wine on the keyboard

Naming your characters

by Kay~Kacey on 10/8/2005

I have naming problems. Yes, my kitties are still Pink and Green for the time being. I want to name my new car, but haven’t settled on anything…

so I guess it comes as no surprise I have a hard time naming my characters either. I keep trying to use Isabelle as a heroine’s name…I’ve started with that name on the last 3 proposals. It’s never Isabelle by the time I’ve rewritten the three chapters a bazillion times. No surprise I’m on the third rewrite of this proposal. She’s no longer Isabelle, but I can’t find the right name for her. I sometimes even go here and look up names that were popular around the time the character was born.

Sometimes it’s the herione’s name…sometimes it’s the hero who won’t let me name him. This time the hero is Noah. I know that. It fits, it’s right. I have this sister’s name, his best friend’s name. The herione’s mother’s name. Just not the heroine’s name. I got so ticked off the last rewrite of the first chapter I kept writing: “The heroine with no name slammed the door and sank onto the hard wooden chair.” “The herone who refuses to be named crossed the room.” No wonder I’m having such a hard time with this first chapter:angry: I obviously don’t have a real firm grasp on this character just yet…

So I rewrite the first chapter and move on to the second, and third. And probably will rewrite the beginning yet again. By then I’ll be deep enough into my character to actually name her. I hope. Because I’m thinking sending in a proposal about refuses to be named heroine is probably not going to sell…

Do you have problems naming your characters? Do you have to have a name before you type the first word? Do you ever change the character’s name after writing a bit of the book?

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Kelly October 8, 2005 at 8:23 am

That’s one of my favorite parts – naming the characters. Sometimes it comes to me easy, sometimes I have to go searching. A book I’m beginning to flesh out in my head right now, the characters are being very secretive about their names. The only name I have is the secondary character who goes by the name of Idaho. The rest is still a mystery to me. Worse than that, they aren’t showing me their faces clearly either, so that makes it even harder. Right now I’m referring to them as Hey You and That Guy.

kacey October 8, 2005 at 9:48 am

LOL! :lol: Hey You and That Guy. That’s even better than The Heroine Who Refuses To Be Named. :mad2:

Tori October 8, 2005 at 10:09 am

Kelly, LOL about Hey You and That Guy!

I usually have to have the name all lined up before I can do any actual writing. At least for the main characters. Sometimes I’ll just put a blank space for a name if I can’t come up with one. Though there was a time when I had a group of bad guys that I took to calling Villains Inc. :rofl:

Emma S October 8, 2005 at 12:59 pm

I can’t write without names and don’t get very far at all if I have the wrong name.

I like babynames.com. Checking out the message boards there makes me want to poke my eyes out (yet I do it at the start of every book), so I usually end up picking a name fairly quickly.

Le Ellis October 8, 2005 at 3:12 pm

I often change characters’ names. I can start the book with a tentative name for my protagonist but I cannot start the book without the right title. Stops me everytime. Why don’t you name your new car Isabelle? :)

Gina October 8, 2005 at 5:43 pm

Names seems to come fairly easy to me. I usually use a baby name book I have, and it works. Without the right name though, you do get a bit stuck.

Kelly C. October 8, 2005 at 10:12 pm

I usually have a name before I begin to write, and there have been times I had to change the entire character and name. I don’t think I can begin without a name! :grin:

Margery October 9, 2005 at 6:14 am

GMTA. The hero in my current proposal is Noah, too. I have a terrible time naming my h/h, but they have to have names before I start. Only once have I changed the name part way through. I thought the heroine’s name was the right one, but the story wasn’t working until I changed it. It’s very strange.

Steph T. October 9, 2005 at 10:39 am

I’ve got to have a name first. Usually, my name somehow ties into my story (ie the name’s meaning), and even if I’m the only one who knows it, it anchors me in the book.

Sometimes, all I have are the names. Names, and no plot.:rofl:

Emma S October 9, 2005 at 1:16 pm

Kacey – I wanted to say Thanks because I stole the name Noah for the story I’m just about to start. You can try my way of character naming which is “borrowing” from others.

Michelle October 9, 2005 at 1:52 pm

I use the Character Naming Sourcebook a lot. Since I write historicals, I usually page through the country of origin (Ireland/Gaelic in my case) and find a meaning that suits my character.

For contemporaries, you might check the phone book, too. :):bath:

Olga October 9, 2005 at 4:02 pm

I love naming my characters! Especially heroines! Heroes give me more trouble usually. Actally, I had changed the heroine’s name several time while re-writing the book. And in one of the books I use different variations of my heroine’s names – depending on who is talking to her.

kacey October 10, 2005 at 7:50 am

Olga brought up a good point. I like to pick a name that has a nickname to go with it. Then usually the best friends, hero, family…someone….calls her by the nickname of her name.

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