Saturday, July 19, 2008

What is in a Name?

John Wayne. Actor playing rough and tough cowboys, Army hero. Real name: Marion Morrison.

Now how can anyone see him as a rough and tough anything with a name like Marion?

Sickly, small Tiny Tim was perfect in Dicken's A Christmas Carol. Tim or Timothy gives the impression of being timid so having a hulking werewolf hero by that name wouldn't seem quite right. Or how about a smooth-talking vampire by the name of Harry?

Oliver Twist seemed perfect for the little orphaned boy in the story because by a twist of fate his role is changed from one situation to another.

So what is in a name? Quite a lot really. Some names have carried throughout the ages. I hadn't realized how early the name Jane was used...from Biblical times even. I was thinking more Regency era. But some names, like Terry, are definitely not old world. So using them in a historical would be strange, unless that individual was a time traveler to the past!

Of course some names we might have an aversion to because of someone we've known in the past that gives that name a bad connotation. But no one else would feel that way. When we tried to decide on a name for our son, neither my husband nor I could agree--both of us had bad experiences with the names the other chose. I finally picked one out of the book of names. My mother always tells me of a girl's name she hates after all these years. LOL. So, yep, names can be a stickler. :)

I have a book, Naming Characters, plus I look up names on genealogy, historical, or location sites when I'm trying to find a name....for instance, for Allure of the Wolf, one of the Inuit's names was Annannok in the Canadian Arctic, so I used that for one of my secondary characters. It's a contemporary name and gives characterization to the character.

How do you feel about names? Ever not like the name of a character in a book because of past experiences? Ever felt it didn't suit the character? Ever fall in love with a character because of their name? If you had to name the guy in the photo at right, what would you call him? :)

Terry Spear

Heart of the Wolf, Don't Cry Wolf


  1. Names mean a lot! My sequel's villain was originally called Mike Lanning--Deb said no, that sounds like the hero's name. Too much like "Mike Lanning of the LAPD". I'd never even thought about it before that, he was such a jerk in my own mind. Anyway I name your picture-guy "Wulfgar."

  2. LOL, Christina...the name stuck in your mind as a bad guy!!! No wonder you thought of him for the villain's name! :) Wulfgar, I love it!!!

  3. Definitely names count big time. Hence Master Tyge Foulshadow. Gross creature deserved a name that suited its nature.

    Hm, Adam. Simple name, strength, hidden secrets and hidden gifts.


  4. Gross name, all right! Yes! That works.

    Hmm, Adam could work. :)

    I'm thinking, Raphael, artistic, sensitive, sexy. :)

  5. Loved the post, Terry!

    And a subject near and dear to my heart. I never knew my name was a compromise between my parents until I named my son. When my mother said she didn't much like the name I'd picked, I told her she had NO SAY since she'd named me Loucinda (with an "o"!). That's when she told me my name was a compromise between her and my father.

    As for character names, I confess to naming villains after my ex. LOL! He'll never know! And certain walk-on characters with annoying traits often get names of people who have annoyed me in real life. :-) And then there's the romantic suspense writer's ultimate revenge (or compliment, depending) naming the victim after someone.

    Yup, naming characters can be lots of fun, not to mention theraputic!

    I think your picture guy looks a bit like a Highlander, so I'm naming him Alasdair. ;-)

    AC with kilts on the brain

  6. I love naming my characters. Since there's a religious history to the relic their pack guards, I named my hero brothers Gideon and Gabriel, nice strong biblical names. I try to have all the names I pick reflect something about the character, even if just in my own mind! Which is such a wasteland, honestly, it's very sad. Villain names are soooo fun. The villain I'm currently redeeming is named Lucien, which is a name I've always found dark and interesting (and a little reminiscent of Lucius Malfoy, come to think of it, who is bad but hot).

    I have a great name for your cover dude: MINE. Ha ha ha ha:) Beyond that, he looks kind of like an Adrian to me. So I guess I'm getting the same Highlander vibe that Cindy is!

  7. Okay, Cindy and Kendra, I will always fall for a Highlander...hmmm-hm.

    Now, I have to say I expected Cheryl to drop by and name him MINE! LOL! Too funny, Kendra!

    As for naming villains, Cindy, yep. A bully that I stood up to in grade school, (didn't work because he put his fist in my face, knocked me to the pavement, and sent me home bawling), has been in some of my books as THE Bully!!! [note: I've always been proud of the fact I stood up to him...but I might not have had I known some boys do hit dad had always said they don't. :)]

  8. Terry,
    Boy, have you guys got me pegged! That is EXACTLY what I was going to say--even BEFORE I read your comment!
    Okay, so I WOULD call him mine...shoot me....I'm so predictable...

    I totally agree on the Lucius(read luscious!) Malfoy comment. Totally wicked, but equally hot!

    Okay, for the guy's name, how about Marcos?