Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What's In A Name?

A rose by any other name, etc, etc ...

Today, I wanted to talk briefly about the names in Flow. All three characters had their origins in (short-lived) roleplaying venues, so I had chosen the names independent of each other.

For Enid Katrine Morgan / Kit, I merely knew that I wanted a female name that could plausibly abbreviate to "Kit," and something that had a Welsh background. I decided on Katrine as a more interesting of Catherine, and to "justify" the interpolation of the i (over the more obvious a), I decided to shuffle the names around and have it come from a first name the character would hate.

For Chailyn Lang, I was browsing the internet - ah, of all things! - when I came across the name and thought it had the perfect look and feel. As to Lang,
I knew that her father was "some European businessman" (this developed further, of course). I wanted something short and sweet, and how could I pass up the reference to those fairy tale compilations, the (Color) Fairy Books?

For Hadrian, I honestly don't remember any thought process going into the name choice. I simply got the first name picked out and trawled
my name book - the highly recommended Character-Naming Sourcebook, by Kenyon, Blythe and Sweet - until I found an appropriate surname to match.

So you can see that I'm not much inclined to choosing names by meaning, instead narrowing on look, feel and sound, with secondary concerns for the ethnic origin of the name and connection to backstory. I tend to avoid meaning-based names, in fact, unless the character for some reason named themselves - or were named by someone who was in a position to predict / comment upon that attribute.

One notable exception, not in Flow but in the same setting, is from "A Dose Of Aconite," where every single character is derived from taking the common names of aconite - wolf's bane, monk's hood, etc - and then picking names with those meanings. For a short, compact work with no intended follow-up, I thought it worked well - a sort of Easter egg for the name-inclined. (Or ... those who follow my blog, now.)

But names are very important to me. The Borderwatch agents are all named in my background material, even though their real names (with one exception) don't appear in the book, only their handles. I needed to know what they were "really" called to properly write the characters.

And Charity, well ... that name was pure irony ...

Anyone have any interesting name-origin stories?

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