Name Theory: Recycling Plotlines into Lemonade

When I offered a free character naming service I was partially interested in seeing what stories other writers were working on, and some of them were doozies.

Some writers were working on versions of story clichés, like the example from this week (I just recently read a version of the virtual reality war), but those clichés can become the basis of an interesting and creative story. This week’s example, for instance, made me think of how I would write this cliché.

My virtual reality warrior’s name: Zephyn.

Other writers were writing what may have seemed like a comic and unusual topic, until I saw a third similar description, like the fairy prince stories where the fairy prince was either gay or bi-sexual. My version would be a child’s picture book teaching acceptance.

My gay fairy prince’s name: Prince Perrin.

I didn’t name many gay or bi-sexual characters. Honestly, other than the gay fairy princes, the only other “non-straight” characters I named were also the only two black women I was asked to name. One was a lesbian and the other was bi-sexual. In my take on the story, she would be dealing with her family’s opposition to her interracial, lesbian relationship.

My black lesbian’s name: Keziah.

There is a definite whitewashing in publishing, so I was un-surprised that I had fewer requests for naming characters that were not white (a handful out of 200+), than for naming British characters (even American writers wanted to write British). Though I was more perplexed to see a few setting their Young Adult novels in boarding schools (I blame Harry Potter), I have since learned that this is a somewhat common ploy to get rid of parents (and other authority figures) without having to kill them off.

My boarding-school British teen’s name: Rhys. (I’ve been waiting for an excuse to use the name Rhys.)

Even outside of boarding schools, Young Adult novels abound. In fact, and in particular, in several stories one or both of the main character female teen’s parents are from the Summerland or the Winterland, and therefore she spends some of her time there where she meets a mysterious boy/love interest who may or may not be out to destroy her family.

My Winterland teen’s name: Branwen.

In those stories the girl is living between two places; in another semi-common theme the character is living between being human and being a cat. Seriously. In my version, the cat/person is like an urban vampire or werewolf, sort of a cross between a less-sexy-more-ferocious Catwoman and the Hulk.

My cat/person/shape-shifter’s name: Vita.

Every story, every character, entices my imagination, as it should for you.

Let every cliché and every oddly popular twist spark your imagination, so that you can begin to wonder how you would have written the story, how you would have changed it, how you would have expanded it, and how you would have made it greater than just another cat/person/shape-shifter story. And use names to help you evoke just the right feeling for your gay fairy prince.

Recycle a plotline, and aim to make the silly spectacular.

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