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Archive for the tag “characters”

Friday Frivolity: The Alignment Chart you never knew you needed.

I posted this to my facebook awhile back, but looking at it never gets old. It’s a classic example of what amounts to character archetypes, and a great starting off block if you’re playing around with creating a less-than-Boy-Scout hero, or devising a villain whose name makes Shenzi from The Lion King shiver and then ask to hear the name again. “Ooooh… do it again.”

I say starting off block, because you shouldn’t just put Captain Picard in your story and change his name. You’re better than that! (Not to mention some Trekkie will come after you in your sleep. Like my husband.)

For those of us who didn’t cut our teeth playing Dungeons & Dragons, this is an Alignment Chart. It had something to do with character creation in that game, and I think also played a role in how that character had to behave in certain situations. Also for non D&D people–it has translations (if you can’t read them, click the photo to see this larger).

Enjoy 🙂

For a larger version, click the photo.

 

Wednesday Writing: Think Before You Name

As writers, we name a whole lotta stuff. Characters. Towns. Fantasy and science fiction writers name entire worlds. But a name isn’t just an arbitrary placeholder meant to differentiate people and places in your book.

In unillustrated works, the name is the face.

Think about that. You get a character’s physical description a handful of times in a book. Maybe you get clues to his personality a handful of other times. But how many times do you see his name? In a 300 page novel, the number is probably close to a thousand times. If your name sounds weak, the character will seem weak. If your name sounds brawny, the character will sound brawny. If your name is an unpronounceable mouthful, readers will skip right over it and probably not connect with your character very well.

I really want to know what Suzanne Collins was thinking when she named Peeta in The Hunger Games.

  • Katniss–sounds feminine but fierce because of the “Kate/Kat” element. It also makes sense in District 12 because it’s the name of a wild plant. A good, solid name for her.
  • Haymitch–great name for this character. He’s crotchety, older, a real scoundrel.
  • Peeta–wha? Is it male? Is it female? Is it concerned with the ethical treatment of animals? Is it a type of bread (seriously, I hope this isn’t the reason)? Whatever it is, Peeta certainly doesn’t sound like an attractive male lead. Maybe that’s the point, but Peeta’s name still bugs me.
And we’re not even going to talk about Renesmee. (shudder)

J.R.R. Tolkien used the power of connotation and our linguistic heritage to give Middle Earth its intense depth of history. This article in the New Yorker explores the power of brand naming and linguistic connotations. Naming isn’t the most important thing we do as writers, but we can’t afford to overlook it.

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