Saturday, April 16, 2011

They're gifted to us at birth. Some of us think there are others better suited to who we are, and some of us think the ones our parent gave us fits just fine. In choosing names for my characters, I work along the following lines.

Choose according to the meaning. I don’t do this all the time, but most of the time I settle based on the meaning and how it fits my character’s personality.

Avoid complex names. Sometimes when I critique chapters of fantasy novels for other writers, I face the problem of trying to remember which name belongs to whom at the expense of following the storyline. It’s not always possible to have simple names, but I believe in striking a happy medium between a name like Jane and an unpronounceable one that causes confusion.

Avoid names that are similar or start with the same letters – Cassandra, Casey, Cassie, Cashel – you get the idea.

 How do you name your characters? Do simply pick the first name that comes along, choose based on meaning or do you use a process of elimination? And do you ever change names mid stream?

Garlic Butter & Sugar Noodles
Noodles are universal and Jamaica in no different from any other place in putting this versatile food to good use. Apart from Chinese dishes, we put noodles in corned beef and stewed beef. Of course, there’s macaroni and cheese and the easy to make ‘cup soup’ that’s sold in every supermarket.

Naseberries are at the top of the list of fruits that I love! It's also called sapodilla on other Caribbean islands.  Indians from Mexico and the Caribbean chew on the sap from the naseberry tree. They call the gum 'chuckle'. The flesh of the naseberry is slightly grainy, like the skin, but it’s deliciously sweet!


  1. I chose names for my post today too! But mine's about where I get character name ideas. :)

    I don't think I've ever had a naseberry before. But I love fruit so I'm sure I'd like it. Love noodles of all kinds!

  2. Ah, it always amazes me how we all get different ideas from one prompt. Meika @ Waiting on the Muse also posted on names.

    Will check out yours.

  3. This is a great point. I always struggle with names because they need to have meaning or I don't use them. I usually get online to find the meaning of the names and name my characters that way. The not making it complex is very important I hate trying to remember the names of characters.

  4. Inevitably I start out with a name and half way through the MS the RIGHT alias just hits me. When I'm deciding on a name I examine all aspects of the character. What are their personality traits? Who are they? What matters to them? Where do they come from? What role do they play in my story? Are there any double meanings I can tie into their identity--even if just subtle? (Latin bases, uses of the name throughout history etc.)

    Since I sometimes write historical fiction (or about characters who have lived through multiple time periods), choosing a name usually means research.

  5. Josh, boy do I hate it when I have to skip back and forth trying to remember the names of characters.

    Crystal, sounds like you do a thorough job of naming your characters.

  6. For my characters, I usually just pick a name at random and go with it. I recently discovered that one of my character names just doesn't feel right though, so it will probably have to change. I've never heard of a naseberry! But they look pretty good.

  7. Great N post! I always try to fit the name to the character. Sometimes a name will come to me (first and last) and I'll write it down for future use because I love the way it sounds. And chances are good I can use it on a character in another story. I completely agree with you about avoiding names that start with the same letter unless they sound completely different. I've read stories where the author has done this before, and it's very confusing for the reader. I was constantly reading the "wrong" name, and getting confused.

  8. I generally just pick a name out of the hat, but I do make sure that I don't have similar sounding names or ones that begin with the same letter.

  9. I remember when I read "A Hundred Years of Solitude", I got very frustrated because almost all the male characters were named "Jose". ;)

    The rules of naming are a little bit different in fantasy, of course. I do think fantasy authors search for names with meaning, but our readers for whatever reason look for the new, unusual, and even the complex in character names. I try to avoid names that are too off-the-wall, while respecting this expectation on the part of my readers.

  10. Another wonderful blog. I love your writing part and the added recipe is such a treat. Unfortunately I want you to mail yourself to me and make those meals for me because nothin' turns out as good when I cook it. So my boys say.

  11. Melissa, it happens. I know you'll find the ideal name when the time is right.

    Sarah, yes, the name confusion can get time consuming.

    Juliet, that usually works well.

    Karin, understand and as you say it's good not to make the names overly complex.

    Jeanne, you could google a recipe or two. Some of them are quite easy to make. Just saute and then simmer. :D

    Siv, thanks for dropping by.

  12. Naseberries look delicious. I love delicious and sweet.

    Names are tough. One time, after not being able to think of a name, I flipped through the phone book and found the perfect name, now I do that regularly.

    Great post. :-)

  13. Thanks, Robyn. Phone books provide an endless supply of character names.

  14. Sometimes I choose a name before I've even thought of a character! One day I'm going to write about a character called Alabaster.

    Names are funny things. My sister changed her name when she moved away from Leicester and I have real trouble calling her by her new name... much to her annoyance.

  15. Thanks for introducing me to naseberries! It makes me want to discover what they taste like.

    I guess I'll have to visit the Caribbean soon :-)

  16. Oh I've never heard of naseberries before... learned something new and interesting today!! And your advice for naming is excellent. I usually come up with names way before I write the story, it's part of the character's persona. I put a lot of thought into. And in my job as an airline agent, I hear all kinds of names!!

  17. great post.

    those naseberries look intresting

  18. Rosalind, I like Alabaster. You gotta be a strong character to work a name like that.

    K.C., we do have an interesting range of fruits and vegetables.

    PK - I'll bet you do come across the the strangest names.

    Baygirl, Thanks for stopping by.

  19. Hi JL,

    Naseberries look wonderful and yummy, the inside looks somewhat like a kiwifrit?

    Great post on names!

  20. Thanks, Nas. Aside from the color and having largish seeds, the naseberry does look a little bit like the kiwifruit.

  21. I think picking the right name for a character is really important... and often challenging. I go through a lot of names before I find the right fit for each character.

  22. Gotta agree with you there, Cynthia. I also put a lot of thought into what names I give my characters. Sometimes, the choice is easy. Other times, it takes a while before I hit the right name.


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