactly as it is (are they passed down, family names, etc?).  Research the actual naming customs.  Just don't go too overboard with the number or expect the reader to remember them all, a reader can only do so much.


Plausible: Javier Raymundo Roberto Fernandez, King Charles James Robert Williams III


Another length to watch is within each name itself.  Long names add weight and short names detract weight.  A reader will have an easier time reading and remembering Annie than Annnsolviarialsa (a name I just made up).  Fewer syllables are typically better.  Popular names like Alexandria, Alexander, Maxwell, William, and Elizabeth get a pass because they usually have a shorter nickname (Lexi, Alex, Max, Will, Bill, Liza) and because they are familiar in America and Europe.  If you want to make one of your character's names long, it is a good idea to keep the rest on the short side or (if it's a first name) have a common nickname for it.  Also, keep the pronunciation of the name in mind.  A reader tends to get frustrated if a name is hard to pronounce, since that makes it harder to say the name in their mind as they read or when they say it out loud.  Generally, simpler is better.


Implausible: Anastasia Somprasova Mullivanovna
Plausible: Anna Silvia Mullivanovna, Anastasia Silvia Musser, Anna Somprasova Musser



Structure: Additional Notes on the Nickname

Nicknames are useful tools that can take away a lot of "weight" from a name, but should be used with great care, lest improper use make them add a lot of weight.
  1. Common nicknames are easy to use and hardly stretch tolerance.  Calling someone named Nicholas "Nick" is highly familiar, and it probably won't even register in the mind of the reader.  Alex for Alexander, Ellie for Eleanor, this type is easy and simple to use.  Just don't abuse it too much, not everyone will have a name like this (Jack, Rachael, Silvia, Roger).
  2. Some people prefer their middle name to their first name.  This is highly uncommon, so use this extremely sparingly.   I've only ever known two people like this.  Usually the first name in this case is outdated, like Bertrand or Ernest.  They pick their middle name, which is short (often just one syllable) and nothing extremely wacky in this case) for both ease and/or to keep from being teased.  These people are usually pretty pissed off that their parents named them that, and will almost never mention their real name on their own.  The only way other people find out is when they have to sign official documents, are talking to family that still calls them their real name, or are being referred to by someone who doesn't know them but knows their name (hello, substitute teachers!).  Keep it subtle, and it should go fine.
  3. Many families have "pet names" for their family members as a sign of affection.  These nicknames are typically those of endearment or cuteness.  Grandparents also sometimes have special nicknames that are easier to say than Grandpa or Grandma, usually created by their young grandchildren.  Used within the family, these have no weight.
  4. "Wacky" nicknames can be difficult to pull off in a story, again because they're not very common.  Calling someone "Sparks" or "Speedy" can add a lot of "weight" because we as the audience are probably unfamiliar with this situation.  First of all, it's a good idea to keep the nickname one syllable long.  This makes it easier to say than the real name.  Second, make sure that the nickname makes a lot of sense.  A character has to really EARN that nickname, don't just half-ass it.  Third, consider the person who gave the character their nickname.  Does it make sense that this person feels that they have the right to rename someone?  Is your character the type of person that would allow this renaming to happen to them?  Use this extremely sparingly or not at all.



Plain Jane vs Crazy Mazie:  The Attributes of the Plain and Strange Name Types

When I began digital painting, I wasn't very good.  My colors were always off, and I couldn't understand why they never looked as colorful as other artists'.  Then, I received some advice that changed my entire outlook on colors: I was only using bright, highly saturated, garish colors.  Pieces that were more colorful than mine used a lot of duller colors in conjunction with the brighter ones.  In short, they used balance.

The same concept can be said to apply to names.  Weird names are bright and highly saturated and plain names are dull.  Many times, I'll see so many weird names in a story that it stretches my suspension of disbelief and makes me roll my eyes.  Grab a book near you that you really, really, like (nothing from another culture, it must be from your own).  How many of those names are plain and how many are strange?  Odds are that a lot more than you thought are going to be plain.  I just did it myself with a book that I absolutely adore, and the names I got were John, David, and Amy (super-special bonus points if you can guess the book).  Plain names are a tool, as are weird names, and it is a good idea to learn how to use them.

