Friday, September 3, 2010

Name Scheme

I've always liked picking out names for my characters. My favorite baby name site is this one. I love it because you can search for names based on meaning, or origin, or popular names during a certain year, or by categories like Musical Names, British Names, or even Disney Names. Very cool stuff.

But my favorite aspect has to be the similar name search. See, I like my character names in any given story to mesh well. I don't want to have a Christopher an Elizabeth and a Bud. That's just... strange. And the similar name thing is great, because often I'll start with just one character name and get all the rest based off it.

All of my stories have a different feel for them. For Untouched I didn't use a name finder, and I ended up with Gwen, James, Glory and Dante for my main characters. For The Temper, I had a lot of fun coming up with the superhero names, but all their real names are totally normal: Connor, David, Seth, etc.

Some of my other MC/love interest pairs include: Claire and Alexander, Elle and Tristan, Allison and Peter, Audrey and Shane, and Kady and Josh.

Another aspect that fascinates me about choosing names for characters is the name schemes I love are usually different from what anyone else would come up with. Usually.

Here's my current naming dilemma. In my latest WiP, the main characters are William and Tessa. The name Tessa came to me right away, so I can't imagine that character being called anything else. And now that I've named William, it just feels so right. So what's the problem? Well, I was reading the synopsis for the new book Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare and guess what? Two of the main characters are named William and Tessa. Arrggghhhh.

So what do I do? Stick with the names, because I like them, and hey, it's not like I named them Bella and Edward? Or change one of them now before I get too attached?

I'm not opposed to renaming William, I just can't think of a better name that would go well with Tessa and fit the character. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know! Other characters are named Graham, Jason, Kiera, Drew and Riley, if that gives you an idea of the name scheme I'm going for there.

How do you choose your character names?
Feel free to share some of your name schemes, I find it so interesting!


  1. Thanks for the link for that baby names. I actually need a name site since I'm due to deliver my third child in about one month and still don't have ANY names picked! As for writing, I agree with you. My current wip takes place in Scotland, so for this story I'm trying to stick with common Scottish names- there is one American in my story but I still want it to "mesh" so I chose a name that is American but has Scottish origins.

  2. I'm always researching names according to heritage. Names have never been a hard subject for me, though I do understand getting attached.

    Perhaps try using a knickname for William...another 'W' name, might work. I would be worried about the similiarities as well. (Hugs)Indigo

  3. Dude. I hate when that happens. With one of my MS, I picked Caleb as the main guy's name, but then I read an article with a big editor who said every second story she was seeing had a guy called Caleb. I changed it to Elias, but it never felt the same.

    I usually just search sites until something sticks (I even have a baby name app for my iPhone), although sometimes it just occurs to me.

    I know why you want to change his name, but if it's a major stress, don't worry about it. If you have to do it, do it sooner rather than later. Plus, you might have to accept that it won't sit as well as William does.

  4. LOL. I use the same baby naming site for my characters.

    Ouch, regarding the names you like. I've changed names before, and you do get used to it, but they weren't for the main characters. And sometimes the names feel so right, it would be like suddenly changing the name of your child for no reason.

    I like the names and think you should stick with what feels right.

  5. Thanks for the site.
    As for your dilemma, I think I would stick to what works if William fits then keep it. Maybe shorten it if it seems to bother you. Will for example.
    Names just come to me and its really hard to change them once I named them.
    have a great weekend!

  6. I normally just surf around the internet until I find something that fits, I normally don't make my characters have similar names (unless its a cultural thing or their related). But then you wouldn't know it unless you were a name nerd.

    That is a hard dilemma, here's some solutions:

    1.) Use a nickname for William.
    2.) If the story isn't like Clockwork Angel then I don't think you have to worry too much and don't have to change it.
    3.) Rename William.

    Honestly, I'd go with the first one as most of the time William is called Will in Clockwork Angel, so if you give him a nickname like Liam, Wilkie, Bill, etc. it wouldn't sound so much like you were copying Cassandra Clare.

    Good luck!

  7. HIII! I miss you. Europe is fabulous and almost ready for our grand book tour. Ha.

    How about one of the following (admittedly random) names as a substitute for William:


  8. Aww, that's just bad luck. I would go with changing the name before you get too attached.

    Using those two names, though a coincidence, might open grounds for conflict in the future. And if you get too attached to a character, changing his name would make it feel so wrong, since a name is such an important part of one's identity.

    For some reason, "Eric" popped into my mind. I'm not sure if it fits your scheme though...

    Good luck with your dilema!

  9. Good discussion topic Kat.

    For the little writing that I do, the names just seem to pop into my head, but using a more organized approach would be appealing.