Monday, April 15, 2013

N is for Names + Teaser Tuesday: Neverending Story


Welcome to the A to Z Challenge! This is my first year participating. Basically, we post every day except Sunday, which in April means we'll finish on the 30th. We blog about something each day which starts with the corresponding letter of the alphabet. So, day 1=A, day 2=B, etc. Visit the A to Z blog for more details.

My theme is writing and related bookish things. A pretty vague theme, I'll admit, but as this is a writing/bookish blog, I thought I'd clarify. 

Today's letter: N 

N is for Names.

Names are an important part of any story. I'm a strong believer that they should always be in keeping with the character in some way. Many names mean something or have a specific connotation, but even that's not entirely necessarily. 

Nathaniel Hawthorne's villain in The Scarlet letter was named Chillingworth. That doesn't mean anything specific, but it sounds like something cold, which is apt for that villain's character. In a more recent story, Christopher Nolan's Inception Film, I had to laugh because the woman in the dream that represented ruin carried the name of Mal. All kinds of original, I thought. But only a story teller would probably think anything of it. In that case, the name both sounds like and means something negative.

Hyper-masculine names like Thor or Jack put the reader in mind of some serious testosterone. (Granted, the connotations of those names probably first came about because of who the characters were, but even so.) Even if you use the name as an ironic one, the connotation still stands and sends a message about the character. The same is true of feminine-sounding names, while evil characters often have names that just sound dark. After all, no one wants to cuddle up to names like Voldemort and Darth Mal. But Bill the Pony just sounds like a swell friend to have. ;D

Make your names say something--anything--about the character, or sound like something that represents the character. A name like that will be more memorable and help the character stick more clearly in the minds of your readers.

What do you think? How do you come up with names for your characters?

Teaser Tuesday--The Neverending Story

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser this week is from The Neverending Story by Michael Ende.

"What about the Childlike Empress? 
"The Childlike Empress," said the tiny in an undertone, "is ill. Very ill. Maybe that's the cause of this mysterious calamity that's threatening all of Fantastica. But none of the many doctors who've been conferring in the Magnolia Pavillion has discovered the nature of her illness or found a cure for it." 
Two days later Blubb, the will-o'-the-wisp arrived. Of course, he had hoped in the wrong direction and made an enormous detour. 
And finally--three days after that--Pyornkrachzark, the rock chewer, appeared. He came plodding along on foot, for in a sudden frenzy of hunger, he had eaten his stone bicycle.

What are you reading this week?


  1. Naming characters is always way more difficult than I think it will be. If the name doesn't feel right, it can throw off the whole story.

    1. I agree! I tend to agonize over names. I've found it's harder in our-world stories than it is in fantasy worlds where you can make up names no one's ever heard of. :D Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Huh...that's an interesting thought on naming characters. When I used to do a lot of writing in my teens, I always checked the name dictionary to try to get names with great meanings. It was actually pretty silly the way I did it.

    Btw, I love your teaser. I've always wanted to read The Neverending Story.

    My TT

    1. Thanks Vonnie! I don't use the dictionary, but I often get online and look up meanings in name databases, especially when I'm writing about a particular time period or culture.

      So far, The Neverending Story is really good. I grew up on the '80s film and still love it today. Not too many differences so far but I'll probably review it in full next week. Thanks for dropping by! :D

  3. I find names pretty tricky. They definitely have to relate to the character in some way. I often have to write about a character for quite a long time, to get to know them, before a name comes to me.

    1. They are tricky. I find I can't write about a character well unless I know their name, but I know what you mean about knowing them. I have to flesh out my character well before I can come up with a name, and I need the name to write, so...yeah it's definitely a process. Thanks Nick! :D

  4. Ooh nice tease! Never read the book but always watched the movie as a kid!

    Here's my Teaser

    Have a GREAT day!

    Old Follower :)

    1. Thanks Jessica! I'll check yours out too. I was pretty much raised on this film. I found a DVD copy of it for like $3 a few years ago and had to get it! Then I found the book online for some seriously small coinage and knew I had to read it. Thanks for stopping by! :D

  5. I read the book after watching the movie perhaps a hundred times... one of the VERY few times where I have decided the movie is superior to the book.

    Names are definitely the thing that take me the longest when I'm writing... they have to be JUST RIGHT.

    1. I'm not far in the book yet, but there have already been a few parts where I liked the dialogue in the movie better than what's in the book. Granted, we might be biased for having grown up on the film, but still I think the film writers were total geniuses! I'll probably review the book in full next week. Thanks for stopping by, Jenelle. Happy Tuesday! :D

  6. What a co-incidence my topic for N was Names too but Names in general. I liked your approach towards the topic. Nice Blogpost!

  7. Names are so crucial and some writers are gifted at choosing (or creating) perfect ones for their characters.