Friday, May 6, 2011

FFW, Fast Five, and Free!

Double shot today! The FFW’s take on character names AND a movie review.

And... I was interviewed Thursday at Points of Claire-ification! For a chance to win a free copy of CassaStar, visit Claire now!

I invite your to check out my Fantastic Friday Writers partners, as we have some new members - Elizabeth Mueller, Anastasia V. Pergakis, J. D. Brown, Deirdra Eden Coppel, M. Pax at Wistful Nebulae, Jeffrey Beesler at World of the Scribe, Charlene A. Wilson, and Andrew Cooper. I’m sure their take on this subject is better than mine!

Names and what they mean…

Some writers ponder long and hard when selecting names for their characters. They research the origins and meaning, looking for just the right name to fit their characters. Some writers create a complex history and even a whole new language to give credibility to the names.

And if you’ve come here looking for tips on any of that – well, you’re in the wrong place! But maybe you’ll glean something from my simplistic approach.

Byron and Bassa were names from my original manuscript and I have no idea of their origins. I liked the strength of those names, so I kept them. However, I did need a supporting cast. (They couldn’t all be ‘Bob,’ now could they?) I spent an hour brainstorming unique, alien-sounding names that were easy to pronounce. (Sorry about “Ernx!” It’s pronounced “Urnks” with a hard K.) I noticed as I wrote down names that most had a similar feel and style and decided I was on the right track. Afterwards, I just matched characters with names. And filled in all the blanks in my manuscript!

How does everyone else come up with character names? And does it take you more than an hour?

Now to the movie review…

Fast Five

Diesel and Walker are back for the fifth (and best) installment of the series. Yes, there are some amazing car chases and action scenes, but guess what? There’s also a really good story as well. One reviewer call it “Ocean’s 14” and that’s a fitting description. The guys are out to take down Reyes, Rio’s top mafia man, by stealing all of his money, and enlist a team of experts to help.

Diesel, Walker, and Johnson (The Rock) do what they do best, and for two hours, we get to enjoy the ride. Yes, it’s a testosterone rush – but it’s a fun rush! If you enjoyed the other movies (third one doesn’t count) you’ll really dig Fast Five.

And now I really want to drive like a reckless maniac on the streets of Rio… Care to join me? Oh wait, Thor comes out today. Want to drive fast to the theater instead?

73 comments:

Nebular said...

Haven't seen Fast Five yet, but I'm enthusiastic about it, since it received such a great feedback from both critics and audience. Nice review, Alex. I'm looking forward to your "Thor" review.. I hop you'll like it more than I did.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

As I write poetry about myself and/or my family I don't need to choose names, if I did probably Daniel and Sliderous would come into the equasion.
Have a good day.
Yvonne.

Old Kitty said...

Yes, I completely melt at the manliness and maleness and macho-ness as conjured up by the names Byron and Bassa. Ahem.

Take care
x

Jeffrey Beesler said...

D'oh! I totally spaced on FFW again! Easy fix, easy fix...

Sommer Leigh said...

I hate coming up with character names. I'm so terrible at it. And oh yeah, it takes me way more than an hour.

I do have an idea, usually, what I want the name to *feel* like. In my current superhero story, there are several characters with names featuring aliteration. This was not on accident. Usually I pull up a member list of an organization or the phone book and start reading names until a first or last name (depending on what I'm looking for) hits me.

Ted Cross said...

I found that it's completely different for each of my books. For my fantasy I wanted names along the same lines as what George Martin did in Game of Thrones -- sounding familiar but being just a bit different.

For my current sci-fi, where most of the characters are Russian, I just looked up Russian names and tried to find ones that would be easy for American audiences.

Anne Gallagher said...

Because I write in the early 19th century, my male characters are usually named after British monarchs. And the women after Greek muses. Lesser characters are usually named by their last names. And the horses are named after Greek and Roman gods.

In my contemps romances, they're always old world, old fashioned, but with a nickname.

Ellie said...

Names. Aggghhh. It's funny because other than my sci-fi WIP names always arrive out of thin air. The characters just say, 'Hi. I'm...' So why am I having such a hard time with my WIP?

I shall pop over to read your interview after work!

salarsenッ said...

