What’s In A Name?

Airicka Phoenix
International Best-Selling Author of The Touch Saga, Sons of Judgment Saga, Lost Girl Duology,
Betraying Innocence & Games of Fire

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I don’t know what it is, but lately everyone is interested in names, whether it’s in the pages of a books or on the cover. I’m going to try and explain character names. I can’t tell you why authors pick the names they do for their characters. I don’t know their process. For me, picking a character name is as important and takes as long as writing a book. I’ve put whole projects on hold for weeks until I’ve found the perfect name that suits the character(s). The same goes for book titles. But I can’t say that’s the same for everyone else.

There are some characters like Sophie & Spencer (Games of Fire), Ana & rafe (Betraying Innocence) and Riley & Octavian (Octavian’s Undoing) who told me their name before I even started the book. The others, well, they weren’t as nice. Some, like Fallon & Isaiah (Touch Saga) were just pains in the butt and refused to cooperate at all.

So how does an author pick the perfect name for their bundle of fictional joy? How do you pick something that will fit the character and the plot? Can you have a Daisy saving the world in a dystopian fantasy? Can Bruiser be the male lead in a coming of age contemporary romance?

Why not? I say. You give a character the power to be. You make that character come to life so when the reader lives in their shoes, Daisy and Bruiser make perfect sense. Why can’t Daisy wield a sub automatic machine gun to take down the bad guy? Your name doesn’t stop you from doing incredible things.

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In that bold statement, I would also like to make a suggestion to all would be authors. Don’t name your character something that will make your reader’s eyes cross. When you see a heroine named Kghenigheahg, you can’t help wonder if their parents were from Mars. Even in sci fi novels. Readers don’t want to spend time trying to pronounce a name that doesn’t exist. Yes, be creative and make up your own name, Stephenie Meyer did, Renesmee, and it worked out for her, but you’re not Stephenie Meyer and you don’t want to be. Hate to break the news to you like this, through a blog, but there you are.

So why don’t you want to be Stephenie Meyer, or JK Rowelings, or Stephen King? You mean aside from the obvious reasons like you’re not? Because they stepped out of the box. They didn’t try to be like other authors. They were themselves and their work shows it. Moving on.

Back to names.

There will come a time when you’re writing that you and another author will have the same names for your characters. Example, an author friend of mine messaged me a while back when Octavian’s Undoing was being published and told me that, without either of us knowing, we had named our heroines the exact same name, Riley Masters. I thought that was hilarious. Did it bother me? Nope. And I’m pretty sure it didn’t bug her either. So what did we learn from this? Shit happens. Move on. No point getting pissy about a character name. Now if you tell me they stole all your character names and your book title and, well, you’re whole book … this would be a different post. Check Here For A How To.

So how to pick a name? That’s why we’re all here, after all. Buy a baby book of names, or search online for baby names. Ask your friends — that’s one of my favorite ways. You wouldn’t believe some of the names my friends have given me. Some of them are just ridiculous, but we all need a good laugh.

Now, in conclusion…

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4 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?

  1. I totally agree with having none of this: Kghenigheahg

    I couldn’t even type it. I had to cut and paste. I am not a huge dystopian fan, partially because of the made up stuff. Also, it’s jut not my cup of tea. Not that there is anything wrong with it. There are tons of genres out there because we all have different tastes. I think that is wonderful.

    But this:Kghenigheahg I think crosses all genres!!
    Great post ๐Ÿ™‚

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