NaNoWriMo, Novel Writing

NaNoWriMo | Day 1, Post 2: My characters need names

The Creation of Adam
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12:15 p.m.

Wow, two posts in one day. This is totally not me! But anyway, Day One of NaNoWriMo is going swimmingly. I’m up to 2,492 words. But it is bothering me that my characters don’t have names. In fact, it’s not just bothering me, it’s slowing me down.

Naming characters has never been one of my strong points. In fact, I hate it. Character names are soooo important, and mine never seem to fit. So, I’m going to spend a little time developing my characters and see if anything comes to mind. If you get any great ideas, let me know. I sure could use them.

One of my main characters is a priest, and parts of the novel will take place in a Catholic church. There is also an overall struggle between good and evil, so I am playing with the idea of using a few Biblical names. But, who am I fooling? Seriously, when was the last time I picked up a Bible? These are a few of my main characters thus far:

  • Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic C...
    Image by sarowen via Flickr

    Character A: My main character, Character A is a waitress whose boyfriend and a bus boy at the restaurant decide to rob her boss. She lets herself get involved in the crime but later ends up regretting it. She will later confess her misdeed to a priest in the church where she hides after the robbery. She spends the rest of the novel trying to make things right.

  • Character B: The main character’s (soon-to-be-ex) boyfriend. They have been inseparable since childhood when she dreamed of growing up to be a nun and he dreamed of growing up to be a bank robber. He’s not all bad. Once he lands in jail for the robbery, he refuses to acknowledge her involvement in the crime (even though he knows it’s over between them.)
  • Character C: A minor character, he is the bus boy who gets the idea to rob the boss. He’s one of those guys who is always thinking up ways to make some easy money, but either the ideas don’t work, or he is afraid to actually break the law if a plan requires it. Although the idea to rob the boss was his, he was too much of a coward to actually put the plan in motion until Character B came along.
  • Character D: The good cop (yes, there will be a bad cop as well.) He seems like an average guy, but his ideas of what is good and what is bad are about to be turned upside down. He is also about to fall for Character A.
  • Character E: The bad cop. Partner to the good cop, he thinks he’s the good cop. He believes in strong moral values and also believes in enforcing his values on everyone around him. The problem is, he doesn’t have a problem with planting evidence if that’s what it takes to clench what he thinks should be an open-and-shut case.
  • Character F: “Father so-and-so.” He is the priest to whom Character A confesses her sins. And he thinks he can save her soul. But he plays by God‘s rules, not the cops’ rules.
  • And a myriad of other minor characters who will eventually come into play. Who wants their name in my novel? Want to be a minor character? If your name is cool enough and you’re game, I just might slip you in there. Why not?
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3 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo | Day 1, Post 2: My characters need names”

  1. On character names.

    There’s a concept in psychotherapy that’s called “transference”. Freud and stuff. Basically, a patient will assign a set of emotions and preconceptions onto the therapist depending on people in his past. There’s also counter-transference which is similar but the other way around, the therapist will project unto a specific patients a series of emotions and preconceptions that have to do with figures in his past. So, if a patient comes to her first sessions and the therapist finds her demeanor, dialogue and emotional semblance similar to let’s say, his wife, then he may start experiencing emotional responses that are more directed towards his wife than to the actual patient. Or, if a therapist, for example is called Henry, and insists on being called by his first name, and the patient’s younger brother is also called Henry, then we may risk an inadequate transferential shift that would add uncalled for complication to the therapeutic work.
    This said. The name that a certain character has will have an emotional resonance for the reader that cannot be anticipated, unless of course, the name is extremely neutral (Jim) or unique (Ezequiel). What can be anticipated is the effect that a given name will have on the person who is writing the story since transference will occur, and the feelings one has for these names/persons can influence the way that character is written and treated, especially at the beginning.

    Also, characters with foreign names don’t need necessarily be foreign citizens but may have parents who were, therefore giving us the chance to enrich that person’s cultural complexity, and the way other characters react to them.

    Lastly, the Freakonomics guys did an interesting study on names and how they are perceived.

    I don’t know if all this helps, so on a more direct approach, I think Ethan or Nathaniel are pretty cool for a priest.

    Also, I like your blog and look forward to following you in November.


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