April 23, 2016
What’s in a Name?
The naming of characters is a serious business. Usually, genre plays a huge part in determining how wacky, weird or wonderful your names can be… Or how historically accurate. After all, you’re unlikely to have a Britney or a Kandi (with a K and an I if you please) in London in 1753!
With romance, you find that names become even more important because a name can set your character as the lead or the backup very quickly. Now, it could just be me, but over the past few years of writing, I’ve been taking notes while reading and I have to say… Some names just aren’t “sexy”.
For example, Damian, Michael, Sean, Joe, James, etc are your leading men. Eugene, Theodore, Barry, etc are the best friends, secondary characters. They might be great men, but clearly Eugene isn’t the romantic lead. It’s true of women too… Bella, Claire, Madison, Sarah, Danielle, etc are the desirable women… Norah, Gladys, Mary, etc are not.
The reality is that in the real world there are some incredibly sexy Eugene’s and Norah’s… But when it comes to romance, it seems that we just don’t “buy” it. Of course, it also depends when your story is set… After all, in the 1920s, Gladys and Pierre would be amazing!
Last names are important too. No good having a hunky Damian and then saddling him with Baddlesnit as a last name… She isn’t going to say yes to happily ever after with THAT in her future!
This means that as an author, the chances are that you will spend far more time naming your characters than you probably did / would spend naming a child. You’ll agonize over the “hotness” of the name, desirability of a surname and the musical rhythm of the two together… You’ll search for names that compliment each other and that have cute nickname potential so that your characters can be all adorable with each other.
You may pore over baby name books or have a browser history filled with sites offering insight into the meanings or origins of names and eventually, you’ll find the perfect combo.
An effort that your average reader will neither notice not even appreciate.
But God help you if your lead characters in a modern romance are Eugene and Ethel!
Until next time…