More naming angst!

Those who’ve spoken with me know I’m awful at naming things. I hate it. I can talk about something all day long and still have no bloody idea what to call it; reminds me of an entry from an Urban Legends collection I used to have, where someone submitted a long-buried Barbie head to the science department and proposed it as an ancestor of modern man with the name “Austreopithicus Spiffarino.”

Spiffarino supposedly was constantly in danger of giant fanged clams eating him. This is also what I feel like when trying to come up with a name.

Of course, we live in a culture where name recognition is important. As Barlow says in ‘Salem’s Lot, “Buy a car from this one, eat here because I am Joe Smith,” etc, etc. So obviously naming is important. I’m just awful at it.

This comes up now because one of my older projects bubbled up to the surface of my mental cauldron, demanding some attention. For about the fiftieth time, the followup to For Her… came to mind, but this time with a semi-workable hook that didn’t feel too awful. So I set about it, at least wanting to scribble a chapter or two and thus pretend I had given it due attention. Then I hit the roadblock.

Anthony isn’t human. I’ve known that since about the midpoint of For Her… and always intended for that to be something of importance in the followup. He’s also not the only one that’s like this. I’ve got a very detailed listing of just what people like him are capable of, what the price for those capabilities is, how one ends up that way and the like. I like making up the metaphysical or medical “rules” that govern my characters; it gives me a sense of structure and order that’s important to me, even if everyone else doesn’t care much. I like making lists.

Yep. Done this. Also double checked the checklist to make a checklist for checking the checklist.

I’m quite satisfied with the rules and regulations I’ve devised for what Anthony (and some of the other characters) [is/are]. And I think I can actually do something with this version of the plot, so it won’t just quietly die six chapters in or so. Now, from Anthony’s perspective, it’s irrelevant what he calls himself or what the “actual” name for things like him is. But both my inner Twilight and the more “in-the-know” characters would have words for this, I’m sure, and it’s bugging me.

So, what is he? Something fathered by a powerful death-spirit. Something that has roughly equal presence in the spectral and physical realms. Add a dash of psychic vampirism and a tendency to look rather decrepit and “dusty” when he hasn’t been feeding recently, make most ghosts terrified of him and make his father a manipulative bastard that essentially created him to have “hands” in the mortal world.

So, the reject list: Livesider (ended up using the word a lot of dead things use to describe humans or other living beings), Half-dead (too generic) and Halfling.

I personally like the name “Halfling.” But it makes Google (and most people) think of this. Or a Baggins. And we hates the Bagginses, precious.

I know. Short list, especially for something that’s been percolating for literal years. But I did point out I suck with naming things, didn’t I? So, ironically, in finding the way in to the story that doesn’t seem doomed from the start due to poor plotting or lack of hooks and thematic elements, I end up dooming it because I can’t come up with a good name and this version of the story, being less single-character focused, needs a name for them. Bah! I say, Bah!

Anyone else have this problem? A great idea for a tale, character, concept or beastie, but no bloody idea what the hell to call it? (Or maybe the inverse; you’ve got a pure-d awesome name for something; just have no idea what it is. I’m sure this can happen.) Share your thoughts in the magic box below; maybe we can all help each other name stuff, or maybe you can provide the answer to the “Magic Naming Issue.” Until next time, folks…

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8 responses to “More naming angst!

  1. I tend to come up with cool names for things, then have to scramble to invent something cool enough to be called that.

    How about “ressurectionist” or “fellmonger” for you creature type? Both are old words, the first means grave robber and the second means knacker.

    • I’m already using resurrectionists as a term for the Ebon Dragon (Anthony’s daddy)’s cultists, alas. But I think fellmonger may have some purpose, or spur other compound words that may get to where I want, eventually. *wrings hangs, contemplating and “tasting” permutations*

      I’m glad you posted, since while I assumed that there must be “namers” out there just as there are “anti-namers” like myself, I had yet to meet one. And now, I have proof! Bwa ha ha!

  2. I’ve got a few suggestions, but still thinking about it … many cups of tea later!

    You say that Anthony’s father created him as a connection to the mortal world, so my first suggestion is that Anthony is an Incubian. I made this up from Incubus, i.e. a male demon who has sexual intercourse with a woman while she is sleeping (Anthony’s father is one of those also and that’s how he ‘created’ Anthony). I spelt it first as Incubean, but I thought the bean bit made it look too comical. The female members of Anthony’s species, race, or whatever are called Succubinans, as in Succubus, i.e. a female demon who has rumpy pumpy with men while they are sleeping.

    Another suggestion I thought of was Purgatarian. I got this from the term Purgatory, i.e. a place of suffering and of being in limbo. As Anthony is part of the mortal world and part of the other, it sounds like he is in limbo and that’s how the term Purgatarian came to mind.

    My next two suggestions are very simple – Duskwalker and Dusktreader. They just sprang into my mind from nowhere really.

    I’ll keep thinking about it …. unless you beg me not to. 😀

    • Oh, I don’t beg. All of those are interesting (Purgatorian especially calls to me, even if it’s not what I decide Anthony is) and there’s some good imagery there. (Rumpy pumpy is a phrase I shall remember, always.) XD Thanks for the input. 🙂

      • Ha-ha, Kaine … that’s the British for you. We think up all sorts of amusing terms for ‘you-know-what’ to avoid using actual terms. 😀

    • All good. Mentally, I read it that way, anyway. Long familiarity with the internet and the stubborn resistance of keys to be pressed in the order and/or quantity the presser intended have trained me well. 🙂

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