By Caroline Clemmons
Carra Copelin is under the weather so I’m filling in for her.
When you read a book, do the characters’ names even matter to you? Do you ever wonder why the author chose a particular name? Naming our characters is more complicated than you might think.
As an author, I assure you we don’t want to duplicate names we’ve used in another book. After writing numerous books, that’s a challenge. Confession: I slipped up and reused a few. Picture me blushing.
At a Romance Writers of America conference several years ago, I attended a seminar on naming characters. Who knew it could take so much thought? I learned several things that have stayed with me on my writing journey.
For a hero, choose a strong name. Duh, should be obvious, right? According to the person giving the seminar, hard consonants are stronger than weak ones. That surprised me. I suppose that’s one reason Kincaid is a strong name several authors, including me, have used. Another way to choose a strong name is by the image the name evokes. Steele, Hunter, and Woolf are examples of strong hero names. I've used each of those in my books. The Kincaids remains one of my most popular series. I used Steele in Death in the Garden, Hunter in Out of the Blue, and Woolf in A Family for Merry, which is included in Under a Mulberry Moon .
Keep the name consistent with the time period. Buffy wouldn’t work in an Old West romance. For historical romances, I use family names. Since I also like genealogy, this is easy. We have some odd names in our ancestry, especially for women.
For villains, I use the name of someone who committed a wrong against my family. My secret little way of getting revenge that hurts no one and makes me feel better. In GARNET, my latest release, I used Frank Lawson as the name of the villain. That's a combination of first names of two people who murdered my grandmother's brother.
Whatever the time period, I choose names that were actually popular in the era. Thank goodness for Google! Wouldn’t everyone be lost without that site?
How about you—are characters’ names important to you?