Keeping Up With the Times
Once upon a time, I had just turned thirteen and stumbled into the wonderful world of Neopets. Within a matter of months I had picked four Pets as my own and named them after my favorite book characters, a name I particularly liked, and the name of someone I particularly liked. When I found the names weren't available, I happily added on the prefix of "Lil" or a bunch of other descriptive words.
Needless to say, it is now eight years later and I am no longer amused with my choices. That's not to say thirteen year olds don't come up with good names and ideas, but that I, as a thirteen year old, didn't come up with good names and ideas. Suffice it to say that I no longer like the things I used to or, in the case of the book names, not as much to need them as Pet names.
Don't get me started on the "Lil" thing.
Along with naming my Pets unfortunate things, I also, at the age of fourteen or fifteen, fleshed out in much detail their characters and stories. They lived vividly in my mind and I put those stories down on paper. Or, more accurately, in the pages of the Neopian Times. Then I had a brilliant idea that I loved immensely and tied my characters inextricably to. They would all be part of some cosmic struggle, the details of which I can't recall off the top of my head but which included an idea where stars (novas?) in the sky that had lasted out their time as celestial bodies were sent to Neopia and born into our Pets. I wrote, wrote, and wrote some more, then submitted the series that would kick it all off. The idea got shot down. The editor thought it better, perhaps, if instead of publishing "how Neopets come to be" ideas, everyone could just personally hold their own ideas with none promoted over the other. Sensible.
Enter in my years-long hiatus on writing. It was difficult for me to separate my Pets from the new ideas I'd woven them in to. When I came back four, five years later, after all kinds of real life changes and growth, I just didn't have those characters running around making stories and spouting off in their own voices anymore.
So here I am, twenty one, with four pets that can't be who they used to be and hanging on to names that make me facepalm. What to do? Well, I could abandon them and start over. That, however, would make for a very short article (despite my previous rambling trip through history) and would probably present me with the same problems if I'm still playing eight years from now. An important skill in any situation is adaptability. Here are ways that you can update your Pets to be relevant with what makes sense to you now.
1. Name Changes - Currently there is no way to officially change the name of your Pet. I say "currently" because, over seven and a half years ago, I wrote an article about how there was no way to transfer Pets straight to other users and, while maybe TNT would one day make that an option, for the time we had to deal with the potential of losing Pets we wanted to send to someone else because a third user saw it and adopted from the Pound first. Five years later... ta da! Correlation, of course, is not causation, but I'm going to pretend that it is in this case and that, by mentioning the possibility, it'll speed the potential along.
But I digress. Name changes. Let's look at my Shoyru and his extremely unfortunate name. My_Sweet_Thomas. I think it's clear that it only took a year for me to hate that one. Let's... not talk about the details. I decided for a while that I would just call him "Chris." That worked... for a short period of time. Then I went with "Jason," which, along with the shortened "Jay," stuck for years and worked well, even after the ridiculous way that I was still deciding new names for him no longer applied. Now, however, he needs to be a different character and, as such, needs a new name. I'd like to somehow retain some of the initial official name, so there isn't much confusion between the two, but also take it in a different direction (for obvious reasons).
So let's look at my options on good ol' Shoyru. Well, I suppose I can take syllables from each part of his name and put something together. Mweetho. Um... that doesn't work for me. Ignoring the middle part of his name and getting pick and choosy with letters, Mythos. Well hey, that's pretty decent. Mythomas? Ehh... too close to the original when you look at it, even if you try to pronounce it all cool and differently. Another idea I had was to take the initials, MST, and do something with that. Just call him MST? Maybe. MyST? That's not bad, ish... Emesty, as in the pronunciation of the letters? Potential. Emes? I think you see what I'm getting at here. Try different ways of piecing apart and representing the name if you'd like to do something that seems close to the original, only "better."
LilHazel (and there might be an underscore in there...) is my, well, she's currently my lab pet. I called her "Zel" for a while, which works, but I want to do something different now that I'm refiguring my Pets. I'd also like something that also takes her original name into account instead of just saying "oh her name is Alexandria Lime Sherbet IV now." Though that IS a pretty awesome name. Well, I liked the general sound of "Zel," and there's a lot of L's in her name. El, Elle, L. I like the single initial "L," so I think that's what I want to go with. A completely different potential could be... oh I don't know, "Ilhaze," pronounced "ill ha zay." It depends entirely on what you like and what works with the character of the Pet you're working with. I'll stick with L.
LilThayet the Faerie Kacheek. Well, shoot, I could just call her "L" also and get on with it. But I'm not going to. I'm also not going to go with "Thayet" or any variation of it, as that's what I did for years. Her personality, which we'll get to in a bit here, has always included some form of liking gardening and flowers. As I'm going to keep that tidbit, I can arrange some of the letters and get "Lilya." I don't know if I like the spelling on that, so I could make it "Lilia." Other names? Liyet, Teyaht (that's backwards, yo), Ilthaye, whatever.
2. Poissonality - They're all fish. No, I'm kidding, I just really needed to make a bad pun somewhere here. Personality. The options are to wipe completely clean or use elements of who they used to be to reconstruct who they are now. I've already mentioned a bit of Lilya(?)'s personality a bit ago. She likes flowers. Well that's nice. I've also always toyed with, but never done much with, a potential affinity for financial savvyness through the stock market. I've also developed, within the past couple of months, a personal love of betting on the Food Club rounds. She should totally do that too. Oh and she's always read a lot. So, if we derive some personality traits from her hobbies, we now have an intelligent and mostly sweet Kacheek who also knows what she's doing with her Neopoints and how to make a lot of them... something that adds a bit of edge to her.
L can also keep a good amount of who she is. Former art student who left school to go treasure hunting in Faerie caves and uses what she makes in Neopoints to fund her experiments in making color potions. So she's kinda artsy with an adventurous streak in her, along with a tendency to spend time on her own wrapped up in new ideas.
The Shoyru, for whom I've thought of many name possibilities (Samoht Teewsmy... no.) but have haven't yet chosen? Now we're treading some more difficult ground. He and my Ixi used to be super close, with personalities pretty well tied up with each other's. But I do have some basics for him alone that we can work with. He's the battler and joined the pirate armadas in their training and fighting against Darigan in the Meridell vs. Darigan war way back when (you're right, I did make that up). Other than that, I'm not sure yet.
So what do you do when you aren't sure "what else," or if you just start with a fresh slate in character altogether? Try giving them hobbies, likes, and dislikes. Look around on the site and find items that one of them might really like, and then decide why. Another solid idea is to come up with three personality adjectives, like "brash, stylish, well intentioned;" and go from there to figure out the hows and whys. Sometimes even painting them a different color or dressing them up a little differently can change what you think they should be like.
3. Give it time - Seriously. Take as long as you need until you feel comfortable changing who your Pet "is" to you. For me... well, for me it's taken years and the realization that I can't write in those same voices anymore, and that maybe it's time to move on from all of that. Even at this point I'm not quite ready to start choosing a new name and new details for my Halloween Ixi (though she still hates having magenta eyes instead of the green that Halloween Ixi had a few years back, cough cough...). I had a lot invested in her character, and it's okay that I want to hold off on restructuring that.
Also give your process time. It might take a long time for you to finally decide exactly what your Pet is like, and that might include suddenly drawing from little ideas that you came up with and then discarded years ago. Stranger things have happened. Hopefully I've gotten some of you started on the road to coming up with bigger and better ideas for your Pets, or maybe even given you some thoughts on how you might make a new one. Even when you make the most personally annoying mistakes, they're probably always salvageable.
But know that "Alexandria Lime Sherbet IV" is never a mistake.