Character Names

22 Mar

I’ve been struggling lately with what to call one of my female characters. In addition to trying to be historically accurate, it’s important to convey something about the character to the extent possible. And as a writer, I try to be at least a little original. It’s difficult to find names that appear fresh to readers, are pronounceable and are true to the time period.

I’m quite proud of the name I gave to the heroine of my Regency historical Not Quite a Lady. She grew up in colonial India with an unconventional parent, so I gave myself some leeway and called her “Indira”. It certainly wasn’t a common name for Regency England, but I thought it was reasonable to use since many readers will (I hope!) find it easy to prounounce and just a touch exotic.

We’ve all read romances with names that make us cringe. For me, it tends to be the names of heroes. It takes good writing for me to get over Drake, Thorne, or Rafe. Names like these just shout “hey, I’m a manly man” and make me think the hero needs a big arrow pointing to him in case readers aren’t sure who he is.

I’m also not a big fan of alpha heroes with nicknames like “Duke of Decadence” or “Sinful Sebastian” or “the Evil Earl,” especially if the author takes such names seriously (and expects readers to do the same). I just roll my eye and think “Really? They really call him that?”

So, what names drive you crazy?

5 Responses to “Character Names”

  1. Regina March 22, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    I like exotic names a lot. The ones I don’t like are generally old fashioned names like Sue or Mary. Or Mary Sue. I just generally go into romance for an exotic experience so I like the names to reflect that.

    I love the name Meraya in your other novel, The Antaren Affair. Excellent novel!

    • Erica Anderson March 22, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

      Thanks, Regina! Poor Meraya went through three or four names before I settled on one. I wanted to get just the right tone, so I’m glad you liked it!

  2. Mary Preston March 22, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    I cringe when I read ‘clever’ names. I wish I could think of an example. I want solid names for my heroes & beautiful names that trip off the tongue for my heroines.

  3. Marilyn Campbell March 23, 2011 at 7:21 am #

    Hi Erica, sorry I didn’t see this one til today. I agree with you about the manly man names! They were interesting back in the eighties, when the Leading Ladies of Love first started the trend but 30 years later they don’t seem so creative any more. Unfortunately it takes a little more work to help the reader imagine Bruce, Harold or other historically accurate names as the hot hero.

  4. Shannon Emmel March 27, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    Hi Erica-

    First, I actually read “Not Quite a Lady” and loved the character and her name (Indira). Very fitting for the time period becasue it was exotic (The most fashionable parlors of the time had a facination for exactly that…even if they didn’t admit it!) It was also fitting since she was, as you put it, a bit on the unconventional (and uninhibited) side.

    My feeling on names has more to do with the charaters than anything else, at least with my own characters.

    But then again, I don’t name them…they “introduce” themselves to me, tell me their story and I just try to get it right!

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