Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Rose By Any Other Name . . .


How do authors choose names for their characters?  You want something that sounds good, yet fits the character's personality.  You want something that is unique, yet not absurd.  Maybe you even want something that has a good meaning.  But as hard as it is to name a character, naming a BABY is much more difficult.

I am expecting our third baby boy in a few short weeks, but my husband and I have yet to make up our minds on the name.  Okay, I'll be honest, the problem is really me.  I just can't seem to commit to a name!  With my first two boys, we didn't have a problem; it was almost as if we just knew what their names should be.  But this one is different.

When naming a character in a book, I have probably employed every method at some point.  Yes, I do look at baby name books, searching for a name that has a good sound and meaning.  I've even made lists, matching first names and last.  I like to choose names that are easy to relate to.  I'm personally not too fond of naming my characters bizarre, hard-to-pronounce names.  That aversion probably stems from reading my mom's old Harlequins as a teen.  My sister and I would start talking about the characters, then realize we were talking about the same heroine, yet pronouncing her name in two completely different ways!

My basic method boils down to this:  I name my characters names I like but would probably never name my child.  For instance, I really like the names Rachel and Hannah (two heroines from my books), but I wouldn't name my child either of those names basically because they are so popular.  They work wonderfully as names for characters though.  I wanted Rachel's character to be an easily relatable, ordinary Montana girl who, when thrust into a dangerous situation, manages to be surprisingly incredible.  I wanted Hannah's character to also be easy to relate to, but I also focused on the meaning.  Hannah means 'grace,' which has a lot of meaning when considering her story.  I also liked that it is a palindrome, the same forward and back, which again is significant considering her story deals with time travel.

I spend a lot less time on choosing the names of supporting characters, which has come back to haunt me on several occasions.  Typically, I start writing, and, when I arrive at the entrance of a supporting character, I just come up with a name on the spot.  They are usually names I don't really like and never intend to use as names for main characters.  Unfortunately, in at least two instances, those supporting characters have had much larger roles in the story than I originally intended when I named them.  For instance, in my book BAGGAGE CLAIM, Kelsey Johnson is introduced as a supporting character.  By Book 3 in the series, I have realized that Kelsey has her own story and is demanding to be the main character in somewhat of a spinoff for Book 4.  Now I'm stuck writing 'Kelsey' over and over for an entire book!

Though I obviously think about my characters' names way too much, choosing them is easy compared to deciding on a name for my son.  My first two sons have first names that are Biblical and have great meaning.  Their middle names are both family names.  For the third little boy, we (mainly my husband) wanted to keep the same pattern, and I was fine with that.  The problem is that my husband likes awful names, and I am very picky.  "No, honey, there is no way we're going to name our son Barnabas or Mahalalel."  (And no,  I am not joking.)  He likes names with great meaning.  I like names that aren't too popular, have a good sound, and won't get the kid beat up in school.

After looking through books of baby names, searching the Internet for popularity and other statistics, and generally agonizing about it, I have finally narrowed down our choices to two.  Unfortunately, I can't decide which one to go with.  My husband says he's fine with either one.  My family likes both.  I just can't commit and say, 'This is his name!'

I have been waffling back and forth for months now, and I am really no closer to a decision.  Like I said, I've researched the names on the web and even prayed that God would somehow tell me what this child's name is!  One day I'll prefer one name, the next day it's the other!  Some people have told me that maybe I'll just know when I actually see the baby.  I don't think that's going to happen.  Knowing me, I'll still drive myself crazy with indecision even after he's born!  And now my time is running out!

So here it is.  The possible names for our new little boy are Levi Brian or Micah Alton.  Levi means 'joined' and is the name of the priestly line in the Bible.  Micah means 'who is like God,' and is the name of a prophet in the Bible.  Brian is my husband's first name, and Alton is a family name from my side.

I want to get my baby's name right.  There is much more at stake here than just naming a character.  I don't want to name my baby one name, and then wish I'd named him the other.  In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare writes, 'What's in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.'  But would it?  What would 'Levi' be like?  What about 'Micah'? 

P.S.  Opinions are welcome and greatly appreciated!  In other words, HELP!!!  ;- )

2 comments:

The McLinn Clan said...

I KNOW you very highly value MY opinion...and I vote Micah;)I really like both of them...but Micah seems to floW well with the older two boys' names?! Maybe? For our first three, the names just 'came.' After that...not so much. Good luck!!:)
E.McLinn

Heather said...

I have to go with the name Levi Brian....just love it!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...