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Thursday, June 30, 2011

More Author Insight: What's in a name?

What’s in a name? Is it just that or is it as important as the traits attached to that character?

"To an extent. On one hand, people are going to remember a character called Hermione. On the other, you can include as many unique names as you'd like, but if that character has no personality, they are likely going to fall flat. And in the end, I believe character is more important,. We don't remember Hermione because of her name. We remember her because of what she does in the story." - Aimee Carter, author of The Goddess Test

"Names are vital to me, they mean so much, they're keys to personality and have to look right on the page. In my upcoming YA, my Magic Most Foul series, beginning with Darker Still (November from Sourcebooks Fire), names and naming is a huge part of the magic used in my world." - Leanna Renee Hieber, author of Darker Still and  The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess.

"I don't place a terrible amount of significance on names. I just want them to sound right for the character. I confess to using baby name books and the Scrivener name generator. (Weird fact: in the four books I've finished, three of the heroines have names that start with E.)" - Sonia Gensler, author of The Revenant


"The most important thing I strive for when naming a character is to come up with 'clean' names.  By that, I mean a name that has no associations for me other than the name of the character.  That’s clearly impossible.  So I just do my best NOT to name a character after someone I am, have been, or might be married to." - Randy Russell, author of Dead Rules. 

"Not everyone will like a name, so the traits and personality are the most important. My characters usually go through several name changes in the drafting process—well, except for Harlin. He was set from the start." - Suzanne Young, author of A Need So Beautiful.

"No – the name needs to fit the character. Jack is a hunkier name than Ned. Sam is a sexier name than Lester." - Miranda Kenneally, author of Score.

"My characters usually come with their names already attached. I would have to ask them, but I think most would definitely say that they are just as important as aspects of their personalities. Just ask Bob. Wait -- don't. I don't want him knowing I spilled the beans on his name!" - Lesley Livingston, author of Tempestuous

"First names are important to me just for the phonetics. Does the word sound like the person I’m describing? I changed my protagonist’s name after writing a few chapters of Die for Me because one-syllable hard-'k' Kate sounded more strong and independent to me than the soft lyrical sound of Tallulah. However, you can bring in all sorts of symbolism or allusions with last names, so they can be incredibly useful!" - Amy Plum, author of Die for Me

"I think names are important. Often, my characters name themselves, and they’re very attached to their names. In my current WIP, I thought of a witty title that would be even wittier if I changed the main character’s name. She wouldn’t let me do it." - Lisa Desrochers, author of Original Sin

"Oh I definitely think the character's name should match their personality. It really helps define who they are. I purposely seek fitting names for my characters. It's kind of like looking for a baby name. It has to be just right!"   - Jennifer Murgia, author of Lemniscate.

"You find the right name, you’ve found your character. You don’t find the right name, it doesn’t matter what all traits you give a character, he or she will never be right. You name a guy Stanley Yelnats, for example, and you just know that he is (a) a dork, and (b) a fundamentally good guy. You name a boy Zero, and need I say more? You name a guy 'The man Jack,' and I’m doubting right away whether I’m dealing with man or monster, and am pretty sure it’s the latter (especially if he’s walking up the stairs with a knife dripping blood, looking for a baby to kill)." - Steve Watkins, author of What Comes After

"Again, I have to say this varies (do I not have any set rules?).  Sometimes the name of one of my characters is very important but usually not enough I couldn’t live with a change if I had to.  Truthfully, I’ve often changed the name of characters after a draft or two if it doesn’t ring true to me or even my editor." - Janet Gurtler, author of I'm Not Her

Find out Tuesday what sacrifices the authors have made to pursue writing.
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