Name Theory: Limits Aid Creativity

I have a theory: Limits feed creativity. I first conceived this theory when I began using Magnetic Poetry. With all the words in the world, I could hardly think of a concept for a poem. With only that set of words (sometimes augmented with add-on sets) my poetic creativity bloomed.

Extended to the world of naming, my theory is… the fewer names a writer can choose from the easier it will be for said writer to find the “right” or “perfect” name for a given character.

Trying to think of a name off the top of your head, or to find one from a book full of or website listing of names, can give you too many choices to be effective. When the Baby Name Wizard recently covered this problem from the perspective of baby naming, she referred to the “paradox of choice” as “Endless choices, challenging criteria, and high stakes. …a decision-maker’s nightmare.”

What a namer needs to find his or her dream name are limits and specific criteria.

In this week’s example I limited the choices by gender, ethnicity, and temperament. Additionally, I limited the naming choices by using a relevant list (as mentioned last week) rather than trying to choose from ALL French girls names.

When next you are trying to find a name for a character, think of ways to limit your choices, by choosing how many syllables the name should have or what letter the name should begin with or whether the name should be classic or trendy. Find a way to limit your name choices and you may just open up a door to a new world of name possibilities.


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