Monday, June 18, 2007

Names

I've been working on the new chapters for Forgotten Star and it's been tough. This time, I'm really ready for the edit. I'm seeing everything that needs to be fixed, including renaming several characters. Renaming a character I've known for 10 years is difficult. I haven't had the same friends for ten years. The trouble is, each time I come up with a name I like, there's already a character in the novel with too similiar a name. So then I have to choose who to rename, and then that will domino into another name issue.

I'm wondering if I have too many characters in this novel. I do have a lot, but they exist in different tiers of importance. This tier will shuffle for the second and third book in the series, so I have to be careful who the main characters will be for each one so I don't end up with "Aaron and Arianna" or "Talana and Tarin", which is the trouble I'm experiencing.

I don't like using place holder names, they take just as much getting used to as the character's real name, so why go through it twice? I've also figured out in my writing that a name can influence a characters personality.

Part of me fears I'm putting way too much emphasis on this, but the other part of me says it's going to be less painful now than to do it when I have a looming book contract with deadlines.

I've further complicated the issue in this particular world by giving the naming structure some culture. The mother names the child with their public name, and the father names the child with the birth name. The birth name cannot be planned or created in advance, it has to reflect some incident with the birth itself. To celebrate birth, there are no birthday celebrations. In the spring there is a naming day celebration when everyone gathers toegher and celebrates and tells their birth story and their birth name. The importance of the birthname is to instill some importance upon the child of where they came from and where they can go.

Some examples:

Dego Whitewolf was born in his mother's cottage, where outside there was a serenade of wolves howling to the moon. The honor of being greeted by wolves is important in Dego's life becuase he has the magic of sensing animals.

Seth Windstorm was born during a tropical storm.

Eldar Wintermoon was born during the coldest night of the year, and strangely died on the coldest night much later in his life.

One man believed his daughter wasn't truly his cursed her with a delicate name to keep her from growing into a strong woman.

One of the main characters' birth name is Nightsword because his mother gave birth during an attack by (evil) beasts deep in the night. His mother ultimiately died because of the attack. Several men were injured protecting the mother. The father named the son Nightsword because he survived, and for the hope that he would someday cut down these beasts. And somehow, this child has grown into an aggressive man, strong in his beliefs with a temper as quick and sharp.

The island they live on only has about a thousand people living on it, so the naming conventions are workable. It might sound silly to you, but this is my world, my island, and my names. And apparently, my main issue right now. But I'll work through it. Sooner or later!

2 comments:

D. Robert Pease said...

Hey, I just added you to my RSS feed and thought I'd chime in here, because this is something I'm pretty interested in as well.

To me your names work well. As long as all these characters are in the same culture, and as long as it is the norm to name children with special meaning that arises at the time of their birth, I say go for it. To me it really sets the stage early for some depth of culture.

My only thought was do these people speak English, or some other language? Or is there some ancient language that they could draw on for names? Sometimes it is good to have a name mean one thing, but be in a different language. My son's name means "Asked of God" we named him that on purpose, but we don't go around calling him Asked of God, we call him Samuel. Just a thought.

BTW, I look forward to reading your work in the Crit Circle. Which story are you going to be giving us?

Dawn said...

This is basically the oldest language/culture in the world I've created. There is one language on this island (though we'll see some culture variance later in the next book, severly).

This novel, "Forgotten Star" is what I'll be submitting for crit. I'm trying not to put too many secrets/story details into my blog entries. I don't want to ruin it!

Thanks for stopping in. :)

Dawn