Friday, July 19, 2013

A Bit of Crowdsourcing

That is the term the kids are using these days, right?


Back in my day we called it "brainstorming" or "asking around".

Either way, that's what I'd like to do in regards to my new project, Last Chance. I've been working on some character profiles and have hit an interesting snag. And, since I know I have the creme' de la creme' of the writing blogosphere to draw from, I figured this would be a great place to ask the burning question....

What do I call these people?

I'm not talking about real names....I think I have a pretty good handle on that. No, what I'm talking about is naming conventions where people in the 1850s would use to describe, basically, a super human.

I mean, if they saw a guy lift a horse or a stagecoach...and their identity was would they describe him?



Would they fall to biblical or mythological conventions to describe the guy who flies like a bird and is strong as an ox?

Yep, that big fella what flies around threw that there boulder clean inta the sky. You know who I'm talkin' about.....that Herk You Lees, fella....

Anyway, I'm just looking for a little feedback on some potential names that might work well within the context of 1850s Wyoming.

Main Character: Daniel Chance-- Possess extraordinary powers he doesn't quite understand. An ex 'gun for hire', killing was second nature to Daniel. He sees his gifts as being from the great beyond and as a sign to change his ways. Basically, his powers manifest as he needs them. He's very versatile and still learning what his limits, if any, are.

Naming ideas-- Gabriel, Archangel, Apollo, The Stranger, Avenging Angel, Turbine, Johnny Nitro, Providence, Paragon.

William Ironhorse-- A Lakota Indian and shapeshifter who can communicate with animals and is sensitive to weather patterns.

Naming ideas-- Avatar, Totem, Renegade.

Alistair Russell-- A British expatriate on the run from the law for a crime he may (or may not) have committed. Deciding to use his knowledge of brand new "steam technology" to fight crime, he's the town sheriff by day and masked vigilante by night.

Naming ideas-- The Yankee, The Dandy, Jim Dandy

Rebecca Carter-- Owner of Carter's General Store by day, super speed induced, masked gunslinger, by night.

Naming ideas-- Lady Lightning, Miss Rysk (actually, I kind of like this one)

Elias Reynolds-- The Mayor of Last Chance who uses his mystic abilities to hide a big secret as well as protecting the citizenry.

Naming ideas-- The Stranger. Obviously, I need more than a bit of help with this one.

So, what do you think.....any thoughts or ideas?

Are there any 'must see' resources I should check?

Let me know and thanks in advance.

Have a great weekend!


Andrew Leon said...

Why don't you look to actual legends of the day, like Paul Bunyan and guys like that.
Also, Chance is not very period. And there was already a TV show about a guy "gun for hire" named Chance.

Anonymous said...

I can't think off hand of any ideas, but loved the read.

Enjoy your week-end.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark .. Andrew seems to have the right idea .. I guess a librarian at the library may be able to send you off to reliable sources ..

Good luck with it all .. cheers Hilary

jaybird said...

Mark-I really enjoyed reading your descriptions and blurbs. Sounds like this is going to be a very interesting read. I'm sorry I don't have any name input for you but what you have so far seems fantastic and like you are well on the right track, to me.

I am especially fond of your Lakota character/description. Totem was my fav pick out of the three there. (BTW completely unrelated to names-but I have some awesome Lakota recipes, if you or your wife would ever like to try them out)

Best of luck picking the rest of the names!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Andrew had a good suggestion. I'd also think some people might think they were 'of the devil' and Biblical or period words for evil might work. Or hey, how about Sasquatch?

Elise Fallson said...

Wish I could help but I'm terrible with names, especially from this time period. Looking back and reading legends and folklore from back then would help, maybe even stuff from across the sea could spark some inspiration, like Spring-heeled Jack of the English Victorian era.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Mystic abilities - maybe something with a Gypsy sound to it?

Mark Means said...

@Andrew: That's a good idea and I've done a little research in that direction, already...I didn't see much I liked or anything that really inspired me. I know the 'ex hired gun gone good' is a fairly common t.v. trope, but I thought it fit here. Which t.v. show were you referring to, though? The Human Target?

