Deadline Diaries

Five Romance writers tell all.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What's In a Name???


posted by Maureen

So, I’m starting a new book and I’ve got Name The Characteritis.

And yes, I’m sure that’s a word. At least to writers. See, we’ve got to name all the people in the book. Even those with a walk-on role...(you know, the cute waitress or the lazy parking lot attendant or the snoring minister)... they’ve all got to have names. And you don’t want to have the hero named Jack and his friend named Jerry and his brother named Joe and the heroine named Josie.

Sigh. See where I’m going with this? You have to watch out for those pesky first initials. You don’t want three people with J names. It’ll get confusing for the writer, let alone the reader! And last names count, too. You can’t have the same initial there and if the last name has one syllable, you’ve got to try for a two syllable first name and what about a nickname? Is it a stupid one that embarrasses them or do they like it more than the real name and so on and so on...

So we pull out the Baby Names books. Or the phone books. Or we watch movies and read the credits. (There are some fairly oddball names in Hollywood, I’ve gotta say. But then again, hey. Hollywood.) I’ve used old pals from high school, grocery store checkers and my favorite Barrista. I’ve used my kids’ friends’ names and dead relatives. I put my mom and my aunt into almost every book and they love it. But there are soooo many names still to be decided.

THEN I discovered yes, The Internet! Turns out that finding names online can open up whole new avenues of Displacement Activity. For example...

On the Pagan Name Generator, My name becomes Devi Tiger Fairydust

In case I want to stop writing and become an evangelist, go here and I instantly become Reverend Royle La Carlson.

At the Fairy Name Generator, I am known as Columbine Goblinglitter. (did it HAVE to be litter?) Okey dokey.

And in the U.S. Name Generator, my Irish American name becomes Rachel Allison. Not bad and certainly better than Goblinglitter.

And just for fun, there’s the Prison Bitch Name Generator here And in the joint, I’m apparently known as Snaggle Tooth. Can you feel the magic???

But in the end, I’ve got to come up with faboo names for my people. Names that feel real to me. That seem to fit the character. Names that resonate with the reader enough that they’ll be remembered long after the book is finished and hopefully sitting on a keeper shelf... Think about it.

Rhett Butler, Roarke, Tucker Longstreet, Eve Dallas, Stephanie Plum, Scarlett O’Hara.

Great characters all, but what if they’d been named
Irving Butler, Ralph, John Shortroad, Dawn Houston, Jennifer Orange, Emerald O’Shaughnessy?

Not quite the same, are they?? So next time you read a great hero or heroine in your favorite book, take a moment and think about the poor writer who slaved for days to find just the right name.

What about Jeff? Have I used Jeff lately? Or Mike? Is Mike too boring? Maybe Michael. Or Miguel...sigh. HELP! Got any great names you’d like to share??? And hey, what’s YOUR Prison Bitch name???

20 Comments:

At 9:00 AM, Blogger Jennifer said...

Hey there, I'm SALAD TOSSER. I can live with that. But when I put in my maiden name OHMYGOD!!! I was shocked and it takes a lot to shock me! First name SKANK--that was okay. Second name? I'm not going to tell!

Thansk for the laugh, Maureen!

 
At 9:04 AM, Blogger Maureen Child said...

LOL, Jen!!! Now that's gonna make me nuts all day, wondering what else went with Skank!!

 
At 9:47 AM, Blogger Christine Rimmer said...

Just call me Twinkle Toes. Hey, you can tell I won't get to be the husband when I hook up with my lockdown lover.

Names. Oh, no. Anything but names...


Lately, I've been using Dave a lot for secondary characters. I keep having to do global searches and change the current Dave to Dwayne or Dwight so everybody won't have the same name...

Argh.

 
At 10:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fudge Boy or Dildo Head, man neither of those sound good. As for names, they totally can make a book. I remember recently talking with someone about a hero's name - I think it was Dwayne or Larry and saying how good the book was but how it was hard for me to get past his name. Just not heroish to me. I definately don't relish your job. I think that is why I read, not write. :)

Cady

 
At 10:58 AM, Blogger Kate Carlisle said...

Aw jeez, I can't repeat my Prison Bitch name either!! And I tried three different versions of my name! They got worse!! Okay, let me just say that my last name is Gobbler and I'll never utter the first name!!!

Bad Prison Bitch!! Bad! Bad!!

