Thursday, November 5, 2009

what's in a name, part nine

For me, naming characters is really difficult. The name has to fit. It has to sound right. It has to feel as though it belongs to the character, and it would be great if it seems to have a life of its own. I try out names when I'm writing, and it' s not unusual for me to change a name after writing 200 pages. Usually, the names I choose are not names I particularly like (though sometimes they are) and I have a bunch of processes to help in my search. I go through baby name lists, I look through my old high school yearbook(!) and often to help me find the name, I need a photograph of the character.

So, all yesterday and all today, I've been going through google images, which is harder than it seems. Most of the faces I'm seeing look too pretty, or too posed. There isn't the roil of inner lives in the faces. I even went on (I told my husband beforehand that it was just for research) to scan faces, but those, too, seemed too posed, too anxious, or simply not right. I wish I knew a better way to search for the really interesting photos where people are in action, revealing themselves.

But I'm not frustrated. I know I'll recognize my characters the moment I see their faces, and all I have to do is find them.


Gina Sorell said...

Caroline, I do the same thing...stress about names, and often rename my characters 3 times!!

I just had a thought...try looking at the pics of your friends "friends" on facebook. I bet there are plenty of great faces and names to choose from!

Good Luck!

Elspeth Futcher said...

Caroline; Try Great pictures of everyday people some not trying to pose for the camera. I've found some wonderful images there.


Caroline said...

Great ideas! Thank you!

Sandra Gulland. said...

I love this process, Caroline. I lost several hours yesterday in

It is true that pretty is not what's needed. How about photographic portraits by famous photographers? How do we find these?