Tuesday, May 4

What's in a Name?

I was trying to name a new character in one of my mss the other day, and having a hell of a time.
Nothing fit.
Except Shane.
So, what was the problem, you ask?
Shane's a nice name.
But I had already used it in another ms.
But Shane wouldn't let me go. This Shane insisted that I use his name this time in this book. Forget the other one. Change his name Shane #2 demanded.
But I already had him fleshed out, knew him pretty well.
"I don't really know you yet," I protested weakly.
"Just do it," he insisted.
So, I caved. I made Shane #2 Shane #1 and renamed Shane #1, which wasn't easy. He was pretty mad about it.
Many years ago, my friend Kim and I each sent in a synopsis to Leslie Wainger for critique. The one thing that stands out even after all these years is that she hated my characters' names. They were Morgan and Zane. Morgan was the hero, Zane the heroine. Ms. Wainger went on for quite a bit about how she didn't like boy names for girls.
I love them.
I currently have an Andy who is my heroine in Rescued.
And I don't plan to change her name anytime soon.
Not even if she begs...
I'm curious, how do you pick your names, and has it ever been a struggle?


  1. I don't always get the names right, right away. I once wrote a book (in the earrrrrrly days) where every name started with J. Not kidding. And, no, it wasn't intentional. I usually try to come up with names that 'fit' the person's background/family history. That doesn't always work, but I try.

    And, yeah, sometimes they name (or re-name) themselves!

  2. names usually come to me fairly quickly..sometimes it's just the first letter tho...a heroine recently told me she wanted her name to start with PH....we hunted til we found one she was happy with....otherwise it goes fairly smoothly...

    except for that whole Caelen-can't-my-name-be-Finn-instead incident..but we don't need to talk about that here...=)

  3. Names come pretty easy for me too. They usually come with the character. The main character in my skewed fantasy is names K.Lee. And she says nobody even knows what the K stands for so whenever someone asks her what it is, she makes something up. If I ever dedicate myself to her and her story I may decide what the K stands for. But right now, she's K.period.Lee.

  4. Hmm.. very interesting question there, m'friend.. Usually I have a mental pic or idea of someone I have known in the past in real life and often I combine qualities of people I know to make a char. One of my favorites is Ellendrylle of Sunrising, a half elf/ half human healer..

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  7. I often have pictures I use for my characters so I try and get a feel of what names suits their looks, background, who they are. That type of thing.

    Finding names hasn't been too much of a nightmare for me yet, but then again I'm only on my 3rd ms. Ask me again how I am at picking names in another 40 mss time!

  8. Names kind of present themselves, but I've noticed I re-use favorite names for secondary characters. I almost always have a Sarah or a Jack or a Joe in there somewhere.