Wednesday, June 6, 2018

IWSG: What's In A Name?


This month's Insecure Writers Support Group question asks, "Which is more difficult, picking a book's title or naming its characters?"  Hmmmm. For me, it's a two prong answer. Naming the main characters is a must before I start writing. What's in a name? Everything the reader needs to know about the character. The name should complement (or contrast!) that individual's personality and status and aid in helping the reader visualize who he or she is. First and last should mesh to strengthen that purpose. It shouldn't jar the reader either by being impossible to pronounce or remember (Hello, Game of Thrones/Lord of the Rings!), too cutesy/trendy, or too similar to those of other characters in the book. A hero should wear his name like his favorite tailored suit jacket - effortlessly. A heroine should flaunt a nickname like a funky or pricey piece of jewelry. When naming a character, should it matter? Frankly, my dear, you need to give a damn. Because the hero of the book was named Rhett for a reason, and not Ashley.

Titles . . . don't get me started. After decades of being published by the Big Six and not having any choice in what was slapped by the marketing team on your cover (even if four books named MIDNIGHT KISS came out on the same release date!), having someone ASK what you preferred, not just for the title of one book, but for the series concept, blew me away! Man, that's hard work! Something that hasn't been done before, something reflecting the tone and concept and genre of the work, something eye-catching, thought provoking . . . memorable! I recall sitting for hours with my critique group thinking up appropriate (and sometimes Inappropriate!) words to go with ". . . by Moonlight" (after ten books, it gets harder, believe me!) or "Prince of . . ." And for goodness sake, nothing with "C*cky" in it!!!

After 60+ books, I still appreciate the freedom of choice for my book's names and titles, but it never gets any easier. And it never should.

Enjoy playing the name game, fellow IWSGers!!



Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time.The awesome co-hosts for the June 6th posting of the IWSG will be Beverly Stowe McClure, Tyrean Martinson, Tonja Drecker, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

12 comments:

  1. Thanks, Nancy. Titles and character names are things I struggle to create.
    All th best, Annette

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    1. Thanks, Annette!! We struggle together. Glad you stopped by.

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  2. Oh, buy Cocky by Moonlight sounds good. :P (And, no, I won't replace the "o" with an asterisk. lol)

    I love that meme of Rhett!

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    1. Oh, I think I've found my next title!! LOL! Thanks, Chrys.

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  3. I second Chrys's by Moonlight suggestion! haha Needless to say, Nancy, you knocked it out of the park with your By Moonlight titles and names! Love them all!

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    1. I think my bacon was saved by the "of Shadows" books in the series. I didn't have another "by Moonlight" in me at that point. But now I'm all refreshed and eager to go back into the title fray!

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  4. I loved your By Moonlight series. Clever. I, too, like Chrys' title. LOL With my Alex O'Hara mystery series, I started out with "The Case of ..." then something alliterative (Bygone Brother, Fabulous Fiance, Meddling Mama). Now I'm stuck for the 4th book. Oh, well. I love the freedom of naming my own books, but it can also be a pain. Loved your Rhett Butler meme.

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    1. The creative corners we back ourselves into! Frankly, my dear, coming up with Blog post titles is harder than books!

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  5. That's a really good point. I always have my main character's name before I start writing. The other names tend to change as I go, but the main character's never has. Happy IWSG day! http://www.raimeygallant.com

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    1. I only change in progress when I forget what I called a secondary . . . and sometimes I like the new name better. Hey, it's our world and we can change if we want to!

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  6. Funny, someone else mentioned Gone with the Wind in their IWSG post this month. Rhett and Scarlett - can't imagine those two characters named anything else.

    As hard as it can be to come up with book titles, I think I'd rather do that than have someone else foist a name on it, especially if I didn't like that name.

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  7. They overturned the trademark - you can use cocky now!
    No say in your title? Granted my publisher had to come up with two titles for me, but it wasn't without my approval. (Because yeah, I suck at titles.)

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