Name Theory: The Known Perception

Who you know affects the way you think about names.

In this week’s naming, I admitted to knowing guys with three of the names I offered to the writer, guys who fit at least some aspect of the character.

I may have suggested those names for this character even if I didn’t know those guys, because they fit the criteria set for the character—age appropriate, Germanic, down-home names—but, the fact that I remember my old friend Frank as an Army brat makes that name feel more “right” for this character than if Frank had been a lawyer’s son.

I had a similar discussion with another writer a few days ago, when she argued that a character in a chapter we were critiquing sounded just like the Jasons she knew in high school. I agreed with her point, but then I had to be the bearer of bad news and remind her that we are not 17 anymore and guys in high school today have different names than they did back then. I mentioned that to me a Jason is more likely to be a guy in his 30s or 40s, like the Jasons in my Facebook friends list.

Yes, the description of this character fit the name Jason, but since this story was contemporary a name like Grayson would be more age appropriate.

Personal perception of a name will inevitably color your character name choices, but you still have to remember the perception of your readership. Especially when your perceptions are dated.

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