Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's in a name?

A rose by any other name...
Dovetailing off my Friday post about titles, I thought I’d take it a step further and look at character names. Personal Demons all started with a name: Lucifer Cain. Luc’s name popped into my head one day not quite two years ago, and I thought, What a fun name for a demon. I mean, honestly, can you think of a more cliché name for a demon? I can’t. So it just flowed from there that my angel should be Gabriel. No last name. Just Gabriel. Because, after all, what could be more cliché. (Are you seeing a pattern?) Frannie’s name, on the other hand, is anything but typical for a current day 17 year old. Her name also popped into my head and stuck there. Frannie certainly isn’t my favorite name. It’s nothing I’d ever name a daughter. She even tells Luc at one point in Personal Demons that she hates her name. When I wrote that line it struck me that my main character may be trying to tell me that wasn’t really her name. I toyed with changing it at that point and tried a few other names out, but none of them felt right. In the end, Frannie is Frannie and there’s nothing either she or I could do about it.

It started me thinking about some of my favorite fictional names. I tend to like literary names that are different and interesting, but roll off the tongue. Some of my favorites are Henry DeTamble from The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Wesley Rush from Kody Keplenger’s The Duff, Renier Laroche from Nightshade by Andrea Cremer, and Camden Saybrook from Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas. (I know those are only guy's names, but I honestly couldn’t think of any girl’s names I really love off the top of my head.) Some of my least favorite fictional names (although I totally love the series) are Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne from The Hunger Games. I think it boils down to a lack of rhythm to the name.

So, how about you? What are some of your favorites or least favorites? If you write, how do you choose your fictional names?


  1. Actually Luc (Lucifer) is one of my favorites. I also tend to like the male character names like N'Uriel from Falling from Grace, Nick (Hnikarr) from Demon's Lexicon or Matthias from Heavenly. They are a bit different, so they stand out. But I do love the name Astley (and Zara) from the Need series.

    Like Frannie, Clarissa (Clary) from TMI series also isn't a typical name for girls today.

    And, I also prefer for MC female characters to end "y" or "ie" so they really roll off the tongue. Ellie, Kaylee, Clary, Frannie!

  2. Renier Laroche is definitely one of my favorites. I also love Reth and Lend from Paranormalcy. :-)

  3. I like Beth from Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
    and I agree, Renier Laroche is a cool name.

    Patch Cipriano from Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick is not a common name I heard of.

  4. I meant, Beck from Shiver.
    Oops :)

  5. the names for my MPs (since I write regency) comes from era appropriate names. But, also the meaning relates to the character's personality (even if I'm the only one that knows how). i.e, Sophia, Claire, Holly-Anne, Carina, Elizabeth

  6. I wasn't a fan of the name Lennie (The Sky is Everywhere), but after a while it grew on me.
    I love how Luc sounds when you say it out loud.

  7. Omg, Lisa dawg. Henry DeTamble is one of my favorite names, too! I love the "DeTamble."

  8. Sometimes I do a ton of reserach for my characters names, going into hidden meanings, origins, etc. Usually they're just named that way because the character told me or "they've always been named that," lol.

  9. As much as I love her, I hate the name Alice Cullen. It's only due to name association. Alice is: The Brady Bunch maid, in Wonderland, Cooper, etc. Plus, it sounds too old for the character (yes, I know she's old, but...well, you know what I mean).

    Great post! I finished Personal Demons yesterday. Definitely Team Luc. :)