Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What's in a name?

      Do you enjoy naming your characters? Do you have names that you can't wait to use? Do you like to make up names not commonly used? Do you think about how your characters' names define them?
     Of course, you think about whether or not the name is appropriate for the time period in which your story is set...don't you? Recently, I ran across some names in the obituary column of my hometown paper (Note: the obituary column is like Facebook for Seniors!) and was surprised to see that the person's age didn't fit the name. Frankly, I never heard of a 'Misty' born in the early 20th century!
     Where do you find names for your characters? Besides obituaries, I mean, if you're not a senior citizen like moi. Consider the following sources:
     Consider these things when mapping your characters for a story:
  • era (we've already covered that)
  • cross gender names (can be confusing)
  • pronunciation (you want your reader to feel comfortable with the protagonist)
  • sound and image (what do names like 'Summer' and 'April' or 'Jerusha' convey about the character?)
  • rhythm (ever hear someone say, 'Boy, that's a mouthful!' ?
     How do you name your characters?


Donna Alice said...

Most of my characters come 'fully clothed' already with their names! Never thought about having to figure it out. About the Misty - maybe she changed her name. I had an aunt who was named Maggie and she changed her name to Sue which she thought was more refined. When I named a little girl Maggie in one of my books, my sister made that comment that it was and 'old lady's name.' LOL!

Vonnie Davis said...

I use baby name books, name sites online and social security records for certain years. I also pick last names from the back of football jerzies. Bet'cha never heard that one before. Great post.

Terry Odell said...

I Google boys or girls names and a range of years depending on how old my characters are (I write contemporary). I also make sure I'm not overusing initial letters or repeating similar names. After I had a book with 3 characters named Hank, I started keeping a simple spreadsheet. I tend to get locked into certain letters--had too many M and C names.

(BTW - that book, since revised and repubished, happens to be called "What's in a Name?"

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Judy said...

Thanks for stopping by, Donna, Vonnie, and Terry. No, Vonnie, I never heard of getting names from football jerseys, but why not? Terry, I have a bad habit of using names with the same first letter--have started working on that!