Wednesday, December 19, 2018
What's In A Name?
Hello! Today on the blog we have a guest post with the amazing Anna Levine.
What's in a name? Three tips on naming your character.
Using T.S. Eliot’s poem The Naming of Cats, here are a few tips for choosing just the right name for the character of your novel. (http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/t__s__eliot/poems/15121 )
1. “First of all, there's the name that the family use daily.”
As writers we put a lot of thought into a character’s traits, their strengths and flaws. Yet when it comes to choosing their name, it’s often based on random associations: the people we love (people we don’t!), family, friends, the name we wished we had, names that start with a certain letter, names popular at a certain period, names that alliterate or are right in front of us when we look up ponderously, hoping for inspiration.
2. “There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,/ Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames.”
Do you want a gender neutral name, or just the opposite, a name which confuses the reader? Using names to represent the character’s traits, when done subtly, can be a fun and clever device.
3. “But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,/A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,”
Nicknames are a great device to help reveal the relationship between characters. What name does a parent use as an endearment? What name do siblings use to tease each other? What name do the local gossips use? All these variations reveal layers of attitude and relationship.
4. “The name that no human research can discover--/But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.”
T.S. Eliot knew that though we are given names, there is always the name deep inside of us to which we feel most connected. Find that name and you’ll discover a deeper level to your character. Readers have asked me why I chose Ima Crane, Abba Crane and Saba and Savta. I chose those names because they are the words used where I live for mother, father, grandfather and grandmother. These are the names that Alexandra knows and what connects her and her author to the back story.
Thank you for joining us today Anna! These are great tips!! Until next time Happy Writing and Reading! Later Days!!