Plain names:
  • Make your character more of an "everyman"
  • Make your character more relatable
  • Make the audience believe in your world more, since they are familiar with its naming customs
  • Downplay your character's super-duper specialness (makes the audience happier)


Weird names:
  • Make the name a bit more memorable (not always though)
  • Inform on the culture or time period and can make it seem strange or surreal
  • Give insight into the minds of the parents who named the character
  • Play up your character's super-duper specialness (can irritate the audience if you're not careful)


As you can see, plain names have a lot of good qualities to them because your audience will be more familiar with them.  Your character is more like them and is therefore more relatable and believable.  Weird names can be memorable and can give insight into the culture that the character lives in (especially fantasy cultures).  Also know that characters don't pick their own names.  Therefore, a name says much more about the parents of the character instead of the character themselves.  Keep this in mind when thinking that a name says a lot about a certain character.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that weird names may irritate the audience.  If you go too far, your audience WILL notice and will roll their eyes.  An exceedingly weird name says "Hey, look at me! I'm so unique!" when the author should be able to convey that through good storytelling instead.  But that's not to say that you can't use weird names at all! How boring would that be?

One of my favorite things to do is to save the weird name for the surname.  It's less imposing and up front than the first name, and there are traditionally much stranger surnames floating around than first names.  You can get a good balance in this way; you can be a bit creative, but lose very little relatability and therefore add very little "weight" to the scale.


Symbolism in Names: An Unexpected Minefield

Let me go ahead and be up front about instances when people use symbolism in names: most of the time, it's done absolutely awfully.  Either it is far too obvious or is done for little reason.  

Naming a character "Raven" to symbolize her dark traumatic soul is so obvious that it is a little disgusting.  The same thing is true of naming them after a real-life person.  Naming your super-duper-dark-special character Poe will not make them as awesome as the real guy was.  Your readers are smarter than all of this; it should take a little work to figure out what the name symbolizes.  There's also another thing that bothers me.  Behold, an exchange that makes me want to facepalm:


Me:  So what is your character's name?

Bad Namer:  Her name is Bella! I named her that because it means beautiful in Italian!

Me:  So why did you name her that then?  Is her family Italian?  Do you use her to prove a point about beauty or to show a way that beauty plays a role in the theme in your story?

Bad Namer:  Um… well, I guess she might be Italian or something, I dunno…

Me:  *facepalm*



Look, there's nothing wrong at all with just liking a name and using it.  But don't explain the symbolism behind the name if you're not going to DO anything with it.  If you explore the role of beauty in our society with a character that is a beautiful girl named Bella, go right ahead, you seem to know what you are doing.  The character of Bella in this story represents beauty, so her symbolic name is fitting.  But don't go spouting symbolism and making yourself look all deep and stuff if you're not really going to be deep in the story.  If I had a nickel for every time I've read a name that was just "flower" or "beautiful" or something like that in another language, I would be able to buy the world and make it illegal to do that ever again.  If you just like the name, just say so and don't pretend that there's anything more behind it.  To sum it up, if you don't know why you made a name symbolic, don't say that it is symbolic.


Fun Fact: Awful symbolism also makes pandas cry.  And this is symbolic of my symbolic tears of sad symbolic symbolism.


(Whoops, how did I end up back here on the soapbox?  Sorry about that, that happens when I start talking about a pet peeve.  I'd better get down from here…).


Keeping it Consistent

I shouldn't have to include this bit, but make sure that the names that you are choosing are appropriate for the place, time, race, and culture for the family.  You won't have a white girl named Sakura in middle-class America (unless you're writing it in a comedic fashion).  Do a little research and remember: the census will become one of your very best friends.


Own That Name

Remember that your character doesn't get to pick their birth name.  Also remember that the world is a cruel, cruel place and that hell is small children.  Kids with weird names (for their society) will likely be mocked for them, and may come to resent their super-cool name.  Figure out how a weird name will affect your character, and don't be afraid to poke fun at it!  Names have lifetime effects, especially the weird ones.  Don't shirk your responsibilities if that's the route that you intend to go.

