You are either not logged in or not registered with our community. Click here to register.
 
December 09, 2016, 05:26:12 PM

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

Click here if you are having problems.
Default Wide Screen Beige Lilac Rainbow Black & Blue October Send us your theme!

Hark!  The Herald!
Holiday Issue 2016

Wiki Blogs Dicebot

Author Topic: Question about Character Design/Names...  (Read 515 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline ViolenceTopic starter

  • Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand.
  • Lord
  • Seducer
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2009
  • Location: At the foot of a two faced God straddling the border of Nightmares and Dreams.
  • Gender: Male
  • I want a girl in pointe shoes and a collar.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Question about Character Design/Names...
« on: May 26, 2012, 07:15:12 PM »
I'm not 100% certain this is the most appropriate forum to ask this question, so forgive me if it's not. ^.^;;  I'm having a dilemma with a project I'm currently trying to work on:

So, some background, I'm working on developing a comic that's going to be a sort of steam-punk Indiana Jones meets Firefly meets Dragonball Z type story.  It's not as haphazardly thrown together as it sounds.  And occasionally I've been bouncing names off of friends to see how they sound.  This was potentially a very bad idea, and I will explain why.

The setting:
The characters live in a world with steam-punk technology based on more advanced technology that people have found in ruins of a previous civilization.  The main cast work as "Excavators", they're paid by a financier to go into ruins and clear out all the traps, hazards, monsters, etc from the ruins so that they can be safely explored by people who can make use of any surviving technology.  So they're equal parts archaeologists, engineers, and hunters.

To do this job they equip devices called GEARs (Generating Engine Aura Reactors) that enable them to do somewhat super-human stuff.  One character gets super strength from hers, another can create force fields, another can speed up his reaction time so that the world appears to be moving slowly.  You get the idea, I hope.

There are two major nations in the world that I still haven't really named yet, so right now they're just called the Empire and the Kingdom.  Since they've already exploited most of the ruins in their own areas, both have set up colonies in the southern continents... so you also have the colonials of both sides.  Fighting to "liberate" the colonies is an organization called V.  Since it's where most of their technology comes from, obviously everybody has reasons for wanting things excavated.  Stuck in the middle, trying to get by, are our heroes.

So that's the world.  This is the issue I've run into...

The Problems:
I begun the project naming all the characters have colors.  Puns as naming conventions are an established trope, especially in anime and manga (Dragonball Z, Ranma 1/2, Sorceror Hunters, Shaman King, etc).  So I didn't think it would be a particularly risque thing to do with naming.

The first problem that I ran into was that it's a lot easier to name a female character than it was a male character.  But that problem I've mostly solved.

The larger problem came in when I explained to somebody that I'm also using the names as a clue towards the origin of the character.

  • Characters from the Imperial Military are all named after tones (Black, Gray, White). -- General White, Black Oliver, Mister Gris, etc.
  • People from the Imperial mainland are all named after shades of yellow or green.  Colors that show value or wealth or are associated with vibrancy. -- Kaiser Gold, Green Oliver (the main character), Aurulent Primrose, etc.
  • Characters with family origins from the Kingdom are all named after aquatones (Blues and Purples, some blue-greens).  Water colors are usually more mysterious and passionate or cool and serene. -- Cerulean "Blue" LeBleu, Violet and Magenta Purpelle, etc.
  • Colonials are all named after earthtones (Browns and Beiges, etc).  The opposite of the Imperials or Kingdom.  Earthtones are usually viewed as dull or dirty, as opposed to wealthy or interesting. -- Red Brown, Beige Tanning, etc.
  • Finally people with association (past or present) with the organization V are named after shades of red.  Red is the most common color on a flag, and represents bloodshed and passion, so I thought it was fitting for a "revolutionary" army. -- Lady Vermilion, Scarlet, Rouge, Titian Blood etc.  Red Brown also had association with V.

So this is the problems raised by a couple friends.  I think they both probably had a legitimate concern at one point during the conversation, but now I'm convinced they're just arguing to be right about it, since it's devolved into calling me names and insisting that I'm wrong and refuse to accept it.

Problem 1:
Why would parents name their kid as if they'd go join some group?
Response:
You're asking for an in-world explanation for what is a strictly out-of-world phenomena.  In the context of the world, their names are just names.  The convention of naming them after colors and grouping those colors together is for the benefit of the reader and myself and isn't meant to mean anything in-world.  In-world those names might not even mean that color.

Problem 2:
Then what's the in-world explanation for the name?  The reader is going to ask why they're named those names.
Response:
The in-world explanation for the name is that it's a name.  I don't think most readers will ask for an in-world explanation beyond that.  In-world explanations for things like this, to me, seem to defeat the purpose of using them at all.

Problem 3:
If you're disassociating the names from the color, how will you describe things?
Response:
The intended medium is visual, so describing things would be minimal.  If I wanted to describe something, I would just show it to the reader.  Though, I will admit that by trying to avoid using colors in a traditional means at all I'm limiting my dialogue.  But since I'm color blind, I'm used to limiting my dialogue in such a way.

