You can know anything. It's all there. You just have to find it.

-Neil Gaiman


Monday, May 2, 2011

The importance of characterization

If you're writing a book, chances are you're going to have some characters in it.  Or protagonists.  Or total dolts.

But they do need names.  Sometimes the names just pop into your head like a cosmic brain fart.  They are perfect and you instantly see them as if they're real people.  My two main characters came to me that way, fully formed so to speak.

But then there is the supporting cast.  They need names, too.

Sometimes it can be hard to think of a good name, especially if you write by the seat of your pants and suddenly a new person shows up on the scene.  You can't start calling everyone Bob.  Well, I guess you can but it gets annoying.

This is where a phone book can be handy.  I don't have trouble so much thinking of first names, but sometimes the last names are a little more work.

This is where a map can be helpful.  Some of my character's last names are city streets, names of parks or specific neighborhoods in the city I live in.  Minneapolis.

And sometimes names come out of my toddler's mouth.  The only word that Sena repeats with any regularity, besides "No!" is the word Jedgjoe.


I think that's how I would spell it. 

If she points at something, it's "Jedgjoe."

If she wants something, it's "Jedgjoe!" 

If I give her the wrong thing, she shakes her head and says, "No!  Jedgjoe."

So I'm thinking in my next book I will have to have a character named Jedgjoe.

Jedgjoe will be short, possibly a dwarf, with a temperment fitting a caveman.  Jedgjoe will be needy, clingy, quick to laugh, distracted by shiny things and be completely immodest, burping and farting at will.  Jedgjoe will not be toliet trained, nor will he understand that it's not good manners to wipe snot on someone else's pantlegs.  Jedgjoe likes treats, but can also be finicky, though it's a good bet he will always eat any fruit you have lying around.

Jedgjoe can and will have epic tantrums.

Jedgjoe only knows two words:


Jedgjoe has no shame.

In short, Jedgjoe will be the most obnoxious, funny, and tiresome creature you'll ever have the pleasure of knowing. 

On the upside, Jedgjoe is obscenely cute.

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