I always struggle to name my characters if they don’t arrive with a name. It is like naming a child – you don’t name them just for the sound as it rolls of your tongue but what meaning you imbue their soul with. I have four ways to name a character if they don’t come with their own.
1. I name them after someone connected (think of the daughter Claire in Bondi, named after Claire Halliday who gave me the original idea for the story)
2. I do a bit of research and wait for a name to jump out at me (Calli from “Clutch” which then fed into Dianna and Sade)
3. A name just comes to me at the sink, in the shower, hanging out washing, driving etc. And I go, “well of course!”
4. I pick the first name I come across on the Sydney Morning Herald website (when I was a teenager I had pulled a section from the newspaper with the birth announcements to help me name characters.)
The sci-fi story Parasite I’ve been working on over the past few weeks has thrown up one of those naming conundrums. I had no idea of the names of anyone when I started writing, so I wrote without mentioning their names – using he and she. Last week when I wrote the first installment it didn’t seem to matter too much. Right at the end the male character threw in, “See you in the morning Dr Halligan” and voila, I had at least a surname.
Saturday when I was writing “Clutch” I was stuck for names and asked friends on FB if they would like to offer up some names. I didn’t end up using any of them because in the process of asking I came across some interesting names and went with them. But I looked through the list and thought “What an interesting bunch of names. Shall file those away for later use.”
This morning when I was at the sink I had a “moment” and knew my MC’s name was Thalia (since tweaked to the original Greek, Thaleia)When I looked back on the list of names from Saturday on Facebook – there she was. Bang in the middle. So I popped the name in and started writing. When I was doing a little research for the male character’s name tonight I discovered that Thaleia is the 8th of the 9 muses and she’s the patron of comedy and “rustic” poetry.
My MC loves poetry… but its 21st Pop Poetry (basically song lyrics from the previous century). She has a huge picture of August’s Sappho on her wall. I had no idea of the connection when I named her. Another connection – Thaleia has banished herself to what could romantically be called a “rustic” life of beating a pioneering path across uninhabited planets mapping their micro-biology prior to human settlement. Thaleia of mythology is know for her rustic connections – she’s a patron of shepherds and the like.
I love it when you have moments like that. Gives me tingles.
Thaleia’s personal assistant is named Alan (shying away from admitting this) after Alan Baxter when I went searching through Facebook for the first male name which popped up (I’m also reading his book at the moment!) Dr Hartcher is named after a journo I came across on the SMH page.
My MC’s love interest remains unnamed and was embarrassingly referred to as “XX” in the piece I posted up on the Writing Races forum… but oh, ooo ooo ooo… I think his name might be Xavier? Let’s see if he likes that…
Word count for tonight 1715 bringing the entire piece to just short of 3000 words. Think there are possibly two more scenes to write before I give it the once over, make parasites explore outwards in orgasmic climax and send it out into the wilds of beta reading. Any takers?