Saturday, October 20, 2012

What's in a name?

What’s in a name? A lot. The names we give our characters mean a great deal. I saw two short youtubes while searching for some back up on this topic. One was Keith Gray who gave the great example of Luke Skywalker, which is a great name for a savior of the universe.  The guy can walk on the sky. You feel immediately that this guy is destined for great things. He also brought up Harry Potter and how Harry is supposed to be a kind of everyman or, in this case, everyboy. All around him are characters with exotic and striking names. Lord Voldemort, Sirus Black, etc… but Harry is the perfect name for our hero. It makes the reader identify with the average side of him, the vulnerable side. He has an extraordinary past already. It’s very helpful for him to have this ordinary name .
The second youtube I saw was from Michael Connelly and he was talking about the character Harry  (Harry short for Hieronymus) Bosch.  He got the name from the painter  whose work is  complex, convoluted and disturbing and unforgivingly distinct.

By giving the name to this detective who works the streets of LA he not only makes him stand out but he gives the impression of complexity of both character and setting.  Even if the reader doesn’t get this, MC does and it becomes part of how he thinks about the character and inspires him to write a more complex and layered hero.
A lot is in a name.

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