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One of my favorite and sometimes most frustrating tasks is naming characters. As an author we can add some extra meaning by choosing our characters names carefully.
When I first started writing I picked names I liked and didn’t think about ethnicity, history or the meaning of the name. I sometimes still do this. I’ve occasionally named a character after someone or someplace special. A character sometimes comes fully formed with a name and has no interest in me renaming him. While other times I might choose and discard several names before finally finding one that fits.
I used a combination of naming techniques for Spectors. The heroine – Kristy Ryan is named after my childhood horse, Kristy. The hero – Andrew came with his name from the beginning. The ship was always the Unicorn. I did a little research and playing around with names for the secondary characters and the places they travel to. I consciously decided to keep the character’s names Americanized despite it being a space opera. The more unusual names were reserved for non-human characters and the planets.
I had a lot of fun naming my characters for The Beast’s Redemption a modern sexy retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I started with the original fairy tale being French and went from there. Belle was the heroine’s name in not only the Disney version, but the original. I gave her the last name Beaumont because it sounded nice with Belle and is an old French surname meaning beautiful mountain or hill. The hero was more difficult. I tried and tossed out several names which didn’t fit until I found Alexander Leandre. Leandre is French and means lion-man; the hero is a mountain lion shapeshifter. Alexander matched Leandre and means defending men; the hero’s natural instinct is to protect and defend.
Baby name books/websites and census records can be a great tool, but my new favorite spot to figure out character names is 20,000 Names From Around the World http://www.20000-names.com). It has a Special Categories section of the site making finding names with a particular meaning incredibly easy. This is how I figured out all of my character names for The Beast’s Redemption. For Unicorn Keep and my new Angie Derek short story, I needed several names meaning a particular color. I looked up color names through the Special Categories and was able to find all of their names in a very short amount of time.
Here are some of my tips and techniques for picking out character names. Understand your genre. Certain styles of names go with different genres. Fantasies and science fiction characters tend to have more unusual names than contemporaries. Do you want your character to have an odd name or a boy/girl next door name? What is your character’s ethnicity? Pick a name from that country or background. Does your character have something special about them? Pick a name reflecting that. Consider all of your character names. Do you want them to have similar names or contrasting names? Keeping track of beginning letters can be helpful in making sure you don’t have five character names starting with A unless you’re doing it on purpose.
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You can learn more about Angelia Almos at her websites www.angeliaalmos.com and www.angiederek.com.
You can purchase Spectors here.