Character Creation for Lazy People

Inspiration is everywhere! Really and truly it is! Have a look at how I designed my characters and you’ll see that it requires almost no thought at all.

Damien Gloria Day, the main protagonist of The Fifth Warrior, was created in my likeness. I wanted to write a fantasy story about a coloured South African girl, because fantasy stories about coloured South African girls are few and far between (if they even exist). I always think of Damien as a prettier, taller, non-dreadlocked version of me.

Her name is a nice little story. Damien is a variation of my surname, Damon. I chose Gloria because I wanted her to have the same middle initial as me (my second name is Glenda). And the surname, Day, I got from an issue of Blunt Magazine that featured a local skateboarder, Adrian Day. I like alliteration, and Damien Day has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

But creating and naming Damien was the simplest thing in the world. It was while creating my other characters when I realised that I am far too lazy for my own good.

See, I knew the Elemental Warriors were four young men, but since they are the world’s most worshipped heroes, I couldn’t make them ordinary. Without them, I had no story. They couldn’t look like every other Tom, Dick and Harry on the planet. The answer to my problem was right in front of me. Literally. I looked up at my beautiful poster of Bullet For My Valentine…

https://i1.wp.com/www.panicposters.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/f63dc5ec28f3175f8a7f615bd217eb71/l/p/lp1191-bfmv-guns.jpg
From left to right; Jason James, Matthew Tuck, Michael Thomas and Michael Paget

… And thought, “Hmm… four Warriors… four metal heads… I’ve got it!” and the rest is history.

Matthew Tuck inspired Matthew Taylor, in looks and name. I later modified my Matthew, and made his hair blondish and his eyes green.

Michael Paget became Naylka Nalazar, whose name is complete and total gibberish. Naylka is tall and fresh-faced, but this is how he started out.

Michael Thomas inspired Samuel Thompson, whose name was the plainest name I could think of at the time. Sam now has jet-black hair and vivid blue eyes. He is short and withdrawn.

And Jason James… well… I didn’t want Bullet For My Valentine to sue me or anything, so I skipped him.

Thanks Bullet For My Valentine, I will love you forever!

The fourth Warrior, Jimmy Jackson, was named after Jimi Hendrix and Michael Jackson. He is tall, skinny, and has blond dreadlocks that reach just below his bottom.

Kurt Day was named after Kurt Cobain, and his associate, Frances Nygard was named after Mathias Nygard from Turisas– another metal band I love.

My book is filled with characters named after rock stars. How did this happen? Was I really that lazy? Or is it just that I was surrounded by music, as I always am, and so drew inspiration from one of the things I love most?

Most fascinating is my favourite character of them all: Marshall Frost.

I took one look at Matthew Bellamy:

http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/img-thing?.out=jpg&size=l&tid=5433642

And that was that. Right down to the suspenders.

There was one problem though; he needed a name. I couldn’t name him Matthew after Matthew Bellamy because Matthew was already named after Matthew Tuck.

Do you know what I named my favourite character after?

I named him after this:

https://marshallamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/JVM205C-Amp.jpg

Yes. My greatest character is named after an amplifier.

Later, I found this gem on the interwebs:

https://i1.wp.com/www.guitarfxdepot.com/wp-content/uploads/Resistance_Rack.jpg
Aaaaaaaaaaah…..

Marshall went without a surname for quite some time. It got to a point where he needed one, and I, being lazy, grabbed the dictionary, flipped through it with my eyes closed, pointed at the page, and landed on Frost.

It stuck. And I love it.

How do you name your characters? How much time do you spend on their design? Which name or face are you most proud of? Let me know in the comments. Also, have a great day!

Photo sources:
Bullet For My Valentine- panicposters.com
Matthew Bellamy- polyvore.com
Marshall Amp- marshallamps.com
Matt & Marshall- guitarfxdepot.com

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Character Creation for Lazy People

  1. Love this post. It’s been thought provoking.

    Naming characters is sometimes the best and the worst part of writing for me. I did a lot of baby name searches just to get myself thinking about names in general.

    For an Angel’s name, I just wrote in ANGEL where his name was suppose to be, and will go back and figure out a name later. He’s a minor character, and I didn’t feel like spending all day thinking about his name and not writing the rest of the chapter he was in. So, sometimes when I can’t think of names I just write in a word and go back later, as long as it’s doesn’t hurt my story while I’m writing it.

