Names in Fiction


Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots and photo taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you have had a good week. Lady has been enjoying the sunshine and meeting up with her dog pals all week. I’m busy preparing workshops and looking forward to running them.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

I’m pleased to share Names in Fiction, my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post. I don’t always know the names of my characters immediately. Often I will know their major trait and their situation and ideas for names will emerge from knowing those things.

Setting helps too as if I’m writing a historical piece as I do sometimes, I will want to make sure the name is suitable for that time period. Sometimes I will jot down a name but a better one will come to me as I’m drafting so I change it, but once I do have the right name for the right character in the right story, nothing is making me change it!

I share thoughts on useful sources to find names in my post, as well as looking at how names have meaning and how that can be used by writers. Surnames didn’t happen until after the 1066 Norman Conquest in England so that is something which has to be borne in mind by historical writers.

I’ve used names to indicate the likely age of a character without spelling the age out. For example, I named a character Walter. Not likely to be a young person with a name like that, right? Correct, he wasn’t.

Hope you find the post useful.

Names In Fiction

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I’m talking about Names in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Link up tomorrow. See above. I look at how writers can use names to add to their characterisation and how certain names have gone into the language. I’ll also be sharing tips on using names and good places to find them. (Don’t forget the old random name generators too).

Am looking forward to seeing The Dragon of Wantley, the panto being put on by the Chameleon Theatre Group, next Thursday. It’ll be lovely to catch up with Janet Williams, my lovely editor at CFT. I do see these evenings as “Chandler’s Ford Today works outings” when Janet and I both get to go! Review in due course. And it is so nice getting back to seeing live theatre again.

Do you find it hard to come up with names for your characters? Sometimes I know a name immediately. Sometimes I know who my character is going to be in terms of personality first and that in turn will give me ideas for names to suit that personality.

I don’t always worry about surnames and, where it is appropriate for the story, I stick to first person and just use I throughout. What matters I think is knowing how you are going to get “into” writing your story. I have to know the character’s major trait as so much comes from that. Some writers absolutely have to know the name first or to be able to visualise their people and that’s fine.

What I hope is my post on Friday will be a useful guide as to where you can find inspiration for names as there are various ways to find ideas here.

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It’s been another lovely day in Hampshire. Someone has enjoyed her time out and about – see pic.

Looking forward to taking part in the Association of Christian Writers’ Flash Fiction group on Zoom later this evening.

One thing to come out of the pandemic was the increasing use of Zoom and that has made many things possible. I can talk to family members in New Zealand easily for example. Genre group meetings like this one, where the people taking part live several hundreds of miles away from each other, is something else made possible.

Am busy getting my author newsletter ready for the beginning of May. Do head over to my website at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com if you would like to sign up.

Am putting finishing touches to various blogs I write for on a monthly basis – I like to keep ahead of myself here so when one has gone out online, fairly soon afterwards the next month’s one is up and scheduled. Gives me plenty of thinking time too and that is always a good thing.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am pleased to share my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction. This one is called Where Am I? It is based on a prompt thrown up by a random scenario generator (which was about waking up in a strange room). Hope you enjoy it and a big thank you to all who have commented on this one already. Screenshot 2022-04-22 at 09-23-11 Where Am I by Allison Symes

Another lovely spring day in Hampshire. Dog was equally impressed.

I’ve been asked an interesting question about whether flash is necessarily about moral twists. Not necessarily. You can argue that Jesus’s parables in the New Testament and Aesop’s Fables are flash fiction given they are mainly within the word count for flash and yes they have a moral message and there can be twists to them. Whoever would expect a tortoise to win a race against a hare, for example?

But a lot of my stories don’t exactly have a moral message though, as with most fiction, you can learn a lot about what not to do or be thanks to following the exploits of the characters. You can “watch” as you read as the characters make mistakes that make you wince etc and think I’d never do that. That is one of the great joys or reading fiction!

Where I think flash does come into its own is having a powerful impact for such a small word count. You can get the “punch in the gut” effect that much more quickly and a writer can exploit that.

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Do you have a favourite kind of character to write stories around? I think most of us do. I have a soft spot for the feisty older woman character where you know there is more to her than meets the eye. I’ve always loved this kind of character in the fairytales. You know the kind – the old woman who suddenly turns out to be a powerful magical being and cuts some arrogant twerp down to size. (See Beauty and the Beast for more on that!).

I suppose behind this is a wish that older characters aren’t written off as being unimportant (and I wish that too for older people in general). What matters here is caring about the characters you dream up because only then can you write their stories up with any conviction. The first person to enjoy your story has to be you, the writer.

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Fairytales with Bite – The Older Magical Practitioner

I have a very soft spot for the older magical practitioner in fairytales. I love those wizened older people who turn out to be a powerful fairy godmother/wizard in disguise who then usually go on to teach some arrogant so-and-so a much needed lesson.

I know my love of this character type is partly due to my own wish that older people are not underestimated or dismissed for being old. I don’t want age to be a factor for my characters. Indeed, if anything, I want their years of experience to have beneficial outcomes in the stories I’m writing about them now. I want experience to count for something.

The ideal sweet spot for me is having a character like that teamed up with someone younger, faster etc but who is willing to learn from them. They could make a formidable team!

What uses do you put your older characters to in your stories? Yes, they can be invaluable sources of advice but I would want them to do practical things that the younger ones could not. I would want the younger ones to do the things the older characters could not. Genuine team work.

Ageism, for me, has no place in fiction (or indeed anywhere!). Yes, sure your older characters aren’t going to be able to do what they could easily do years ago but there should be other things they can do instead, tips and tricks they’ve learned along the way precisely because they can’t do the other stuff any more. So what do you get your characters to do? Are you limiting what they can do?

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This World and Others – Age

Going on from my Fairytales with Bite post, how does your fictional world react to age? Is it respected or despised? A lot will depend on the cultural background of your characters so how can you play on that to come up with interesting tales? You could get some nice tensions/conflicts between between those who respect age and those who do not. Here I would want the old ones to prove those who despise them wrong!

You can also write about age as an era and show how your fictional world has moved on (or not) from times past. What consequences would that have for your characters in the here and now?

Does age work in the same way it does here or is reverse aging possible? What conflicts could that cause? Also are only certain species/classes allowed to get to certain ages and beyond?

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