Sunday, August 24, 2008

Naming characters

Naming characters is tricky. I named Henry Harrier to capture the alliteration and to tell you something about the character. A harrier is a kind of hawk. It hovers over its prey until just the right moment, then drops straight down and snatches up its victim.

You should choose a name is evocative of the character, but not too obvious. You want the name to attract the reader too. For example, you might name a young man who's slightly scary and who gives the feeling of otherworldliness, maybe with some tattoos and pierced body parts and big spikey hair and wearing leather and chains all over, Noah Witchcraft, or better mabye Noah Witchcaft, (after all Noah was the guy from the Bible whom the Lord told to build an ark) but if you get too cute the name gets to sounding a bit stale, like a joke told too often. Names mean something, too. Deborah, for example, was a judge in the Bible. Gideon blew a trumpet. Judas was a traitor.

Dickens had a terrific flair for naming characters. Uriah Heep just sounds depraved and disgusting and Mr. Micawber like someone strange and sinister. Kafka, in The Trial just used K, a single letter. It worked for him, but I'm not sure it would have worked in A Tale of Two Cities. Sydney Carten was not Dickens' best effort. But, whatever name you pick should feel right to you. After all, you're the character's creator. He or she owes his existence to you. After all where would be be as a society if Doyle hadn't created an enduring character like Sherlock Holmes (sounds like sure lock, a very confidence-inspiring name).

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Ian Kearney, the director of the Kearney Music School, an elite musical training school in Philadelphia, dies after a fall from a balcony during a recital. World-famous cellist, Henry Harrier, recently forced from the faculty, returns to investigate Ian's death when his prized former student is arrested. Henry shows through his brilliant and single-minded pursuit of the truth that, as usual, they have it all wrong. This Sherlock Holmes-type mystery leads the reader through the world of classical music and lays bare the conflicts which dominate the lives of talented adolescents when placed under the pressure of studying for a demanding, stressful, and often elusive career as a classical music performer. Henry Harrier is part John Le Carre's George Smiley, part Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes, and part Orlando Cole the beloved teacher, renowned chamber musician, and until his own retirement, the premier cellist of the Curtis Institute.

Author Profile:

Tim was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, on January 30, 1946. In 1951 he moved with his family to Schenectady, New York, where he lived through high school. He attended Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, Ohio, from 1964 to 1968. He graduated in 1968 with a B.A. in history and philosophy. He received his Ph. D. in history in U.S. history in 1980 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison after spending 2.5 years in the U. S. Army. Most of his army service was completed in Wuerzburg, Germany, from 1969-1971. In 1972 he returned to Madison to complete his doctoral study. His dissertation, Those Who Moved; Internal Migrants in American 1607-1840, combined the statistical analysis of genealogical and biographical data with the study of traditional literary diaries, letters, and journals.

Tim was a market and survey research consultant from 1983 to 2000 and a smoking cessation researcher from 2000 to 2003. His consulting practice focused primarily on conducting community health needs assessment. He authored hundreds of market research reports and published a number of his assessments in Community Health Needs Assessment published by McGraw Hill in 1996 and in a revised volume published in 1999. In 2000 he joined the staff of the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he conducted smoking cessation research. He published several articles in peer-reviewed journals and spoke at national smoking cessation conferences.

In 2003 he moved to Philadelphia and earned his real estate license. He now practices real estate, works on publishing his novels, and studies and teaches entrepreneurship.Tim has written a dozen novel-length stories, a volume of short stories, and about a 3-foot stack of pages poetry. He is currently working on earning his 4th million in real estate sales, publishing his novels, and working on an entrepreneurish handbook as a support for his students.

Tim is a trained violist and an experienced string quartet player. He is an avid listener to classical music and regularly attends classical music concerts. He has two grown children by his first wife and a stepdaughter with his second wife. He likes to cook, read, write, entertain, develop relationships, and help other people. Formerly Tim used to travel frequently. He doesn't so much anymore. Now he regards the combination of real estate practice, writing and publishing, and the teaching and studying of entrepreneurship as enough of a trip.