One of the privileges of writing fiction is the opportunity to create characters’ names. Authors secretly dream of a day when their character becomes embedded in the collective consciousness. Who hasn’t heard of Ebenezer Scrooge? Scrooge’s name is so thoroughly a part of our culture that it has become its own meaning (miserly and cruel.) The wonder of Scrooge’s legacy is that, although he was fully reformed by story’s end, few remember him in that sense. Trust me, if someone calls you a “Scrooge,” they don’t mean it in a good way.
Typically I write stories about “normal” people with normal monikers like Danny, Jim, Lillian, and Maura. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to create a ridiculous name for a character and have it fit seamlessly with the plot. But what if I created a world inhabited by the likes of Julius Pennyford Thugknuckle and Pyracantha Jones? I can see them now, starring in a graphic novel (what we used to call “comic books.”)
J.P. Thugknuckle is an evil, white-haired, mustachioed billionaire who made his fortune bootlegging whiskey during Prohibition. Pyracantha Jones is a double-sword-wielding fiery redhead in a formfitting black vinyl costume who foils JP’s every scheme. The story practically writes itself once the names are in place. [Graphic novels are not my genre, so someone please write the story and slap my name on it.]
Now for a little test (no peeking around the Internet for answers!)
Can you match the author with the character he or she created?
- JK Rowling
- Charles Dickens
- JRR Tolkien
- Jane Austen
- Ayn Rand
- Mark Twain
- William Faulkner
- John Steinbeck
- Willa Cather
- Roald Dahl
- “Rosasharn” Joad Rivers
- Pudd’nhead Wilson
- Uriah Heep
- Antonia Shimerda
- Bellatrix Lestrange
- Fitzwilliam Darcy
- Veruca Salt
- Vardaman Bundren
- Meriadoc Brandybuck
- Ellsworth Monkton Toohey
How do you think you did? Check back tomorrow for the answers.
What is your favorite fictional character’s name, either created by yourself or another author?
Did I leave out any classic crazy names?
Now it’s your turn: string together a couple of words (see the hint below) and come up with a great fictional name on the spot and share it in the comments section.
Hint: JK Rowling shows us how to put two words together to create a surname. Think [Luna] Lovegood, [Galatea] Merrythought and [Rowena] Ravenclaw.