Ooh, I'd love to drive reckless on the streets of Rio in my burnt orange muscle car. :) *sighs* You wouldn't think a girl would be all hot and bothered over her car, but...I love muscle cars. And it's all about the rims!!

Kelly said...

I have SUCH trouble with names. Not the main character but the other characters. Especially last names! I like Byron and Bassa for a sci fi novel. Good picks!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

It doesn't take me long to pick character names and most come from the Bible.

Stephen Tremp said...

Looking forward to your post on Thor. Sure wish I kept all the old Thor comic books I had. And Spiderman. And Fantastic Four. My parents probably sold them, went to Europe, and told me they must have been lost years ago. Hmmm....now I know what probably happened to all my old baseball cards.

Carol Kilgore said...

Some names are automatic. Some take way more than an hour. Some I keep changing throughout the manuscript because they just don't fit.

Happy Friday!

Karen Walker said...

The names seem to be coming from I don't know where as I write my first novel.
Karen

Stephanie M. Lorée said...

I'm seeing THOR this weekend! Much dancing and merriment and nerdgasms to follow!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Nebular, I'll let you know what I thought of Thor on Monday.

Yvonne, but of course!

Thanks, Kitty! And you always provide a morning laugh for me.

Sommer, never thought about using the phone book.

Anne, I like your way of naming horses.

Thanks, Ellie! And I don't know - maybe just brainstorm some stupid words and hope something fits?

Salarsen, nothing wrong with that!

Thank you, Kelly!

Stephen, I still have some of mine. I think they're worth ten cents each.

Carol, I've never changed a name. Too much effort, maybe?

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

hells to the yeah i'm driving fast to Thor tonight!

L.G.Smith said...

I use baby naming websites. I go through them until I find names that have the right sound or machismo to suit the character. Not very creative I suppose.

And Paul Walker is all I need to know about Fast Five. :)

Bossy Betty said...

So just naming my antagonist Asshat is not a great idea?

Dafeenah said...

My characters usually name themselves. I don't really put any thought into it, but so far it seems to work. Don't fix what ain't broken lol.

I LOVE those movies. Although I didn't know there were 5? I knew about 1 and 2. What is 3 and 4? I am so glad I found you. Now I know what is happening in the world.

Angela Felsted said...

No, it never takes me more than hour. Probably because I like names which don't stick out too much. Names than normal people go by. Then again, I don't write fantasy.

Nate Wilson said...

In my next novel, I hope to prove you wrong. I believe every supporting character can be named Bob. It will be a middle grade tale called Big Bad Bonnie and the Bobs.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

LG, you'll like it then!

Betty, name him whatever you like!

Dafeenah, three was in Tokyo with none of the original cast and four was Fast and Furious with Diesel and Walker back in action.

Nate, you do that!

Emily White said...

But why couldn't they all be Bob?!

I usually peruse a baby name book with an idea of what letter I want the character's name to start with and go from there. It's not very glamorous. I actually prefer naming places! Now that can get fun!

Chris Phillips said...

Fast Five was really better than the first one?!

I use the phonebook and old yearbooks and mix/match to come up with good names, or I just throw cool sounding things together and hope it sounds enough like a name to go with it.

If I'd built my own world like you did, I'd try to make the names fit with each other with similar sounds and consonants so it seems formed around a common language, but other than that I'd do what you did.

Charles Gramlich said...

I liked the first Fast and Furious, loved the cars. I'll have to see Fast Five. SOme of the others in the series I didn't care much for

Budd said...

names are so hard, I generally just pick a name I like or use someone I know's name.

Jo Schaffer said...

Sometimes I look at name meanings and other times I just go with the sound of the name-- if it sounds strong, bad, good, weak, sneaky-- whatev.

After The Italian Job I wanted a mini coup really bad. (=

Ella said...

Can't wait to hear what you think of "Thor"! Maybe that is what I'll ask for, for Mother's Day ;-D

Thanks for the insight and I when I return after out running the cops on 343; I will check out the the Friday writers.

My daughter n' her boyfriend said, "Fast Five" was good n' I would like it~ Her boyfriend also discovered, I don't drive the speed limit on the back roads. He told my daughter, "I thought it was 55 through here; your Mother doesn't drive the speed limit". yikes~

Jules said...

I'm a basic sort of girl, "Fred from far away," sounds good to me. :) But I understand the naming thing. I once named my dog, "Dammit" just so I could yell it out the back door.

