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Sunday, November 23, 2008
Say, what's your name?
Parents can agonize for months over what to name their child. Picking a name for a new pet can be stressful too, especially when fighting kids are involved. Selecting names for characters in your book is not much different. A friend of mine said she can’t even start a book until she has all the names down pat. Many scour baby name books or sites, looking for the “perfect” moniker. Me, I take a less scientific approach. I just let the name come to me. And no, I don’t sit there for days waiting to see it written on a coffee mug or flashed across the six o’clock news.
In Shrinking Violet, I actually thought of my main character’s radio name first—Sweet T. That came about because she is sweet and innocent. By doing this, I had easily narrowed down the first letter of her name to a T. I wanted her to have a nickname, Tere, that she goes by and a more formal name that only her mother calls her—Teresa. Much like picking a name for a baby, you actually have to sometimes see your character first before you settle on a name. Tere’s love interest is Gavin and it was not until I visualized him sitting next to her in English class that his name came to be.
I am often tempted to name the “villains” in my books after people that were jerks during my school years. But then I would have to live with their names forever. So actually none of my books so far have characters that are fashioned after people that I know in real life. That’s probably a good thing too!
Do you have any rituals or rules for picking names for characters, children, pets or otherwise?