It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time to share our hopes, dreams and fears with the Insecure Writers Support Group, the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and this month’s hosts are; Fundy Blue, Beverly Stowe McClure, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard!
Do stop by and say hello to them!
This month I’m going to talk about names.
How do you name your characters? Do you spend hours flicking through baby name books, or do you, like me, pluck one from the ether, examine it from all (or at least a few) angles and decide, ‘yes, we’ll use that one.’
Recently I discovered that I might need to rename a character. I was (and still am) very attached to the name. Being fantasy, it’s not a real name but a word I came up with and liked the sound of. It originally belonged to a different character, but I liked it so much I swapped and gave it to my male lead. He’s had it for at least two years and it fits him.
But last week I came across this word (that I thought I’d made up) in a book. ‘Oh my god, it’s a real word!’ I exclaimed. ‘I’d better check what it means.’
The word? Ambergris.
The meaning? Whale vomit.
Can it get much worse? ‘Oh hey, this is my hero. He’s called… whale vomit…’
“Ambergris, or ‘grey amber’ is a waxy substance that originates as a secretion in the intestines of the sperm whale, and is used in perfume manufacture.”
‘Grey amber’ sounds ok, and apparently it’s meant to be pretty valuable. I’m not quite as down in the dumps as I was a couple of days ago about it (look, people can get attached to names, ok?), because I discussed it with my writing group and they’ve mostly convinced me that I can still go with it. He – my character – comes from a merchant family, so I guess I could work it into backstory… maybe his brothers and sisters could have similarly odd names… or the result of some unfortunate family tradition..?
Anyhow, I shall continue to mull this over, and perhaps in future I’ll google the random words I come up with, just to be on the safe side.
Do you have any naming incidents to share (and make me feel better 😉 ) or experience with whale vomit..?