A great weekend to you, ninja!
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Liz Fichera said...

I do love your choice of names for your book--unique and very "spacey" sounding. I admit to spending more than an hour on names but when they hit, I latch on hard.

I will watch FAST FIVE when it comes out on DVD but I must admit I'm tempted to venture to a movie theatre to see THOR...reviews look good.

N. R. Williams said...

The importance of names for me, started with my mother talking about how she choose our names, what they meant and why that was important to her. I researched my children's names. My favorite girl name is Jennifer. But if you name a child Jennifer Ann and your last name is Williams she becomes 'JAWS' no good.

With this background, I invested in a massive character naming book that details the origin of the name and what it means. But in fantasy, not all names can be found in a book. So there are also some online resources like the elfin name generator and so on. After all, you don't want to name a giant eagle 'Fred.'
Nancy
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.

Hannah Kincade said...

I'm probably going to wait for both but I'm a big Netflixer, not so much a movie goer. I can't wait for POTC in a couple weeks though. Just in time for my b-day!

The Golden Eagle said...

The first thing I do is Google the sort of name I want for the character--Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, etc.--and then look up the meanings of the names I like. But sometimes I just make up names that I like the sound of.

Mary Aalgaard said...

I write historical and realistic fiction and non-fiction. It doesn't take much time at all to name my characters. I look at what names were popular in the place and time, and use them. It might be fun, though, to write a fantasy/sci fi and go crazy on new name creations.

Pk Hrezo said...

Sometimes character names come to me before the actual character. Naming is one of my fave parts of storytelling.

Hmm, if you say so about Fast Five, but I still won't bother with it. My time is just too valuable. I'm sure ready for some Thor action tho!!! Forces of darkness, beware!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Emily, I enjoyed naming all of my spacecraft!

Chris, that's what I try to do as well. Give them all a similar feel.

Jo, those Minis popped up everywhere, didn't they?

Ella, that's funny!

Jules, that's priceless!

Nancy, good for you! Most parents don't really stop to think how their kids might be teased. And Fred is a name for Bassett Hounds, not eagles.

Hannah, I'm going to remember that!

Mary, it is kind of fun!

Karen Lange said...

My characters' names come from everywhere. I try to avoid family names; it's better that way. :)

Have a great weekend,
Karen

Monti said...

Deciding on names can be difficult. I didn't realize how much I liked the name Catherine until I discovered I have used several versions of that name in my published novels. Now that can be confusing!

Also, if you dislike someone, should you use his/her first name for the villain in the story?!;)

Monti
NotesAlongTheWay

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I'm with Betty.
Have a good weekend, Alex.
xoRobyn

Charity Bradford said...

I gather names all over the place--baby books, street names, seventh sanctum website, people I meet, and once I just looked around the room and combined random letters on appliances. :)

Clarissa Draper said...

How do I come up with character names? I ask my husband... or son.

Have fun at the movie!

Lynda R Young said...

Sometiems I'll pluck a name outa the air and other times I spend AGES on names.

I'm surprised you think Fast Five is good. I'll have to watch it now. Because it's the 5th installemnt I figured it would be meh.

M Pax said...

I like Diesel and Walker, so will give this one a try.

Sometimes names come easy for me. Sometimes not. Sometimes I have to wait for the right one to come along.

GigglesandGuns said...

Omb Can't believe someone else has such an unconventional way to name characters. 2 of my main characters were called xxx and yyy through the whole planning stage and even now one of them remains nameless.

GYPSYWOMAN said...

just dropping by to wish you a great weekend!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Karen, that's probably a good idea.

Monti, it's tempting!

Lynda, it's the best of the series!

Mary, I had blanks through most of the first draft of CassaStar!

Gypsywoman, you too!

Nicki Elson said...

Hmm, guess I got pretty lazy on the name picking and just went w/ the same name for all three of my leading men. :)

Testosterone...yeah, I could go for some of that around here right about now...

Can we expect a review on Thor next week then?

Elizabeth Mueller said...

You know, I was probably way off on my post because what I did was the opposite of cliche to show a point, but we are to stay clear of cliches. Give me a big 0?

I saw that movie! It was action-packed alright! :)

YA Paranormal Romance Darkspell coming soon!

