[Enter Title Here (The Naming of Things)]

Well, look at that. I’m still alive. School has finally rolled around, and I’m tired and sick, but I’m alive. Nice to see you again, blog on my laptop screen. Let’s see if I can write out an entire post for the fun of it, shall we?

It’s another one of those annoying things that comes with writing just about anything. Whether you do fiction or non-fiction, verse or prose, a short story or a novel, everyone comes across the universal problem that is names. That is, names, and titles.

I’ve spent a fair amount of “writing time” staring at a page and trying to think up with the perfect name for a new character or an imaginary place (the latter of which includes looking up a word for that place that I may think is original only to find rather unflattering definitions). When it comes to finding something that sounds right, you have hours to spare.

And remember, that’s only names. Titles are an entire different monster altogether. You’re trying to find something that sums up the piece that you’ve created, but nothing seems like it works, and in the end it just ends up being Untitled because hey, why not.

My experiences with names aren’t the best, but from what I’ve seen, I’m not the only one that these are occurrences for. Starting out, here comes the stars of the show themselves:

The Names of Characters

The weird thing is, I go to write a quick response to a prompt, and the names of characters come to me easily. That guy is Carl. She is Susan. Perfect. (As I can recall, none of my main characters have ever been called Carl and Susan, but that’s beside the point.)

When I have more time and when I know these names are going to be in it for the long run, it’s a case of clamming up, so to speak. I’ll be writing these names over, and over, and over again every time I sit down to write. The names need to be good, and they need to be something I’m not going to get sick of half way through.

Sometimes character names do come naturally. Not as quick as a prompt Carl and Susan, but the Carl and Susan do come around. And then it’s a matter of last names, and bam, I’m done. However, this is very rare. It only ever happens with a couple of characters.

Other times, I’ll interrogate family or friends for names. Out of the blue I’ll just ask one or several of them to “give me a (insert gender) name.” They will tell me a name, or a selection of many, and I’ll roll with it. This is an only slightly less rare option for me, because most of the time I rely on…drum roll please…

Baby name websites.

Yes. Baby name websites. Wohoo.

Like I told you earlier, though, I’m not the only one! Baby name websites are a go to place for naming people, real or not. If I’m really low on ideas, I’ll scroll through one of those websites until I find a name I like and that I think fits the character. This is a foolproof plan, honestly. I’ve never had an instance where I couldn’t find something I liked on a baby name website.

Then there’s characters like Nod Axiom from Thief. She’s in a category all of her own for my characters. I…Yeah, I don’t know where that name came from. It might have been inspired by Wynken, Blynken, and Nod? Probably? I really have no idea anymore.

The Names of Places

This comes with building worlds far unlike our own. Maybe very like our own, or even basically our everyday world with one place that is a figment of the creator’s imagination. Whatever the case, this is also difficult.

Usually when I’m trying to name areas, that means the story takes place in a fantasy or sci-fi world. And because of these outrageous settings, the names can be equally outrageous, right?

As I’ve already mentioned, my tactic for this one is to sit around until an unsuspecting name floats by and I can kidnap it. Then I’ll search it up to see if it is a real thing and what it means. A lot of the time, I will keep adding things to the name or I’ll shift it around until I get the message:

Your search-__________-did not match any documents.

Suggestions:

-Make sure that all words are spelled correctly.

-Try different keywords.

-Try more general keywords.

Don’t worry, Google. I meant what I said and I said what I meant. If Dr. Seuss could make up words, so can I.

The Monster

I, uh, mean titles. Yeah, titles.

No, seriously though. These things are the worst.

There’s no tactic. Not that I have, at least. Baby name websites don’t give you titles. I would prefer not to have a made up word as my title, personally. There’s always the option of asking others, but a title is the sort of thing that I never seem to be satisfied with until I find The One.

Sometimes The One never actually pops up. Once again, Thief is an example of that, as is Forevermore. A holding title will roll around, and it will stick to the story until it becomes the real thing. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, in the end-at least there’s a title.

The moral of the story?

Naming things in pieces of writing is hard. Even if it’s a particular piece that doesn’t require you make up names for people or places on your own, each usually has a monster-uh, title-of its own. The reason for that, I suppose, is that they’re important.

Think Harry Potter, Star Wars, Mario Bros. All of these things have fairly simple titles, but they’re memorable. If you say one of them, a lot of the time people will know what you mean. Those names will always be connected to those stories.

The names are unfortunately part of the creative process. The names are, at the end of the day, part of the story in a huge way.

 

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