Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blog Chain: What's In A Name?

Today's blog chain topic is brought to you by the awesome Kate, whose YA novel ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE sounds amazeballs and I can't wait to read!! *clears throat* Anyway. Here's her question:

What's in a name? What if Harry Potter had been Larry Snotter? What if Edward was Jacob and Jacob was Edward? What favorite books had character names that you loved or hated? And how do you come up with your own character names? 

So. One of my absolute favorite things to do is find the PERFECT names for my characters. Sometimes I find them quickly. Sometimes it takes forever and a half. Sometimes I take the name's meaning into consideration. Sometimes I just love a name so much and pick it on that love alone. For example, I once thought of naming a character Rourke because he felt like a Rourke to me--badass warrior dude. Another one of my characters is named Alejandra, which I chose for her based on its meaning ("defender of mankind") and Hispanic heritage. Bottom line? I hold names in high regard. They're my first intro to a story's characters, and no matter how shallow that sounds, it's a first impression that sticks with me. Of course, behavior and voice matter a lot, but the name is the appetizer, folks. 

And you gotta love an appetizer.

I also think it's important to take your novel's premise and tone into consideration when naming your characters. Larry Snotter doesn't sound like the name of a wizard dude who defeated Voldemort. It sounds like the parody of the wizard dude who defeated Voldemort. And while I'd totally read both books, my mood while reading each one would shift. Likewise, Edward sounds like a serious and seriously old name, which resembles Edward himself. Jacob is less heavy to me, and so is the guy who bears it. Switching them would feel super off.

Luna Lovegood is an example of a character name I love. I've always been a fan of 'Luna' and its variations, and 'Lovegood' gives me a strong hint that this girl is someone I can trust (see? Shallow!). Also, for reasons I can never explain, I love alliteration. It's just... awesome. Luna Lovegood is not only a bossypants name, but so is the character. 

A character name I could do without? PEETA MELLARK. I mean. I MEAN. Okay, I don't mind the Mellark much, but Peeta? I can't help but get hungry every time I hear it. Perhaps that was the brilliant Suzanne Collins' intention? To make me super hungry? *ponders* Geniuses work in mysterious ways, so I've learned to embrace the name. But OMG, I'm hungry.

Make sure you check out Cole's post, and stay tuned for Margie's tomorrow! And thanks to Kate for such a fun topic!


  1. I felt the same way you did about Harry Potter and Larry Snotter.

  2. I love your comparison between appetizers and names!

  3. LOL! Now I'm hungry, too! I like the appetizer analogy. It's so true. In fact, I didn't think I could like the Harry Potter books because Harry Potter is such a boring name. I was pleasantly surprised, of course, but if others hadn't read it first, I'd never have gone there. Soooo Larry Snotter might have pulled me in a bit better just for the fact that it's snarky and clever.

  4. Great post. Very interesting. Funny that I read it today because this afternoon I was picking names for characters in my NanoWrimo book. I LOVE picking names. I can't get a good grip on a character until I know what their name is. It's funny too, because I'd planned on naming the main girl in the new book Lily. But, then my son (who is writing the book with me) dated a girl named Lily and they broke up. So, it kinda ruined the name for him. haha. We ended up changing Lily to Liv. And somehow, Liv is now a totally different character in my head. Much tougher than the original Lily, even though all I changed was the name. It really is a super-important part of writing a character. Very cool to see how that happens, isn't it?

  5. Thanks for the Another Little Piece shout out. :)

    And yeah, now that I think of it Peeta does sound kind of delicious.

  6. yeah, not a fan of Peeta's name. It drove me nuts because it makes me think of pita bread and he's a baker and it was just too literal for me LOL It is also to girly sounding for my taste. Once I read the books and fell in love with the character, I didn't mind his name so much. But his name (along with Katniss and Gale) initially kept me from reading the books (one of the reasons anyway). Character names really can (for me at least) make or break a book - at least in the beginning :)

  7. Peeta is ... stupid. That always bugged me, especially considering how rad Katniss Everdeen was. I guess Suzanne fell asleep for a while.

    I discovered a name at work one day (one of our 2000+ employees I'd never met), GIA JOHNSTONE! GAWD, I almost died. I haven't found a home for that name yet, but I intend to!

    Great post--glad I found you ;)