Sunday, March 30, 2014

Naming your character

New book from Carlong Publishers ( Caribbean) Ltd

Having just completed a battle with one of my characters about her name, I am more now keenly interested in the names to chose for characters in my stories.

Names can be a clue to period in a story as names, like other things, go in and out of fashion. You wouldn't (normally) want to give a character in a historical story a modern name.Whenever I hear someone named Hazel, for example, I know  that person is usually near to my age group. I suppose George will be back in fashion after the new English prince was named. If you check a search engine you will see that some names are perennial - bible names for example. Some never go away David, Daniel, Matthew, Mark, John, Samuel. Mary, Martha, Ruth and so on.

If you are writing a contemporary children's or YA story, especially in Jamaica, (maybe elsewhere too) you had better be aware of the names which now exist. I was alerted to this when the proof reader at the company producing my latest book Ash the Flash (co-written with Nattalie Gordon) asked that the name of the secondary character be changed. Both of us writers agreed that to change his name at this late stage would be alarming both for us and the character - as if he would become a different person and change the mood of the story. Nattalie had named him Kenroy and the reader thought that this was too old fashioned for a contemporary twelve year old. I compromised by changing the spelling to Kenroi which made it look more modern, even if the pronunciation was the same.

Photos: Bryan Cummings

The recently concluded Girls and Boys Track and Field Championship in Jamaica was spectacular for broken records, the courage of the children and their compassion for those injured or for those who didn't win a race.

One of the interesting things for me was the names of the competitors. There were a few sprinklings of names like Christopher, Anthony, and Robert. I remember when Travis and Akeem seemed new and daring. I was aware that parents had started uniting parts of their names for their offspring, but some of these names had me sitting up and taking notice. I suspect that it's only the familiarity of the commentators with the stars of track and field that made them able to pronounce some of the names and even then sometimes they had to back track.

I am not saying there is anything wrong with these names. Just be aware if you are writing a contemporary story that you should pay attention to current names.

Here are a few, I wrote down..

Ackeliah, Argyanna, Asaine, Asschani, Avagay,
Cameena, Camira, Codi-Ann
Daejan, Delicesha,
Janeek, Jynell,
Khanoy, Kissi -Ann
Olian, Oweneika
Sanique, Sherdia, Shaneil, Shelica, Santanya, Sheriann, Sashell, Semoy
Tachece, Tulia,

Dejour, Detroy, Devannah,
Chadrick, Chevenne, Chadoye,
Jauvaney, Javon, Jevuaghn, Javad,
Rajay, Rakeem

Of course, you can always make up a new name for your character or change the spelling of a name you like. I was thinking that if I combined parts of my name I could get something like Hadesim, or Hadecam. Trouble is I wouldn't know if this was a girl or a boy. Many interesting possibilities here.

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