Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Johnson . . . or

What does the name Johnson have to do with writing? Well, hang on a minute and watch the following clip. It's only 38 seconds. You can do it.

The point is, a name means a lot! A name identifies who you are.

A name does even more in fiction. There are undertones with a name that not only identifies the character but also says a great deal about what the character does. Really. Think about Hawkeye in Mash.

Sure he said his father named him after a famous Native American, but the writer who created him named him "Hawkeye" not only because of his profession as a surgeon (wouldn't you like a surgeon named Hawkeye operating on you?), but also his keen wit and foresight.

Another thing an author needs to think over while naming characters is sound and the exact meaning of the name. What kind of character do you see when you hear the name Voldemort? J.K. Rowling knew what she was doing naming her villain with sharp sounds. Also Vol de mort means "flight of death" in French.

Now think of the name Hope? Or Sunshine? You have a completely different image and feeling.

Names are a big deal and like the fellow in the video says, you don't have to call me [or your character] Johnson (though Johnson is a great name, don't get me wrong).

What character do you recall who's name had duel meanings and really represented the character as a whole?



  1. Great post. Names really are so important and I spend ages looking for just the right name for my characters.

    I once wrote a play about angels, and half the characters were given names of flightless birds (there are actually quite a lot of birds that don't fly!), while the other half were named after birds famous for their wingspan or flight skills.

    Visiting from the A-Z challenge

    1. Angeline,
      Angels would be difficult to name because you wouldn't want to use what's been used before. Sounds like you stayed away from that trap. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I believe that names are very important in naming characters. A German character, for instance, should not have an English sounding name. The meaning of the name should fit, as well.

    Great post...the A-Z challenge has led me to some amazing blogs!

    1. You make a very important point. The name should fit the character's context. However, in America you can have a character born and raised here, but with visible heredity from say Japan or Mexico, named something like Michael. This serves a purpose though. The reader right away gets a clue that maybe all is not what it seems.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  3. I Like it when a name matches a character. With English being my second language, names have always been a challenge, unless they paint a picture (or character) that sticks. Blessings!

    1. Petra,
      I admire those who have learned English as a second language. That's quite an accomplishment. I'm with you, I like names that paint a picture. Blessings to you!

  4. hawkeye is such an odd name when you think about it! but i loved it!

    whats interesting is we usually choose names for characters to go with their personality & the setting, but when we choose names for our kids, we want what sounds good and hope the name fits. they usually live up to the name, in most cases i have found, but there's always a zinger!

    1. Tara,
      Great point. Many parents do name their children hopeful they will live up to it. Wouldn't that make an interesting character...someone trying to live up to their name. Hmm...



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