What's In a Name?
Updated: Aug 2, 2020
On revision number 324 of my latest children's book manuscript it was brought to my attention that, yikes, I had unnamed characters roaming around my imaginary town. While not the end of the world, what a missed opportunity!
Now aware of my oversight, the task was set for finding the just right trio of names to complete my cast of characters.
What I knew as I approached this task was:
- They are rabbits referred to in the story as the 3 Hares.
-They own and operate the Town Hare Salon.
So where to begin, baby name books, celebrities, my grandparents names? Manifesting a character out of thin air, giving it life and personality and, well you guessed it, a name, is so simple and yet so complex.
While I could toss any names at them, I found myself spending a significant amount of time trying to find the just right names. The Claude, Maude and Dotty or Alexandra, Sergio and Flavia all pulled from the depths of my brain with no purposeful connection or added impact to the story, just wouldn't do.
Below is the thought process I followed in trying to name my hair-styling hares.
Name meanings- Sifting through the bounty of names provided to me from online search engines, I began looking deeper at the meaning behind the names. I was amazed at the amount of names that mean "hair" or some variation of "hair". Crispin, Brunella, and Roslin were the last names standing in this round. Respectively they mean curly headed, brown haired, and red haired. I feel the names themselves feed the imagination about the personality that would be behind the name, while their meanings would be an easy jumping off point for illustrations.
Humor- I aim for my stories to have that "can you read that to me again?" quality that I love in the books I read to my children and my students. Humor is a key component. What will make my students laugh while also making the teacher or parent smirk on their 100th reading? With that in mind I dove into the world of hair puns, trying desperately to manipulate my words into laughs. While not intended to be a humorous story, the character names were an opportunity for a chuckle. Anita, Seymour and my personal favorite Angel were my final choices for this line of thinking. To me, these are jokes in camouflage. Their names are right there, but for many they will subtly slip by on first read. However, when the darling bunnies have their names presented with their surname, the laughs and "I get its" will soon follow.
Story connection- One way I thought to filter through the endless name lists was to find a connection between the names and the action of the story. Could I find names that more deeply grounded these characters in the roles they were written into it? Cue a lengthy list of hair salon word association and extensive thesaurus usage. That led me to Snippy, Buzz and Trim. They were simple and straight forward. Easy for kids to see the connection. Then as I read through the manuscript again, I was inspired to connect their names to the specific roles they serve at the salon, leading me to Prisma (hair colorist), Buzz (clipper specialist extraordinaire) and Perm (Do I need to explain?). I felt these names had a little extra pizzazz and I felt satisfied about their connection to their role in the story. Buzz even made the cut! No pun intended, or was it?
Regardless of their final names, these 3 hares will be partaking in the same action. By capitalizing on the name, I have the chance to add depth to the story and additional dimensions that demonstrate the thought, care and time that goes into every decision in my writing. What will their names be? I'll let you know when I decide, but I promise there will be more to their names than just names. Now back to my thesaurus!