The Joy of Naming Characters

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the things I'll be doing in my rewrite is naming all my secondary characters, a few companies, and finding the perfect last name for my heroine. I'm usually pretty methodical when it comes to naming my characters. I keep a name sheet for each and every character that is assigned a name as well as three letter lists.

A letter list is where I keep track of the first letter of all the first names, last names, and first and last names. Why do I do this? Well, it started with trying to make sure that the names of different characters weren't to confusing for the reader. If you have an Andrea and Amber who are secondary characters it's easier for the reader to mix them up versus if you have an Andrea and Candace.

Now, sometimes I do want characters to have the same letter name or the names sound different enough that I don't worry if the first letter is the same.For instance, in one story I specifically named the siblings Andrew, Amber, and Ashley, because people do that and I felt it fit the character of their mother.

For years I've used baby name books to name all of my characters. Sometimes I'd just pick a name that "sounded" right as I'd thumb through various letters. Other times I'd know I wanted to use an Irish name and I wanted it to have a certain meaning like "light". This was a little difficult with the baby name books, but now we have this wonderful tool of the internet and there are so many ways to search for names now that I can search by definition, origin, first letter/last letter, etc. I still have two of my trusty name books - all highlighted and crinkled with my favorite names ready to go.


Some characters are born with their name while others try on several different names before finding the one that fits. When I'm writing I usually know all of my MCs characters name and any heavy duty secondary character names before I write the first chapter. Other secondary characters are named on the go. If a scene is flying along I'll just put in NAME or what they are to remind myself later on to look up a name for that character. If the scene isn't flying, I'll pull out my trust baby name book and flip to a specific letter and pick a name that will work for the character.


For RHFT, I knew very clearly that I wanted my heroes name to mean something specific, so I searched for names that meant beast or other wild animals. If you want to search for names by a certain category here's a great site. It was not as easy as I thought it would be. First, I didn't like the names that I found so I grew more and more frustrated as I expanded the search. But then I found one name that was perfect - Leandre. It's French and means lion. I knew instantly this was his last name. So, onto finding a first name to go along with it. Another fruitless search until I thought about my character's core personality and searched warriors/defenders. And there it was - Alexander - definition "defender of mankind."

Alexander Leandre was born. Doesn't the name just flow. :-)

I started my search on my heroine, actually started and stopped as I was so frustrated with my hero, again I searched by meaning - beauty. I looked and looked and looked. I didn't particularly like a specific name. Some were possibilities and I noted them down, but it just didn't seem right. I felt that her name had to mean beauty as it had in the original fairy tale. My first choice was Bella, but there's a very famous Bella right now in popular fiction and I didn't want the same name. I didn't even consider Belle, since Disney had already used it, but when I looked up the original title of the fairy tale, low and behold, La Belle. So, Belle was born.

Can we guess what fairy tale I adapted? LOL

Comments

  1. Very interesting post, Angelia. The naming of characters is always so difficult - it's a key part of any story, so we want the names to be perfect. I've considered many of the things you mentioned.

    I enjoyed reading this! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Shannon - The names are so important. What I find most interesting is how some characters you know their names like they walked up and introduced themselves to you while others are such an agony to find just the right name.

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