And now back to the reason why we're here. It's 'N' day in the A to Z Challenge, and my topic is:
If you're not a writer, then this is not something you probably ever think about. Unless you have a whole host of imaginary friends who require names, in which case, you might find this interesting.
When it comes to naming your
imaginary friends characters, just how important to you are such things as name meaning and origin? Do these factor in at all when you're planning out the details of your WiP? Or do names just pop into your head that simply feel right for your characters?
With few exceptions, I'm really big on assigning names to my characters that have some kind of significance. A name is not usually just a name in my writing. Of course, it has to be right for my character→ suited to the time period, doesn't feel awkward, isn't too much like another character's name, isn't tough to pronounce or remember (Beef #1 with most fantasy), and it just feels like it suits that particular character and his/her personality.*
I've had the misfortune to come across some of my characters' names in other books that I've read, and sometimes these books are even similar to what I'm working on. When that happens, I go back to the drawing board and search for something that feels really close to the name I originally chose so that I can still feel connected to that character. Here are a couple of recent examples of this:
Caleb→ For my MC's brother, I initially chose the name Caleb. Now, I started writing this story in June/July of last year...not long after I read Divergent by Veronica Roth. If you remember, Tris's brother's name is Caleb. Whoops! My book isn't really like Divergent, but it has influenced me, so I axed the name. I chose Callum instead, because I like it, and it's close in sound to my original pick.
Evie→ I knew that Kiersten White's MC in the Paranormalcy books was called Evie, but as my WiP is nothing at all similar to this series, I figured it was fine. Until I read A Million Suns by Beth Revis (which is sci-fi like my WiP) and she had a secondary character called by this name. Derp! Again, back to the drawing board. I settled on Elli, because it's very similar, and I like it.
So where do I go to find fitting character names?
• Behind the Name (great for name etymologies)
• Baby Name Wizard (awesome search options)
• and tons of other online resources
• a book called 35,000+ Baby Names
Most people will never know (if I get published, that is) that I chose character names with attention to meaning and/or origin. And that's just fine. But, should anybody do a little digging, they'll get why I went with Callum over Conor, for instance. Not crucial to the story, just kind of interesting.
Plus, I'll know that my characters' names are significant, and that actually matters a lot to me.
Does this matter to you too? And if it does, where do you go for your character name inspiration?
* If only we were all lucky enough to choose a name that suits us. I certainly wouldn't pick Jaime.