Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Rose By Any Other Name Could Just Be A Waitress In Jersey

If you ordered something called a Hot Fudge Sunday, and the waitress brought you liver and onions, you'd probably be a little upset, no? Spam sandwich instead of a cheesesteak sub - not so good.

Just like with character names, you have certain expectations based on what something or someone is called. A hot fudge sundae should be delicious ice cream, gooey warm fudge sauce, a ruffled swirl of whipped cream and a cherry. A man named Luc Ravenheart should probably not be an accountant. A woman named Mary Elizabeth Flanigan should probably not be a trained assassin.

Exceptions exist in every part of life, but I think you get my drift.

Sometimes names come to me, and the character comes with it - backstory, appearance, goals, motivation - the whole package. Usually my main characters come to me this way. Occasionally, they are the impetus for the entire book.

My secondary characters rarely come through so clearly. For them, I have to do research. I like names that have some sort of meaning to them that matches the character's purpose. Do you do this? Where do your character names come from? Do you change names midbook? Do you need to really know your characters before you find a name that fits? Talk to me.


  1. I can't write a story if I don't know the name of my heroine and hero. Some people suggest me to give them any name and change it later, but I just can't do that. For me, their names are everything because it tells me so much about them. I don't know if I pick names because of their meanings. I don't even have books with baby names. However, there's something in the sound of a name that can evoke ideas in me.

  2. I had a first name for my heroine. Then midway I hated it and I changed it. Now I still don't like it, but can't think of another. The hero has stayed the same.

  3. Well, they say you act like your name, so I do try to have a basic idea of what kind of personality my character has and then name them accordingly.

  4. I have a hit and miss thing with names. I wish I could give them more meaning, but often it's just a name that seems to go with them.

    Maybe I'm in the minority with that.

  5. I LOVE naming my characters! I've made a point to choose unique or odd names for the main characters (especialy the heroines) of all my books based on their characteristics or the theme of the books. That's something I've tried to make a trademark of sorts. But one thing I can't do is force a name on a character. I swear they name themselves half the time. And I definitely can't start a book until I have their perfect names.


  6. I've only changed names mid-book on one of my novellas. Other than that I've been fortunate to choose wisely because my h/h are very happy with me... LOL

  7. Although I did change the name of a main protagonist once, I usually only change secondary character names.

  8. Names are incredibly important to me-I obsess a little :) I always look up the meaning-sometimes I even look up their numerology {I know-weird}-but names are important to me-especially the main characters.
    So far no one has asked me to change any-and honestly I hope they dont-to me its as much a part of my character as history, eye color etc.

  9. LOL
    I love the title of this blog.
    You're so funny. :)

    I used to stress over the names in my books. Until I found...Name Generator.

    I'll play around with the generate names button for an hour (okay longer) and get a whole slew of names to consider for future books. Often times they become secondary character names.

    For the most part the names I use for my heroes and heroines just come to me. I'm not sure how it works, but most of the time...I just know what the character's name should be. :):)

    Very rarely I'll stick in a name and use it until the right one comes along, but it happens. :)

  10. I love naming my characters, or letting them name themselves. Sometimes I seek out a little help by using the net and going to and searching through until a name jumps out at me. For last names I sometimes pick up the phone book and flip open a page, the first name that seems right is the one I pick. I've changed names one time midway through a book and the new one fits much better.