Earlier today, I was speaking with a co-worker who is also an aspiring writer. She told she had started jotting down the character profiles and has a name for the heroine but was unsure of what name she wanted for the hero. I started thinking about the process that I go through when I come up with character names.
I have so many that I’ve started, and that intertwine with other characters in other books, yes, I know I need to finish one! So my process really begins with the genre of book I’m writing. They are all in the Romance category, but there are so many kinds of romance; Mystery Romance/Paranormal Romance/Adventure Romance/Military Romance…and so many more to choose from. I have one in just about every category so far. Yes, I know I need to submit them!
The character name needs to flow with the mood of the book, like my character Melinda in ‘Back Home’ is a paranormal romance. And Cadence in ‘Eye Speye’ is a military romance. The last names need to jive with the first names and don’t necessarily need to be of “Vanderbilt” quality, but should be memorable. A couple of my ‘guys’ are Connor Reed and Chas McGregor. Say the name out loud. Now say it in a sentence that would set the ‘mood’ of the book:
“Uh,” she started to reply but words were stuck in her throat unable to get past the dumfounded look she had on her face. Connor Reed. The man that saved her life as a young woman, and caused her many sleepless nights thinking of him, was kneeling in her mother’s kitchen. Melinda Shay-McGregor was a grown woman now and was brought back to that night when she had feared for her life only to be rescued by a man she was certain had been sent to haunt her.
Sounds good, right? Just go with it. The most important thing to remember when searching for the right name is that you have to be able to build a character around it that your readers will want to get to know. When I read I want to connect with the characters, whether I like them or not, I want to form my own idea of what they look and sound like with the basic outline already in my head from the writer’s description. A name is important in creating that description.
You can’t have a brown haired/brown eyed girl named Emerald and expect it to flow. Seriously, close your eyes and envision a woman named Emerald and tell me what you see…I see a beautiful woman with long red hair and green eyes. That flows. Your guy can’t have a chiseled jaw line with six-pack abs and bronze skin with a simple name either, I’d place any number of simple names here, but I don’t want to offend anyone; You need a sexy name for a sexy character, a loveable name for a loveable character, et cetera, et cetera.
When all is said and done, you want your books to be read. The name of the book is the most important ‘eye catcher’ when it’s sitting on a shelf with a million other romance novels. The back cover that gives you the tidbit on what the book is about is the second, and this where the names will be seen first.