Sunday, July 13, 2008

Let's Talk Character Names!

I've scoured through name books and websites for days to find the perfect names for my heroes and heroines. Names that portray strength and for my female leads, a little femininity. I'm also a sucker for unusual names ... Below is a small list of names I've used...

Regan and Ianna
Phoenix(hero)and Fortune(heroine)
Sebastian and Hero
Zero and Justice
Zachary and Dominique
Gabriel and Russet
Israel and Calypso
Xavier and Poppy
Saxon and Selena

I've only ever changed a character's name once and that was Saxon. I originally named him Baron but he ended up being a prince and I couldn't have Prince Baron, now, could I?

I'd be interested to see if other writers enjoy using unusual names or whether they stick to conventional names.

Let me know



Toni V.S. said...

I suppose someone someday will write a story about a character who has a totally dull-sounding and conventional name (such as THE FANTASTIC ADVENTURES OF MR. JOHN SMITH, ESQ) just to show that fantastic things can happen to people with ordinary names also, but I've always tried to have character names that--even when modern or every day--are still a little extraordinary, such as using the French, Spanish, or German equivalent of an English name. Since a good many of my stories are fantasy or paranormal, it isn't difficult to have striking names. My hero in SINBAD'S LAST VOYAGE was named--that's right!--Sinbad. Although an alien (as in from another planet), he comes from a culture that is not only feline (SInbad is such a good name for a Siamese cat) as well as vaguely Far Eastern so his surname is sh'en Singh. Don't ask where I got THAT--it just came to me. The hero of my medieval fantasy BLOODSEEK is named Riven, taken from an Old English word "Reiven", meaning destroyer. He was named that by his father because his mother died at his birth. His best friend is Hraeth, the Old English word for "Wrath", and these two Bad Boys are called "Rath and Destruction" by the locals. The vampire hero of Shadow Lord is named Marek, a good ol' Transylvanian name. His last name "Strigoi" means either shadow, witch, or vampire in that language, so he's either the Lord of shadows or vampires--or both. In my historical romance, Baron Karl Augustus Dietrich Wilhelm von Brandt emigrates to Nebraska and becomes Will Brandt. His best friend is a half-breed Pawnee, Johnny Moon. Three generations later, his great-grandson Travis Brandt, incorporates the name into the word "Hildebrandt" and became a one-name rock star...and so it goes....

Sometimes, using a name that's the opposite of the person's character or a slight absurdity also works--providing it itsn't too laughable and gets in the way of the story. The hero of THE ROSE AND THE DRAGON and DRAGON IN CHAINS is named Kitten. The first thing the heroine does when she hears that is to burst into laughter, incurring his ire. Since this boy is nothing like a kittin--nothing cute and cuddly or playful about him--and the heroine quickly recognizes this, he goes by the shortened version of "Kit" for the remainder of the two books.

Oop! Getting on a soapbox here. Sorry to go on so! :)

Kiss Carson said...

Hi Kiss,
This is the first blog comment I've ever left anywhere, but names are something I really pay a lot of attention to, as they define your character in the reader's mind so strongly. I like names that are unusual, too, but am always careful that they aren't something that the reader has trouble with every time she comes to it. Of course, the guy's name has to be sexy and strong, and for the heroine, I always try to name her something that can be shortened by the hero as they become more intimate. Sometimes, that's not possible, but I try! I've used (for guys) Jackson, Kaed, Jesse, Johnny, and Nick, among others. For girls, I've used Katherine (Katie), Jessica (Jessi), Jennifer (Jenni), Kelli (Kel), and Callista (Callie)to name a few. I liked the names you posted, too, and would like to know what others use, as well. I'm very very picky about names and have always kind of "collected" names ever since I was a kid. Probably because mine was so weird--it's spelled Cheryl, like most people would say "SHeryl", but pronounced with a hard "CH" like "CHAIR-yl" (this explains why my daughter is named Jessica!) Thanks for the opportunity to comment about this topic--it's one I really enjoy talking about.

Gail Symmonds said...

I'm more of a conventional girl. I like regular kind of names. Connor is one of my hero's and Alex is my latest. Both absolutely gorgeous of course!!! lol

Gail :)

cameron said...

i give you one name and that is Adonis... When will your first book go to publication I am hanging for it

Kiki said...

I find that if the names get too strange, it actually grates on me as I read a story, especially if it's a contemporary setting and everyone has weird names for no good reason.

I do like names that are interesting, but not too out there. The couple in my very first romance were Malcolm and Aveline, and I'm still in love with those names. ^_^

Rachael Blair said...

I'm with Kiki on the strange names grating! I usually like slightly quirky names for my heroine's (Stella, Scarlett, Zoe) but strong names for heroes (Matt is my lastest and I've had Archie and Cameron). I also confess to using my kids' names or names I'd use if I had another one!

Suzanne Brandyn said...

Hi Kiss,
I tend to stick to conventional names unless they are not Australian. I write contemporary romance, and I find simple names easier for the reader. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I find it easier for me as a reader. When I read a novel and if the name is hard to pronounce I stumble and hate it.
It is different when one is writing paranormal etc.. but even so the names have to be relatively simple for the reader. We must consider our readers.