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Of course, not every rule will apply to you.  There are too many genres, too many ideas, and too many individual cases for all of these to apply to everyone.  Think of these as strong suggestions.  If you feel you have a good reason to break these, go right ahead.  Rules are there to be broken, but only by those who understand the rules more than anyone else.  Most of all, relax.  You can do it.  I'm willing to bet that if you're the kind who cares enough about improvement to read a five page rant on names, you'll end up being a good enough writer that you can make a character that is more than superficially interesting.  And with that I'll leave you with my usual ending disclaimer:



Never, ever forget: I might be wrong. I try not to be, but nobody's perfect. Art is one giant matter of opinion. Feel totally free to disagree or to only utilize the bits that you agree with. If you found this helpful, disagree with me, or just prefer another method to my own, feel free to tell me about it in the comments. After all, I'm here to learn too.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconstettafire:
Stettafire Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Awesome:)
I really struggle to name my charcters, but recently I have started naming my charcters after random people I've met, for example my latest character is called Stephanie, but her nickname is Steph, and one charcter accidenlty calls her Seph, beacuse that is a commen name where that charcter is from:)
I need to get back to my writing now :P
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:icondragoeniex:
dragoeniex Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2014
I took a creative writing class in college last semester for fun. You have no idea how disappointed I was when I found out that half the class had never heard of and could not pronounce the name "Amos." (Used for an older-ish mentor character.) D8 Sure it's not common nowadays, but... come on! Surely they've at least seen the Famous Amos cookies in vending machines.

These are all very nice tips to keep in mind when naming a character. An unusual name has to be warranted and/or rare, in my opinion.

(My most grievous example is having a character called Jared in an Eastern culture, while his brother is named Long. It seemed to fit, though. And it came about because his brother, when small, couldn't say "Jau Ret." ... I still only use him in personal works that don't get posted for public to view. ^^; )
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:iconalishatano:
AlishaTano Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Wow, this is a really helpful list! A few of my Fanfiction characters have unusual names for their cultures, but they were immigrated. For example...a character set in 19'th center England is actually named Sakura. (Oh great, now I'm seriously worrying if it's even plausible, even though she's supposed to have an English nickname...)
Sweating a little...

For a Star Wars OC of mine, I got the correct culture (Indian) completely by chance... I wanted the name "Alisha," partially because of its meaning "brave" and "noble", and originally just because I liked the simplicity.
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:iconstarlaandgilbird:
StarlaAndGilbird Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Are special first names like Aloe and Mist okay if they're not too frequent?
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:iconsouleyo:
Souleyo Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2014
This tutorial is very useful thank you!
It's helped me create some neat characters for my English Exam

But it makes me somewhat confused about my own characters name, since it's not a regular name although I do have an explanation for it
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
What's the character's name?
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:iconaircatskylion:
AircatSkylion Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Found this tutorial really interesting, especially as I often stray into bad naming habits myself. (These are usually caused by my obsession with typfaces; I'll rarely pick a name that I don't like the look of in the typeface I'm writing in, or deliberately pick one that has a certain letter or letter combination I like in it). 

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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I get what you mean about typefaces, I've lost entire afternoons browsing fonts online ;)
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:iconaircatskylion:
AircatSkylion Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
My family just have to get used to me going 'Oh look, Bembo' and 'doesn't that Garamond look nice?' XD
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I once had a moral dilemma when a friend of mine designed a shirt using Comic Sans as the font.
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:iconaircatskylion:
AircatSkylion Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Sounds difficult to deal with. Most of my friends are aware of my Comic Sans hate, and if they aren't I let them know. 
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:iconcakwe:
cakwe Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2014
Interesting, a great article. I really like the comparison of "dull" and "saturated" names, never thought of it that way.

Nearing the end--the Own That Name section--I got reminded of a comedic anime series called Servant x Service, where the main character loathes her name given by her parents. Her real name, or least part of the name she could mention, is Lucy Kimiko Akie Airi Shiori Rinne Yoshiho Ayano Tomika Chitose Sanae Mikiko Ichika...somethingsomethingsomething Yamagami. :rofl:
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
That's pretty funny XD  I don't really understand when writers do that in what's supposed to be a serious work!
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:iconliettore:
Liettore Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Lovely tutorial. You have some very good advice that I will definitely be following up on in the not too distant future. 
I do have an issue with giving my characters common names... I have no clue why it bugs me, but I just don't like it. I want them to be different. So I give them names like Kinnereth, Memphis, Blaise, Fabian, Zenden, Auzurey, and Essifire, which makes me a sinner of the weird names category... I've tried to balance it out with names like Austin, Simon, Adrian, Jesse, Laura, and Rubie, but I'm finding that most of my characters have outrageous names, and I love them too much to change them. What do I do?
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:icondragoeniex:
dragoeniex Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2014
Kenneth, Markus (Mark for short unless super formal?), Blake (for a girl or boy), Ian, Brendan, and Aurelia (bit special) perhaps? I'm not sure about Essifire. I can't guess the gender there, and it sounds like it's from a mythical or fantasy type culture.
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:iconliettore:
Liettore Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, Essifire is a totally made-up name, but the character is female. 

