Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Name Calling

Some names just stick with us: Katniss, Lestat, Tris, Cleopatra, Han Solo.

I like my characters to have an uncommon name. My current main character in my solo work, Lethal Dose, is Dalen Steele. For Blonde OPS, our editors chose the name Bec Jackson. Other names I've used: Kara, Sun Yi, Kendra, Myca. I'll never use names like Heather, Mary, Elizabeth, John, Dave, Michael. Sure, in terms of the general population these names show up a lot. I hate alliterative names (you find a lot of that in comic books- Peter Parker [Spiderman] for example). Names have to speak to me.

How do I get names for my characters? I used to use a baby naming book, because not only did it have a wide variety of names from many cultures, but it would have the same name in various languages and the meaning. But it would take sooo much time trying to choose the name that seemed to fit.

So I cheat.

I watch the credits at the end of movies (the best: The Lord Of The Rings series because what, half a million people worked on the movies and they credited everyone...?) The right names just seem to jump out at me.

Some authors count syllables (I just listen to how the name rolls off my tongue, does it sound 'balanced?'). Others go by etymology (root of the name), and some have long complicated processes. Yet others use names of family and friends (a bit dangerous in my mind...). And there are some who even go to great lengths to make up names, especially in sci fi or fantasy novels.

What do you think are the best names of characters?



  1. I try to make up names for my MCs or pick uncommon names. I think it's disturbing to read a book that uses my name, so I figure others may feel that way too.
    (new follower)
    Lexa Cain’s Blog

  2. I've got a bit of a thing against 'weird' names for ordinary people in real life, so I tend to go the other way, Shar, and use ordinary names. I want my readers to see themselves or people they know in my characters. I write contemporary literary fiction novels, but I once wrote a sci-fi short story and to name all the characters, I only used letters available in Santa Claus. Eg Esaul, Tacla etc.

  3. Interesting, DA. I never thought of using only a select number of letters. And Lexa, my name has been used a number of times (Charlotte's Web being the most famous; I heard EVERY joke, and the movie, "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte", and then there's an old country song, "Swinging [on my front porch, with Charlotte Johnson]' which happens to be my maiden name! And no, I didn't know the songwriter so it was really weird...