Open Wounds

U is for Uranus

What’s in a name?

I spend a lot of time thinking about names for my characters. I do it early in the process of writing a novel because I find the name informs the character and the character informs the name. I like to find a name with just the right sound to it, sometimes symbolic meaning, family background or ancestry. But first it starts with sound. It has to sound right, especially for my protagonist. Dickens understood this and unerringly was a master at naming his characters both primary and secondary. My favorite is Uriah Heap from David Copperfield but there’s also, Oliver Twist, Fagin, Ebenezer Scrooge, Edwin Drood, and Mr. Crummins. Here are a few of my recent contemporary character names from books I’ve read in the last year:

Which leads us back to Uranus. Uranus was the first Greek lord of the universe, first of the titans, god of the sky. He was created by Gaea in order to surround and cover her, but soon he became her mate and together they produced the remaining twelve Titans, three Cyclopes and three Hecatoncheires, hundred handed creatures – all of whom Uranus hated. So… he stuffed them back into Gaea’s womb. She had no choice. Cronus escapes, though, with Gaea’s help and eventually castrates Uranus while he’s sleeping one day and so son takes father’s place, all kinds of creatures spring from the drops of his blood and his genitals get thrown into a sea from which is born Aphrodite. I’m not kidding.

I did not know this about the word Uranus. I always thought it was simply the seventh planet out from our sun with the name that everyone had trouble saying out loud because the second half of it spelled anus. We should all say that out loud, just so we can practice. It’s a good word, long besmirched. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Excellent. Ahh the power of a name.

What are your favorite character’s names? What is it that makes them sing?

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6 responses

  1. I know of the Uranus myth, and how Aphrodite is one of the few gods not borne by sexual union. I find more simplistic names catchier, like Charles Dicken’s David Copperfield, James Patterson’s Alex Cross, and my own Kurt Lancer.

    April 24, 2012 at 10:46 am

    • Kurt Lancer is great too! Short, punchy, heroic. Great sound to it also.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:39 am

  2. Hermoine Granger. Artemis Fowl. Frodo Baggins. Meriadioc Brandyuck. Peregrine Took. Samwise Gamgee. Gandalf Greyhame. Aparajita Rajawat. Xaro Xhoan Daxos. Sidney Carton.

    April 24, 2012 at 11:00 am

  3. Dang. I hit enter prematurely. This is fun. Personally, when I write, I tend to start with very simple names. I prefer for the character to make the name, rather than the other way around. But, I have to admit, there’s a little bit of magic going on, when the perfect character finds the perfect name, however it’s arrived at.

    Also, there’s a holy trinity here, the perfect character, the perfect name, AND the perfect nickname – there’s nothing better than that. A perfect example is Ponyboy Curtis, from the Outsiders.

    April 24, 2012 at 11:04 am

  4. Hello! Uranus has quite a background! Roald Dahl and J.K. Rowling created some of the best names in their books.

    Have a lovely week and happy A to Z!!

    April 24, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    • I agree! Thanks for stopping by. Best – Joe

      April 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm

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