Thursday, May 22, 2014

What's His Name?? by Dora Hiers

Last month we discussed the first step in birthing great characters~ Give Them A Face. If you missed that post, you can read it here.

So, what do I do after my characters reveal their faces?

Give them a name.

Let’s say you’re writing a romance and you’re casting your hero. He has muscles, courage, confidence…
Sylvester Stallone
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What’s his name?

Elmer Smith 

Yikes! Listen, I don’t mean to offend anybody (especially Elmer Smith), but do you see how that might create a problem for your hero? There's a reason celebrities change their name.

A July 2012 post from Psychology Today “What’s In a Name?” states, “Names matter. Whenever we hear one, we draw a wide range of assumptions about the individual person or item in question.”

So, don’t just slap any name on your character.

The name should match the period. If you’re writing historicals, you should not saddle a character with a contemporary name. And, as a contemporary writer, unless I had a really good reason and included that reason as part of the story line, I wouldn't name one of my contemporary characters Evelyn or Elmer. Online sites like list popular boy/girl names by year. Check them out and choose an appropriate name for the period in which you're writing.

Keep a list and mix and match. During football games, movie credits, online research or whenever you hear a name you like, jot down first and last names. When you're ready to introduce a character, pull out your list and mix and match the names. Keep in mind that just because you recorded a name as a surname, it doesn't have to stay that way. I enjoy creating given names from surnames such as my hero in Journey's Edge: Renner Crossman. Don't limit yourself.

Sound out the name. Does it flow? Does your male name sound masculine and your female’s feminine? Any other Castle lovers out there? What if Richard Castle had been named Richard Mouse? Or Kate Beckett, Kate Bungle? That same “What’s In a Name?” post confirms this. “When a name rolls off the tongue, at an implicit level we associate more positive sentiment with it.

Google the name to make sure it doesn’t have a negative history attached to it. Moms and dads agonize over picking out names for their children. If someone influenced their life in a negative way, they generally steer clear of those names. Shouldn't we do the same for our characters? How do you feel about this? 

OK. It’s your turn. What are some of your favorite character names? Least favorite? What's your process for naming characters?
Purchase Link
After a humiliating breakup, best-selling romance author Teal Benning flees to Promise Lake to complete her current novel, minus paparazzi and flashing cameras. Suffering from writer's block and a broken heart, Teal accepts the offer of help from neighbor, Hunter Miciver.

Hunter longs to be more than the friend who picks up the shattered pieces of Teal's heart, but when Teal finds out his secret, will she see him for the man he is—a man of faith and devotion, a man who would cherish her for the rest of her days—or will she lump him into the same category as all the other men in her life, including her father? Will Teal recognize when truth whispers her name?
Me~Dora Hiers

Dora Hiers is a multi-published author of Heart Racing, God-Gracing romances. She’s a member of RWA, ACFW, and the Treasurer for ACFW-Charlotte Chapter. Connect with her on Seriously Write, her personal blogTwitterFacebook or Pinterest.