Welcome to my blog, SCRIBBLING TO (IN)SANITY! First time here? I'm a romance writer who wants to believe most problems can be solved over coffee, a mixed drink or by anything covered in chocolate. I'm a believer in second chances and that it's always the right time to fall in love. As the saying goes, you're a guest in my house only once...then you're family. So I invite you to join the fun! I love comments but it's okay to lurk too - just know I'm glad you've found me and I hope you visit me again soon!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Rose by any other name...


As Shakespeare so eloquently said, "a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet."

Is that true in a novel?

Are all the names an author can choose for their characters created equal?

No. I don't believe an author can just pull any name that makes them feel good at the moment out of the air and stick it on their hero or heroine. One size does not fit all!

Honestly, naming my kids was easier than it is to name my characters - and I don't have an easy last name to pair that perfect first name with!

The first thing to take into consideration is the time period of your story. Nothing pulls me out of a story quicker than a heroine named Tiffany in a Medieval (unless it's a time travel and she's a modern day heroine.) There are plenty of research books on period names, some name books will even given the origin of the name and the approximate date it was first recorded to be used - make use of those resources! It only takes a few minutes of your time and your readers will appreciate the attention to detail.

Want to ensure I don't make it past the back blurb and your book doesn't come home with me or get loaded into my Nook? Give your characters names I can't pronounce!  This could just be me, but nothing frustrates me more than a name that I'm not sure about and make up the pronunciation on my own - this means that as I read in my head I am spending more time trying to figure out the character name and how to say it than anything else. Not really what most authors are going for.

Getting back to Rose...let's face it, some names just conjure up an image in your head. A hero named Jack or Max is definitely going to give me a different impression than say, Milton. Yes, if you name your heroine Rose, I'm going to think soft and sweet (I have a sister-in-law named Rosie, and she IS sweet!)

Now, the real fun begins - how do you choose your character name?

I use a combination of name books - some with origins and meanings, and another involving letter sounds and personality traits. I usually have an idea of the personality of my character and of course, the time period that book will be in. Then I start pulling names that fit both time and personality and start picturing my character being called my chosen name - in anger, in a conversation, and in the throes of passion.

If I like the name in all three situations, I've got a winner!

What's your process or what's your character name pet peeve?


  1. OMG! this looks awesome!

    I might be in trouble because most of my characters get a name by what pops into my head when I'm inspired. No forethought...

    RArely, I'll go back and change a name. I don't even always like the name. For example, Stacy. Not my favorite name, but I was inspired by the name, used it, and later couldn't change it. She's become Stacy in my head. So, stacy she'll stay.

    1. Bethanne - so glad you like my "updated" look!
      And I try not to change a name either - like you said once you've chapters invested in that character with that name, it's hard to change!

  2. Oooh, great post!! I love coming up with character names!

    I collect names I like whenever I come across one -- male, female and surnames -- and jot them in a notebook. That's the first place I look when creating a new character. After that, I'll use baby naming books and online name generators. I've also been known to dig out the phone book (in the old days, LOL) or consult a map.

    I do like a character with an unusual name if the name has a reason in the story - - even if I have trouble pronoucning it.

    And I agree with what Bethanne said. Sometimes I'll name a character then later want to change their name but, by then, it's too late. The character has firmly entwined themselves with the name and there's no going back.

    Fun post, Debora!

    1. Mae - I collect names too! And the phone book - what an awesome tip!

      I think my issue stems from the fact that I write time travels in various times - so at least one of my characters must have a name true to the period - sometimes it's tough when you're pairing that viking hero with a Tiffany. LOL!


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