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Alexander Residence: Writing a children's book - character names

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Writing a children's book - character names

I have been thinking lots about the name for my character in the children's book I am trying to write.  Actually I say trying, I have a rough draft.  Inspired by reading lovely Rachel from Right from the Start's post on a Lauren Child exhibition, I found a Guardian Interview with Lauren, who is absolutely fascinating and inspiring to read about. I especially like the fact that she wasn't published until the age of 34 (my age now), and there is a great picture of her kitchen, which I now covet badly.

She also gives great advice:

 "I can't start writing a book until I've worked out what the name is. Clarice,  for example: I couldn't have given her a regular name. I chose Clarice because it's old-fashioned but quite pretty, and unusual. Her middle name, Bean, was to suggest something about her family: that they're just the other side of conventional. With Charlie and Lola, I wanted to go completely in the opposite direction. Charlie was just a fairly common boy's name I liked; Lola came to me at the time when my friends were settling down." Child, who lives in north London with her partner, a criminal barrister, has no children of her own. "A whole chain of people said to me 'I'm going to call my daughter – or dog – Lola.' I guess I'm saying with Charlie and Lola they're everychild – their stories talk about problems most children can relate to."

So I have been thinking about names appropriate to a girl who wants to go to the moon.  Luna, is too obvious, but I quite like Stella.  Or I did consider my own daughter's name, but then I think it is important to take the story away from my real world now and 'give birth' to a fictional child.  I love Oliver Jeffers for just having 'the boy' though too, but like Lauren, I think my character needs a name.

Suggestions very welcome. Or please just tell me any children's book character names that stuck in your head? 

Lauren Child's website is called Milk Monitor and has tips on writing

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At 9 August 2011 at 13:34 , Blogger Kate said...

Slightly unrelated but our friends called their first born Ruby Stella - husband told the mum it sounds like a boys night out. Ouch.

At 9 August 2011 at 13:37 , Blogger Kate said...

Or what about Valentina - the first woman in space?!

At 10 August 2011 at 09:12 , Anonymous Him Up North said...

Phoebe was a Greek moon goddess, and is a rather nice name :-)

At 14 August 2011 at 22:03 , Blogger Super Amazing Mum (Super AM) said...

I think you should go for something totally unrelated to spVe - it's a bit too obvious in my opinion....sorry Kate and Garry!

Also think you need to give "birth" to new characters. The names that appealed to me as a bookworm child were those that were so far removed from my own.

Consequently I loved Pippi Longstocking, Marmalade Atkins, MAx from where the wild things are (believe you me, nobody was called Max in the 70s).

re you writing a book that is too be read by a parent or one that is to be read by the child? I think that makes a big difference????

If older child then step outside the usual......

personLly, I would go for something like Jackie or Winnie or Pamela!!

Love Sophie xx

At 17 August 2011 at 13:15 , Blogger The Alexander Residence said...

Just got back from holiday to these fab suggestions.
kate - made me laugh, ooops. Do you think Stella Artois might be taking it a bit far ;)
Him Up North - I like Phoebe
SAM - you've got me thinking, i think that's why Clarice bean works. I loved Pippi too :)


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