Naming your characters

As a teacher, I’ve had some interesting student names, interesting student spellings. Yalixa, Yumaira, Yhibran, Abcde (yes, A-B-C-D-E, pronounced AB si dee).

When I started writing, I liked unusual names for my characters. I figured I’d never be able to name a child a strange name, so may as well use it for my characters. I had a Siobhan, Jordan, Peyton.

Now my characters’ names are Liv and Del, and Del is a nickname.

The reason I brought this up is that the last two books I’ve read have had had odd names for their heroines and it has just yanked me out of the story. First of all, how do you pronounce it? I figure Reyn is Rain, and Wynne is Win, but every time I see them, I stop and think.

Do you name your characters odd names? When you read, do odd names pull you out of the story?


This is so Del, this picture.

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Progress report: Did 7 pages yesterday - got up twice after I went to bed - and 4 pages this morning!

14 comments:

Peggy said...

Like you, I usually give them one of the many names I wasn't able to give my children. But sometimes, the name just pops out for the character and there's nothing I can do to change it. Current WIP, hero's name is Sam. I would never name my kid Sam, but it fit hero so perfectly.

MaryF said...

Peggy, good point. I wouldn't name a child Sam, either, but it could be kind of sexy.

Conversely, I could never give a hero my son's name.

Marianne Arkins said...

I like to use just slightly different names, but still common enough that people recognize them: I have Patricia "Tish", Derek, Royce, Minerva, Camilla, and Jed.

I'm still reeling over someone naming their kid Abcde... and I thought "Apple" was bad. What are people thinking?

MaryF said...

Ooh, I like Tish. I could never name a character Derek because I had a student named Derek and he was a PAIN. I like Camilla, too.

You'd be surprised, some of the names. I don't have any weird ones this year, but boy, howdy, have I had some doozies!

Toni Anderson said...

There were a rake of Pocohontis' (sp?) in Fife after the movie came out--can you imagine???

I named my last heroine Sorcha, which I thought was a piece of cake, but a contest judge had real problems with it. Makes me wonder if people don't get out enough :)

But I do hate it when you have to stop and wonder how to pronounce the name when you're reading the story--Loghaire (sp?) from Diana Gabaldon is one. I only know how to pronounce it because my husband is irish and it still makes me stumble.

Kelly Parra said...

I never thought of it before, but if it's a really out there name that I can't even pronounce, I may have problems. But I like character names to fit the character's personality. That's always great. =D

Michele said...

I have kept my character names normal. My current ones are Jake and Laura, my H/h. I have Mick and Angelina waiting in the wings and Mick is a nickname while Angelina just fits the character.

Personally, I think parents need to think of their children when naming them. The kid's going to be the one carrying around the name, not the parent. Of course parents who don't think about things like that- nah, don't get me started.

Tori said...

Hmm. In looking over my files, it appears I have more unusual names than I thought.

Danica said...

I came over from Tori's *waves to Tori*

I find that names just sort of come to me, or hit me as being right for a certain character. However, I do draw the line at giving a character the name of someone I don't like. I sometimes will name characters after people I like, but the characters are seldom like the people

MaryF said...

Danica, I agree, it has to be the RIGHT name. The story just won't work without it. Del has always been Del, but Liv was....Ali? I don't remember. In Hot Shot, Gabe was always Gabe, Peyton was always Peyton.

As for a bunch of kids named after a pop culture phenom, I thought for sure after Selena, the Tejano singer, was killed, we'd have a ton of Selenas. We don't, though.

I like Sorcha. And I have named numerous bad guys after my rotten boss from two years back.

Anonymous said...

My characters pretty much name themselves. I feel as if I have little control over them, in that regard! My current characters are Damien and Caroline. Not names I would ever choose for my kids, but they fit these characters to a T.

JoAnn

Michelle said...

I name my characters the names I wouldn't ever consider naming my children. (sheepish grin)

Esri/Kiki said...

I used some interesting names in my two paranormals, but that was par for the course, and I made sure they weren't hard to pronounce. These days I have Adrian and LeeLee, Kat, and even a John. So no, nothing too odd.

MaryF said...

I had an Adrian, too. Almost changed his name after watching Monk, though. I kept hearing Sharona's nasaly voice.

I can't name a character John - my dad's name. Would be as bad as naming him after my son!

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