Naming protagonists

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Mike Dickson
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Naming protagonists

Post by Mike Dickson » August 17th, 2010, 5:38 pm

It's hard. When I see names in novels like Mitch Rapp, or Lucas Davenport, I think to myself those are good names for a protagonist. When I look at the names I've picked out they are so so. What do you guys think of these names? I'm writing a mafia thriller.

Joe Fazzini (Protagonist)

Don Donatello (Mafia Boss)

Luca Vitale (Antagonist)

Pete Bastone (Mafia Underboss)

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Re: Naming protagonists

Post by dios4vida » August 17th, 2010, 6:24 pm

Don Donatello is a bit redundant for me. It's not a bad name but I'm not a big fan of having the same sounds in first and last names.

I really like the others, especially Luca Vitale.

If you're having trouble coming up with names, try http://www.behindthename.com/random/. It's a random name generator, and you can even choose the racial backgrounds of the names. It's an invaluable tool.

Good luck!
Brenda :)

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Re: Naming protagonists

Post by Holly » August 17th, 2010, 7:00 pm

I agree with dios4vida about Don Donatello, but really like the other names.

You can also find names in online baby name websites. Just Google "Italian baby names," for example.

The characters in the story will come to inhabit their names. The characters in SLAMMERKIN have simple names -- Mary Saunders, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Susan Digot -- but they're unforgettable.

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Re: Naming protagonists

Post by cheekychook » August 17th, 2010, 10:45 pm

Don Donatello---hmmm, "Don" as in short for Donald Donatello? Or as in the Italian title for Master/Lord/etc?

The others all sound good---Don just made me wonder which meaning you were intending.
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Re: Naming protagonists

Post by maybegenius » August 17th, 2010, 11:17 pm

Agreed on Don.

A trick I often use is looking up names on baby name sites with trending showing which names were popular which year. You can pick the approximate year your character would have been born, and name them something fitting. A lot of name websites also let you search names based on country/culture of origin, like dios4vida mentioned.
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Re: Naming protagonists

Post by stephmcgee » August 17th, 2010, 11:37 pm

I love baby name websites. And for surnames, I splurged years ago on a dictionary of surnames. When I'm naming characters in contemporary stuff I love to just open to random pages and thumb through the entries until something resonates for that character.

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Re: Naming protagonists

Post by Mike Dickson » August 17th, 2010, 11:46 pm

The "Don" stands for Boss of bosses or Godfather if that helps. I'm not too satisfied with that name either, I just feel like their maybe something there but it's not quite right. Maybe a tweak here or there will give me something.

I like Joe Fazzini, but I wonder if the reader will have a problem reading it, so it's a concern. I suppose his last name wouldn't be used too often so perhaps having the reader resonate with just Joe could be accomplished. I guess I'll find out.

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Re: Naming protagonists

Post by Mike Dickson » August 17th, 2010, 11:51 pm

dios4vida wrote:Don Donatello is a bit redundant for me. It's not a bad name but I'm not a big fan of having the same sounds in first and last names.

I really like the others, especially Luca Vitale.

If you're having trouble coming up with names, try http://www.behindthename.com/random/. It's a random name generator, and you can even choose the racial backgrounds of the names. It's an invaluable tool.

Good luck!
I used the name generator you referred too and it gave me Gaspare Donatello. I don't think that's too bad at all, infact I kind of like it. He could be introduced as Gaspare Donatello (his real name) but he would be referred through out the book as the godfather, boss, or Don Marcuccio as he is the Boss of the Marcuccio family in my novel. Maybe? What do you all think about that twist?

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Re: Naming protagonists

Post by dios4vida » August 18th, 2010, 12:13 am

Mike Dickson wrote: He could be introduced as Gaspare Donatello (his real name) but he would be referred through out the book as the godfather, boss, or Don Marcuccio as he is the Boss of the Marcuccio family in my novel. Maybe? What do you all think about that twist?
Ooooh...Don Marcuccio...I love that name!!

I'd beware of multiple names, unless you're really careful about introducing them so the reader will identify the one character with both names. It's been done (and very successfully) but if you aren't careful it'd be confusing.
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Re: Naming protagonists

Post by Nathan Bransford » August 18th, 2010, 12:23 am

I actually kind of like Don Donatello - it's memorable!

But I named my main character after a coffee drink, so I'm probably not the one to ask.

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Re: Naming protagonists

Post by sbs_mjc1 » August 18th, 2010, 1:21 am

Of our main characters, only one (Robert Maxwell), got his name specifically picked out-- if you get the British history reference, you win virtual cookies. Mike felt the name Alfred "just felt right" for our antagonist, and went with that. For most of the minor characters, I (honest to goodness) picked random surnames and forenames out of a copy of the Scotsman, and mashed them together. Mike did the same thing with the Guardian for the minor English characters.
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Re: Naming protagonists

Post by jkmcdonnell » August 18th, 2010, 7:37 am

I love http://www.nymbler.com/. It's a naming website and generates similar-sounding names or names of similar popularity - so, if you like a name but it's just not right for your MC, plug it in and it will offer other choices that you might not have thought of but which aren't too random.

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Re: Naming protagonists

Post by J. T. SHEA » August 18th, 2010, 2:31 pm

Mike, at least your Italian Mafiosi don't have false Irish names, like some of their real-life counterparts!

Nathan, when you and Mrs. Nathan have a child you could name him/her Cappuccino Bransford. It's gender-neutral and will give him/her something to moan about to his/her therapist in decades to come.

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Re: Naming protagonists

Post by xouba » August 18th, 2010, 3:06 pm

Mike Dickson wrote:He could be introduced as Gaspare Donatello (his real name) but he would be referred through out the book as the godfather, boss, or Don Marcuccio as he is the Boss of the Marcuccio family in my novel. Maybe? What do you all think about that twist?
I think that "Don Gaspare" would be the best fit. At least, if italian (and italian people) is like spanish in this kind of things. I come from a small village in the country, and important people (the priest, the doctor, the major) were always named by their name preceded by "Don" (which is the equivalent of "Mister"). The mafia was created by farmers and peasants, so I guess that their customs are the ones of these peoples.

Now that I write it, it's curious. I've been brought up listening to names like "Don Andrés" (the priest), "Don Manuel" (the doctor) and "Don Darío", and had never thought about how typical it sounds :-)

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Re: Naming protagonists

Post by GabbyP » August 18th, 2010, 5:04 pm

Hi,

good names. I'm Italian and just have a couple teeny things to mention:

-Luca...is actually spelled Lucca

Joe: this the English translation of Giuseppe. The short form or nicknames for Giuseppe are: Pino, Beppe, G, Geppino

Hope that helps!

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