Guest & Contest: Kaily Hart

Naming Characters

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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About Kaily

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.

You can find out more information about all Kaily’s books here and read more about her latest release, RISE OF HOPE here.

If anyone would want to contact me (which I would love by the way) or just keep up with what I’m doing, you can find me all over:

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11 thoughts on “Guest & Contest: Kaily Hart

  1. For me, it all depends on what I am writing. Like you, I don’t think I could use the names of family or friends. It would just weird me out — especially when writing a sex scene!

    For contemporary stuff, I’ll draw from film, tv and everyday life. For scifi and fantasy, however, I’ll scour (my FAV place for names) for HOURS and HOURS finding that *perfect* name. And my perfect, I mean not only does it sound right for the story but the meaning goes with the character.

    I had a fantasy story in which the main heroine was named Noa, which is Japanese for “from love”. It was a great fit for this character, but then I got pregnant and gave the name to my daughter instead…lol

  2. bn100 says:

    I like a character with a good to me sounding name. If the book sounds pretty good, I’ll probably read it even if I don’t like the characters’ names.

  3. Jen B. says:

    Names are really important. I can’t stand it when the name are unpronouncable or just ridiculous. I want the names to fit the era and work with the characters. I absolutely love the name Phedre after reading the Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey.

  4. erinf1 says:

    thanks for a great post and congrats on the new release! For the most part, names don’t bother me. It’s like meeting new people, you have no control over what they’re called and neither did they 🙂 The only time it’s a problem is if it’s a difficult to pronounce name. When that happens I either rename them in my head or just use the first syllable.

  5. Crystal B says:

    I have to say that if the book contains a name that means something to me I am more likely to pick it up. However if a book sounds good the name really doesn’t matter that much to me. So I’m kind of both a name is important & can sell me on a book but if the story sounds good that is enough to sell me too.

  6. donnas says:

    I dont mind unusual names. I have though taken a foreign version of a name like Michael, etc and pronounce it the American way so I can easily follow along and keep them straight.

  7. pc says:

    I agree that names can be important and very personal as it helps to define or create an image of that person for me. That being said, a character can have a name I may not be fond of (ex: Bertha…no offense to anyone who has or likes this name) but if the character’s personality and inner self is/are a contrast to the name (say they’re confident and sexy) then I may be fine with it. Of course, then I would wonder if the character wouldn’t choose a nickname they’d rather go by unless their name had some special or significant meaning for them. It’s all about how the character is presented…a good story, a likeable character, etc will always have more impact!

  8. Jenny says:

    Names definitely matter to me. If a name is too difficult to pronounce or just too odd it will bother me the whole book. Characters sharing the same name as people that I know doesn’t really bother me. I see them as different people just like if I were to meet another person with the same name as my mom or sister or whatever.

  9. Crystal Newman says:

    Well it depends on if I can say the name or not. Some books I’ve read I believe I could’ve got more into it if I could say them. I also can’t read it if it’s got my child’s name in it. I just can’t seem to get through a book if the leading cahracter has the same name.

    I do like unique names though are one that seems to roll off the tongue.

  10. JoAnne says:

    I think we all associate names with people we actually know so if a character was named the same as a person I had issues with or disliked it would be hard to read.
    I dislike when authors use only trendy names or names of celebrities. That will date the book if it’s read in the future or has a long shelf life.
    The name of the character definitely has to fit the storyline as well.

  11. Ashley A says:

    Oh there are some names I just cant read! If a character in a book- especially a romance novel or erotica book-has the same name as someone in my family I just cant handle it lol. I have to substitute a new name!!
    Ashley A

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