The Name Game

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I spent most of last week plotting and planning my new MG Contemporary, and most of last night fleshing out a PB idea. Having to name about thirty characters in a short space of time has got me thinking about the naming process.

Naming a character is almost as hard as naming a child (only without the arguments with your spouse). Sure, you can always go back and change their names later, but it’s hard to break the habit of calling them by their original name. Just like I’ll always be Kimberly to my parents, my characters will almost always be whatever name I called them first.

So I have to make sure the name is right.

Fortunately I still have all my baby name books (and website bookmarks), as well as my short-list from when my husband and I were naming our kids. (I find it satisfying to be able to give a character a name I’ve always loved, but which my husband didn’t agree on.)

Lately, though, I’ve noticed I have patterns when it comes to choosing names. For instance, I like flower names for girls: Lily, Violet, Rose, etc. (some of which have family connections for me). And I like boys’ names that end in ‘an’: Ethan, Aidan, Sebastian, etc. That’s great if you want continuity when naming your kids, but not so hot for naming a diverse cast of characters.

So I’ve started listening for names when I’m picking my daughter up from school, when I’m watching tv, and when I’m on social media. My latest trick this week was to take the first name of someone in my daughter’s class and attach it to the last name of someone I went to school with. That character won’t necessarily have any of the characteristics of either of his or her namesakes, but I found it was a great starting place for names.

What about you? How do you name your characters? Do you have naming patterns you tend to fall into? Tell me about it in the comments.

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