I ask people what their middle name is, how they got their name, what their name means, what they would have been named if they had been a girl (if I’m conversing with a guy) and vis-versa. I ask people if they could change their name, what would they change it to. I ask what their favorite names are. I even ask about various spellings. Names are very intriguing.
I’ve gone though and counted all the letters in all my sibling’s full names. I’ve figured out who everyone in my family is named after. I’ve found patterns in our names that no one else has ever come up with.
My sister once got a practically new baby naming book at a garage sale. I think she was planning on putting it away for future years when she might have her own children to name. Instead, it resides on my shelf, battered, worn-torn and much cared for.
And yet! And yet, even though (or maybe because?) I like names so very, very much, I have an extremely difficult time naming characters. And I’m not talking about just main characters. I’m also talking about those characters who are talked about once or twice in the whole book.
I’ve written whole books without having a name for a character. In fact, several of my books have had the main character referred to as MC the whole time. Yes, it’s that bad. Names are so important and I don’t want to blotch it when it comes to writing.
Here are some problems I have with naming a character:
*I don’t keep up with modern books/movies/actresses/etc… very much, and therefore I sometimes think I have a great name, only to discover it’s some really popular person and everyone (besides me) who hears the name thinks of that popular person.
*The name has to fit. I want my character to look like, talk like, act like and be like that name. Which sounds weird, but surely you get what I’m saying? And I don’t mean I want a Jane who’s plain or a Dave who’s all popular. I mean, if I name a character Raquel, I want her to… fit her name. (Wow, my explanting skills rock!)
*I am decidedly against names that sound alike/are confusing being in the same book. I recently read a book where only about 15 or so names were mentioned. Those names included: Terry, Todd, Tim and Tara. Linda, Lynn, and Lindy. Karen, Katie and Katherine. As much as I liked the book, I felt like the author just randomly pulled names out of the air, how else would she get so many variations of Linda?
Or what about you? What’s your name? Who named you? What does it mean? I’d be delighted to hear all about it! 🙂