Lightbulb-head (and how to give your characters interesting names)

This guy has a lightbulb for a head. In a moment of brilliant creativity I decided to call him Lightbulb-head. There are a few characters I keep coming back to and they all have equally interesting names that I spent ages thinking up: Lightbulb Head (has a lightbulb for a head), Eye-guy (has lots of eyes),  Happy Jack (is always happy), The Last Astronaut (the last astronaut), Toaster-faced Nigel (what it sounds like),  Helen Keller With No-hands (self-explanatory).

If you're having trouble coming up with an interesting name for your creation then here are some tips... Chances are your character is too complicated - No-one cares about backstory, motivation or conflict. Let's go back to the drawing-board - start off with a completely one-dimensional character that can be summed up entirely in a sentence. Take that summation and condense it to its shortest form. Cut off any extraneous fat like desires, past relationships or location. Once you've got your character description down to three or so words (five tops) your character is free of all that pointless chaff that bogs down the page and you already have a name for it!

Here's an example: I've been working on a character lately that I just can't think of an appropriate name for. He is a slightly autistic tailor from Prague who plays the flute beautifully. A much-loved and respected part of his village-community he can't help but feel, since the death of his sister who raised him, like he is missing a meaningful personal connection with another human being. To this end he scours the personal ads in the hope of finding someone who shares his passion for constructing dioramas of important political summits throughout history.  When he happens upon a radio broadcast advertising a political diorama convention in Budapest he is faced with an important decision - does he remain in the community he loves? Or does he risk it all and head to Budapest in the hope of finding something special? I can see his sad-eyed, slightly rheumy but good-natured face so clearly. But what should I name him?

No wonder I'm having trouble - the character is needlessly complicted. If we strip him of all the unnecessary colour then we get to his essence and, also, his name -  
Autistic Tailor! 
And there you have it, it's almost a story on its own. Fiction is as easy as that.

For an exciting look into the world of Light-bulb Head then read a comic all about his nocturnal activities at:

No comments:

Post a Comment