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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Name Games

I've always had a thing for knowing about names--what they mean, which ones derive from one another, and what nicknames go with which. One of my favorite parts of writing is naming my characters.

After over 50 stories though, it's getting harder. I hate to be repetitive, but I've caught myself naming a lot of tertiary characters things like Frank, Sam, Jim, Rose, and Becky. Finally, I've started up a database for names I've used, sortable by first, last, book, etc. I've found that William and its variants, Willhelmina and Willa, is the most common single name. Along with W, I have clusters of names beginning with A, C, E, G and M. There is a Rhys in two different series and more than one Karen. There are a couple of Jasons, but both are secondary. Three of my heroes have names that start with Z: Zane, Zach and Zeyd.

The surnames of my characters seem to be overwhelmingly Celtic--either Irish or Scots names account for more than half the list. Next up is Engish, Eastern European (mostly Polish) followed by invented SF or F names. French would be the final category, almost entirely because of my gargoyle series.The heroes have first names that are often a single syllable, and again, are usually Celtic, English, or created. Exceptions include the three Greek were-lion brothers in Just for Jess and of course, the gargoyles.

My heroines tend to have simple names, or, if their names are longer, they have easy to say nicknames--Evie for Evangeline, Caro for Caroline, Jess for Jessamy. Here again, they are almost all English, Celtic, or French, with a few Spanish  names tossed in.

So, I think I need to work on my diversity, don't you? Time to venture further afield.

Are there any hero/heroine names you absolutely love? Totally loathe? Would really like to see? Comment below, and I'll draw one name to win a free download of any one of my available books!  have a great week! And just for fun, here's one of my favorite name list sites: http://www.namenerds.com/

13 comments:

anny cook said...

Heh...you know how I am with names. And you can't really say mine are common. Yours always seem to match the characters and that's what is important. My favorite of mine? Banisher (Ban) from Cherished Destinies.

vicki batman said...

I just love the name Paige. I'd use it again if I hadn't already. It's funny, I go through the NYTimes wedding section to look up names and there are a lot of the same.

Molly Daniels said...

LOL....I caught myself using 'Rosalie' for mom names in two of my books! Changed the first one since both books released within a year of each other.

I try to pick the names which aren't popular, that will stand out among the 'Callie', 'Carly', or even 'Emma's of today's heroines.

Stephanie Fredrick said...

I've always loved the names Jade, Keira, Nix and Lachlain. For some reason I've never like Sara or Amy, I think because I hear them all the time. I'm partial to old Greek names for women and Scottish for men.

jean hart stewart said...

All my books are set in Britain and my heroes are elfs so I use old Celtic names. My favorite is Morgan, the heroine of my first book, Druid's Daughter. Love the name and she brought me good luck, I'm convinced.

Ashlyn Chase said...

I love names! And, like you, I'm beginning to repeat.

I have a bunch of heroes whose names that start with the letter J...
Jake, Josh, Jason, Justin.

I need to make one of those spread sheets like you did! I swear I'm forgetting about another J name.

Nina Pierce said...

I started a database of names awhile ago and find that I love heroines with "J" names. (Jayda, Jahara, Jess)

It's certainly hard to be original and it is pretty funny when we seem to lean toward beginning letters that we didn't even know we had an affinity for.

Melissa Keir said...

I have the hardest time with names. I tend to use ones of people I know. Which can lead to some fun accidents. I really don't like when names of some people come up...like my children's names. It is hard to see those names as romance heroes. :)

Cara Marsi said...

I have trouble coming up with unique names I haven't used before. I think a database of names is a good idea. I try to give my characters surnames that reflect my heritage, which is Italian. I do have characters with Celtic names too, only because they're easy for readers to pronounce. But I like to use ethnic names for surnames whenever possible. I love the names Logan, Jake, Ryan, Nicholas, Dominic. And for the women, Doriana (Italian-and the name of my manicurist), Lexie, Kate, Tami, Heather, Nicole.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Thanks for all the great input! I'll wait until tomorrow morning to award the prize, just in case we have a few late entries!

Dalton Diaz said...

What is it about those J names? I also think J for a hero first. C for a heroine. I have to catch myself to stop!

Anne Seebaldt said...

I rather like Diana for a female character. And Kara ...

Male names: well, I tend to like one-syllable names or nicknames, Bill, Dave, Jeff, etc.

Also, if it's a historical novel, I ask myself if the name would have been used at the time. I wouldn't have a Cheyenne as a female character in a novel set before 1990, for example.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Congrats, Cara, you're the winner! Thanks everyone for stopping by!

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