Naming Your Beasts


Names are one of the biggest problems for me with any writing.

Names matter. They attract or deflect by their very nature, colouring our view through our own personal experience. A character names Maude for example may conjure an older woman, possibly Victorian fiction as Maude was a daughter of the old Queen. Or older, given that it was the name of an ancient claimant of the English crown.

I recently had birthday notifications on the same day, via Facebook, for two Michaels. One is generally known as Mick and the other as Mike. They are both thoroughly nice guys but possessed of very different personalities, and I would never address Mick as Mike or vice versa. Why they should have gained their separate diminutives is unknown. They are of similar age and, one assumes, similar background. Is it regional? A possibility. I don’t expect I shall ever know. But the point to be made is that in my  mind they are their name.

Which brings me back to  fictional characters.

When applying names to an invented persona I suspect most people reflect on people they know with similar names. Or else names that reflect the era in which I envisage them being born.

I will often gauge the date of birth for a given character and web search for popular names used in that specific year/decade/century.

Problems arise when the wrong name is chosen. In writing a recent novel I was half way through and beginning to have issues with my leading lady before realising that her name did not suit the personality she had taken on. Change was required and once that was done writing about her was suddenly so much easier.

Naming you book/story is another matter. I freely admit that this is a personal bete noir. If the title does not come to me within a few minutes it can take a long time coming, but that is another blog entirely!


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