What Is in a Name?

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I’ve been in the planning process for a series and it’s brought to mind the subject of names. Names are something we tend not to think too much about (at least I don’t), but yet they are so important because they can help shape the character.

When I first start planning a new story, I come up with a very general plot and a couple of adverbs to describe my characters. Then I’ll use the setting and character features to come up with an appropriate name. For example, in my Fallen Warriors series, I used biblical names to describe all of my fallen angels. Even though my angels aren’t biblical (they’re actually a race of beings existing in an alternate reality), it seemed fitting to give them these names.

What I’ve found to be really interesting is that once I choose a name it helps me to shape the character’s personality even further. When I chose the name Eva for the heroine in one of my stories, I knew she would be strong but flexible, open to change. A heroine in another story is named Tayla, and she’s tougher, more stubborn. So in a round about way, my character names I’ve chosen have actually helped me to strengthen my character’s personalities and firm down my plot.

For you writers, how do you choose your character names? Do you find that you attribute personality traits to your characters based on their names (or conversely, name them based on character traits you’ve given them)?


4 thoughts on “What Is in a Name?

    laradunning said:
    April 6, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Yes, names of the characters are very important. For instance in my Selkie story I wanted to have names that came Scottland and Ireland. Names that were not to strange on the tongue, but would automatically have an assocation with that part of the world. I also researched their meanings and picked one that was suitable for my characters. Finding the right name is one of the joys of writing.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      April 6, 2011 at 10:02 pm

      Yes! Great point, Lara. Names can create an association with certain classes of people , and that’s what makes them so important.

    Julia Rachel Barrett said:
    April 6, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Weird as it sounds, they just come to me. I do prefer strong, simple names, but occasionally I’ll go for a name with some significant meaning.
    I think every author has a unique method of naming his or her characters.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      April 6, 2011 at 10:03 pm

      I’ve had some names come to me, but more often I really think about what I want to convey with the name.

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