Thank you for your help. :) I'm trying to use more common names. I think I'm getting better with the whole thing. :XD:
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:icondragoeniex:
dragoeniex Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2014
No worries. :) And hey, it sounds like you really enjoy finding names that are fun to say. I approve of that! :nod: You can still have rhythmic realistic names that sound unique. Playing with culture can help too.

For a practice short story on here, I had Whit Merin and Jack Hopper as main characters. You can probably guess which one was the everyman and which is from a more refined background. And sometimes I indulge myself with something like Hollin Becker- meant to be a pirate legend fellow.

Essifire sounds like the name of a spell or a sought-after relic. Maybe you can still find somewhere to use it?
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I recommend figuring out what sounds and letters you like from each name and finding a more common name that shares those sounds.  There's a lot of good websites out there to browse names, I personally recommend using census data.
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:iconliettore:
Liettore Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh... that does make sense. I think I'm going to try that. Thank you!
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Glad I could help!  Good luck with those names!
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:iconteen-lyoko-fan7777:
Teen-Lyoko-Fan7777 Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2014  Student General Artist
Are these two names okay:
Rita Danielle María Rodriguez
Thomas Howell
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
The second sounds absolutely nice.  The "Danielle" in the first name sticks out a bit too much to me though, since it's a French name (I believe) while the rest of the names are Spanish.  It just breaks the flow of the name and doesn't make much sense.  Of course, I don't know everything about the character's background, so make of that what you will.
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:iconteen-lyoko-fan7777:
Teen-Lyoko-Fan7777 Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Student General Artist
Is it okay if I show you my story (still in progress and will be done when I get it done) and have you critique on it so far. It's 17-18 pages on Wattpad (63 pages in MS word). I could save it as a PDF and show it to you.
Reply
:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I unfortunately don't think I'll be able to commit to such a huge task, since the new semester is starting up and I'll have a lot of work to do soon.

However, I'd still like to help in any way that I can.  Perhaps you could write me a condensed summary of your plot so far?  It can be as long as you like, just hopefully not 63 pages long!  Maybe around 10 pages or so could be a good length?  That way I could get a good overview of what your story is and still be able to help you.  Also, you can include specific quotes if there's something that you'd like me to look at verbatim.  You could also include some specific questions in certain areas that you have for me.  I'd love to help you if I can!
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:iconteen-lyoko-fan7777:
Teen-Lyoko-Fan7777 Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Student General Artist
teen-lyoko-fan7777.deviantart.…
I'm not good at summaries yet.
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Any summary would be absolutely fine.  I just can't commit to such a large piece with the new semester coming up, I only have so much time.
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:iconteen-lyoko-fan7777:
Teen-Lyoko-Fan7777 Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Student General Artist
Will you have time during spring break or this summer? Please? I would love a critique.
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I honestly don't know.  I usually travel a lot over breaks and spend time with family, and something so long would take me weeks.  Please, I want to help you, but I need a summary instead.  Maybe writing a summary could even be a good exercise so that you can define to yourself exactly what is going on.  What troubles do you have with writing summaries?  Maybe I could give you a few tips?
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(1 Reply)
:iconcassy-blue:
Cassy-Blue Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2014   General Artist
Great tutorial. I'm going to save this one for when to direct people to if they're having issues with names and need help. I'm awful with the symbolism thing. I do it unconsciously. Like I have an Eve and she's the source of all trouble in the story. On top of it her name's Eve Adams. Just shoot me now. I didn't even realize it until my friend pointed it out. XD
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Ha, that's pretty funny XD  Guess that's why it's good to have a friend to read your stuff over!  Glad you liked the tutorial!
Reply
:iconcassy-blue:
Cassy-Blue Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014   General Artist
second eyes are always good
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:iconproofrockpilchard:
ProofrockPilchard Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2014
A friend of mine was asking me what the protagonist of her book should be called, and I suggested Sorokin, because I had been reading about Pitirim Sorokin, and I liked the name. So my friend researched 'Sorokin' and found that it is derived from 'soroka', which means magpie. As it turns out, it suited the character perfectly because she is a thief, very much like a magpie.

