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Home » Archives » July 2006 » Naming Names
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07/10/2006: Naming Names

Hi! Last time I asked if y'all know why Dr. House is named "House." Maybe this is common knowledge, and I suppose it's possible that it's apocryphal. But here's what I heard. I heard that "House" is like "Homes," i.e. "Holmes." Hee! Isn't that great?

Those of you writing spec pilots will have to name all your characters. You others will have to name guest characters. It's worth really spending some time on this. I like to do a little research about names that were popular in certain years. If your character was born in the sixties, he'll have a different first name, most likely, than someone born in the eighties. It used to be that every inappropriately young wife or girlfriend on television was named "Heather." But now, Heathers are older than they used to be. Believe it or not, I suspect Hannahs are the vixens now!

And then there are those subliminal names, like House. And I've always thought that Detective Stabler on Law and Order: SVU was probably named that to suggest to the audience that, compared to his partner, he was… stabler. (This was true in the very earliest episodes. He got less stable later on.) Then there's sunny blonde Buffy Summers. The Gilmore family on Gilmore Girls was named after a wealthy family from Los Angeles history. The associations can be personal to you, or used to suggest a personality, or your certain dream casting of the role, or you can simply pick a name that feels "real" to you.

The only thing I would suggest that you avoid is something too overt, like a villain named "Blackheart" or, you know, "Underhand." And watch out for names that sound too much like they were inspired by other people's characters. I was once chided (chid?) for naming a rich girl something like "Angelica Cathcart." It was just too romance novel-y, fakey, and horrible. I cringe.

Sometimes, finding the right name will inspire you. I recently was struggling with a character until I decided she was named Jeremie. Something about that struck me just exactly right, and I saw her much more clearly.

Lunch: It was the first-day lunch at Andy Barker PI, so we were all taken out for a fancy lunch at Arnie Morton's. I had the steak salad. Lovely.


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