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How to write a novel | Imaginary names

The Oak House West Bromwich

If you have been following my series of blogs about how to write a novel, you will know the story so far. Last week Nick and Lily were on their way to see Lily’s university friend Victoria who lives with her grandparents in a gatehouse to a country estate. I have used a picture of a Manor House, this week for a little inspiration. I imagine the Manor House on the estate to be a little like this. An old black and white building and the gatehouse would be very similar except very much smaller.

I am introducing new characters and places and so I need new names for them. What are Vicky’s grandparents names? I just need ordinary names and only need their first names to begin with. I have to decide how old they are. Vicky is in her twenties and so her grandparents could be as young as in their fifties or as old as eighties. What do you think? Their names have to be suitable for their ages. Vicky’s grandfather is the gardener and not so fit as he used to be and needs an assistant. I think I will make him in his mid sixties. That would make his date of birth around 1947. I have to make the story plausible. So what names were popular after the second world war in England? Most popular names were biblical names like Michael, David, and John. I think I’ll avoid my own name and those of my brothers. That narrows my choice a lot!

The master, in my opinion of naming characters, was Charles Dickens. He came up with names like Pip, Biddy and Estella in Great Expectations and for a villain, Magwitch conjures up a  dastardly image. I need a name for a kindly gardener and his homely wife. Matthew is a good Christian name and almost timeless. Matt the gardener sounds good. Now can we imagine what his wife would be like and give her an appropriate name? How about Margaret? Matthew and Margaret will do for now.

I need a name for the Manor and the master of the house. I’m considering Applebury Manor and having the Lord of the Manor as a mysterious gentleman. In Great Expectations, Dickens gives most of his characters Christian names; but to add mystery or intrigue, he used surnames and titles. Miss Havisham at the big house and Mr Jaggers the lawyer. Dickens also used associations, using witch in Magwitch for example. I think the name Biddy suits the kind young teacher in Great Expectations too. I am considering the name, Mr Knight for the Lord of the Manor. What do you think? 

We have some names, Matt could introduce Nick to Mr Knight as a suitable assistant gardener. Nick is very skilled having studied at agricultural college, but it would be plausible for him to accept the job through summer because it would allow him more time with Lily.

Now we have the scene set for the body of the story, we have done the introduction and relationships between the characters can develop. The relationship between Nick and Lily being the most important, with Victoria making things difficult by being attracted to Nick too. Maybe, we could also have Mr Knight, somewhat interested in Lily? He is wealthy, titled and owns an estate. What age do you imagine Mr Knight to be? I think he would be much older then Nick, Lily and Vicky; perhaps late thirties. Would that stop him taking an interest in Lily? Would he be a good guy or a bad guy in this story? He is trying to tempt a young lady 14 years his junior? How would she react to his advances?

Please comment and let me know what you think of the story so far and please contribute to it. Do you have ideas? Could you write a novel? What do you think might happen next? There are more blogs on the home page, not quite 50 shades; but quite a few…


6 responses

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