Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What's In A Name?

Today's Road Trip Wednesday hosted by YA Highway asks:

How do you decide on names? Would you ever name a character after a friend/family member/ex?

Naming characters is MAJOR for me. The right name does it all while the wrong name is like an annoying fly buzzing around my head.

So  how do I come up with such an IMPORTANT factor of my book? I look in a baby name book. Ha! As simple as that.

I have a thing with names and name meanings. In Daze, almost every name means something that fits with the character. (Of course, it's possible to find different meanings depending on where you look.) Jessica means "he sees." Alric means "ruler of all." I recently searched a babyname website because I wanted a name that meant "eternal" or "immortal." This name had to be female, and it had to be the right ethnicity. It's almost silly to go to so much trouble when in most cases a reader will have no clue as to the meaning of the characters name and won't even care. But I care. So I do it.

I did things a little differently with my Persuasion redux. In this case, I wanted similar names to the original characters, but modernized. So instead of Louisa, I have Lacey. Instead of Frederick, I used the last few letter of the original and went with Eric. Instead of Anne, Elizabeth, and Mary, I went with Ava, Beth, and Mari. Not only are these names similar to the original characters, but since the girls are daughters of an actor, my characters are named after great actresses- Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe. In some cases I even stuck with the original (Walter Elliot), and other cases I had to come up with my own since Jane Austen didn't see fit to provide a first name (Lady Russell became Aunt Rose).

I don't always take naming a character quite so seriously. Sometimes I just go with what sounds right. If it doesn't sound right, then I switch up the names until I find one that does. And no, I rarely name my characters after someone I know. The only two cases: I have a niece named Brynley and I used the name Bryn for a very minor two-year-old character in Sway. In my sequel to Daze I use the name Margaret which happens to be both mine and my oldest daughter's middle name.

What's in a name for you? Are you as picky as I am about naming your characters? I swear, I'm pickier naming my characters than I was naming my kids!


  1. I overall avoid using names of people I know--don't want them getting the wrong idea! But sometimes it works out for the best that way.
    I like meanings and allusions as well. But sometimes a name just comes and I run with it.

  2. I'm really picky about choosing names for characters too. Like you say, it's annoying when a name seems off. I think even if readers don't know the meaning of a name or why you chose it, that's all part of a character's back story and just helps you develop their personality. Thanks for sharing :)

  3. I find with people I know, it very much depends. Once I name a character, I always see everyone named the same as that character through the filter of that character. Maybe that's crazy.

  4. It's funny you're so picky about the names! I try not to let the name get in the way, and it's often one of the last things I finalize in a story. For my last book, a few of the names changed in the final draft. Thank goodness for find/replace!

  5. For me, it's usually a feel. Hopefully they come to me right away, and I can't think of them as anything else. Other times, I'll start writing, and the name will usually come to me. I've had to do an internet search before, but that's rare :)

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