Naming a character is as important an undertaking as naming your own child. Is there a more perfect coupling of names to characters than Rhett Butler and Scarlet O’Hara? Me thinks not.
I like this quote by H.G. Wells. He wasÂ referencing the name Euphemia. “‘It’s giving girls names like that,’ said Buggins, ‘that nine times out of ten makes ’em go wrong. It unsettles ’em. If ever I was to have a girl, if ever I was to have a dozen girls, I’d call ’em all Jane.'”
I agonize overÂ my characters’ names. If a character doesn’t introduce themselves to me already named, then I can’t develop that character until the name fits. Since I write historical westerns, I’m particularly sensitive to aligning names with the culture of the times. For instance, in my book, The Comanchero’s Bride, the heroine comes from a Cleveland, Ohio family of old money and Plymouth roots. She had to have just the right hereditary lineage in her name so I named her after her ancestors who came to America on the Mayflower. Hence her name: Elizabeth Bradford White. The hero’s name had to be correct for his culture and heritage, so I named him Domingo Raoul Valderas y CÃ©sar. The villian and trusty sidekick’s names were combined names of people I really, really, really didn’t (and still don’t) like. Just their names embodied characteristics that were distastful to me so torturing and subsequently killing off the villian was therapeutic and entertaining.Â
For the heroine in my contemporary vampire story, In the Cards, The Vampire Oracle: LIFE, I needed her name to be one that could stand the test of time since she was a three-hundred-year-old vampire. So I got out my handy dandy baby name books and voila! Melissa Price appeared. It was a good solid name that worked inÂ the 1600s inÂ England and could follow her through the ages to 2008 Colorado.
Yes, I have changed a character’s name part way through a story and it was amazing how quickly his character developed after that.
Now, for fun, I took the hidden name meaning quiz. It was about 50-50 in accuracy for my personality: headstrong, stubborn, take-charge, orderly, creative. Then I took another little quiz that told me what my old-fashioned name is. Pfft!! Elinor Massingberd – Bwhahahahahahahahaha