@Yvonne: Thank you very much and you do the same! :)

@Hilary: Library? What's that? hehe....not a bad idea, thank you :)

@jaybird: Hey, thanks...I like 'Totem' too, though I'm not quite sure how it would fit for the times. I could just say 'what the heck' and use it anyway :) Oh yeah, definitely, we'd be interested in trying some of those recipes. If you want, you can send them to me at mmeans1(at)gmail(dot)com....thanks and have a great weekend :D

@Alex: The Biblical aspect of the naming convention keeps standing out to me, too. Especially, back then where that was the limit of some folk's education and might be the only resource they'd have to draw from. Sasquatch, eh? Hmmmm.....interesting :)

@Elise: That could be an idea too...checking out legend/lore from Europe....thank you!

@Diane: Ohhhh....great idea. That one has possibilities, thanks! :)

Andrew Leon said...

I don't actually remember. Something I watched a few times a while back. I just remember the guy's name was Chance and he was some kind of merc. I have seen a few episodes of Human Target, so I guess that could be it.

randi lee said...

I'm a total Google-girl. I Google whatever I want to look up, add "book" to the end of the search string, then walk into Barnes & Noble and blindly buy what I was told to buy LOL! (Typically works out for the best, but I have been burned once or twice!)

Robin said...

You can pick about any English surname and it be right for Daniel. All of the immigrants were pretty much from England, so there you go.

I did some thinking about your names and some looking on the Internet. I want you to think about all of your comic superheroes and HOW they got THEIR names. It almost always had to do with the power itself. The name and the power went hand-in-hand. The name was a description of the power. On Smallville, before Clark Kent was Superman he was The Blur. I thought that was excellent.

I don't like any of your names for your main character, even though The Stranger probably describes best how he feels about HIMSELF. It doesn't accurately reflect his superpower. What do the people see? What does he see? When you get a handle on that, you will have the name.

I looked up shapeshifter on wikipedia and that was interesting. Ironically, they were associated with SPIDERS. Of course, since Spiderman is already pretty well taken, I wouldn't go there. However, that is the Lakota tradition regarding shapeshifers/skinwalkers. However, I think The Chameleon would be a very appropriate superhero name for William Ironhorse.

I think you're on the right track for Alistair Russell. It doesn't seem like he has an actual "power."

Rebecca Carter's power is speed. Do you really want to out her as female? That is something to think about. If she is super speedy, it may not be obvious that she is a woman. Or it may be. What do you think of The Dazzler or Miss Swift?

Elias Reynolds is hard. He strikes me as being The Wizard. You know like The Wizard behind the curtain. Except he really is using magic to run The Show.

Those are my two cents. You can take them or leave them.

Mark Means said...

@Andrew: At first I thought you were talking about the old "Have Gun Will Travel" series, but didn't remember the character's name being Chance. Yes, Christopher Chance was the name from the old comic/recent t.v. series 'The Human Target'. Originally, I came up with the name of the town "Last Chance", then thought it might be cool to have a character with the same last name....all sorts of title possibilities, as well :) I don't think it'd be too out of the realm of possibility to have it as surname in the old West..., but that's just me :)

@randi: LOL...that's a great process and I might have to give that a try!

@Robin: Wow! More like 2 Million dollars, than two cents...thank you. For Daniel, I've been leaning heavily towards people just calling him Providence as in..."It was an act of Providence, I tells ya!"...something that would irk him to no end as he thinks he is least 'god like' type of person he knows. I do think that I want it known that Rebecca is a woman, as she is going to be more of a daredevil, Evil Knievel type of personality....doing it for the thrills and exercising her powers. I do think keeping her 'under wraps' would be a cool concept, though. Some great food for thought, thank you!

Andrew Leon said...

For me, and I do realize this is mostly just me, inappropriate names in period pieces really annoy me. It's a type anachronism that I find doesn't work as, usually, it's due to a lack of thought rather than purposeful placement. Last Chance as a town name, I would probably buy, but you'd have to have a really good reason for a person with a surname of Chance in a time where "Smith" and "Jones" were probably half of the population. In the US, at least.

Mark Means said...

@Andrew: I don't know if I'd term it 'inappropriate' as the surname has been around for quite a while according to: That said, yes, it's not as common as a "Smith" or "Jones", but why does it have to be? "Last Chance" is going to be a different type of town and, in that respect, is going to have some different kind of people inhabiting it. Good food for thought, though...thanks :)

klahanie said...

