Saturday, November 1, 2014

What's In A Name?

In my newest completed manuscript, I discovered a new challenge – character naming. My heroine had no less than five name changes.
            I have a few rules I follow when character naming:
1.      Try not to give prominent characters names that rhyme or start with the same letter.
2.      Don’t make the name too hard to pronounce.
3.      If I have an alpha male, well, some names sound more masculine. Think more consonants and less vowels.
4.      Names for a heroine can give us hints about the character before we truly get to know them. (I’m probably going to have a different character sketch for a Brunhilda than a Doris.)
5.      If your character is going to have a nickname, choose one nickname and stick to it.
6.      Sometimes name meanings can help define the character. Look up the name meanings for some of your favorite characters and see how many ‘beautiful’ or ‘heroic’ or ‘courageous’ names you find.
Sometimes I choose a name based on ethnicity or culture if ethnicity/culture is important to the story.
One of  my leading ladies, Nikki, had a gender neutral, formerly masculine name because she was a tough lady and it pushed that image with the reader.
For some reason, as I was completing the manuscript, I noticed the name of my heroine didn’t feel right. I went back to the list of names I keep for each project and chose another. And another. During all this time, my hero’s name stayed the same. He’d revealed his name up front and it fit.
In my work-in-progress, I spent almost a week looking up names. Baby books and baby name websites kept me awake into the night. A couple of mornings I even searched as I drank my coffee before work. For me, character names are important. They help me identify my character’s personality and quirks. How does the character feel about the name? Do they even use the name or do they prefer a nickname? These are some of the questions I ask with the character sketch.
Have you ever read a book and the character’s name truly fit them? What about the reverse? Has a name ever made you put a book down?
I’d love to hear from you.


Camryn is taken captive after Earth is invaded by hostile aliens. She is sold as an exotic, an expensive sex slave. Camryn is willing to do anything to survive and escape captivity. That includes convincing her master that she enjoys his touch. Then she is purchased by the sexy warrior Venn. Now she must convince herself that she can resist a male whose every caress ignites a passion she has never known.

Venn is an empathic and hyper-sensitive tribal lord from planet Ordan. He has never owned a slave, yet he cannot resist the beautiful Earth woman. She teases his heightened senses and pushes past the control he has over his emotions. Venn struggles to own Camryn’s body with scorching sex and a firm hand. And when his possession of her body is complete, he’ll try to claim her soul.

Niki is captured by hostile aliens after Earth is invaded. Once a soldier, she is now a slave. She is sold to the highest bidder, and then lost in a game of cards to a tall Ordanian spaceship captain, who claims to have been sent to rescue her. They work together to survive the dangers of the United Universe, while Niki battles her desire for the only man to ever enflame her mind, body and soul.

Captain Rhine’s mission is to reunite the Earth woman with her family. Outmaneuvering beast shifters and a crazed stalker are the very least he is willing to do to keep her by his side. Her touch ignites his passion. Her scent drives his lust. Her strength eases his soul even as she challenges him every step of the way. In the end, Rhine understands, the biggest battle is for her heart.

Earth freedom fighter Shunyuan, vows to rid Earth of its alien oppressors even as he is abducted into space to be a slave. He’s rescued by a band of female pirates, and agrees to sexually pleasure their lovely captain in return for help returning to Earth. He never expected to end up the beautiful alien’s mate—or to find bliss in her arms.

Captain Acia must use a man’s body for sex during the seven days of her fervor or suffer debilitating pain.  She makes a deal with Shunyuan, never imagining he’s her mate. She finds herself bound to a captive who wants to return to his world—without her.

Their sensual bond and sizzling passion tie them together even as Shunyuan’s duty to Earth’s rebellion threatens to tear them apart.


Tina Donahue said...

Great advice, Stormie - when naming my characters, I write the alphabet for first and last names. As I choose names, I cross off letters I've used so I won't use them again. Saves me from writing a story with Tim, Tom, Ted, Tab, Tav and Troy in it. :)

jean hart stewart said...

Names are always a challenge, but isn't it a joy when you find the right one. Actually made up a name for the story I'm writing. Valanna. It just seemed to work

Stormie Kent said...

I like that idea, Tina. I may need it for my next project. There are a lot of people involved.

Great name, Jean. I do agree, when it works, it works. When it doesn't it can feel like a mosquito buzzing around you while you're trying to work.

Fiona McGier said...

You seem to choose some unusual names, and I'm sure they fit your characters. I "ask" the heroines and heroes what their names are, and usually they tell me directly. Otherwise, I've checked lists of ethnic names for ones that strike me as perfect for the personality I'm writing about.

Interesting post.