Thursday, 14 June 2007

A Rose

Just having a bit of fun there popping in and out of the comments pages and picking out the more interesting of the verification code thingies.

Am embroiled in the very serious matter of naming my king.
Here are just a few of the character names I have thus far:
Penpa, Blinky, Fenestra, Incus, Malleus, Stapes, Doris, Hexabod Grubfinger, Tomas, On-On-peg, Bed, Sera (pronounced 'Sarah'), Pelycurnips, Father Dactyloop, Meniscus Flerens, Florigen, Baste, Marla and Gane.
I wonder: If I were to describe these characters, would you be able to match the description to the name?
One of these characters is a polite young ghost boy; one is a grumpy wooden horse; one is a spirit-zoo keeper with an Oedipus complex; one is a sky ferryman/hitman.
What I wonder more than that, however, is if it matters in the slightest.

I use a wide range of techniques for deciding on names. Some relate to chapter themes, some are onomatopoetic, some are anagrams, some are hybrids, some are lifted from my science dictionary, some are adaptations of my son's ideas, others probably tap into something in my darkest subconscious.
However, as discussed in a previous post (The Pool, the Leash, and the Aesthetic Overseer), what matters most of all is that the name sounds right.

Where's my buba, takete pic ..?
Aha!This is a famous experiment (and not the highlight of my art portfolio).
Subjects are asked to determine which of these two shapes is called buba, and which is called takete.

Responses are pretty darned conclusive, with the overwhelming majority selecting the rounded shape as the buba and the pointy shape as the takete. (N.B. I don't know who has been tested, and would be interested to know how many cultures this experiment works for.)

As a part of my aesthetic check, I guage my reaction to the feel of the character name. (N.B. And it's not just character names I apply this to: every word in the narrative needs to feel right to me; in practically every case, any given word can be substituted for another.)
Sure, we make all manner of connections. If I name my character Hitler, the typical reader will automagically think 'bad guy'. Or, if I name my character Mavis, the reader will think 'female', and possibly even 'female pensioner'. There's no getting away from this.
But look beneath the surface. What is your mouth doing when you enunciate the word? Does the word feel soft, like buba, or sharp, like takete?
Going back to those verification codes, do they suggest characters to you? Do they give you a feeling?

This is yet another technique we can use in order to hit the reader subliminally - to raise emotions in the reader without her having the faintest notion of why these emotions are surfacing.

My favourite king name so far - the one that best defines his personality - is:
Still not quite right though ...

No comments: