Thursday, June 9, 2011

Character names

It's a perennial question: What do you name your characters? I try to pick a name that sounds appropriate, but of course that begs the question. What's appropriate? Usually, it's a name that sounds "right" to me. It suggests the character's background, ethnicity, race, and personality. I've also been interested in English names that were trade or craft names: Miller, Cooper, Sawyer, Cook, Waller (one who builds walls). My main character is Phillip Fletcher; a fletcher was someone who made and sold arrows. I would like to think of Phil as a straight arrow.

Japanese family names are often based on geography: Tanaka ("within the field"), Yoshida ("ancient field"), Yamaguchi ("mountain's mouth"). In picking names for my Japanese characters, I thought it would be fun to use names that have overtones in English. So a delivery truck driver is Nagamichi ("long road") and the bad guy is Kurotani ("black valley").

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