Wednesday, February 9, 2011


"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" is a quotation by William Shakespeare from his play Romeo and Juliet meant to say that the names of things do not matter. In the play,  the line is said by Juliet in reference to Romeo's house, Montague, which would imply that his name means nothing and they should be together.
Well, does a name really not matter?  I remember in college when I played Dungeons and Dragons, a friend of mine (his name was Buhl) introduced a character (he was the Dungeon Master) and stated her name was "Brunhilda". 
My friend Leroy got upset. "Dude," he said.  "How could she be so beautiful and have a name like Brunhilda?" 
Buhl replied, "Brunhilda is considered a beautiful name in Germany and I think of her as being a woman of German descent." 
Leroy's response was classic American, "We're not playing in Germany and I think that name is butt-ugly."
So, how much thought do you put into your character's names?  Stephanie Meyer said that the name "Bella" was one she had been holding onto for quite a while and decided to use it when her heroine really needed a good name.  I know I've agonized over naming characters.  Searching for the ones that sound unique to the voice in your head can be a real chore. 
Do you use name generators?  Name books? Online resources?
How do you decide on spelling between Dylan or Dillon?  Amy, Amie, or Aymie? Jason or Jayson?
The friend Leroy that I mentioned above...well he said something funny one day about a villain in a book named Tyranthraxis (villains have the best names).  He said, "Hey Mike, imagine how fun it would have been to see that villain's mother saying, 'Come here little Tyranthraxis. You're in trouble now.'" I think I woulda LMAO.


  1. I love naming my characters. I use leftover names from children and pets, names that are secret codes, the funnier and more mellifluous the better. I keep lists. I want more children and pets and characters just so I can name them!

  2. When I'm naming characters, sometimes a name just pops into my head and I go with it. If I want a name to represent something though I will research name meanings online or look for names that were popular during certain periods. Recently I came across a captcha and thought 'that would be an amazing character name' but I haven't found a use for it yet. I will probably forget it before I get the chance to actually use it.

  3. I love the fact that Microsoft Word allows me to search a document for a word and replace it with another. That way if I change my mind about a name, it's super easy to fix.

  4. I've written so many books now, I think I've been through all my favorite names and STILL nothing has been published. But I'll recycle those names if the other works never make it into print!

  5. Writing is kind of discouraging sometimes. It's a business so basically you're in the position of a commission salesman instead of being an artist. Very few people understand that because it didn't used to always be this way. Now all anyone is interested in is publishing those that can drum up sales on their own with marketing, like the Palins or Snooki.

  6. I like the find and replace function of Word, too. I used it for my current story when I found that a popular story had an antagonist by the same name as one of my MCs. And the new name fits better, I think.

    Although I once read on a friends journal about how she changed a character named Ally to something like Anna, and accidentally filled her document with strange words such as "accidentanna."

  7. Your friend Leroy was pulling any punches was he! LOL. Names are very important, and i do take my time before using them on my own characters.

    For instance, I wouldn't use a unique name on a character who was only going to make an appearnce in a novel once or twice. Just like each character shoukld have their own voice, they should each have a distinctive name, too.

    For main characters I tend to use shorter names, or abbreviate names, but try and make them unique enough to stand out. I also always try not to have two characters names starting with the same letter as this can confuse the reader.