4 February 2015

Wednesday Writing Prompt #9

Are you reading this on your tablet or your iPad? Is your wristwatch a Wal-Mart special or a Rolex? Are you about to pick up a Biro, a biro, or a Mont Blanc?

Naming imbues with life. For the reader it drags in its wake mental images, not just of what the item looks like, but lifestyle pointers to the person using the item – just as the advertising industry maintains.

Characters’ names do the same: Roberto, Robert, Robbie, Rob, Bob, Bobby/ie, Bert. How do you see those individuals? Are they the same age and social standing? Do they dress the same, drive the same vehicle?

I’ve just finished a novella where the first-person viewpoint character is referred to throughout as Ms Jeffries – but only via one male character; no one else in the story names her. Another character refers to him as oily, meaning obsequious, which he is. But as the story progresses the reader, through Ms Jeffries' viewpoint, understands that the man has an agenda.

However, if from the start he had referred to her in tones of... Hi, Gladys, h’ya doin’, girl? ...the tension between the two characters would have been different, and with it the atmosphere and tone of the story, and doubtless its ending.

Naming imbues with life, so choose with care the names used in your fiction. Better still, choose a name that can be altered depending on the user’s ulterior motive.

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