Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What's In A Name?

Whilst I wait on pins and needles for the editor to read and (hopefully) contract my submission, I've started on something new. But I've gotten hung up on a couple things: Names and a working title.

Names are important things and I think they tell a lot about a person. Of course, sometimes you want to go for the opposite for either shock or comedy value, like naming a hunk "Egbert" or a 90-lb weakling "Brick". I have to admit to disliking names that are TOO unusual, but OTOH, I don't want the same name as every other character out there. It's agonizing.

Thankfully, the internet has tons of help. I use these sites to find names and meanings:

Dictionary of Baby Names, Meanings and Origins -- To choose a series of possible names.

Kabalarian - to narrow down my choices by meaning.

Then the title...

I know, I know -- I shouldn't get so hung up on a title, but for me, it helps me to focus. And, I need to be able to refer to it somehow. I can't call it "Ann's Story" or "The Story Where Ann Finds Hope when she Meets George" or whatever. I also know it will be a working title, as the scope and the meaning of the story may change as I write it. Still, I need something to cling to (and, heck, a way to save it to my computer).

What about you? How do you choose your character names? And, do you need a title or does it really just not matter to you?


Kealie Shay said...

I like to go through name books, and I love to watch the end credits of movies... some of those names are really unique! But honestly, my characters tell me their names. I start looking through names and they'll pipe up when their name shows up. I have had a couple who took forever to tell me their names. Contrary males.

As for the titles... you know how badly I suck at those. They each have some sort of qualifier so I remember what they are about. But, other than that I never have any idea what the title will be. *sigh* Sorry.

Ashley Ladd said...

I love naming characters but book titles aren't so easy. Sometimes they jump out at me - I like to use double entendres like "Best Mates", "American Beauty", "Purrfect Justice", etc. (some of my titles) and sometimes they don't. Wendi's critiquing one now for me that only has a working title I don't like and nothing good is coming to me.

As per character names, it's usually what I feel like at the time I haven't used. Rarely do I make the first name or even last name have a particular meaning, although occasionally. I just don't like to reuse names which is getting harder the more books of mine are published.

Good luck with it. You're doing the right things looking around the internet at baby name sites, etc. If you write historicals at all, and maybe even if you don't, another great place to find unusual names is on the genealogy sites.