Tuesday, September 18, 2012

“J” My Name Is…

I have two children. When my husband and I decided we were not planning to have any more children (we love them to pieces, but there are only two of us and we DON’T want to be outnumbered!), I willingly loaned my baby name book to my sister-in-law, who was still on the baby train. Worst mistake I ever made! Baby name books are fabulous resources for finding character names. I would have asked for the book back, but, well, that would have been awkward. See, back then, no one knew I was writing books and I wanted to keep it that way until I was published. Therefore, I couldn’t explain my real reason for asking for the book back. That would leave me with only one reason—I was having another baby. Can you imagine the talk around my family THAT would have created?

So, I needed to find another option. What I ended up doing was using online baby name sites and I have to say, I love them. They’re so much easier to use than books and you can do all kinds of searches. For example, my first book required names with specific meanings. I needed a man’s name that showed strength and a woman’s name that showed grace, without weakness. I ended up with Gideon for the hero (which means mighty warrior) and Lily for the heroine (which is a flower). They were perfect.

My current WIP (or at least, one of them), is a multi-generational story that takes place in Poland in the early 1900s. The story eventually moves to America and I need Polish names that can be modernized as the time passes. Again, the website was great, because I was able to do a search by nationality. After a lot of playing around, I ended up with Matteus and Magda for the earliest generation. I still have some playing around to do, and I’m not sure what the other generational names will be, but at least it’s a start.

How do you name your characters?


  1. Sometimes my characters name themselves, like Jack in 'Fragrance of Violets'. Sometimes I simply use a name I like or because I think it 'suits' the character. My hero in my November release is Ross McAllister - Ross because that was the name of one of the friends we made on our Nile cruise, and McAllister for absolutely no reason except that it jumped into my head!
    I sometimes use the baby name websites for my secondary characters, and I had to use some Egyptian baby names sites for my Egyptian characters.
    I oftebn have more problem choosing surnames, and sometimes use the surnames from my own family tree!

  2. I've used baby name sites in the past to come up with characters. My sister actually named Logan Reed for me. He's the hero in "This Time for Always". Sometimes names just come to me, but I do love having web-sites to refer to when I'm really stuck. It's fun that they give the origins of the names, too. Great for choosing the correct name in an ethnic sense.

  3. I have a really tattered old dog-earred baby name book that I always too used for my character names...

  4. I have a really tattered old dog-earred baby name book that I always too used for my character names...

  5. Paula, my characters named themselves in Skin Deep. A lot easier!

    Debra, the sites are really fun. One of them even has a spot for writers!

    Sandra, I wish I still had mine. ;)

  6. Great idea to use baby name websites! Now I know where to go for one of my characters whose name is proving elusive.

  7. I like to place names off road signs for the heroes. Filton Thornbury, Bradley Stoke, Wilbur Foss...
    The baddie in Patently in Love was originally called Ashby Coalville - which is an exit off the M1 motorway. I changed his last name in the end, but I kept Ashby.

    For the heroines, they tell me their first name, then I pick a surname off the textbook shelf.

  8. Rhoda, what a GREAT idea! I'd never thought of that one before! Am off now to study English place names LOL!