Monday, August 20, 2012

What's in a name?

When I was working on my last novel (which will never see the light of day, I might add), my main characters name just came to me. It appeared in front of my eyes and started screaming at me. When I'm naming a main character, I need to make sure the meaning of the name fits. I know it shouldn't be a big deal, but for me, the meaning is just as important as the name itself.

When I saw the meaning was perfect... it fitted the character and the story, I knew I had my name. It was that simple.

On my current WIP it hasn't been that easy. I've needed the names to be slightly different and that didn't come as easily to me. I'd shut my eyes and try and make her come to me and tell me her name, but that didn't happen. I'd search the internet hoping a name would pop out and say 'this is what you've been looking for'. I talked to friends, I experimented with letters and I got hugely frustrated. At one point I settled on a name for all of 9 hours when I realised it just wasn't a strong enough name. It was over powered too much by the male protagonists name, and that wasn't going to fly with me.

Finally I settled on a name, but it took a long time, and I still had to make sure the meaning would fit the character and the story. Luckily, it fitted seamlessly. I just worry about the fact that I had to really think and think to come out with this name. I feel it should have come more naturally, like in my first book.

Then again, in my first book, the characters were there and their world revealed itself around them. In this WIP, the world is very established, and the characters are yet to show me who they are and what they're about.

Anyway, the point of this post.... I'm wondering, how do you name your characters? How do you find the name that suits you male and/or female protagonist? What do you look for? Does it come to you when you least expect it, or do you actively seek it out?


  1. Names are really hard. Occasionally, they just come to me, but a lot of times they make me work for them. I've finally given in and just thrown whatever name at characters and then change it later if it ends up not fitting. And most of the time It seems to work well, so I've thankfully managed to save myself some stress over it. Good luck with naming your own characters!

    1. Thanks for the comment. I agree, sometimes you just need to name them and if they protest later then they are able to offer up suggestions!