    Some of the names in my paranormal romance are inspired by people I know. Alex and Amanda for example. Amanda is the name of one of my best-friend, and my protagonist just so happened to need a best friend/roommate. Alex was a guy I dated, who I’m still friends with. It just kind fit with his character…the almost-regret/relationship that kinda never went anywhere, but you still kind wish it had lol. It was perfect for him.

    Reon, Zeke, and Kas — there names took a while to come up with. I usually look at the meanings of names, but sometimes I don’t have a reason behind them. Reon sounds like Ryan, which is my brothers name. Ryan means little king, though Reon isn’t really a kingly figure. Kas is more of a kingly demon character, but I didn’t want to go with the obvious “Lucifer/Light” name, and his name meaning doesn’t really have anything to do with his character. It just sounded good when I saw it lol. And, Zeke is shortened for Ezekiel, which is a little fitting, but again just sounded good. These three are important to the backstory of the first book, so I had to figure them out first, even before my protagonist.

    My protagonist, I struggled with for a while. One of my favorite names is Analee, but I really didn’t like the spelling of the name, and I needed to shorten her name at times. So, I cut it down to Ana when I need to, and changed her name to Analie instead. Visually, it just looked better to me. The word Aletheia played a big part here when deciding her name. It means wisdom, and it’s an important recurring word I’ll be using…maybe even as a partial title later on. I wanted a name for her that looked similar to Aletheia without actually meaning the same thing. And, originally I thought I might name the first book Aurora, and might still if it ends up working out with the story. So, the “A” theme here was kind of important when deciding her name.

    My story involves angels, demons, and fae, so the biblical meanings are sometimes significant and other times irrelevant. I don’t like naming characters based of the meanings all the time because it’s too obvious what role the character will play.

    I’m reworking the protagonist for my Zombie Voodoo trilogy. Right now her name is Freya, but Freya is such an overused name for a “witch” type character, and her name doesn’t really go with the Haitian feel I’m going for since Freya is Nordic. Love the name Freya, but she’s not working for me. Working title is Freya and the Book of the Dead. Just not feeling it anymore and still have a lot of things to learn about her character before I name her.

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  2. Surnames… I only really came up with one for my protagonist lol. I still need to come up with two more for two of my characters, but since most of my characters are supernatural, I don’t feel like they really need surnames.

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  3. Hehe, I have never tried the place-holder method. I have mild OCD when it comes to the finer details, so even if the character is only there for one sentence, I have to think of a name before I can move on lol.

    I have named 2 characters so far (that I can think of) after people I know. One is Katlego, named after a girl I went to school with, and with the other, Johnny Mazibuko, I took the name and surname each from good friends on Facebook.

    Aaaah I love the name Aurora. The sky is my favourite thing in this world, and even if the name has nothing to do with the Northern Lights, I will still be drawn to it hehe. It’s one of my favourite names/ words. Odd that I haven’t thought to use it yet haha. (Don’t worry, I won’t copy you!)

    I know what you mean when it comes to the letter “A”, only for me, I have an inclination towards the letter J. Jimmy, Jimmy’s dad, James, Johnny, Damien’s mother Judy, and a previous Warrior, Jean-Betin are examples of it. I just like J names for some reason hehe. I tend to over-use them though!

    As I said in the article, I named my character Samuel Thompson because I wanted to give him a sort of boring name. But his character is religious (the only religious character I have created) and I only realised the connection years after naming him haha. It was meant to be from the very beginning! But I agree with not being too obvious with names, especially with stories based on mythology!

    I quite like the name Freya! There is nothing wrong with it being out of place hehe. My name is Irish, and I am South African with not a single Irish descendant haha. But of course, if you don’t like it, no one can stop you from changing it. We’ll be happy when you are happy 🙂

    I still have to figure out a name for my primary villain. He won’t enter the series until book 2, so I still have a bit of time to decide, but I am leaning toward Conrad. What do you think? It sounds somewhat military to me. Perfect for the mastermind of a terrorist organisation/ dictatorship. He still needs a surname though. I’d like to make it something ethnic/ native.

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  4. Lol, I understand that. I put myself in a position where the characters I write about are basically celebrities in an urban setting, so surnames were required. It’s the same with Conrad… Later in the series, he starts taking over the world and people refer to him as we do our presidents/ political leaders. But it needs to be perfect, and I haven’t gotten there yet. Looks I should go through my music list again haha!

    I agree that supernatural beings don’t need surnames. Sometimes even natural beings don’t/ Remember I posted about Avatar: The Last Airbender? Have you ever watched it? Of the main characters, only one has a surname that is ever mentioned. 🙂

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