The Importance of Appearances
I’m on vacation right now (go me!), so this blog will be a little shorter.
I want to mention the importance of character names and appearances. Most authors I’ve read about/know spend a long time picking the perfect name. Usually, an author picks a name for how it sounds or for its meaning. A name needs should “fit” the character, match the story’s tone, and, usually, have a significant or relevant meaning.
Lets take the name Savannah. It sounds beautiful, but it means “barren wastelands”. Now this meaning could work in a number of situations. Say the story’s about the fading human race, so there’s a high need and value placed on fertility. So I write about a barren female, which brands her as a Savannah (I like this idea! I may use it with another story idea I have). Sure, that works, but you probably don’t want to name the female lead in a romantic comedy Savannah
Names can go beyond an interesting meaning or sounding cool. When you’re picking out names, decide what purpose you want your names to serve.
Names can become clues. In Iron & Glass (the e-book comes out August 18th!)the main character’s name, Calissa Delano Lavalle, is a piece of the story’s puzzle.
Names can add to culture. Brandon Sanderson does this in The Stormlight Archive. The noble names try to sound symmetrical. So Shallan (alla) Davar (ava) belongs to a noble where as Torfin is a common man.
Names can add to culture through sound too. Take A Song of Ice and Fire for example. The Targaryens (Rhaenys, Viserys, Daenerys) sound extremely different from the Starks (Jon, Sansa, Eddard).
Okay, now onto character appearances.
Appearances can say as much as names. Usually my character’s appearances reflect their personality (or culture). An obvious would be a redhead having an impulsive personality.
It’s all in the eyes though. Really, they can be extremely important. Think about how often authors use eyes to indicate something is different. Jace from The Mortal Instruments and Edward from Twilight have golden eyes (not just to look pretty). Why? One has too much angel blood, the other won’t drink human blood. Eyes can indicate something supernatural or really easily, and create an interesting character appearance at the same time.
Of course, just like names, appearance can build culture. If you’re writing about anything supernatural, do these creatures look different from humans? How so?
Are you writing about a make-believe place in a destopia or fantasy? Okay, then are they races or species that look different? Do some countries tend to have darker hair and skin but lighter eyes (wouldn’t that be pretty!)? Does a hunted or hated/ loved and desired race have physical characteristics that set them apart?
Calissa, protagonist of Iron & Glass has green eyes and blond hair. Why? Not just because it looks pretty, I’ll tell you that much. There’s a purpose behind it, but you’d have to read the book to figure it out.
Again, Iron & Glass comes out on August 18th!
And let me know if you have any questions!