The conscious mind is incapable of random thoughts. Doing the Lottery is a case in point. You may think you’re choosing six random numbers but you’re not. Each one is dependent upon the others. Would you choose the numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6? I wouldn’t think so. And yet they have the same probability of being drawn as any other six numbers.
There is the illusion of randomness. Mathematicians and bookmakers know this. In the run-up to the birth of Baby Cambridge, and even after, bookies raked in a lot of cash from a lot of people who reckoned they knew what Kate and William would name the child. In this case, people thought there were a myriad names that could be bestowed upon Prince X. But think about it. He’s born into British royalty. His closest male relations are called William, Harry and Charles. There’s no way he was going to be called Kanye, or Rooney, or Padraig, was there? Or Mohammed, or Adolf, or Jesus, too.
Giving people names is no lottery. There must be a method.
The naming of fictional characters is usually related to their character traits. Just as Prince X won’t be named Homer, the people who exist in books and films won’t be named anything out of character, or at random. Names carry too much connotational baggage.
You have to fit the names to a social class and age – crime writer Val McDermid
Consider Arnold Schwarzenegger’s role call of character names: Conan; John Matrix; Ivan Danko; Jack Slater; Harry Tasker; and Jericho Cane. With names like that you just knew anyone who got in his way was going to have a really bad day. The big guy demanded big names. Alternatively, consider the names of Simon Pegg’s everymen: Shaun Riley; Benji Dunn; Graeme Willy; and Gary King. Ordinary guys demanded ordinary names. When Pegg became an action hero in Hot Fuzz he named himself Nicholas Angel!
Also, screenwriters and directors have fun with names. Consider Lightning McQueen from Cars; you know he’s fast and he’s a hero before you even meet him. Plus, kiddies’ dads can root for the animated vehicle because he’s named after their favourite Great Escape artist.
I always find it difficult to come up with suitable names for characters. Usually my stuff is filled with Simons rather than Arnolds. However, I did come up with a logical list of names for my play 73 Seconds. Since it was based on the Challenger space shuttle disaster I decided to honour the people who lost their lives in the incident. Frank, Mike and Greg were called after Commander Francis R Scobee, Pilot Michael J Smith and Payload Specialist Greg Jarvis. The only female in the play, Chris, was called after the schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe.
Naming your characters should be as big a deal as naming your kids. You’re sending them out into a fictional world where they will be judged by their names. You wouldn’t burden your child with ridiculous names (unless you’re rich and famous and egomaniacal) so why would you do it with your mind’s offspring?
Kate and William’s name was always going to be fit for a king.
UPDATE: The bookies were happier than most when the royal couple named Prince Cambridge: George Alexander Louis.