This blog is useful for naming any children you might have or any characters you dream up in your novel, screenplay, TV series, stage play or short story. In the previous two blogs, you learned how best to create your characters. Today’s blog is an extenuation of that but from the standpoint of rhythm and scanning (in the poetical sense.)
We will be dealing with the combination of a first and last name. Some designations are easier to remember than others when you are introduced to people. The same exists in literature. Certain combinations of first and last names keep your reader focused on your characters.
You will begin by breaking down the sounds in names phonetically and rhythmically. I know this sounds like some technical mish-mash and in a way it is. Even so, you will be able to get the hang of it if you’ll give it a try.
Years back when I first began to write my plays in Paris, I had the same problem most people have when writing/composing: What do I name the characters? I realized quite early on (as we learned in the last blog) that you could slip meaningful clues into the names of your people. Even so, some characters seemed easier to remember than others.
For inspiration, I used Time Magazine and borrow the name of members of their editorial staff. I would make combinations between some of their first and last names and come up with some interesting blends. However, I had to say the names over and over to see if they stuck well in my mind or not.
Finally I decided I needed a better and more reliable way than this hit or miss system of mine. Why did some combinations sound better than others? What I wanted to know was “Why?” Over time I came up with some rules for myself in how to get in charge of this process instead of it being in charge of me. So, I will pass along my little bag of tricks and see if they help you.
First of all, we have to break down the naming procedure. The first way of coming up with names is via the “echo” method. This means that any sound you have is repeated. This applies to both consonants and vowels. Marilyn Monroe, Roy Rogers. (Both first and last start with the same letter or sound.) Elvis Presley. (First vowel in both words is the same.) Our ears like this and due to the echo, the names are easy to remember. Robert Jordon. (Both have the letter O in the first syllable.) Kate Fresco. (Here the K and hard C sound alike.) Angela Abernathy (Both words begin with the same vowel.) Charlotte Sherwood is a good echo sound because Ch and Sh are pronounced the same in English.
Here is some information about vowels. I know we say that the vowels are pronounced A-E-I-O-U, but generally that is ONLY when they are stressed in a word. (Stressed means your voice goes up on a certain syllable.) Otherwise they are pronounced “uh”. Listen to how you pronounce the word “Canada.” You do NOT pronounce each “a” as an “a” Your voice is up on the first syllable and down on the last two. Thus you pronounce the first syllable as an ”a” and the other two syllables as “uh.” Pronounce the name “Pamela Anderson.” The voice is up on the first syllable in each word and is pronounced “a.” The other syllables in both words are pronounced “uh.” So this is a good name as it has the echo sound. Look at the name Phyllis Diller. It is a good echo name not because of vowels but because of the double “ll” in both parts of the name. Got the idea?
Okay, now on to rhythm and scanning. Poetry is music in words. We get this by scanning. This simply means we go up and down with our voice. UP when we stress a syllable and down when it is not stressed. If you can get music out of your characters’ names, then they are good names. Pronounce Erick Walker. What you are doing is UP-down-UP-down. We like that. It’s like music to our ears. Now pronounce David Franco. See, easy to say, easy to remember, and a good name.
One syllable names: James Franco. One syllable words are always “down.” This cuts off the music. James Franco isn’t as pleasant to the ear as David Franco. Then you have two one-syllable names like Tom Cruise, John Wayne, Bruce Dern. They’re okay but they lack music. We only know these names because they’re famous to our ears. What about Dudley Do-Right? Yes, it has music and is hard to get out of our heads like some good songs.
Then the last item concerns letters. Some are stronger for characters than others. For example, BR (a double consonant) is stronger than a single B. Brad vs Bob.
These consonants are strongest: D-K-M-P-R-S-T.
There you have THE NAME GAME. You should now (after this and the previous two blogs) be able to venture forth and create some memorable characters in your book, screenplay, stage play, TV script or short story.
This blog we have a contest and you can win something for FREE!!!
A woman’s photo is included in this blog. The caption asks you to give her a name. Here’s your chance to try out some of the tips you have learned in the most recent blogs. Once you have given her a name, write it in the COMMENT section below the blog. The person who comes up with the overall best name for this character will WIN a FREE copy of any one of my books. Have fun!! Enter today!!!!