Sunday, January 24, 2016

How to Think of Character Names and Pseudonyms

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By: Emery R.



You're set. You have an awesome character, a great supporting cast, and a spectacular plot. But then you get stuck on names. We all have these moments; when no name seems just right for the character you've envisioned, and you're very frustrated. However, you will know when the right name comes because it strikes a certain chord. Here are some of my suggestions for finding the right names.
            1. Browse a baby names website like momswhothink.com. You may not find the perfect name, but you could get a feel for what you like in a name. For example, you might prefer flower names like Violet or Rose, or tree names like Willow or Alder. Did anyone else notice that Suzanne Collins's characters had plant themed names? Katniss is a root, Primrose is a flower, and Cloves are herbs. Nature isn't the only theme for a name. You can go for time periods too. You might prefer old colonial names like Felicity or Elizabeth, Victorian names like Theodosia or Amelia. 1940s names like Molly or Dorothy. The right name is the right name!
            2. Write down your favorite names or names that are especially interesting to you in a notebook. You can go back over it and see if any seem to fit your characters later on. I tend to favor names that start out with more than one syllable but have terrific nicknames. This leads us to number three...
            3. Nicknames work wonders! For instance, Jackie for Jacqueline or Eve/Evie for Evelyn are lovely nicknames that can work well for characters, but still allow readers to be more focused on the overall story and not on the name. Here are some more examples:
            . Em (Emma, Emily, Emmeline, Emerson, etc.).
            . Kate (Katherine, Kathleen, Katrina, etc.).
            . Bee/Vee (anything that has a notable phonetic syllable or the particular presence of a certain letter; Bianca, Vivian, Viola etc.).
            . O's: Jo, Zo (Josephine, Zoe, etc.).

            Now maybe you've written that novel, found the right name, done everything. But what about your pseudonym? If you choose to use a pen name, make sure it is something that you're okay with being your main source of identification in the world of literature. You want something that you won't tire of, something that maybe you would have chosen for yourself in a different world, or an alter ego. Here are more of my suggestions, this time for pseudonyms.
            1. Initials and then your last name. For example, say my name is Cecelia Grace Smith. That would make my pen name C.G. Smith. It actually comes together quite well.
            2. A first name and a surname that have some kind of link. For example, Persephone Bloom. Persephone is the Greek vegetation goddess and a representation of spring, as well as Demeter's (goddess of the harvest) daughter. Bloom is what flowers do in spring, thus Persephone Bloom.
            3. A name with the same number of syllables and some of the same first letters as the words in your own. Let's say that this time my name is Ella Faith Reynolds. I could then be Emma Hope Rosen.

            I hope that some of these suggestions have helped your quests for great character names and excellent pseudonyms. Remember that even if you find the right name, what matters more than that in writing is the content. Don't let "namers block" keep you from writing a good piece, be it a novel, short story, poem, or even a school assignment. If the work is of a good quality, than it should be able to carry many different character names within or pseudonyms on the cover; even if there is only one that is perfect.

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