Hi Mark,

A suggestion. Why don't check the 1850's U.S. census for names often used at that time.

A good rest of the weekend to you, my friend.

Gary :)

Cross Planes said...

I'd call the paranormals, as a whole, nephilim.

For Daniel, looking at the the Book of Daniel in the bible, what about Babylon?

For Ironhorse, as a native american, I'd just use Ironhorse or a name from his native tongue.

For Allistair, I like Jim Dandy, but what about the Expatriate, the Limey or Redcoat or Caliburn (other name for Excalibur)?

Rebecca, I see you like Miss Rysk. I think in that time period, the term Miss might not be appropriate.
What about Gunpowder or Mustang?

The Mayor...what about the Ranger? Or Honcho or Keeper or the Shepherd?

Mark Means said...

@Gary: Not a bad idea...I just might do that! thank you and have a great weekend, yourself :)

@Mark C: Wow, some awesome ideas...thank you! I, especially like you suggestions for The Mayor :)

mail4rosey said...

I'm not a writer so I can't help a bit, but I did want to wave hello while I was visiting. :)

Good luck finding the names that fit the characters.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

All I can say is library and Google. This is why I love creating worlds, that way no one can tell me what should be there. Glad that you're getting along with your latest WIP and best of luck.

Mark Koopmans said...

How about the Commoners?

Good luck MO :)

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Trust your gut. You evidently have excellent ideas and mucho creativity. I like the idea of stepping outside the box. I like Rysk (I'm going by memory and my name memory bank is becoming very swiss cheesey in my old age!) It speaks to her entire personality (like say Rogue? Her name isn't simply about her's her personality.)
I immediately thought of Daniel as say a sort of re-incarnation of Daniel, the Daniel of the Lion's Den. Though how you make that a name, I don't know. (going to be totally self serving and suggest the name Caleb. Caleb was popular in the time period, and in the Bible he was one of the bravest warriors who never gave up. He was loyal to the point of being considered "dog like"...okay, so Daniel is a great name too. My oldest son is Caleb and he's a huge comic book/ super hero junkie and a super hero named Caleb would just give the guy heart palpitations...can't blame a mom fro trying ;)
I also like Providence as his hero persona. I like Totem as the Lakota guy's name. Fits perfectly...doesn't a totem tell the history and spirit of the tribe? Good pick!
For Allistaire, I'm kind of liking the Yankee...I like the irony of it. Without knowing much about him, I imagine a very classy guy with an unknown power...and the name Professor Fate comes to mind. Or Lord Fate. Why I don't know.

No idea if any of this helps. There is a reason I write chick lit...I don;t have your imagination.

But I will get Caleb's opinion when he rolls out of bed and be back to comment.

Mark Means said...

@Rosey: No worries and thank's always nice to know that you've stopped by :)

@Sheena: Thank you! Yes, I definitely think a trip to our local (and very cool) library is going to be in order.

@Marvin K: I like that one! I think, if the group ever seems to become "organized", that will definitely be in the running as a 'team name'...thank you! :)

@Elizabeth: I think you should follow your own advice and trust 'your' gut! Some awesome ideas there, thank you! LOL..I'll keep 'Caleb' in mind, for sure :D

walk2write said...

How about "Waterman" for William Ironhorse? He seems like a fluid sort of character. Alistair's name? "Loco's Motive?" Or "The Rail Man?" Rebecca could be "Cracker Give-em-Both-Barrels," given her dual storekeeper/gunslinger occupation. Daniel? What about "Belteshazzar?" (Daniel's other name in the Bible.) I'll have to think about Elias some more. Thanks for giving me a chance to put on the old thinking cap!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Here's my sons two cents.

Big thumb's up to Providence. It's fresh, the rest sound used and Paragon sounds girly.

For the Lakota- if he left his tribe and was named by white men; Renegade gets his vote. If the Lakota named him, find a fitting Lakota name like Iktomi (a spider trickster spirit who can morph)

British guy? Doesn't like Yankee unless there is some back story to it; like he left England and is like some sort of uber-American transplant.

Miss Rysk- original and works fine.

Alias Reynolds- simply known as the Mayor or as his full title Mayor of Last Chance has an ominous, mystical ring to it.

