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Archive for the tag “Suzanne Collins”

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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Back?

*Michelle climbs back onto the face of the earth.* Whew, quite a tumble I took there wasn’t it? I haven’t posted anything new since July?? And I’ve read so many books I should review, too.

Here’s what’s coming in the next few weeks: review of the TV show “Farscape,” review of Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay, review of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (yes, I was living under a rock after falling off the face of the earth, so it’s taken me awhile to get on board with the book everyone and their senile uncle has read) and a Grammar Nazi post (really, she should rename herself the Spelling Nazi, because that’s all she really harps on. *ouch* Okay, she just smacked me for finishing that sentence with a preposition. And she’s seething over this entire paragraph. Heh.)

On other news, I’ve finished the major revisions to Veiled Iron and have begun querying. I’m planning on entering a few contests, and resuming work on Broadway High (for those of you keeping track, that’s the YA musical novel). My fanfiction story is finished, and several lovely readers from that experience have volunteered to read Veiled Iron for me and give me some feedback. Yay 🙂

Happy New Year everyone!

Michelle

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