And Maureen, maybe it's because I'm now intimately familiar with the whole Gobbling/Gobbler family tree, but I read your fairy name as Goblin Glitter, not gobling litter. Maybe it's just me, but I think "Goblin Glitter" suits you! LOL

 
At 12:54 PM, Blogger Christie Ridgway said...

My prison bitch name is Count Suckula. Ewwww!

Thorn Hailwitch is my fairy name. I like that one. But hey, Maureen, you can have Thorne for you hero!

I just agreed to my next three deadlines and I've got names for the characters, too, but the first heroine I called Nikki and now I'm not so sure. Must go to all the name generators now!

 
At 1:34 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

My fairy name is Tangle Elfwitch! I like it!

 
At 2:02 PM, Blogger Maureen Child said...

Oooh, Jen and Christie, what great Fairy names!! I love them.... and hey, Thorne is a terrific hero name!!

Congrats on the new contract too, Christie!

 
At 2:05 PM, Blogger Christine Rimmer said...

Antigone Dragon Ahern--that's my pagan name. (?)

Have to try the fairy name next...

Christie, congrats on the contract. I so love advances...

 
At 2:06 PM, Blogger Maureen Child said...

Cady........totally agree! A name can make or break a character. and hey, Fudge Boy?? LOL

Kate......Thanks, I prefer Goblin Glitter to litter anyday!!

 
At 2:07 PM, Blogger Maureen Child said...

LOVE dragons, Chris!! I think THAT'S the animal I'll be!!

 
At 2:44 PM, Blogger Susan Mallery said...

Okay--my prison name is not fit to print. My fairy name is Feather Saturnfly, which I really, really like!!

I'm thinking of putting it on a T-shirt...

Susan, who is still trapped in her house with snow and ice. But at least we're warming up here. It's 28 today. I could practically wear a t-shirt.

 
At 2:59 PM, Blogger Kathleen said...

Wow, don't mess with me b/c my Prison Bitch name is:
Ass Executioner!!

Very shocking!!! After all, I am more of a make peace not war person...LOL

 
At 3:02 PM, Blogger Kathleen said...

The Fairy name is a little better:

Your fairy is called Hex Goblinwand
She is a bringer of riches and wealth.
She lives in places hexed and tainted by black magic.
She is only seen when the seer holds a four-leafed clover.
She wears black feathers and rose petals. She has gentle green wings like a butterfly

However, I am not living in pure evil places!!..Although, that explains the Prison Bitch name..LOL

 
At 3:02 PM, Blogger Kathleen said...

Thanks for the fun name searches!!

 
At 3:04 PM, Blogger Pat said...

Hi, Kate - You have the same gross name I have. LOL.

I like the names Jack, Nick, Sam for heroes.

For heroines: Katie, Annie. Daisy.

 
At 3:51 PM, Blogger Maureen Child said...

Oooh, Pat!! I love the name Daisy!! Thanks for the idea!! LOL

And you guys have GREAT Fairy names....and very scary prison bitch names. I think it's clear we should all try to avoid prison if at all possible!!

Hey Christie......since I love your books, how about a hint?? This new contract for Desires or ST's??

 
At 3:54 PM, Blogger Kate Carlisle said...

By the way, I like the name Mike. And Jack. Nick. Jake.

And old fashioned girl names like Annie, Maggie, Grace, Lizzy, Daisy, Lily....

"Ass Executioner"....ROTFLMAO!! Kathleen, I think that's a winner! And Jen's "Salad Tosser" is a close second because it's so silly! Sorry, Jen, don't hurt me! LOL

 
At 8:18 PM, Blogger Pat said...

I got the name Daisy from SEP's Kiss An Angel.

And I sooo love your books, especially the Knowing You, etc series. Are you doing more of them? I think I have read them all.

 
At 6:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a Native American history teacher at an inner-city school. Let me share some names with you:

Where I grew up, my classmates were named Orange, Turpentine, Hunter, Forest, Nascha, Comes Evil, and so on. Their last names were Two Hawk, Has No Horses, She Has Horses, Spotted Blue Bonnet, Spotted War Bonnet, and so on.

Where I teach, my children are named Jaquarius, Clatoyrea, Tierra, Dierra, Rorekas, Shefreakqua, Vexswala, and so on.

So, what's in a name?

 

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