I’m not sure how other writers view naming characters, but for me it’s absolutely key to get a character’s name just right. Names are a strange thing and are very personal. Certain names carry connotations (good or bad) for people based on their own history and experiences. For instance…I couldn’t read a book where the heroine’s name was Lorraine. That was my mother’s name and I just…couldn’t LOL. And I couldn’t write a book that had a character of that name either. The same is true for the names of a multitude of family members and close friends. Along with the boy who used to tease me every day on the school bus. Or the mother of one of my friends who used to walk around her front yard in curlers. Or the manager I had at my first job. Or the name of the dog next door. Or my own middle name. And on and on. LOL. Never, in a million years, could I write any book using any of these names for the hero and heroine. I’m not sure I could get past my own preconceived ideas and what those names mean to me. And I’m not sure I could get the image of that person out of my head to delve deep enough into the character they needed to be. So…needless to say, I have a long list of names I’ll never use in my books.
There are many sources of character names out there. I actually keep a file of names I’ll probably use someday in one of my books, but some of my favorite sources are show/movie credits, baby name books, common name lists online and even Facebook! I’ve also been known to scour editorial credits in magazines.
Along with making sure of that ‘magical fit’, I have some simple rules I try to follow when naming characters:
- It must be easy to spell and pronounce.
- It must not be so exotic that it’s ‘weirdness’ would pull a reader out of the story.
- It has to fit the location/time period/’feel’ of the book.
- The heroine’s name has to be complementary with the hero’s. You know, in case they want to make it official. 🙂
So…what about you? How does a character’s name affect your reading experience, if at all? Are there some names that you just can’t read? Authors, what thought process do you put into character names?
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Kaily Hart, a seemingly straight-laced mother of four, left corporate America and a high-powered, lucrative career to be a stay at home mom. Right… That lasted about four weeks, during which time she realized she had a deeply repressed dream—to write. And (gasp) romance at that! Who knew? By day, Kaily plays conservative wife and soccer mom, but at night crafts hot and steamy tales of romance and love with gorgeous heroes who wouldn’t dream of leaving the toilet set up. Ever. She’s smart and sassy, at least in her own mind, and is creating as many happy ever afters as she can, one hot story at a time. Kaily never would have thought she’d be doing this, but now that she is? Well, you couldn’t pay her enough to do anything else.
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