Thursday, February 17, 2011

what's in a name?

If there's one thing that will stop me cold, it's a name. I need a character's name before I can give them things to do or say. Even if I know what they're going to say and/or do in that scene, I can't write it until I know that character's name. It's the closest thing to writer's block I really struggle with. Names are important to me -- especially if it's a name of a main character. If, what I'm writing becomes something people talk about, who do I want them discussing? Clark and Lois? Han and Leia? Christian and Satine? Also, while I'm writing this, these characters are going to be taking up a lot of time and space in my brain. Do I really want to be spending the next month, months, or year with Craig?

Once a name clicks, I understand the character a little bit better. It's my experience that people not only define their names, but are also defined by them. For example, I have found every Scott I've ever met to be a little weird and I've never gotten along with a Scott*.

But if I was writing a slightly odd character, a sincere fellow with quirky asides, I might consider the name Scott. In lieu of that, as to not appear vain, I'll name him Sean, as it is as close to Scott as I can get without actually using "Scott." The name "Sean" conjures up in my mind, someone who could just as easily be a "Scott." And once I name him Sean, I know how he's going to talk and what's going to offend him. Or, to get away from all this Scott Talk, Rose would deliver a line very differently than Donna would.

So it's all about finding a name. A name that fits my story and the character I have in my head. Once I find that name, then I can move forward. But until then, everything comes to a grinding halt.

Which, maybe, explains why I'm blogging instead of writing.

* I am Scott. You are not Scott. Sod off, Fake Scott.

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