Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What's in a Name?

Like Shakespeare said, 'a rose by any other name would smell as sweet', but I offer you this.  If a rose was actually called a schmerpdoodle, it wouldn't be nearly as poetic.  "My love is like a red, red schmerpdoodle." Umm no.

Romeo didn't care that Juliet was a Capulet, but you never actually hear her mentioned as Juliet Capulet. Which kinda doesn't trip off the tongue, imo.  (It's the rhymy end thing - et and et.)

Thinking of the names used in popular culture, would Will and Grace have been as successful if they were Mortimer and Eugenia?  Would Hannibal Lecter have been as scary if Harris had called him Burt?  Would Rose on the Titanic been as lovely if she was Myrtle?  Would Thomas Magnum P.I. have been as sexy if they'd called him Thomas Lipschitz? 

For that matter, would Jane Eyre have been as excellent a MC if her name had been Bertha Butts?

As you might've guessed, I'm stuck trying to think of a name for the heroine in my latest SCIU novel.  Hell, I can't even think of a title yet.  But for me, titles come AFTER I've started the book, and I can't start the book until I know who I'm writing about.  What is her NAME??? 

My first thought was to call her Grace.  But Dying Embers' MC is Jace.  Too same-same.  Then I had the idea to name her Ginny, but I already have too many J sounds in my heroine names - Jace, Jo, Jillian.  Plus, my villain's name starts with a G.  Then I was going to name her Megan, but I couldn't see her as a Megan.  Then I got the idea to name her Kara.  Kara is good.  It was one of the top girl names for 1980, which would make her 36.  Then I went about looking for a last name.  The problem with having a name that ends in a vowel is when you say the full name, you often end up blurring them together. Kara Toliver ends up sounding like Carrot Oliver. 

Yeah, I'm probably overthinking this.  The real crux of the issue is that I don't know her well enough.  Usually, the character pops into my head fully formed and her name comes along with her.  J.C. 'Jace' Douglas popped right in there.  And it took me like two seconds to make the JC stand for Jaylinda Charlene.  I could actually hear her mother calling her in my head. 

As an aside, the JC actually stands for the first initials of my parents' first names. Kind of a nod to them, if you will.  You know, I don't think I ever told Mom that...

Anyway, I'm still not sure what I'll be calling her.  When I find it, I'll know.  And until then, I have writing to do whether I like the name or not.  I can always use 'Find'/'Replace' later.

What are some memorable character names you've enjoyed?  Any that you really thought fit the character?  Any you would've renamed if you had been the writer?


  1. Leroy Jethro Gibbs could never be anyone else, but I definitely understand why everyone calls him Gibbs. :)

    I'm really picky about my character names. The name HAS to fit what I know about the character--or will represent who the character grows into. I have changed a character's name midstream because he insisted I'd named him wrong. So Ethan became Elijah and Easy Cross was happy. ;)

    Your girl will tell you who she is soon enough. I just wish mine would shut up--at least the ones I don't have time for yet. The characters I need to be writing about? Yeah...crickets. :P

  2. It's a very important issue to deal with. Names have meaning and you have to have the right one to make the character feel real, so I can see how much of a headache it can be. There are so many characters with names that are complex or weird or sex names, and half the time I think about how that poor kid went through school stuck with a moniker like that. No wonder people end up with hang ups! What's wrong with normal names like Joan, Kate, Mary, Pete, Andy?

    My favourite character name is Roake, from J D Robb's In Death series. It's only one name (and I'm not really sure why although I've read all 44 books) but it matches him perfectly. The other one I really like is Wrath from J R Ward's Blackdagger Brotherhood - that could be just because I love him and wish he was mine....