Character Development…


Words have a power all their own
Words have a power all their own (Photo credit: Lynne Hand)

Yesterday’s word had me puzzling on how to incorporate it into a blog article. Could I be clever enough? Then life got complicated and I had to leave my train of thought and deal with the situation. So you have two for one today! I’ll let you be the judge on the outcome.

Sobriquet (sho-bri-kay) – Definition: a descriptive name or epitet – a nickname.

In character development we give a lot of thought to our character’s names, personality traits, appearance and their motivations. A name is a vital part of creating a mental image of our character for readers. The right name can give them a quick visualization of our character’s age, ethnicity, gender, and even location, and if we are writing a period piece, even the era. For example if I say the girl was called Britney, you would probably picture a young girl because of the association with Britney Spears. However, if a female character were called Edith or Edna, you would imagine someone born several decades ago. So you see a name is not just a name.

A burly man would be called something like Butch but not Shirley, unless of course you are going to tell the story of his struggle throughout childhood to overcome the name.  There are plenty of web sites available, which list the most common names for each decade and locations around the world.  These are great resources for writers, who require particular names for period stories or want to stay true to a certain decade.

The use of a nickname will also give your character an identity, be it an unkind one given by a bully or one of respect or fear for the bully. You would expect Big Al to be just that, a large person, however Little Mikey would be the exact opposite. Nicknames, or sobriquet’s can work very well in defining an ethnicity as well but care must be taken not to offend a person of color. Obviously there are certain words that were in common usage decades ago that are not politically correct now, so we need to be diligent in their use.

English: Common Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellari...
English: Common Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) in their Magnificent Sea Anemone (Heteractis magnifica) home on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our second word for today is: Symbiosis  – Definition – the living together in close association of two different organisms especially when mutually beneficial.

My immediate thought was two-fold, family and writing life. Most of us have to balance these two sides of our lives, it can be tricky at times but life on the whole is better if we can. From my own experience I know that ‘Mum’s writing’ was thought a bit barmy at first. My family members would notice me frantically typing but had no trouble interrupting me. It took some time for them to understand that the act of writing was extremely important to me and when I was given the space to write, I was happier. Three years down the line, I have worked out a flexible routine and everyone knows my writing is not a passing fad but an essential part of me. So much so that they notice how much happier I am once words have been put to page. The benefits are obvious a happy Mum means a happy home. Getting to this point was not easy but I am glad I persevered.

How do you balance your writing life? Can you share your experiences?

One thought on “Character Development…

  1. Good post – I love the research into names for particular pieces I am writing. My novella “A Journey of Brothers” employs not only the name fitting the time period, the age, and the location of my story but also the meaning of the name in several native languages. Applying the name to the attributes of the character is another way I make my characters stand out.

    Like

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