Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Titles and Names

We often hear how important titles are for books. A great title can make a book stand out on a crowded bookstore shelf and initiate a buying process that might otherwise not have occurred.

When I open the book, character and place names can also keep me moving forward or distract me to the point of frustration. If most of them have highly unpronouncable names of great length, my chance of reading more than a couple of chapters drops exponentially with every additional syllable or hyphen. I personally think you can name your characters just about anything simple as long as you're telling a great story.

One thing I really appreciate is clever and descriptive names for stores and shops. I'm not talking about the ones that describe the place in detail, but short evocative names that make me take notice and nod in approval and agreement.

This post was inspired by a name change at my favorite drive-thru coffee stand. It was recently sold and renamed 'Brewed Awakenings'. Now that is a very clever and descriptive name!

What names have you created that would make me smile and nod?


Mary Witzl said...

I love thinking of nasty names for awful characters. I have a nosy old busybody named after a famous prison in Tokyo, and I gave my heroine a name that translates into Japanese as 'The one who stays home and minds the house.' This is a joke because her husband has left her.

I'm fussy about names. I can't stand names that don't sound as though they go with the right decade, say, or era. A girl born in the nineties isn't likely to be called Betty, and a woman born in 1925 isn't likely to be called Kylie. My husband, normally a very astute and eclectic reader, takes it even further: he won't read Russian novels as he gets too flummoxed over the patronyms -- and all those syllables.

Church Lady said...

I like the dog's name in my story--Doorstep. My characters have nicknames that I also like.

The bullies in my story are nicknamed 'Cranky' and 'Rock Star.' A mean girl is nicknamed 'Creepy Crown.'

I love nicknames. I can't help giving everyone one. :-)

Colorado Writer said...

My heroine of my MG is named Freedom Jane McKenzie. The setting is 1959 Idaho. The name came from her father who is somewhat of a beatnik.

The Anti-Wife said...

I'm fussy too and agree that decade mistakes can be very irritating.

Interesting names - especially Doorstep.

Love that name. Just remember that the term Beatnik wasn't coined until 1958.

Ello said...

There was a great chicken place near NYU in the village called Pluck U, used to always crack me up.

oh and I LOVED your story about the airplane ride. It was so awesome!

Stephen Parrish said...

It's hard to root for characters whose names I can't pronounce.

Bernita said...

I like "Doorstop."
Hmmm, mine aren't very clever.
I do have a spectral dog named Dumbarton - Dummy for short.

The Anti-Wife said...

Now that's a name that makes me smile and nod.

Totally agree. I's hard to even continue reading.

I think Dummy is a great nickname for a dog.

Kim Stagliano said...

Ugh titles. I'm still toying with mine. Praying an editor will come up with a better one. By the way, you have three of my fav books showing there - LMITE, No Safe Place and Lottery. And I've met all three authors! Wonderful people. GREAT books.

Mary Witzl said...

Just wanted to let you know that I told my husband and daughters your airplane story and they all three simultaneously punched the air and cheered. They can't get over how clever that was!

Maya Reynolds said...

I don't have any clever names to share, but I always smile when I drive past a dress shop for pregnant women.

It's called "A Pea in the Pod." :)

desiderata said...

Hi dare:

I met thee at jason evans' Restless Dawn contest and strayed hear to ENJOY amore of your writHings.

Can I "borrow" this Post for use at desiderata2000.B? This weak I'm spending on Literary adventures abroad - taking a break from MALsian politcs! -- hence I find this Post's content relevant and digestible/-able...I am entry 43.:)

PS: My email is chongyl2000@yahoo.com if you care to drop a note ... and we'll ct our fun-D journey...

The Anti-Wife said...

I'm sorry, but you can't borrow my post. If you would like to refer to it you may, but you may not copy it or any part of it.