From the notes of Caleb Seckman, comic reader extraordinaire.

cleemckenzie said...

When I think of Old West names, I think of physical characteristics. People in the 1800's weren't PC.

One-eye Shaylor

Sometimes habits that set someone apart are good sources for their names.

Whistling Smith

Or their position in the community

Boss Roth

As to Hercules or Samson. It would depend on who's assigning the name. Someone who had biblical knowledge might go for Samson. Someone who had some schooling might know about Hercules. Otherwise, I think they might just compare someone they know to the person performing the feat of strength. "He pulled off a Big Boy Larson stunt."

One thing I might avoid is "respelling." It's often more of a distraction than a way to nail dialect. There's a lot of controversy about it. I did a presentation on it and found that none of the authors liked it as a technique.

Chancelet said...

Far reaching research to try and get it right. You could go in the opposite direction than a historical reference for some of them. Like Daniel, for example, could be "Patch" as his powers are used to patch in when needed.

For the mayor, maybe Guardian. For William, Walkie-talkie. Alistair - Steampunk.

Anyway, those are my out-of-the-blue, who-knows-what answers. Hope they give you some ideas. :) Writer’s Mark said...

I'm not good with this, Mark, but I suspect if you toss in the name Johnny Depp it'll shoot to the best sellers list before it's published.

Be well.

Christine Rains said...

I like your names. I agree that people would probably go to Biblical references or, if they're more educated, mythological ones.

LD Masterson said...

Love the concept. I think for the period and location you should go with Biblical over mythology.

If Daniel was a gun for hire trying to change his ways, how about Repentor? A shapeshifter could be Sandman.

I think Jim Dandy was an actual person. Might need to check that. And Brits call us Yankees so that would seem backward. The Dandy might work.

Do people know Elias is hiding a big secret of is that also a secret? Maybe something to do with "Silence" would work.

Ella said...

I kind like the mythology idea. I mean wouldn't these people think they were Gods. If you go with Bible-only one God, so I like mythology!

I love all your ideas :D

Carol Kilgore said...

The only one I have an idea for is William Ironhorse. The more southern western tribes and those in Mexico and South American called a shapeshifter a Nagual or Nahual. Research that and see if it helps. Good luck!

Mark Means said...

@Walk: Some interesting ideas, thank you :)

@Elizabeth: Thank your son for me, those are some great suggestions! For the Mayor, though, it's not going to be known that he has any sort of abilities, or anything like that. As far as the town knows, he's just a rich guy who runs the place. :)

@Lee: Things based off of physical characteristics would sure fit the time frame and that's another great idea. No doubt on the respelling thing. I once did a short story where a character (who was Russian) spoke in a a 'broken' dialect and it was a pain to try to convey. I think I'll just mention a "drawl" or two and let the reader run with it. Thanks for the suggestions!

@Nancy: Those are some awesome ideas, thank you :)

@Robyn: doubt about that. Maybe when I sell the movie rights, I'll have them put a "Johnny Depp" clause in :)

@Christine: Thank you and that seems to be the general thinking :)

@LD: I'll have to do some research on the Jim Dandy, name...thanks for the tip. Nope, no one (of the general town populace) knows the Mayor's secret and it should be quite a surprise :)

@Ella: That's true, they probably wouldn't know what to make of them unless they think they're from Mars, or something. Thank you! :)

@Carol: That's a great one and thank you!

Empty Nest Insider said...

Lots of great ideas here! Sounds like all of the research will pay off. I know you're up to the challenge Mark!


Elsie Amata said...

Hi Mark. Everyone pretty much said what I would have said - I would lean toward biblical terms myself. Have a great week!

Stephen Tremp said...

You can use those annoying Captcha words. There are some great names you can glean from them.

PK HREZO said...

yep I'm thinking old western cowboy and indian type names, and or Biblical references. I do like the myth references as well, and you can also go with constellations and/or celestial bodies.
You've got some good names listed already! Love Miss Rysk. ;)

Valerie said...

I stink at naming things. Seriously. I'm not even allowed to name our pets.



Morgan said...

Hmmm... interesting. I haven't read any of the comments above me, but I think these people would be called somethings akin to devils. Anything foreign back then would be thought evil. Definitely more biblical than mythological, IMO...

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