I quite like this tutorial - especially the part on symbolism - because I see too many instances in which a character has a name that means nothing in relation to them, and it is truly maddening. Thank you. :)
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
No prob, the symbolism thing bothers me a lot too, especially when it's just there so that the author can prove that they learned what a symbol was in high school.  Glad you liked the tutorial!
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:iconmeme2mimi:
Meme2Mimi Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I really enjoyed reading your tutorial on names. I totally agree with everything said, especially the role parents and culture plays. Strangely I love names, and knowing the meaning behind the name is the route I often go by when naming my characters. People do often forget, especially in terms of a name's meaning, that they stem from these sources e.g. parents.
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Glad you enjoyed!  I love names as well, they can be a great writing tool and can sometimes just sound cool.  And I do think that people forget that people don't name themselves, their parents do.  Which is why I get a bit skeptical when I see a character that "named themselves," though it can work if there's a good plot reason for it, the author doesn't make a big deal of it, and they're given them a decent name.  A lot of self-named characters have rather silly names that make me roll my eyes.
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:iconthe-dragon-flame:
The-Dragon-Flame Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013
I-I just.... Finally, SOMEBODY said it. Just, finally.

Although while i don't exactly write, I do Roleplay in the Literate style, so really- This helps. ALOT. I mean just really.

Like say, when I read fanfiction, I'll see this mary sue by the name of Beautiful Emerald Gem when the series that they're righting fanfiction about... is from JAPAN. JAPAN PEOPLE! They don't even have 'murica names! And her origin, or what very little background they actually have other then being a self-inserted character that they wish they were, isn't from any other country, or their parents of by SOME off chance they actually mention them. Then again- In the Bleach Universe, Shinigami rarely ever remember their heritage at all. Oh yes, and don- Wait. Hold on. I think I stole your Soapbox thingie. *Awkwardly steps off* Sorry ^^; *Sheepishly waves hand*

A clap for you, you amazing person. :iconclapplz:
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Glad it isn't just me!  It bothers me when people screw up names so badly... but they mean well.  Usually.
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:icondragonowl21:
dragonowl21 Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
... So what I mainly got from that... Is to find out how in hells you pronounce "Saoirse, Aoife, and Niahm" before putting a pronunciation in my glossary.

This helped. A lot. Now I feel like an idiot.
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:iconpiscully:
piScully Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2013

Ok, I'm one of those weirdos! With a common last name similar to Smith, Brown or Jones I named my son, yes my son, Winter. No, he's born in May.

 

There is history to the name, which stems from my daughter being born in England and she would have been Winter had she arrived with male parts instead.  We did our homework and found the name in a British baby name book while pregnant with her. However, my son's middle name is Jamison, in which he can chose to go by any variation of said name, but so far, after 12 years, seems to absolutely love his first.

 

As for my attempts at writing, my three main characters, one for each book is, Emily, Karen and a female named Charley. ~Scully

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:iconvi0letdreamer:
vi0letdreamer Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Student Photographer
Was the book you referenced John Dies at the End?
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:iconeecoli:
eecoli Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2013
haha this was fun to read
I have some weird names myself -- my full name is Zoë Boo Sauvé. A lot of people don't even believe me when I tell them :roll: or they say that my parents were high
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:iconenih:
Enih Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2013  Hobbyist
I have four names, one of them is my surname. In Sweden several names are pretty common.

I have read that it is from a long time ago when many parents where poor and the only thing they could afford to give their children was a lot of names since they are free.

Of course i dont use them. They are just in my passport. I dont even sign documents with all of them. Only two.
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:iconidontknowwhoyouknow:
Idontknowwhoyouknow Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Err... how if the story is about royalty (you know how long their names are.) or a story like 1984 but the names change significantly? Or another fantasy universe (but still significantly Victorian.) Do you have any suggestions?

