I’ve mentioned this before – here – and I’ll mention it again. Names are so important! I guess not all authors feel the same way, but I’ve definitely spent a lot of time on choosing the names for my characters. But before I give all my secrets away, let me review a favorite option of mine!
Option 4: Naming based on occupations
I would tell you the names of the other three, if it mattered, but only the surveyor would last more than the next day or two. Besides, we were always discouraged from using names: We were meant to be focused on our purpose, and “anything personal should be left behind.” Names belonged to where we had come from, not to who we were while embedded in Area X. (Vandermeer 7)
This was such a strong impacting paragraph for me. Before this, the biologist had named her peers as surveyor, psychologist, and anthropologist, and when I came to the next paragraph, the one shown above, I learned that the characters had names before they came to Area X, but it wasn’t seen as worth it while you were in the area. Names were abandoned like personal items, in hopes of giving teams more purpose and focus instead of on their individuality. This also gave me a lot of information about the biologist: she didn’t see her peers as important enough to name. It shows how introverted she is, and she doesn’t get along with people.
So by renaming the characters within a book, we get additional information about the plot or background within it.
This brings me to the next option!
Option 5: Renaming your characters
This is especially good if your characters go through a rebirth, for lack of a better term. In this case, the biologist was re-birthed when she entered Area X. This is quite similar to the other technique used in The Galaxy Game, where characters had nicknames depending on their peers, family, teachers – all the different social circles they interacted with. Again, this gives readers a lot of background information about your characters, like hints to specific qualities.
Vandermeer, Jeff. Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Print.