The Snowflake Method – Step 3 (Names of Characters)

Step 1 of Step 3 of the Snowflake Methodology. This part defines the characters, and asks for particulars about each one. You can define as many characters as you  like, even the minor ones. I have defined my three main characters so far: Luke, Kate and Abby.

Each defined character has the following criteria: Name, ambition, story goal, conflict, epiphany, one sentence summary and one paragraph summary.

Let’s start with names, and how we pick them. Here are some of the don’t do’s:

  • Don’t name a character some really common name (e.g. Tom Jones) unless there is a good reason to do it.
  • Don’t name any of the characters the same first name because that’s confusing, unless there is a good reason to do it.
  • Don’t name characters names that sound alike or start with the same letter, like Jen and Joan and John, unless there is a good reason to do it.
  • Don’t name characters something really fake-sounding. Have you ever been reading a novel and thought, that is a such dumb sounding name, no one has a name like that. Example: Amber Summerfield. Too nice, too beautiful, too cutesy. But again, unless there is a good reason to do it. And my apologies to anyone named Amber Summerfield out there. Your name is pretty, but probably not going to show up in my novel.

I like names that are semi-common but not “John Smith” common.

Certain names conjure up personality types for me. It may be because of people I’ve met in my life who have certain traits. So I might use the name because that’s the way whats-his-face was and that’s the way I want my character to be. Or the fact that I don’t know anyone with that particular name works too because then it isn’t tarnished by anything that I might associate with the name and I can make him have whichever traits and characteristics I want.

Luke Koslov. Luke makes me think of the strong, silent type. Of a sensual, yet subtle male. Probably tallish, probably not dark, probably not handsome in the traditional way. I chose this name because I think a man named Luke could be capable of what I intend to put him through. I chose Koslov because I intend to go a little bit into the fact that his father’s family was originally from Russia. I perceive Russian men as strong, silent, a bit on the chauvinist side, but I could be entirely wrong about that. Luke’s father is though.

Kathleen Willoughby Koslov. I think of Kate as the strong, take-charge type. Someone who wants things her way and does what it takes to get there. A self-starter, an A-type. And Kate will be all this, and more, and probably not a likeable character. Which brings up an interesting topic, of characters and their likeability. I’ve had the criticism that my female characters are “mean”. I never meant that they should be that, just that they might want things other than what has been pre-programmed for them, and that they do what needs to be done, in order to get off the hamster wheel. Kate is going to be, well, a little nasty actually.

Abigail Pentergast Dorchester. The Pentergast part will become clear. And she couldn’t help the Dorchester part, when she married John Dorchester, widower, with two insufferable daughters. She took his name, maybe to get rid of Pentergast. I don’t think I know anyone named Abby, but I like the name, so she can be whatever I want her to be. I think she must be a convincingly nice person, forgiving, and loving, and deep, and somewhat spiritual. Not so much in an organized religious way, but grateful for life, and nature, and dedicated to preserving it, life and nature, that is. An organic woman, a gardener, a recycler, pure but not simple, used to being “second best” and longing to be someone’s first choice for once.

Ambition. Coming soon.

2 thoughts on “The Snowflake Method – Step 3 (Names of Characters)

  1. I am intrigued by your comment about “mean” females. I grew up with surprisingly little experience of real girls (no sisters, no brothers with girlfriends, all my girl cousins and the neighborhood girls were especially secretive). Best, and worst, experiences came from primary school, where ambition and competition among girls were extrememly sublimated and indirect, almost to the point of undetectibility. Oh, and the absolute worst source of disinformation was the television. Girls in the 60s and 70s basically had 2 choices, ambition-wise, at the pop culture trough: “Good Girls” in the traditional conformist vein, and “Bad Girls” in the rebellious anti-establishment vein. And there’s more. You should reach out to me off-line, and let me expand on this. Ciao!

  2. The comment was made by a reader, who I think may be a “and they lived happily ever” fan. I was intrigued by that remark because I never would have thought meanness would be an attribute of any of them. A couple of the characters might be described as strong females, but that’s the only thing I can think of. I miss our chats, but then, we wouldn’t be having them anyway, since you absconded to other parts! Hope that is going very well for you, and I wonder who is left holding that apstar bag, as everyone seems to be bailing. Interesting, huh?

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