Friday, October 16, 2009

The Name Game by Annie Solomon

Wow--I was embarrassed to see my last post still up there. My transitional whining phase is so yesterday I have to replace it with something else. about...names. There's a topic we can all enjoy.

As a writer I'm a big collector of names. I've gone to cemeteries and written down those belonging to the long deceased. I've been to charity galas and VFW halls and added the names of donors and veterans to my lists. When I travel I like to look at the exits along the highway--the rivers, the bridges, the roads. In fact, the name of the town in my latest book, One Deadly Sin, came from a street sign near my house--Redbud Street.

One of the games I like to play with names is to imagine you're the creator of a whole new town. Maybe it's on the moon or maybe it's an evil new development where bucolic forests once stood. Or maybe it's the bright alteration of a once thriving small town or metropolis. Wherever it is, you have the privilege--no, the honor--of naming the town after yourself. So, what's it gonna be?

If I'm in charge I could name my town Annievllle. Or Annietown. Annieton. Annyton. There--Annyton. New York still retains its early Dutch influence with many place names containing the word "kill"--creek or river. So...Anniekill? How's that for a writer of romantic suspense?

Or I could go with Solomon's Ridge. (This would be in the foothills of the Appalachians or the Smokies). Or there's always Solomon City or Port Solomon (that sounds very South Pacific to me). How about Soloville--the new community on the dark side of the moon.

If we took some of the other writers on the blog and turned their names into towns, what would it be? Susieville? Crandaltown? Elizabeth Hoyt is easy--there must already be a lot of Elizabethtowns around. But what about Hoyt? Hoyt City?

Given the chance, what would you name your town?


Rae Ann Parker said...

Annie: I made up a fictional town for one of my stories. I called it Holly Springs. I guess I like the double name thing. Also, Holly reminds me of the holidays and springs, well I'm not sure about that part, the beach I guess. :) Anyway, I love names and I collect them, too.

My daughter and I were at a pioneer cemetery on the Natchez Trace last summer and she pulled a notebook out of her backpack and wrote all of the names down. When I asked her why, she said they were for future stories. So I guess it runs in the family.

Elizabeth Hoyt said...

Lizville! Liztopia, Lake Liz (assuming there was a lake nearby) Hoyton (which sounds suspiciously like hoyden) Ooo! Little Lizton.

Annie Solomon said...

I love ALL your towns, Liz!!! Hoyton is very suggestive. I think you could do a lot with that. Maybe put a special "ranch" there? And Little Lizton would mean there has to be a Big Lizton, eh? Or Grand Lizton? Both of those would have to be in England, don't you think?

Annie Solomon said...

Rae Ann, Holly Springs is a very cool small town name. Is your story set in the midwest? It sounds like a nice, friendly town in, say, Indiana. The perfect setting for deep, dark secrets and a murder or two. LOL!

Susan Crandall said...

LOL,Annie! In fact, there is a Crandall, Indiana (no relation as far as I've been able to tell -- there are probably only 20 people there, so I could probably go knock on doors and get the answer!).

I'll get to my names in a sec, first I want to admit to also being a cemetery wanderer in search of names and spend quite a bit of time looking at tombstones and inventing stories for the people who rest there. My husband thinks I'm ghoulish. I think it's perfectly normal. Glad to hear that Annie is similarly afflicted.

Now for towns. I always invent my small towns in my books. Glens Crossing came from combining two road signs that I passed frequently on my trips to Indiana University to visit my children. Grover, MS was really and truly named after my favorite muppet. The others aren't as interesting in their origins.

Now for towns named after me ... well, Annie and Elizabeth have much better names for towns. Susanville, Susanton, Susanopolis???

Jill said...

Very interesting where and how writers get people and place names. I confess I am not so original when it comes to naming characters. I often use a variation on people I know (in part) and I'll mix and match first and last names of, say, my grade one teacher's surname and my neighbour's first name.

As for place names... ugh! Cities, parks, streets and the like are a challenge in a way. Most of my writing takes place in Toronto, so I have used real streets and places... but in some cases I can't and then it gets tough...!

As for city names, well, I like using two-parts: Port Something or Something Bay. I'd rather have "burg" as the suffix than "wille" or "town". In any case, it is tough to create something that sounds realistic but won't be confused with a true place.

Cheers, Jill

Annie Solomon said...

Susan, I love Susanopolis! Not only does it sound like one of the ancient wonders of the world it sounds incredibly large. Very futuristic. I can see the domes and weird needle towers and the hovercraft zooming through the byways. And it's one idea I hadn't thought of. Hmmm. Annieoplois? That's a mouthful of vowels if I ever saw one!

Annie Solomon said...

Jill, it's interesting that you use real names and places. I did that for my last book, Dead Shot. It was set in Nashville, which is where I live, and I used real street and place names. But when you're writing about places you don't know well, that's hard. For Blackout, which was set mostly in DC, my husband and I did a whirlwind weekend of location scouting. But that gets hard, so making stuff up is just easier, I guess.

Anonymous said...
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sanjeet said...

there was a lake nearby) Hoyton (which sounds suspiciously like hoyden)

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