Also, do you make sure your names are 'spellable' in other languages? (I do this, but probably only because I'm multilingual?)
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:iconavianahelena:
avianahelena Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2013
Wow. Now I'm all paranoid and stuff.
My problem is twofold (although to be honest I'm not sure if it's really a problem or if I'm just a victim of the ohgodmyworksucks reflex). The first is that many of my characters more or less name themselves, and I have a very difficult time changing those names because to me it's almost like trying to call my uncle John "Jerry". If I say Jerry, I do not picture John, and I'm also pretty sure he wouldn't answer me. The other problem is that my weirdly-named characters largely exist within a non-earth human-populated fantasy world that has its own languages. I haven't gone full Tolkien, but there are syllables that I, as the writer, understand to mean certain things, whereas I'm aware that my reader won't have that background. There are also traditions in that culture that involve children (and adults in formal situations) being called by their same-sex parent's name with a suffix meaning "son of" or "daughter of", as well as a heavy predilection toward nicknames, due to a cultural taboo on using a person's given name too much.
So my question is, if every last damn one of my characters has a 'weird' name, how many of these reader-rocks wind up thrown at my head?
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
You've got an interesting issue there. In that case, it may be helpful to make names easier to pronounce while still keeping those cultural distinctions. For instance, Tolkein probably knew that names like Frodo and Aragorn would be fine by the audience because they're pretty easy to say. Maybe that could help?

You could also try using shortened versions for casual conversation only, kinda like nicknames. That way you could keep the full name you want for the character, but give the reader an easy shortcut to remember who's who.
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:iconavianahelena:
avianahelena Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2013
I'm not entirely certain Tolkien knew he had an audience. :)

I do try to keep my names easy-to-pronounce, though I'm resigned to the fact that, should I publish, many people will get the vowels wrong (I'm in America; I won't get anyone to pronounce Riona "ree-oh-nah" unless I pay them, lol). Shenya, Aviana, Kaiya; Kovesh, Koto, Phaino--they should be simple enough, I hope. I do have some doozies once you step away from the human race--a demon called Kethmenides (it takes a little Greek to get you through that one), a dragon named Cheshkenyu... but those don't tend to show up in more than passing references or bit scenes. I think where I'll stumble is the sheer *number* of names my characters each have.

Take Shenya for example. Her name is Shenya Corianis. She has earned the nickname "Jaguar" in the guerrilla wars of the country's very recent past. Her mother's name is Shequa-Rion; her father's is Kovesh. So: very close friends call her Shenya or Shen; acquaintances or people speaking formally will call her Riona or a'Kovesh; old war buddies, people who know her only by reputation or people speaking in certain conversational contexts will refer to her as Jaguar. I'd welcome your opinion on whether that's too much to expect readers to keep up with--quite a few of my characters for this series follow this formula, so it's definitely something I'll have to address if it's a problem.
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:iconmovedelsewhere:
movedelsewhere Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2013  Student General Artist
Really good!!
Helpful!!
I think my charas follow this very well but i Will use it for the future!
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:iconchloemccrackhead:
ChloeMcCrackhead Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2012  Student Artist
I have a question about the name weighing more than the rock. I'm writing a private fanfiction about a band called The Used. I've given one of the band members a daughter who has given one of the band members the nickname "Uncle Effie." (She only uses that name herself.) It's because his real name is Jeph, but she couldn't pronounce it as a very small child, and just called him Effie. The "Uncle" part is there because in my family, my parent's close friends are known as aunts and uncles to us, and he's around her a lot. Taking all of this into account, would the name weigh more than the rock?

Also, I love your tutorials, and I read them for pleasure as well as for help!
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I think you'd probably be good there. The reasoning behind the nickname is very solid and a common thing for children to do. Heck, my brother's nickname is based on the same thing, I couldn't say it when I was little and the mispronounciation stuck. The name is definitely plausible, and it adds character because now I know more about Jeph's character since he allowed a little kid to dictate what people call him!

Also, sorry for the late reply. I've been away from dA for too long, but I did want to respond to your comment.
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:iconmotherfuckinjones:
motherfuckinjones Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No, not at all. c: Especially since it's private, you don't have to explain it to anyone or if you do, it's a select few people. c:
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