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HELP ME choose names for main characters!!! SUPER important, thanks :D

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Matthew Bishop, Apr 30, 2013.

  1. Matthew Bishop

    Matthew Bishop Scribe

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    Wordsmiths! I need some help deciding on main character names for my first novel, due to be published in a matter of weeks. All feedback is welcome!

    For the past 9 years, I have been using the names "Gendorn", "Bendoraun" (both male) and "Meiln" (F) for three characters born into a penal colony and raised as slaves. The plot line of the story follows their escape and a colony-wide rebellion that leads to their freedom, so they should be names reflecting strength. I don't want them too strong (arrogant, overaggressive), however, as they must be thoughtful enough as to be able to reflect on life-changing events and evolve with the story and the reader.

    Because of the similarity of the three names above, I came up with alternatives: Ailound, Bendoraun, and Kamira, respectively. Their nicknames, used in their youth and dropped in sequels to show a progression of character, would be "Ailo" "Ben" and "Kami".

    I'm having trouble transitioning-- even when I change names in the text, the names I have been working with for nine years are always the ones I think of when I converse with myself (and others) about the books. Two questions:

    1) Which set of names is better for the above story
    2) Is it practical to change names this late, or are the names too ingrained in my mind as a writer for me to be able to switch them now? Speak from your own experience. Might I have trouble developing the characters in later books if I change their names now?
    3) Does it matter that Ben is a real-world English name when no other names in the book are? Is it okay as a nickname for Bendoraun?
     
  2. Well I think Ailound, Bendoraun and Kamira are all good names, if you are happy with them go for it. I really like the shortened nicknames, I think you should use them a lot. As for the problem of switching names for you as the writer, well, if you aren't happy with the original names then they need to change. Its important that you are ok with those names and that kind of thing. I can understand you would have trouble thinking of them by their new names, but hopefully they have developed and you have a good idea who they are as people. If so it shouldn't affect their development much as far as I'm concerned. In response to your final point, in my humble opinion it doesn't matter in the slightest that Ben is a real world name, the readers know its short for Bendoraun, not Benjamin, so it makes perfect sense.
     
  3. Jamber

    Jamber Sage

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    I actually don't feel the initial names are too similar -- not more similar than any names from a coherent culture would be (are they slightly Celtic?).
    You could always shorten them to 'Dorn', 'Ben' and 'Mei'?
    Either way you go is probably fine -- I agree with Aiden of the Tavern that the second choices are fine and the short versions work (though perhaps the names should reflect the language used in the world you've created, and/or its real-world influences).
    Just my view,
    Jennie
     
  4. Zak9

    Zak9 Scribe

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    Ailound and Bendoraun are a little confusing. I recommend going with the first male names and the second female name- Gendorn, Bendoraun, and Kamira.
     
  5. Matthew Bishop

    Matthew Bishop Scribe

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    Thanks for the feedback everyone, I'm keeping a record of all this -- anyone else have opinions?
     
  6. Rinzei

    Rinzei Troubadour

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    I actually like the name Meiln. I'm not sure how to pronounce it, but I like how it looks. Is is Meeln? Meln? I like it either way!

    The name Gendorn and Bendoraun do look and sound a bit similar. Gen-dor, Ben-dor...However, this could be explained by there common parts of names, just like in real-life. In Japan, a lot of names share the same syllables because they compose a meaning. For instance, there are various female names that end in -ko, which means "child": Mitsuko, Sumiko, Kimoko, etc. You also have the same happen with surnames, such as -son, -ton, -man, etc. The -dor- in their name could be used in a similar fashion.

    So the similar names are definitely not a deal-breaker - it could be a regional thing. You might just need to come up with a more diverse nickname for Gendorn, so his nickname is different from Ben.
     
  7. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    Not a good thing in names; readers like to hear them in their head, or at least not get distracted wondering how they should sound.
     
  8. ookami

    ookami Acolyte

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    I'm awful at names too. At the moment the most planning I have for a name is Malour (male)
     
  9. Matthew Bishop

    Matthew Bishop Scribe

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    More opinions!! Everyone in these forums, your ideas are important-- share them!
     
  10. Dio

    Dio Dreamer

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    Not at all. Look at A Song of Ice and Fire, it does just that. George Martin often takes fake names like "Daenerys", "Benjen", or "Eddard", and shortens them into real ones like "Dany", "Ben", or "Ned". I like this approach because it's easier for people who have trouble remembering long fantastical names. That said, A Song of Ice and Fire isn't a very good example of a series that's friendly to people who struggle with names.
     
  11. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    Actually, Martin's most used technique is to take normal names and tweak them. It's fairly obvious.

    Edward --> Eddard
    Benjamin --> Benjen
    Danielle/Danae --> Daenerys
     
  12. Dio

    Dio Dreamer

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    Exactly. I only meant that the books are hard for names due to the sheer mass of characters and the fact that a large number of them are named after one another.
     
  13. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    Ah. Point taken. I'll agree Martin's names aren't exactly the most creative out there, but I think his technique- taking regular names and tweaking them- is a good place for someone fresh out of name ideas to start.
     
  14. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    I wouldn't exactly call it uncreative, more a choice of anchoring some names as closer to home, part of his grittier feel. (Consider LOTR's fellowship: Aragorn, Legolas, Gandalf, and Sam.)
     
  15. Breezybealle

    Breezybealle Dreamer

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    To be honest, I believe that if your original names are that deeply ingrained in your head, then you should stick with them. If you try to change them, at this point, you may have a hard time transitioning them in your own mind, which will confuse things even greater in the long run. I know that to me, once I've connected with a name, it is virtually impossible for me to think of my character as anything but that. I, personally, could never switch names in the midst of a story, it would change my perspective on the character itself, because to me, the name is everything. But everyone is different and you may be able to do so with relative ease. In my opinion, I like the original names you had better, they sound more old worldly to me then Kamira and Ailound so I think you should stick with those.
     
  16. saraliz78

    saraliz78 Acolyte

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    i think that if you as the creator of the world and the characters believe the names need to be changed, then you should consider changing them to something less difficult to pronounce for readers. However, if you like the names and are not being asked to change them by a publisher or something, you should leave them be and do use the nicknames when appropriate.
     
  17. krunchee

    krunchee Scribe

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    I agree with this to some degree. I have named characters before and then tried to change them, only to find myself writing the original name again three paragraphs later.
     
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