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Cassie's Creative Catalyst
Cassie's Creative Catalyst

Season 1, Episode 2 · 11 months ago

Character Creation - Name First

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this podcast, I explain how to create a character by creating their name first. A few examples are given along with why each element should be considered.

Note: Creative Writing Podcast 

Hey guys, I'm cassie the host ofCASSI's creative catalyst. This is the second episode and my charactercreation mini series. Last week I talked about how to create a characterby creating their personality. First, this week, I'm going to explain thebenefits of starting with the characters name. First, it alwayshappens. You're looking through baby name sites for the perfect name, andyou finally find one. Then you realize you don't have a character to use it on,or it doesn't sound right with the other names you've chosen. There arefew ways you can address this problem if you are set on giving a character, acertain first name that doesn't sound right with the rest of the names in thefamily have no fear. You can definitely still make that work. There are a lotof common reasons for people to get name changes. People get marrieddivorced. There are half siblings people change your last name due to apor relationship with a parent and people get adopted. These are just afew of the reasons that families come...

...to blend and have different last names.It is important to understand why a character has a different last name,though it shouldn't just be something that people sit there and accept,because they're going to want to know why, if the last name was changedbecause of a bad relationship with a parent, you should ask yourself whichparent and what the bad relationship was like if the last name is differentbecause of half sibling. What is their living situation like these questions,help us build a character and they let us explore their family dynamic whenyou have a blended family, that blend is going to affect your characters,living situations, how they interact with each other, and it's reallyimportant to bolster your characters. Based on these facts, I have acharacter who didn't fit well with his own family, no matter how hard Ireworked his personality, it just...

...didn't feel right. He was a criticalcharacter and his full name and his relationship with other characters hadalready been solidified. I finally decided to have him live full time withhis aunt uncle and cousins, while his parents had thravel heavy jobs. Thisworked out really well for me because his cousins were already criticalcharacters. His aunt and uncle were critical characters and his parentswere kind of unnecessary, and I realized that by moving my character inwith his cousins, I removed two clunky main characters and reduce them tosecondary characters that only came in periodically and when it was absolutelynecessary. This was also a good moment to explore how the characters reactedto change, why they thought the change was necessary and how important theother characters really are to the...

...story. Another reason one might chooseto develop a character with the name. First is because that character ismeant to honor a person in real life when you honor someone with a charactereither by using their name or a name, they choose, it is important to do itwell and with purpose, give the character treaits that make you thinkof the person. You're honoring, give them a reason to be in the story andmake their appearance matter. Don't say you are honoring a person with acharacter and then do a name drop and move on. They do not have to be a maincharacter or reoccurring character, but they should have a purpose in the story.A good example of this is a character. I made an honor of a high school friend.I had been looking at the names on the spines of books for inspiration, and wehad been talking about some of the...

...stuff. I was writing my friend lookedat me and said: If you ever base a character on me, can you give her thisname? I agreed because I was touched by the way she warded it as an option andnot a demand life moved on, and while I had used her name in a few unfinishedshort stories, I had mostly forgotten about the promise. Then one day I foundout that she had switched her major and she was going into a medical field, andI remembered that promise I had made all those years ago I reached out andasked if she was still okay with me, using that name to honor her and therole she played in my life she agreed and when I wrote the first draft of mybook, I used her name for a medic that played a crucial role in saving theother characters. It was not a large scene, but it was an important sceneand it was written with purpose. The next reason to name a character first,is because their name is important in the world. If you have an importantfamily, that is a center point to how...

...the area functions. You cannot put offnaming them. It will be extremely difficult to talk about the influencethat name has on an area. If you do not name them, naming the character firstcan help. You determine what kind of influence they will have on an area. Ifsomeone is angry at the character, is their name going to be yelled in thestreet or is it going to be whispered about behind closed doors? Is the namegoing to turn into a running joke? These can be answered by how the namesounds and what the meaning of the name is. If you find a name that meansdiligent and truthful, you can have a character that takes pride and how hardthey work and is always upfront about his abilities and when he can'tcomplete a task or you can make a play on the irony and create a lazy,Endslusi character that should never be trusted. I use this method when Idiscovered that a name meant ruler of...

...the home, I was still trying to figureout how I was going to structure the importance of families. In my story,the name helped me decide that each family had one ruling member and thatthere would be a lot of other rules in the family that would help guide theruler. This helped me with world building and the character creation,because his name gave him a purpose. The last reason to create a characterby naming them first is so that you can have names with a theme or familytradition. We all know a family where everyone's first name begins with thesame sound or a letter. If you decide to make a family this way, it isimportant to listen to how the name sound together. This will help avoidclunky conversations anytime. You try to refer to multiple members of thefamily. You can also ask yourself if there ar family traditions. In thiscase, it is important to name the character first, so that you can seehow feasible it is to implement the...

...tradition, or maybe you just likenature, inspired names or space team names. Once you name your characters.With this theme, you can use a theme to inspire the storyline. I've used this alot, both intentionally and unintentionally. I think my favoriteinstance of this is when I decided to create a tradition where the son'smiddle name was the grandfather's first name, it's just a little story elementthat adds depth to the characters. I particularly like this tradition,because it gives the characters their individuaality and a first name whilepaying respect to the family in the Middle Name. We all know some one whohas lived in the shadow of their namesake for one reason or another. Ipersonally find it difficult to replicate this shadow, and thistradition allows me to keep something of family importance without creatingan indepth background for a secondary character that I may never use with.All of this said, it is important to...

...note that your characters will changealong the way families will grow and blind even further. Your truthfulcharacter will be put in an impossible position, the character you are usingto honor a friend may follow a different path than originally intendedand the family might break tradition and that's all okay, especially becausewith a little bit of time, they will eventually find your place in the story,and you should not be afraid to tweek all of those little things until theytruly fit there or you can pull them out and put them into a future story.All right guys. Thanks for listening, if you've enjoyed this podcast and haveany questions, comments or suggestions, I'd love to hear from you, you cancontact me on instagram at cassie's, underscore creative underscore catalystor by email at cassie's, creative catalyst at gmailcom.

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