Saturday, January 9, 2016

Names in SFF: YA interlude

Kat Brown has a really great bit on names in her "How to Write a Dystopian YA Novel in 10 Easy Steps" article over at The Telegraph. Here it all is:
4) Names

Forget plot, the majority of your planning time needs to be on your characters' names. What are you hoping to achieve with your protagonist? Whatever, it needs to be intriguing, aspirational and sound a million miles away from school.

Ideally you will be aiming for something that evokes sullen determination with a tinge of glamour. You can do this by taking a regular name and swapping the letters around, or by putting a y where it doesn’t belong.

S sounds are also good: think Tris, Katsa, Jace, Alysse or Katniss. If you get to Tristophé you have wandered into an episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and need to stop procrastinating and write your damn book.

If in doubt, google "Victorian households": Clarissa, Tobias, Magnus, Bram. This can also apply to surnames, although opening a dictionary and choosing the first adjective you see works just as well. Precious stones or exotic items are also good, although be wary of heroines called Beryl. 
Bolt on an adjective, or an intriguing misspelling. Don’t miss the opportunity to eke out a few extra syllables. Compound words together. Freestyle it. Everglade Tannerbrook would be a terrific father figure who also runs a farm while forging weapons out of tree sap.

Names with meaning are good, especially if you have read a lot of baby name books or are aiming for a story with "layers". Caleb, meaning loyal, is a good choice if you have a romantically unexciting male best friend. There are a lot of variants on Kat, possibly because Katherine means pure. Sidenote: Kat Brown means Pure Brawn. You are all supporting characters in my own dystopian universe!

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