What’s In a Name?


 Names have always been significant in the Bible. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. Jesus called Simon, Peter. God is called many names describing who He is. Jehovah Rapha, Jehovah Jireh…

Ah, to find the perfect name. For babies, or pets, but for fictional characters. A good name, in my opinion, is vitally important when crafting a story.

I like for my fictional friends and antagonists to have names that describe them in some way whether a personality trait, (strong or weak) something that they long for, or ambition they have. I even like to use a seemingly ironic name– for example, naming my female lead Sophie (wisdom) when she’s rather foolish. I  then drive that character into her name as the plot unfolds. 

  Another example, in Forgetting What Lies Behind, I named the heroine, Hope. Why? She needs it! Her father, Gavin (Hawk) has that name because he watches her like one after her accident. Nicholas (Victory of the people) has his name because he’s overcome his bitterness. He forgave when the world said he shouldn’t and Jesus said, “Do it.” So many people need that same victory. 

In Pigeon’s Blood, my heroine’s name is Amelia (to strive) Aston (noble stone). She’s a jewelry designer. The book I’m presently working on, Cassius “Cass” (vanity) is a Cosmetics Company heir and Jolie (pretty) is a former model.

Choosing my characters’ names are one of the very best parts of planning to write. I like to roll it around on my tongue while I’m fleshing out their physical traits and what motivates them. A name helps me stay focused on who the character really is or a goal they’re trying to achieve. 

I’m also a reader. I’ve been a reader longer than a writer and I pay atttention to names in other books. I like a character better if I think their name suits them. Maybe it’s a quirk of mine. Maybe not.

According to http://www.babycenter.com/, the #1 girl’s name in 2009 was…Isabella. Twilight was first released in 2005 with the last book releasing in 2008. Since the saga came out, Isabella has been on the rise and is still holding at #2 for 2010. Twilight moms to be were hoping for baby girls to name after Isabella “Bella” Swan. Some of you may say, “It was the movies that started the hype, not the book.” The name still originally came from a character in a book!  Not to say everyone naming babies Bella/Isabella was because of the books, but the saga had a direct influence in pushing that name to the #1 slot.

There are many parents (mostly moms) who choose baby names after favorite characters. Movies are written as screenplays first. I’ll be honest, I named my daughter Bailey after the written character from the TV show Party of Five. Oh yeah, I did.
What do you think? As a writer, how do you decide what name to give your characters? How important is a name to you? 
As a reader, do you pay attention to names and if so, is there a name that has stayed with you over time?

Have a great weekend! See you Monday!

9 thoughts on “What’s In a Name?

  1. Choosing my characters names is the best part of starting a new WIP. I can go on for days or even weeks, searching for the perfect names to give them!

  2. Thank you so much for leaving a comment on my blog. Love meeting other writers. I thnk I'm guilty of not taking the names I use seriously enough. I change them all the time and usually go with someone I know. Bad– I know.

  3. T.Anne and Terri: Thank you both for leaving a comment.

    Terri: Do those you know like that you use their names? I've used 5 different friends in a saga I wrote. They were all thrilled, but one. She said the character was so foul (pre-salvation) that people might think SHE was that bad. I laughed and told her in real life (pre-salvation) she was way worse than the character. The name stayed!

    T. Anne: I visited your blog. Congrats!!

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