♥.•*¨Elizabeth¨*•.♥
www.authorelizabethmueller.com
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Rusty Webb said...

Names - I use people I know and just say, "I put you in my book."

They generally shrug and say, "Whatever."

Pat Tillett said...

I have no idea how a fifth installment of a movie series can be good, but apparently a lot of people are agreeing with you!
I guess I'm gonna have to check it out! thanks!

Leovi said...

Very interesasnte the theme of the names of the characters, ocuurre me the same thing with the title of my photos. Greetings

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Some names come to mind quickly, but I've struggled over others.

Melissa Bradley said...

Here's to Fast Five! I'm going to see Thor, oh yes, oh yes. :)

I love your naming approach and I'll definitely be investigating the others.

As for me, I start by looking at my character bio. Next, I write down various names I find interesting, ones that fit the personality, then see which ones strike me. I cull those, saying them over and over until one really hits me, one that rolls off my tongue with verve. Then, that's the name I go with. It's really fun when I have a culture that I have created from the ground up. Then I'm listing names that I make up out of the blue to go with that world.

Surnames are the most difficult for me. I always have such a hard time finding the right last name.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Nicki, you'll get one Monday!

Elizabeth, I liked your take! Thought mine was lame.

Pat, it absolutely rocks!

Melissa, that's why I decided my characters didn't have last names!

Movies on my Mind said...

FAST FIVE put me off cars.

Glynis said...

Another one to pass onto DH, thanks Alex.

I get the names pop into my head, then a few days later I get the novel idea. It is when I have to change names it becomes a pain. Recently I had too many J names a beta reader pointed out. I had a good think and finally found names I liked.

Chuck said...

Thor and Fast Five are both on my list to watch. Now I just have to convince the the wife they're chick flicks...this will take all my super power.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Glynis, I made sure no other name began with B so it wouldn't cause confusion.

Chuck! Diesel and Walker! Is that not enough to get your wife into the theater? What about Thor? I think my wife actually drooled...

Joyce Lansky said...

I've come up with some of my best names by randomly clicking on keys and fitting the letters together to create something fresh. One of my favorite names that I wrote in this manner was the name of an acid rock band. The band has an entire history, play list, and has made at least a cameo appearance in every one of my novels--from something as minor as a song playing over the radio to a scene where the character's girlfriend runs off with the lead singer. Now if someone will publish me, they can meet this amazing band.

Joyce
http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

-E- said...

when you say i'll love this if i loved the others, do you mean if and only if?

Nf1andprek-whisper said...

You had me at.. fast cars.. and VIN disel

J. D. Brown said...

It can take me an hour or two to find the perfect name for a character, but doesn't always take that long.

She Writes said...

I almost watched that movie today, but chose African Cats instead. Good to know your review!

The Words Crafter said...

For certain characters, names are very important. The rest, I kind of toy with till I get it right.

My husband really liked Fast Five, btw. And I love driving fast!

The Old Silly said...

Fast Five sounds pretty cool.

Happy Mommy's Day to you and yours, Alex!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Joyce, I need to try that!

E, if you just liked the others, you'll really dig this one - best of the lot!

Wasabi, are you a sucker for Vin Diesel?

Words, did you not go with him to the movie?

Helen Ginger said...

Thanks for the review of Fast Five. I'd been considering going to it.

I don't do much research on character names. I tend to pick a name and start using it as I write. It changes over the course of the writing and editing, though. Usually by the time I'm finished, I've hit on the "perfect" name for that character.

Cheeseboy said...

I'm actually surprised that the 5th in this series happens to be the best. That never happens.

Karen Peterson said...

I refuse to watch any of the Fast and Furious movies on the grounds that Paul Walker is stupid and shouldn't be allowed to call himself an actor unless the title is presented ironically with air quotes.

I did see Thor this weekend though and it was pretty good.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Cheeseboy, I know!

Karen, fortunately Diesel negates that for me.

The Old Silly said...

Liked the 'name selecting' subject in this post. I am very selective and thoughtful when choosing--sometimes coining--names for my characters. Main characters in my stories have names that have quintessential meaning to their roles and messages in the book, often a play on word that the reader figures out at some point during the read.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

thanks for the review. Don't think I'll be able to resist Vin and The Rock in the same movie! I'm waiting for a chance to go. Now I really want to see it!