Friday, October 15, 2010

Character Names

It's all in a name. Have you ever noticed how people just are their names? My husband and I struggled over what to name our son. He wanted our son to be named after him and his father. I wanted something different and cool sounding. In the end I caved and our son is a third. Now 10 months later watching him play I can't imagine calling him the other name I so wanted. That name just isn't him - his name suits him perfect.

The same thing goes with my characters. I am so funny that I not only have their first names, but I also give each individual one a middle name and last name - even if it never comes out in the book. It's part of creating a real life character. How many people do you know that only have a first name? I'm suspecting that number is close to zero.

I have had names picked out for my protagonist and her counterparts for well over a year. Recently, I read a blurb someone wrote about another book written by another author. It's a book I'd like to read. Problem is one of her main characters has a very similar name to my protagonist. ACK! I nearly fell over.

Since then I have opened my mind to changing my protagonist's name. So, what's the big idea you might ask? Her name suits her already in my mind. At the same time I can't give her a name that is so similar to an already published characters name. I've decided that for the moment I will continue to use the name I gave her. When I edit my story, just before I submit it, I will again look at her name and see if there is anything else I like better.

How do you come up with your characters' names?


  1. I have middle names in my character file too. :-)

    In my last novel, my main character Jalal named himself. He just "introduced" himself that way. I got the name for my first female lead, Meredith, from a magazine cover.

    My second female lead was first named Kristen, but at that time she was a totally different character than how she ended up, and that name no longer fit her. Now she's named Renee, partly because that was a popular name in the year she would have been born (according to the U.S. Census) and partly because I wanted a name with an initial hard sound (in English), but a soft undertone, because that fits her personality. Also, I liked to "hear" the way my mc pronounced it with his Persian/French accent.

    Haha, I guess that's more than you asked for.

  2. Well I don't I have nothing useful to add LOL. But I will agree that after awhile the name becomes that person. I often wonder though, if I would have named my kids differently would I be sitting here today thinking that I couldn't have named them anything else? DEEEEEEP :)

  3. Recently I started writing a second novel and I didn't sit around worrying about my characters' names. Instead I just sort of started writing and they named themselves. I think it's kind of interesting and fun that way.

    I also agree that people do become their names. It becomes a huge part of their identity.