Next month, Stephen King, Amy Tan, Lemony Snicket, Nora Roberts, Michael Chabon and 11 other best-selling writers will auction the right to name characters in their new novels. The profits will go to the First Amendment Project, whose lawyers have repeatedly gone to court to protect the free speech rights of activists, writers and artists.
This got me thinking how I choose character names. That’s my favorite part of starting any story, and usually, I have the name before I have anything else. I think that’s because I write from character rather than plot – so the character lives with me for a while before I start his or her story. Since I tend toward odd names or nicknames for my characters, the story’s usually built around the name and its backstory. Occasionally I’ve started a story without the hero’s name, but I can only get so far into the first chapter before the character’s bugging me to name him. And then he usually does something in the first chapter that makes me go, ah, okay, that’s your deal. Here’s the perfect name for you. Or I hunt down a baby name book and look for a certain meaning and take the name associated with it.
How do you name your characters? Could you write a story if someone handed you your character’s name?
|Your Outrageous Name Is|