Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Novel's Journey: The Name Game

Dick and Jane. Mary Sue. Moe, Larry and Curly--how do you come up with names?
Sometimes, a name just comes to me. Vern d'Wyvern. Yes, it's awful, but it stuck. Thus, I had to come up with a back-story for this truly lame name. (After his encounter with St. George, he was presented to the Pope of the time, who, while a very holy man, didn't have a sophisticated sense of humor. He thought "Vern d'Wyvern" rather droll.)

Other times, I have to hunt for names. Charlie Wilmot, I found by looking at phone directories in England. (I love Google!) For the duchy he serves, I went to a map of England, found the general area and looked for the silliest combination of places I could. I'd remembered some of their towns are city-on-river, and so I came up with Peebles on Tweed. (I'd misremembered Shakespeare's birthplace as "Stratford on Avon" rather than "Stratford upon Avon," so when I combined the names I used "on.") I love the sound of the name.

Sometimes, especially when I'm looking for something specific and it doesn't come to me, I turn to friends for brainstorming. That happened twice this week. Earlier this month, Vern, Grace and Charlie discover the dead body of a professor. I wanted this professor, who was also a mage, to have a fun name to lighten the scene a bit. I couldn't think of one, so whenever I referred to him, I wrote (funname). (That way, when I come up with a name, I can do a global replace.) Then on Wednesday, I asked the folks who gathered for the online chat at The Writers Chatroom for help. After some fun brainstorming based on the fact that my victim was a mage specializing in portals and the Gap, Audrey Shaffer came up with Bill Gates. I loved the idea of a Faerie sharing a famous name, especially in a college atmosphere. You'll see what I did with it below.

Sometimes, though, I know a name is going to be important to future scenes--and in this case, jokes--so I can't move until I have it. This happened when I decided I needed a secret spy organization instead of just the standard FBI, CIA, ETC. At first, I had DICE--Department of Interdimensional Criminal Enforcement. Great potential for jokes. Then it occurred to me that we don’t enforce criminals; we enforce laws.

I was banging my head against the desk when my best e-buddy Ann Lewis showed up on IM. After a few minutes of tossing around acronyms and jokes, we came up with the Bureau for Interdimensional Law Enforcement. BILE. Naturally, I'll have to write in the evil sister organization, Villains for Interdimensional Lawlessness Enhancement, VILE.

Names are such fun!

Word Count: Only 23,400, but I had to dig myself out of a to-do list that was 90 tasks long.

Fave scene: Found on the door of Professor Bill Gates.
Professor William Gates, MT, PhD, GMM. Below that, a computer-generated sign in a page protector read: Pronounced Gay-TEZ. No relation to that Mundane computer fellow, thank you. However, if you are a Mundane and want to learn magic, I suggest computer science." And a map leading to computer science. Below the map read: "Mundanes: You are not genetically suited to handle magic. I cannot change that. I will not change your major. So very sorry."


Anonymous said...

LOL Glad I could be of help. :)


Karina Fabian said...

You did!

Nike Chillemi said...

This is great. I love Peebles on Tweed.

I also love the fun you have with names. If we're not having fun writing, why write?

Oh, I know we're driven to write...but why be gloomy about it when we can have a blast?