This article will be devoted to one of the most tricky, but interesting tasks that the author only encounters in the process of working on a work. Today we will focus on the problem of search name for literary heroes. I suppose those who have ever written prose have repeatedly encountered similar difficulties. Indeed, to come up with a good name for a hero is a kind of art, and often the author takes whole hours, or even days, before the desired combination of sounds appears in the language. But at the same time, this process is also very fascinating: writing character names is a great opportunity to give free rein to your own imagination, fuss over options, and even play a trick somewhere. In general, today we will try to understand the intricacies of this difficult task.
A little classification.
So, I suggest starting with the classification. As you know, proper names in a work are very different: the author calls one hero by name, for example, Kolya, another name respectfully by name with patronymic - Aristarkh Fedorovich, calls the third most often by last name - Kuznetsovand he’s calling the fourth one by his nickname - Lame. Thus, each hero is most often addressed in different ways, which means that the author needs to come up with the appeal that is most suitable for his character. This is where our conditional classification of calls comes from:
1. Name or bunch of name with patronymic.
The easiest and most common option. Separation is most often associated with age and social status: the older and more significant the character, the more you want to name him by name and patronymic. Younger heroes are easier to call by name or its vernacular derivative (Victor, Victor).
In this case, the author is required to choose the most suitable name or a bunch of name-patronymic as possible.
2. Name and surname.
Probably the second most popular option. Here, the author uses not only the name of the hero, but also actively calls him by last name. Accordingly, in this case, the semantic load of the name itself is somewhat reduced, but the load on the information content of the surname increases. Still, if the author takes the liberty of calling a hero by last name, she should really be at the top - concise, well remembered. The name in this case is also important, but not as much as in the first case.
Also in the literature there is such a thing as speaking last name - that is, a surname expressing a character trait, and sometimes even the fate of a hero (Box, Pravdin, Skotinin) This technique was actively used by Russian classics, it is still found today.
It is clear that if the hero has a nickname, then everything else is not so important. A well-conceived nickname usually easily replaces both the first and last name. It should be noted that nicknames and various kinds of chases are simply obliged to be "talking", that is, to reveal the character of the hero. Because, you see, it’s rather strange if the author constantly calls the silent silent guy Fierce. Remember childhood: nicknames are always given according to characteristic external features (Oblique, Red, Skeleton) or character traits (Coward, Dunce, Experienced) Sometimes a nickname is obtained as a result of some remarkable story - in our case, this can also be successfully used by telling this story as part of a work.
Thus, one should always start with the main appeal - with how the author himself will call his hero: Vasya, Vasily, Vasily Aristarkhovich, Nadsadnov or, for example, Skull. As you can see, each of the options has its own character.
Often the editor is confused when one character is treated differently. If you named the heroine Olga Evgenievna, then she must remain Olga Evgenievna until the very end.
When you name the main characters, think also about whether the editor would be tired of reading this name 25-75 times per hour. For example, Bronislav will annoy the editors more than Boris because of the br-cutting combination.
Here are a few more things to consider:
• “K”, “c”, “cs”, and “x” are hard sounds. Kuzya and Ksyusha are most likely not a very good choice. Of course, you can use this to achieve a special effect, calling the character who is least likely to be named. Thus, it will be more noticeable.
• “B”, “f”, “m”, “f” and “p” are examples of sounds that sound solid, but not threatening. For example: Fedor, Boris, Max.
• “L”, “s”, “y” and “o” - soft, smooth, sensual sounds.
The names of the characters help you create the world of your work, explain to the reader what is happening. Names such as the Nightingale the Robber or Ivan the Terrible immediately explain who we are dealing with. These characters simply cannot be good people or saviors. And vice versa - if their name was Vanya or Kolya, this would only confuse us and would not tell us anything about them.
1) The use of "exotic" names such as "Tulkonderofkok" is absolutely unacceptable. Of course, an alien or orc is unlikely to call Misha, but this does not justify the existence of a name from a random set of letters. So it's better to use familiar sound combinations. We know names like Boris or Dima - together we get Bodim. If this does not seem alien to you, then you can add a prefix or get rid of the end - it will turn out, for example, Robotim. Tolya and Marina together give such names as Tomarin, Maritol.
2) Too long names are annoying. Three syllables is the maximum. Well, okay, five if you use shortening. For example, Dr. Doronov or Mr. Fenerbaum.
3) It is inefficient to use techniques that no one can appreciate. Some books, for example, advise choosing names according to their meaning: since "Sophia" in Greek means "wisdom", the wise character should be called that way. This is terrible advice. Your readers are unlikely to know that "Eugene" is translated from ancient Greek as "coming from a high kind". There are much more effective ways to show how noble he is, for example, to give him the name "Onegin."
An alien or orc is unlikely to call Misha, but this does not justify the existence of a name from a random set of letters.
