I Don’t Want To Name Names

Oh…but I do want to name. One of my favorite parts of being a writer is finding the perfect name for my characters. And they will protest if given them the wrong name (writer’s you know what I’m talking about). Once the right one is found, the reward is awesome. It helps bring the character to life, gives them attitude, helps define their overall disposition. For example, when you see the name “Milton” you don’t assume evil mastermind. You probably think of this guy from Office Space or the guy from The Walking Dead.

The main character in my debut novel, EDGE OF TRUTH (YA paranormal romance/dystopian), is Rena Moon. She’s named after her mother Laurena, whose name is symbolic of honor and victory. ‘Rena’ also means reborn. According to my research, people with her name have a deep inner desire for independence, are passionate, compassionate, romantic, and are sometimes quick-tempered. Fits my MC perfectly.

In my new manuscript, BLINK (YA Paranormal), the MC’s name is Alexandra Ripley, but she goes by Lexi (←she made me mention that addendum). Her first name means ‘protector of mankind’, and it’s not easy for her. She’s the only girl Called to Hunt since the Brotherhood swore to defend mankind centuries ago. Now, she struggles against the patriarchal traditions that deem her unworthy, while facing the evil that killed her predecessor. Oddly enough, I knew her name, before I discovered the challenges she’d face.

Baby name books and websites are wonderful places to find the perfect name. What I like about these resources is they go beyond giving names and dig deeper into the meaning, origin, year of popularity, and sometimes, the online ones, list celebrities with similar names.

In the past, I’ve found these sites helpful:

What are some of your favorite character names (either yours or someone else’s)? When reading a book, do you ever stop to research character names? When writing, do you research before naming characters?

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12 comments on “I Don’t Want To Name Names

  1. dawnall says:

    Love to name characters! It’s like getting to name your kids all over again. 🙂

  2. I feel the same way about the name Rena. 😉 Great post!

  3. Nutschell says:

    I do put special attention to naming my characters–especially the main ones 🙂

  4. Great post. I love the random name generator, and also name lists by decade: http://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/decades/index.html (great for historicals).

    Have you ever had to change a character’s name after you’d written quite a bit of the story and gotten used to it? It’s not easy (“Lucien–I mean Walter.”), but it can be done. LOL

    • I see what you’ve done there, with Walter. 😉 I haven’t had to change a character’s name yet, but I have used ‘X’ or some other placeholder instead of a name while I work things out with a character. Sometimes, I try to find a pic of the person first, and that helps lead me to a name.

      I’ve added your suggestion to my Character Names file.

  5. This is a really fresh perspective to blog about and I love it!!! What a great post!

  6. Booklover says:

    I tend to research the character names. It’s cool to realize that the names can tell more about the story.

  7. I know this is an old post, but I was looking for a name for a new character. I had one. He was very tight lipped. I threw out the name, Rafe, just because I like it. It sounds cool. Just reached up and pulled it out of the air. (He’s getting his own story, but the story I was trying to put him in wasn’t his, so in search of a new name now. Different story there all together though.) Then I threw in my wolf-shifter female lead – the “all go” to his “must think it through a million ways to Sunday.” I was just using Rafe as a place-holder until I found something that suited the character. When V came up as a wolf-shifter, I started looking for names that meant counsel or advisor or something along those lines. And wouldn’t you know, Rafe came up. And even more to the point, “Wolf’s counsel.” I’d kept trying to force a new name on him when he was already appropriately named. Because that’s part of what he does. They’re getting a full length novel, now that I understand what their story is. So I totally get where you’re coming from. Anecdote about the baby name books (of which I currently have 2) I left it out once when my brother and then fiancee came over. No. I was not. I was just trying to name a character and not having any luck. I also use the old-school paper, left in the middle of the driveway during a pouring rain White Pages for inspiration on last names. And occasionally first names too, because I’ll see a last name that would be totally cool as a first name because of all the fun nicknames that could result.

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