Yesterday was my name day. All 365 days of the Czech (as in Czech Republic, where my mother is from) calendar have names attached to them (or, rarely, it's a holiday--like Christmas--and therefore has no name attached). April 2 is Erika.
That was all well and good--my mum bought me some very pretty flowers that are on my desk as I write this--and it got me thinking slightly on the highly complex idea of the name.
You have a kid (or a cat, or a dog, or a fish, or a particularly well-loved inanimate object) and you slap a name on it. A calling card, really, that can be as simple as, "Hey, You!" or as confusing as Ahkmarethnian.
So maybe the idea of it isn't so hard. But naming my characters has always been a bit of an obsession for me. I hoard names. I write them down in spiral notebooks that I return to years later and guffaw at. I collect them and wait until just the right character comes along so that I can give them a name that's been burning a whole in my imagination.
I visited the Nanowrimo forums (yes, they do exist outside of November, and believe me, they're just as addictive) and clicked on the "Adopt a Name" thread. Half an hour later, I had a page full of my cramped, half hand-writing half printing of everything from dreamy first names, to ironic pet names.
I was most certainly not disappointed.
I always tried to go for a certain kind of distinction in my character names. Heaven forbid I decide, in a moment of creative weakness, no doubt, to call someone "John" or "Kelly". From real life experience with certain people and their names, I had a mental list of all sorts of associations. For instance, Meryl on its own reminds me of a terribly thin pre-puberty girl with dark eyes and a perpetually runny nose. Paired with just the right last name, however, and, like Meryl Streep, you have the picture of class and elegance.
Just recently, however, I've found myself using simpler names. My pages are now littered with Claires, Erins and Sams. They make the reading easier, are certainly quick to spell, and let the reader focus on the character.
What do you think? When you read or write a book, how much focus do you put towards the names of characters? Or, conversely, when you come across a name in a book that has 4+ syllables and dozens of complex letter combinations, do you get scarred off, or, like a friend of mine, just replace it in your head with a simple name and move on?
When you read a book and the MC has a name that you positively can't stand, does it affect your attitude towards the work?
That's all for me today. My room is filled with the toxic tang of freshly applied nail polish, and strewn with the rewards of a busy shopping day (including a fabulous cook book I can't wait to try--whoop, whoop!).
Have a great Easter,