Deadline Diaries

Five Romance writers tell all.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Name Game

I’m at the beginning of a new writing project and recently had to come up with names for my characters. This can be as difficult as finding that great opening line (see Maureen’s post and Kate’s post from this week). I’ve been known to write a proposal of a book with one name and then change it as I start writing. It has to feel right.

In my upcoming December book, I named the heroine Bailey, after George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life because her family is really into Christmas (they own a Christmas shop). That worked great. The hero is Finn. A writer buddy of mine has a young son named Finn and I just wanted to use that name.

It’s one of the best parts of writing—like having a large family where you get to choose names for your many kids (without having to check all that homework!). Especially fun for me, who has only boys. So I’ve used some of my favorite girl names: Zoe, Emma, Francesca, Hannah. I have heroes named Bram, Dylan, Brett, and Yeager. I wrote a story about an ex-pro surfer hero nicknamed Trick (short for T. Richard which was actually Thelonious Richard—hero’s mother was a piano teacher). Everyone warned that book would not fly with publishers as cutesy nicknames and sports heroes were forbidden. It was my first sale! (And I didn’t think the nickname was that cutesy anyway, since it involved a famous 20th century jazz pianist, so there).

In a recent journey of procrastination through the blogosphere, not for the first time I read a dig at the names used for heroes and heroines throughout Romancelandia. I’m sure my Yeagers and Tricks and Finns would qualify for that category belonging only to romance heroes. And this is a bad thing? I’m surrounded in my life with Mikes and Steves. My dad is Bill, my stepdad is Bill. How many Bobs do you know? I like the men in romance fiction to have names that take me outside the Robert, John, and James beltway.

Not to mention that names of younger men are much more adventurous these days. My kids’ names are not of the biblical variety. They go to school with Hayden and Jeremy and Elijah and Bryce (and Blake and Austin and…I could go on).

Last, while I have nothing against a hero named Joe or Sam or Jack, what’s wrong with Gabriel or Quinn? If we can accept a shiver-inducing, sexy bloodsucking vamp, I think we can accept that his name is Wrath or Rhage* (or Aidan or Connor or Gideon).

So let’s name names. What are some of the favorite names you’ve come across in your reading?

* Wrath and Rhage are hero names from J.R. Ward’s Brotherhood series


At 9:15 AM, Anonymous SunniBrook said...

I love out of normal names, as long as they fit with the hero.

My current favorite is Kyrian from the first Sherrilyn Kenyon book I read. And his name was partly why I liked it so much. I just think that's a cool name and it fit him.

I'm one of those readers that if the name doesn't seem to roll off my mind easily, I change it. I do that with COMPLETELY SMITTEN actually. I'm not sure why since I love the name but "Haley" trips me up so when I read it, it comes out "Hailey." And now that I write them, I think it's simple reading confusion in my brain. I just read and "i" where there isn't one.

It's also important, I think anyway, for the hero and heroine's names to fit together. They have to sound right together. Like Romeo and Juliet. Buffy and Angel. Legolas and SunniBrook. Oh, no, wait, that's just in my mind.... :)

At 10:13 AM, Blogger Christine Rimmer said...

Hmm. Legolas and SunniBrook. Sounds good to me. :)

Okay, I like your basic four-square manly-man hero names, the ones heavy on the hard consonants: Joe and Jack and Mack and Jake. Unfortunately,I used those in my own books early on, so they don't seem exactly fresh to me when I see them as a reader.

I also find I love a name when I love a character. I named my son after the hero in LaVyrle Spencer's Hummingbird. And after a notorious outlaw. My parents were not amused and called me and begged me not to do it. The J doesn't seem particularly damaged by having that name. In fact, he's one of the most well-adjusted people I know.

At 10:18 AM, Blogger Maureen Child said...

Christie.......good point. It's so important to find the right names and so frustrating some times, too!

Sunnibrook, LOL...ah yes, you do fit well with Legolas. Just as I think Maureen and Aragorn practically sing!

Let's see...There's JD Robb's Roarke of course, no first name, just a single, strong word. And there's Tristan, the vampire hunk in Kim Harrison's witch series. Oh, and Tucker Longstreet, the delicious playboy in Nora's book Carnal Innocence.

For me, I've had a few really good ones. Ritter Sloane, a gunfighter in one of my old westerns. Connor Reilly, Cooper Lonergan, Devlin Kincaid.

Somehow, it's more fun to find those unusual names for the guys. Not sure why that is, but Sunnibrook's right. The h/h names have got to flow together, too.

At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Kim said...

I have 3 sons. They are all so very different...but have traditional names. My oldest is Rodney--after my Dad, my middle is Michael (after Michael Jordan) and my youngest is Max.

I love all my kids, but I have to say that I REALLY love the name Max. It is just right. (His name is actually Maxwell--couldn't go Maximillion LOL)

I am glad I don't have to name anyone other than pets. Which by the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is named......Bailey. :)

Have a fantastic weekend ladies.

At 11:30 AM, Blogger Maureen Child said...

Hey Kim.......I love the name Max, too.

And my late, much missed Golden Retriever, the best dog in the world, was named Abbey Road. (My son Jason named her)

At 1:33 PM, Blogger Susan Mallery said...

I'm with Chris--I like hard sounds for guy names. It's getting harder and harder to find names I haven't used before. My secondary characters tend to have all the names I'll never use for actual heros or heroines.

In an upcoming series for Desire, I have three sisters. Julie, Willow and Marina Nelson. No biggie until I started the second book, which is Willow's. As I typed that first sentence I realized "Willow Nelson" was waaaay to close to Willie Nelson. Not that I object to Willie but he's not who I want you thinking about.

The first book was turned in and I was stuck, so I added a very long middle name and never again put the heroine's first and last name together in the whole darned book! It was pretty funny.

At 6:19 PM, Blogger Kate Carlisle said...

Willow Nelson -LOL!

Christie, I completely agree with the importance of finding the right name. Don't laugh, but every time I start a book, I name the hero Jack. Then I have to think. Oh yeah, done that. But to me, that's the quintessential guy's name. It's rugged and right and tight.

Sunnibrook, I do like the hero and heroine's names to sound right together, so I usually try them out for a while. I really like your name! Sunnibrook. Not sure if it's your real name, but it's pretty and it evokes a lovely image.

A friend of mine has four new babies born this year in her neighborhood. Their names are Maddox, Phoenix, Ashton and Shale. Are you ready? They're all girls!! LOL

At 6:26 AM, Blogger Christine Rimmer said...

Hmmm. Shale. Never heard that one before...

Maureen. Oh, my! Roark. I shoulda thought of him. Great name for a now-legendary hero.

Kim, count me in. I love the name Max, as well.

Susan, oh yeah on getting stuck with a name because you didn't realize there would be a prob until you actually got to his/her book. One of the many challenges of planning and executing a series.

Hm. Executing. Interesting word choice...

At 1:54 PM, Anonymous SunniBrook said...

SunniBrook is my "internet" name. My real name is Rebecca (Beck) and I got the nickname at work. There was a guy on our floor whose name was Terrance and another guy had given him a sign to put on his desk that said "My name is NOT Clarence." So I always called him Not Clarence. And he started calling me Sunnybrook because of Rebecca of Sunnybrook farm. I just jazzed it up a bit by spelling it with an "i." :) I've always liked it.

At 8:31 PM, Blogger Pat said...

My choices are simple:


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