Thursday 13 December 2018

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 13

Day 13: It's All In The Name

It's the 13th of December today, and coincidentally, 13 is the number of the so-called Yule Lads of Icelandic folklore.  These trolls visit children during the last 13 nights before Christmas, leaving gifts or rotting potatoes.

One of the most wonderful features of the Yule Lads are their names which describe their personalities and translate into English as wonderful things like Spoon Licker, Meat Hook, and Door Sniffer (according to Hallberg Hallmundsson's translation of the poem “Jólasveinarnir” by Jóhannes úr Kötlum).

For today's prompt, we're going to come up with some great names of our own and see where it takes us.


Step 1

Set a timer for a couple minutes and write down the most interesting, unusual, and evocative character names you remember from literature or real life.  If you're having trouble getting started, children's books and fairy tales are great sources, as are the complete works of Charles Dickens. Also have a think about those character names that stick in ones head, everything from the slightly unusual to the outrageously strange (Hester Prynn; Ichabod Crane; Bigger Thomas; Ebeneezer Scrooge; Katniss Everdeen; Zaphod Beeblebrox; Albus Dumbledore).  And of course, don't forget those one-word names that couldn't be anything else (Hal, Gilgamesh, Ophelia).

Step 2

Now have a go at making up some of your own names in the same vein.  If you were naming your own Yule Lads, what would you call them?  Are there some strange combinations that you can put together that have a certain ring to them?  Give yourself permission to be playful and silly, strange and serious.  Use a timer if it helps keep the pen moving. 

Step 3

Try to write until you come up with at least one name that jumps off the page and demands to be written about.  Once you find it, let that name tell you what sort of story or scene it wants you to write about it, and then do what it says. 

We're halfway through the 2018 Flash Flood Advent Calendar.  If you're enjoying this project and would like us to do it again next year, or if you would enjoy prompts at a different time of year, do let us know!


'Yule Lads' by eeems is licensed under (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.

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