Problem 4:
You're doing Rainbow Bright but forgetting the importance of naming them after colors.  In Rainbow Bright they're named after colors but the color is directly associated with something they do.
Response:
I'm not familiar with Rainbow Bright, but in the case that was described to me it seems that the COLOR is the important aspect there.  To what I'm doing, the convention is the important part.  Green isn't named Green because his abilities have anything to do with Green, but he isn't named that without purpose, either.

Problem 5:
You're being a lazy writer by saying you're never going to describe things. ((From the issue where I said that I won't be able to use colors if somebody ever needs to describe something.))
Response:
It's still a visual medium, and I don't understand where their problem is coming from here.  Why can't I just show the reader something if I want them to know what it looks like?  How is that lazy?  If one of the characters sees a flower, why can't he just like the flower.  Why would he have to describe it to somebody else?  It doesn't feel like he would say, "I like this blue flower.  I like how blue it is.  My name is also Blue.  Like this flower.  We're both blue."

Problem 6:
Even in a visual medium characters can still describe things.
Response:
What things?  Why are they describing those things?  Why do those descriptions HAVE to include a color?  The scenario he gave involved characters talking about flowers.  My question was why can't the character describe them as the round flower, or the boxy one, or the one with the pointy things.



So, if you've made it this far... thank you.

This whole argument started when I asked how they felt about the name Titian Blood.  Both of them said they didn't like it.  One said it sounded pretentious.  The other suggested I call him Red Gold.  And I was told that I'm stupid because I don't want to do that when I already have a character named Red and a character named Gold.

At this point I'm close to just cutting these people out of my life because the discussion has turned into a series of personal attacks launched at me.  My attempts to address or solve the issues as I understand them are called lazy, pretentious, or stupid.  My inability to understand the problems they're trying to voice to me are called closed minded and dismissive.  Yet, not a single suggestion to address the problems has been offered.

So, out of desperation I'm reaching outside my immediate circle of friends.  Because I'm trying to understand the problems they're trying to raise, and why they feel I've been insufficient in addressing the problem.

What do you think?

Do you see the problems?  Is the problem in the grouping of similar colored names with similar backgrounds?  Should I just drop the color-based names entirely?  Is it unavoidable that characters will have to talk about something (an object, a person, whatever) by using a color to do so?  If that does prove unavoidable and I have to describe something by color does that take away from the world?

Help me...  :'(

Offline NatalieB

Re: Question about Character Design/Names...
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2012, 07:45:02 PM »
Well, I'm sorry to hear thats been such a nightmare for you.  I really hope I don't exacerbate anything here.

First off - and leaving the issue of colour aside for the moment - I like the idea of different countries having different naming conventions.  It's only natural after all.  You can tell from my RL name I'm German, I might be able to tell from yours where you're from.  And its a nice way of building immersion - when General <insert name here> is introduced for the first time we can already, as interested readers, tell where he's from and who gives his orders.  So far so groovy.

Your problems 3,5 and 6 seem to be lumpable together.  They're asking, if I understand right, how you'll distinguish between 'red' as in a red fire-engine and 'red' the V agent.  And thats purely a matter of your writing style.  As you say its a comic so colours will be visual rather than literary and if you're confident you can avoid it in writing then more power to you.  I see their concern, but think you're right here.

I've never heard of Rainbow Bright so I'm gonna skip it.

Problems 1 and 2 are where I stick a bit.  Now, both can be easily explained by saying its merely the fashion/custom in that area (although that falls down a little with V - are people born into V?  If not, why don't they have names reflecting their caste of birth.  But whatever.)  But colour names are such high-profile words that I do think it'll look a bit noticeable.  And it begs the question of what word they use for the colour of a fire engine.  If its 'red' then do they never get confused?  If its not then you're in danger of calling a rabbit a smeep WARNING - TV TROPES LINK.   ONLY CLICK IF YOU HAVE SEVERAL FREE HOURS

Does that make any kind of sense?  Im saying that the associations between the signifier 'red' and the signified colour are very very strong and will necessarily intrude on your readership.  What I'm emphatically not saying is that thats a problem.  It will give your comic a certain feel, sure, but if thats the feel that you want your comic to have then awesome.

I'm not sure I'm making any sort of coherant point here so I'm going to wrap this up.  It'll be a major and noticeable part of the comic and there's no way round that.  But that's not in and of itself a negative.

Hope I haven't annoyed you further with that. 

Offline ViolenceTopic starter

  • Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand.
  • Lord
  • Seducer
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2009
  • Location: At the foot of a two faced God straddling the border of Nightmares and Dreams.
  • Gender: Male
  • I want a girl in pointe shoes and a collar.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: Question about Character Design/Names...
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2012, 07:54:07 PM »
Well, I'm sorry to hear thats been such a nightmare for you.  I really hope I don't exacerbate anything here.

First off - and leaving the issue of colour aside for the moment - I like the idea of different countries having different naming conventions.  It's only natural after all.  You can tell from my RL name I'm German, I might be able to tell from yours where you're from.  And its a nice way of building immersion - when General <insert name here> is introduced for the first time we can already, as interested readers, tell where he's from and who gives his orders.  So far so groovy.

