What’s in a Name…

…a whole heck of a lot.

So, with a lot of my latest WIPs I’ve had trouble with my names. Not coming up with the name initially. Oh no. Usually I’ve finished the first draft and am well into the editing stage before I realize the name’s not going to work.

And this keeps happening!

See, I like names that have significance, hidden meanings if I can help it. I comb baby naming sites and wiki to find what names mean, and whether those things fit with the character. It’s also important the name sound right, that I can imagine other characters calling the person that.

Another thing I try to be aware of is not having similar names in the same book. I even avoid starting character names with the same letter if I can help it. I once read a book with three characters named Edwy, Edwin and Edmund respectively, and they were all related to each other, which was extra fun. This is what I try to avoid in my own novels.

With “Heir to the Underworld”, originally the mom’s name was going to be “Kalonice”, Kalli for short. Now, Kalonice was a great name. It’s Greek for “Beauty’s Triumph,” which was just perfect because Kalli is a real looker. Also, the Greek-ness might or might not have had interesting ramifications for any potential sequels.

And then, as I’m editing the book, I realize there’s a character named Kore. Now, since I already had a lot of “c” names for my male characters (Cernunnos, Colin, Clymenus, and one other too spoilery to mention) that I really couldn‘t change, I decided not to buy myself more trouble and I changed poor Kalli’s name. She needed to have a feminine name, that would easily convert to a nickname. And her new name couldn’t start with C, K, F, D, M, B, N or P as I had characters who’s names all started with those letters and the whole point of this was to have variety in the names.

So how did she end up named Abigail, Abby for short?

Am I a bad writer if I tell you I cannot for the life of me remember? *sheepish face* But it’s a pretty name, right? 🙂

This happened again when I gave my novella, “The Minion and the Mistress” to my critique group. Originally the hero’s name was “Po.” Which I thought was just perfect for my dumb lug of a troll, and my crit group mostly agreed. Then someone brought up that “Po” was the name of the panda from Kung Fu Panda.

Well, shit.

See, I didn’t want people to visualize an overweight animated panda when they should be seeing a hunky 7-foot-troll. So now I needed a name that suggested a certain bluntness of character, but also underlying innocence. It also couldn’t be a normal name like George or Sam or something. So, after much soul-searching and teeth gnashing, and playing around with various options like Tuk, Rook, Tuss, etc. I changed his name to Ruuk. Which I’m actually used to now and have grown to quite like.

Unfortunately, I had inadvertently created a problem for myself on my next MS. The hero’s name for that was supposed to be Roux. But when I started writing it, my typing fingers kept wanting to write Ruuk, and every time I wrote Roux, I was still seeing the 7-foot-troll when I was supposed to be seeing a burly black space marine. Problematic, to say the least. So, poor Roux (who had been Roux in my head for years!) now needed a new name. Again, it couldn’t be anything too run-of-the-mill because this was SFR. I also wanted to get across his biracial background (he’s black and part-Italian). His last name was supposed to be Gallagher too, but now his first name was up the air, even that was negotiable.

So, I did my usual and went poking around on baby name sites to find Italian names, first and last, playing around with those. I liked Bastiano, but it didn’t quite fit the character and I couldn’t find a first name that I liked to go with it. I thought about DeSoto, and a few others but they all felt too Italian if that makes sense. His first name was Marcus for a time, Marc for short, but I didn’t like the way that scanned as I was reading. Or Mark.

I’m still playing around with this. For now, I’ve settled on Matteo Gallagher, and he goes by Matt. I’m not entirely happy with it, though, so it could definitely change.

*sigh* Why’s a good name so hard to find?


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