4) It is wrong to name a hero in honor of famous characters of another author. This is especially true for unusual surnames. If you call the hero Alexander Chatsky, then in the best case, this will remain a hidden “joke not for everyone,” but the following scenarios are more likely:
a) The editor understands the hint of “Woe from Wit”, and this knocks him out of reading every time the name appears on the page.
b) He understands the hint of “Woe from Wit” and concludes that the author could not come up with a name himself.
c) He does not pick up a hint of “Woe from Wit”, and this means that the author did not take the opportunity to effectively name his hero.
5) Foreign names can drive the reader into a stupor, so choose only those that will not cause difficulties. It’s not clear how to read a name like “Selraf Katawayson.” Where is the emphasis put? Have we spelled this name correctly?
6) The surname is not always needed. It happens that a surname is needed, but more often than not. Surnames are particularly disturbed at the beginning, when it is easy for the reader to get confused in Sentences, where Too Many Uppercase Letters. If you still use the surname, then let it be simple and memorable.
7) Often the editor is confused when one character is treated differently. If you named the heroine Olga Evgenievna, then she must remain Olga Evgenievna until the very end. It’s not scary if the children call her “mommy,” but if the other character turns to her “Olya” or “Associate Professor Ivanova,” we will have to strain. Even if you mentioned somewhere in the beginning that Olga Evgenievna Ivanova has a degree, the editor may forget about it.
The names are ordinary.
In general, if we continue to classify, then all names can be conditionally divided into commonplace and outstanding. With the extraordinary, everything, I think, is understandable: the author specially invents the hero’s original name so that it will be remembered by the reader and highlighted the character among others. After all, the hero must be a hero, after all!
But with ordinary names, everything is somewhat more complicated. As you have noticed, some authors intentionally use simple and widespread names. For example, the same Stephen King. He is not particularly original - takes the usual American names and calls them his heroes. The question is, why? And everything is quite simple. It is believed that heroes with simple names more easily gain the trust of readers - because they are just ordinary people like us, and the reader subconsciously associates himself with such heroes. In the case of King, ordinary names are also a good way to show that a nightmare can occur in the most ordinary city in the most ordinary family, and this, it should be noted, excites the reader much more.
Therefore, the author, choosing the name of the hero, should think about what he wants: to distinguish it from others or to create a sense of history among readers that could happen to them. And, of course, in different circumstances the choice will be different.
Another important point is that the “sound” should always be one thing: either a name, or a surname, or a nickname. That's why Emelyan Zvezdovsky nicknamed Fountain - This is a bust.
The sound of the name.
Probably one of the most important factors in choosing a name is its sound. Each sound - whether it is a vowel, hissing, voiced or deaf - carries a certain semantic load. Agree, sounds are easily able to express the strength of character (Thor), and its softness (Mila) Apart from this are hissing ("w", "h", "u") - they are often associated with mystery and some unexpressed danger.
He deals with sound issues in Russian phonetics. For example, the sounds “k”, “c”, “ks” and “x” are considered hard. “B”, “f”, “m”, “f” are examples of sounds that sound solid, but not threatening. “L”, “s”, “y” and “o” - soft, smooth, sensual sounds.
No less significant for the selection of the name and its general harmony. It is important that the reader is easy and pleasant to pronounce the name of the hero. therefore Arnolf always better than Scrimbr, but Evgeniy preferable than Elijah. The harmony is simple enough to check: it is enough to take a page of text where a hero is often mentioned, and change its name to your chosen one. After reading one page, it will become clear to you whether it is well perceived or not.
Subtleties that are worth paying attention to.
First of all, it is worth noting that the name of the hero must correspond to the world in which the described events take place. For example, the appearance of Slavic names in a fictional world or the use of Old Norse names in modern urban prose would be extremely strange. In principle, this recommendation is banal in itself, but not all novice authors adhere to it. Also, the artificial introduction of foreign names into Russian reality does not always work, when these names are not carried by foreigners themselves, but by our compatriots: after all, John and Frankie somehow look wild among Ivanov and Petrov. Although, for example, the reverse maneuver - the use of Russian, Chinese, Spanish names in the context of American reality - raises the topic of migrants, which is very relevant in our time. So there really is something to think about here.
For the name, length is also important. The more syllables and letters in it, the more difficult it is to read. The ideal length is 2-3 syllables. Four is already a lot. But do not forget that names can be abbreviated, as this happens in ordinary life: Konstantin becomes Kostik, but Benjamin – Veney.
It is also important to consider the possible associations assigned to the name. This applies most of all to a bunch of first name. For example, calling the main character Alexander Sergeyevich, it will be very difficult for you to overcome the involuntary associations of the audience with Pushkin.
It’s easier to come up with real names: you just need to choose the most suitable one from the existing list. But fictitious names give room for imagination, you can invest in them whatever you want, experiment with sound. But here, too, one must not forget about the correspondence of the name and the world of events - fictitious names take place, mainly, only in fantastic prose.
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