Naming names: Three Ways to Name a Character

Whatever the genesis, naming a character can be a challenge. Here are three common methods:

1. The name is symbolic of an attribute. Jason Quati (from The Sacred Whore) is a derivation of the word quat, meaning small pustule. (Yes, he’s a bad person.) The Adamantine sisters (from Sister Prometheus) get their surname from the hardest of substances, the rock to which Prometheus was affixed according to Greek mythology. Adamantine_ore

2. The name is a random discovery. I found a picture of a man named “Gerbi”  (from The Life and Home of Gerbi Norberg) in my father’s old files, who was a banker with whom my father worked in the 1950s. IMAG00013. The name evolves as the book is written. The main character in my bad side was originally named Sunshine (ugh) and then Francesca, Elle, Ellen, and finally Dee which actually changed ro Deirdre halfway through the book…because that was her name.outof fog

Virginia Adamantine: Prometheus Stripped

My screenplay Sister Prometheus is a reworking of the Promethean myth, utilizing  elements of the Oresteia. 08_prometheusI realize that this is a dangerous and foolhardy pursuit, as any modern work is likely to pale in comparison with the work of Aeschylus, exemplified in the passage below, describing Iphigenia’s death at the hands of the priests of her father Agamemnon:

Rough hands tear at her girdle, cast/ Her saffron silks to earth. Her eyes/

Search for her slaughterers; and each/ Seeing her beauty, that surpassed/

A painter’s vision, yet denies/ The pity her dumb looks beseech/

Struggling for voice; for often in old days,/When brave men feasted in her father’s hall/

With simple skill and pious praise/Linked to the flutes pure tone/

Her virgin voice would melt the hearts of all/

Honoring the third libation near her father’s throne/

The rest I did not see/ Nor do I speak of it.sacrifice-of-iphigenia

This sacrifice is said to have appeased the gods and given the Greeks fair winds to Troy and eventual triumph in their bloody quest for Helen. My Prometheus is female. Her name is Virginia Adamantine, and she’s furious with the Agamemnons of the world, ready to fight anyone in her way. And she’s a stripper. stripperThat’s the part I doubt Aeschylus would have appreciated.