Your problems 3,5 and 6 seem to be lumpable together.  They're asking, if I understand right, how you'll distinguish between 'red' as in a red fire-engine and 'red' the V agent.  And thats purely a matter of your writing style.  As you say its a comic so colours will be visual rather than literary and if you're confident you can avoid it in writing then more power to you.  I see their concern, but think you're right here.

I've never heard of Rainbow Bright so I'm gonna skip it.

Problems 1 and 2 are where I stick a bit.  Now, both can be easily explained by saying its merely the fashion/custom in that area (although that falls down a little with V - are people born into V?  If not, why don't they have names reflecting their caste of birth.  But whatever.)  But colour names are such high-profile words that I do think it'll look a bit noticeable.  And it begs the question of what word they use for the colour of a fire engine.  If its 'red' then do they never get confused?  If its not then you're in danger of calling a rabbit a smeep WARNING - TV TROPES LINK.   ONLY CLICK IF YOU HAVE SEVERAL FREE HOURS

Does that make any kind of sense?  Im saying that the associations between the signifier 'red' and the signified colour are very very strong and will necessarily intrude on your readership.  What I'm emphatically not saying is that thats a problem.  It will give your comic a certain feel, sure, but if thats the feel that you want your comic to have then awesome.

I'm not sure I'm making any sort of coherant point here so I'm going to wrap this up.  It'll be a major and noticeable part of the comic and there's no way round that.  But that's not in and of itself a negative.

Hope I haven't annoyed you further with that.

Haven't annoyed at all.

I do admit that I don't really have any way of addressing colors, themselves, in-universe without having them just be the same as names.  And I'm afraid that doing so might draw too much attention to it.  But, like you're saying, there's already so much attention being drawn to it... does it really hurt the world to just say "blue as a property" is obviously different from "Blue as a person".

With V, I thought the way I would get around it would mostly be through their family names.  Like with Red Brown, he was born in the colonies so he's got the Brown name?  Maybe Scarlet's last name is Cobalt, or something?  Do you think that's enough, or do I need to have an in-universe explanation?  Something like Lady Vermilion renames them when they join?

Offline NatalieB

Re: Question about Character Design/Names...
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2012, 08:06:23 PM »
No, I don't think it hurts at all to say 'blue as a property'.  And in fact you'll rarely have to.  If Captain Obvious picks up a flower and says "this flower is blue" then its pretty clear that he means it as a colour not a name.  Just as if I pick up a flower and say its scarlet, noone thinks Im talking about the girl who played Black Widow.  Context will clear up the overwhelming majority of those problems.

I personally would be tempted to have V with codenames.  But it very much is your baby here and this is basically an aesthetic choice.  I'd be tempted to steer clear of characters with two colour names though - Red Brown - that really does feel like overkill a little.  Maybe decide that either first names or surnames follow the colour scheme (like you seem to have done with Green Oliver).  Red Brown feels very intrusive, it really does seem to throw the colour thing into front and centre.  But as I say, its your work - YMMV and, much as it pains me to admit it, there's no universal law saying I'm always right.

Offline ViolenceTopic starter

  • Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand.
  • Lord
  • Seducer
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2009
  • Location: At the foot of a two faced God straddling the border of Nightmares and Dreams.
  • Gender: Male
  • I want a girl in pointe shoes and a collar.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: Question about Character Design/Names...
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2012, 08:14:33 PM »
No, I don't think it hurts at all to say 'blue as a property'.  And in fact you'll rarely have to.  If Captain Obvious picks up a flower and says "this flower is blue" then its pretty clear that he means it as a colour not a name.  Just as if I pick up a flower and say its scarlet, noone thinks Im talking about the girl who played Black Widow.  Context will clear up the overwhelming majority of those problems.

I personally would be tempted to have V with codenames.  But it very much is your baby here and this is basically an aesthetic choice.  I'd be tempted to steer clear of characters with two colour names though - Red Brown - that really does feel like overkill a little.  Maybe decide that either first names or surnames follow the colour scheme (like you seem to have done with Green Oliver).  Red Brown feels very intrusive, it really does seem to throw the colour thing into front and centre.  But as I say, its your work - YMMV and, much as it pains me to admit it, there's no universal law saying I'm always right.

I gave him the name Red Brown as an homage to b-movie actor Reb Brown.  He's in a lot of really terrible silly movies, and it seemed to fit the kind of silly-cheesy nature of Red.  The idea for a dual nature and a previous association with V actually came later.  Do you think I should scatter some characters named after reds elsewhere in the world?

Green Oliver is both greens, though.  Olive is a shade of green, but I altered it a little to make it sound more like a name to me.  And his brother is Black Oliver.  Should I be doing that more, do you think?

Offline NatalieB

Re: Question about Character Design/Names...
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2012, 08:17:31 PM »
Well, are you lettering the comic on a computer or by hand?  If you are then you can have yor cake and eat it.  Do it up with the current name scheme and splash it around friends and family.  Maybe even here on E.  See what people think.  If people don't like it then control-H it to something else.  First drafts don't have to be last ones.