Monday, September 8, 2014

30 Week Writing Survey - Week 3: Names

Now Playing: Gustavo Cerati - Deja Vu and No Te Creo

I'm starting to see an upside to my creative writing workshop class. I'm not so thrilled with the fact that I have to come up with new story ideas every week--especially since, like, pretty much all my classes require me to write or read something gigantic every week--but y'know, it's working for me. I'm not much of a short story person, but shoving people into a two page limit means I don't get to be superfluous. Points are made quickly, images are shown but only as snapshots. And that's kind of interesting.

I learned something new involving Isadora and Dr. Kathleen Monroe. I keep finding new origins involving Isadora's current robotic platform, and this one is by far my favorite. She picked an old model because she liked how eerie, and strange, and beautiful it looked. Uncanny valley weirdness be damned!

It also makes me consider the possibility that a lot of these sci-fi shorts of mine may be taking place in the same universe. How cool would it be for Isadora, Luna, and Cyrano--my main three A.I's--to share a space together? Or for Valentine and Kaede to meet Dr. Monroe and Miranda? Or for Amber Jackson to protect Antigone and Hamlet?


Maybe this will lead to something one day...

Anyways, moving on to third week...

QUESTION 3: How do you come up with names--for characters, and for places if you're writing about fictional places?

Oh godddd. Names. I love them so much when they're perfect, but it's such a struggle to get there.

When I was younger, I had two common problems: meaningful names and names starting with an A. That latter is because when I looked up names, I usually figured I'd found a perfect one without switching to another page, therefore never getting past the A listings >.>. The former is become I was naive.

These problems sometimes come back to haunt me.

I try quite hard not do such a cliche thing and make the names relate to the character, especially since it DOESN'T MAKE SENSE if you're striving for some realism. But it slips sometimes and happens on accident, like with Lilith and Wendy. I just really liked the names and thought they were beautiful. A few pages into the writing, I realized they could be read as metaphors or allusions to literature.

Early on, I managed to stay off of this silliness in Redemption, where characters mostly had names that I felt their parents (or themselves, as is the case with Nikki and Vlad) would have liked. The one main and blatant exception are cousins Bellatrix and Marcus, cuz I thought it was adorable that both names meant "warlike" in Latin >.> (Shhh. Don't judge me).

In The Night Kingdom rewrites, I kept most of the original names the same, and they never had a rhyme or reason. The exception was Jacob's sister, Deirdre, which means sorrowful. Deirdre is kind of a Perpetually Sadfaced Princess, and I'd wanted a cool name when writing the story, so I searched and found and loved this name. Following that line of logic, I changed their baby sister's name for the other drafts. It was originally Vivian, because of my middle name, but she became Elethia. I can't say why, since the reason gives away a hint for the TWIST >.> So..let me just pretend I'm actually going to get around to rewriting this book and not tell you the reason behind the change. With TNK, Arkana was my only made-up name, derived from arcane.

While I was RPing, I had a phase where I thought biblical allusions were The Best. (Blame my finishing and obsessing over the original Halo trilogy). That's why Dream's real name is Esther, after the biblical heroine. Dragon's real name took a while, because I didn't know a great deal of Korean, nor did I even know his nationality at first. He only went by his last name in the novella as Kangjŏn. His nickname/codename "Dragon" was meant to reference the dragon in the Book of Revelation. Legion is super obvious--her main power was that she could absorb people's personalities and assimilate them, so it was a bunch of "souls/demons" in one vessel. Her "core" personality was born Delilah Anderson. Cough. Oh, and Archangel. Real name Michael.


It's a bit embarrassing to recount this, but I was aware back then of what I was doing. I knew it was cliche and yet I DIDN'T CARE. And I still don't really have regrets  >:D I wouldn't change those names for anything.

Ataraxia is the one that gets away scot-free in this. Not one name means anything significant. I did admittedly decide to name Caesar and Maria after people I knew in real life, but that's it. Even the slightly annoying "twins with names that rhyme" thing happened because Katya and Sonya's parents were just the kind of people who'd do that. And Caesar and Sonya make fun of this. (Plus it hasn't happened since. Wendy and Vincent are twins and they don't have any "cute" name patterns).

Anne's story also never had any meaningful name that I'm aware of, and because I planned the mythology and nations from scratch, I made up a bunch of names as well as used some existing ones. Since each nation had a real-life equivalent, the names came from combinations or alterations of words from the respective languages.

Up until now, I've mostly used real names with some of the exceptions in Anne's story.

For this...upcoming novel--hopefully my NaNo, if I decide to go fantasy instead of sci-fi--I think I'm going to try to make up new ones, derived from existing names, of course, rather than look some up or just pound on the keyboard and hope something usable comes out.

Aside from first names, last names do admittedly take me a while longer. I can never settle on one I like, and when I do, I end up wondering a lot about it and looking up family trees and ancestry related to it. I have often borrowed the surnames of people I admire--sometimes writers, but mostly astronauts or musicians, inventors, actors, directors, video game people, fictional characters I adore, etc. And I find looking up surnames for my POC or foreign characters pretty fun--even if it sometimes takes me a while to get a hang on writing them out without triple checking every word.

It usually takes me weeks to find a good name, and even longer to find a good surname. But I try them, sound them out, write them down a couple of times, and then see if I like it. And when I do, I never ever forget them.


  1. Anonymous9:39 AM

    Wait.... middle name... what? @_@ What is this? I have no middle name saved for you on my phone!

    1. ...@_@ I am 99% certain I've told you this before.

      But if you must add it, my middle name is Viviana. Extra A ftw.

  2. Anonymous11:07 AM

    I am... uh... a hundred percent sure I forgot? @_@ Uh....


"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.