`Don’t stand chattering to yourself like that,’ Humpty Dumpty said, looking at her for the first time, `but tell me your name and your business.’
`My name is Alice, but –‘
`It’s a stupid name enough!’ Humpty Dumpty interrupted impatiently. `What does it mean?’
`Must a name mean something?’ Alice asked doubtfully.
`Of course it must,’ Humpty Dumpty said with a short laugh: `my name means the shape I am — and a good handsome shape it is, too. With a name like yours, you might be any shape, almost.’”
—– Lewis Carroll, Through The Looking Glass, Chapter VI,
John Forster wrote that Dickens made his “characters real existences, not by describing them, but by letting them describe themselves”.
Because my novel, The Last Daughter of Elizabeth Light, is based on some threads of family history, I invented names for my characters, whose lives reminded me of what little I knew about them. Keeping the continuity of the surname Light, which, strangely enough, was an ancestral name that appeared in England in the 1700’s on my family tree, turned out to be one of those wonderful coincidences.
I had too much fun with secondary characters. Here we are introduced to Harold Hollows the first time:
“Taking a closer look at the young man, Elizabeth noticed the splotches of youth still visible on his face and his somewhat fleshy figure. He had small hands and his nails were bitten away.
“I am planning on being a butler for the family, once I gain the experience, that is. I have a plan—I will return to London in a few years and be able to run the household of any family I choose. What is your plan, Elizabeth?”
Looking down at her, he had already made up his mind that she had somehow ruined whatever chances she might have had. Her baggage—the baby—had sealed her fortune.
“I really don’t have one—do you think it’s necessary?”
The Last Daughter of Elizabeth Light
Some insight to picking names for your characters can be found from Elizabeth Sims