Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What's in a name?

Good morning, Seekerville! Myra here, and today we're going to talk about naming your story characters--every writer’s challenge. And it can sometimes require even more thought and research than naming our own children.

You want just the right resonance, just the right rhythm. A name that’s memorable. A name that reflects the character’s personality and background.

According to a baby name book I’ve had on my bookshelf for eons (okay, probably since the mid-‘80s), “The name should sound pleasant and not leave open strong possibilities for embarrassing or derogatory nicknames like Piggy or Fatso.”

Unless that’s what you had in mind for a particular character.

Other helpful pointers from a sampling of my name reference books:
  • One-syllable family names normally sound best with a two- or three-syllable first name. Examples: Miranda Smith. Johnny Jones.
  • Long last names should have one- or two-syllable first names. Examples: Susan Hutchinson. James Rosenblum.
  • Alternate accented syllables with unaccented syllables. Examples: Maxwell Carter. Sue McPherson.
  • Don’t rhyme the first name and last name. Examples: Larry Berry. Kathy Abernathy.
  • Watch out for embarrassing initials! Examples: Michael Umberto Dithers (MUD). Peggy Edwina Williams (PEW).
In her book The Writer’s Digest Character-Naming Sourcebook, Sherrilyn Kenyon warns that you can’t simply attach a name to a character because you like the name. First and foremost, the name you choose for your story character should fit the genre. Is your story . . .
  • Contemporary or historical? 
  • Romance or science fiction? 
  • Mystery or horror? 
  • Western or action/adventure? 

Make sure the name is appropriate for the setting and era as well as for the character’s age, ethnicity, and occupation.

The most memorable character names are those that evoke a certain response in the reader--names that suggest important information about the character. Is he rich? Is she sophisticated? Is he an Irish rogue? Is she a Southern belle?

What kind of person do you think of when you hear the name Bubba? Scarlett? Bruno? Lucretia?

How about a doctor named Welby? An attorney named Mason? A coyote named Wylie? (Oops, just had to throw that one in. And yes, for you trivia purists, I know it’s spelled Wile E.)

The hero of my novel A Horseman’s Heart is Kip Lorimer. His last name means saddle maker, which is his secondary occupation. In the new historical romance series I’m writing for Abingdon Press, the hero in book 1 is an Army chaplain named Samuel Vickary. Your readers may not always pick up on the subtlety of a name meaning, but just by being aware of it yourself, you’ll infuse the character with greater depth.

While you may labor for days or weeks over choosing the ideal name for your major story characters, it can be equally important to choose carefully when naming a subordinate character--even more so, a walk-on, because the character’s name may be the only clue your reader has about this character’s role and personality.

  • Guido, the enforcer. 
  • Slim, the tall Texas cowboy. 
  • Candy, the mini-skirted flirt.
As you begin naming the various characters in your work-in-progress, you’ll need a way to keep track of them all. For one reason, you want to avoid duplication. For another, it’s best to strive for variety, both in sounds of names and what letter begins each name.

Many visitors to Seekerville have already downloaded my Excel Novel Planning Workbook, which includes a character name chart. Using the chart, you enter each name twice--first name/last name, then last name/first name--in the appropriate alphabet row. Then you can see at a glance how many names you’ve used beginning with each letter.

Here’s a partial screenshot:

Some helpful Web sites for naming your characters:

Given names


http://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/ (Here you can look up popular names by decade.)

http://www.20000-names.com/ (Names from around the world.)





Oh, and for any Scrivener users out there, have you discovered the name generator tool? It’s a fun and quick way to create long lists of possible (and sometimes quite quirky) first name/last name combinations.

Let’s talk about character names. Do you have any favorites from your own writing? How did you come up with the name? Why do you find it meaningful?

How about characters from movies, TV, or books you’ve read? Which ones are particularly memorable, and why?

Leave a comment on today’s post to be entered in a drawing for Sherrilyn Kenyon’s The Writer’s Digest Character-Naming Sourcebook. It’s one of my favorites!

For extra credit (not really--this is just for fun) can you match these character names with the correct Seeker novel?

      Hannah Hughes                  A Horseman’s Heart   
      Lydia Sloan                        Rocky Mountain Hero
      Ryan Jones                         Reunited Hearts
      Livy O’Brien                      Love on Assignment   
      Wendell Gilliland               Stealing Jake
      Abigail Wilson                   Nowhere to Hide
      Charlotte Hale                    Oklahoma Reunion
      Alyssa Langley                  A Hope Undaunted
      Sterling Wade                     In Too Deep
      Sheridan Cross                   A House Full of Hope
      Luke McGee                      A Home in His Heart
      Sandi Bradshaw                 An Inconvenient Match
      Gabe Davidson                  The Price of Victory


Donna said...

I was so glad to see this subject matter being discussed. I am having a hard time with the names in my WIP. I've changed the names of the main characters several times already. I just discovered the ssa.org page this past week. It is great and goes all the way back to 1880! Thank you Myra!

Walt Mussell said...

Myra, this is a huge problem for me as my manuscripts are set in medieval Japan. Japanese names are alien to most American readers and I struggle with getting names that don't confuse people.

Mary Connealy said...

Sophie in Petticoat Ranch, meant wisdom.
Beth in Doctor in Petticoats sounded gentle.
I worked on on Callie for Over the Edge because I wanted her to be Italian/American with an Italian name and an Americanized version, plus she has a barely named brother and a rarely referenced maiden name...that I wanted Americanized.
I worked really hard on that and changed it a lot of times. The fact taht her brother is in a future book only connected to the Kincaid Brides by the barest thread, made the name matter all the more.

Mary Connealy said...

PS I have to go to bed.

Jeanne T said...

Fun post, Myra. :) My heroine's name is Anya. Don't ask me why. It's the name that popped into my head at the same time the story did. I gave one antagonist a name that I hope has a type-A sound to it, to match her personality.

It seems like a heroine having a first name that can shortened to an affectionate nick name by the hero can be nice--Emily-Em, Allison-Allie.

As for character names from books and movies, I'll have to come back tomorrow when my brain is more able to pull some out. :) Thanks for the links, Myra!

Carol Moncado said...

Night Mary!!!!

Still working on shooting someone [but I've only written a couple hundred more words - I did /gasp/shudder/take-Benadryl-for-the-hives/ plot some though].

Spent quite a while coming up with Bible names, boys and girls, that started with the same letter but didn't look/sound alike. For now, I've got Lydia, Luke and Levi but not sure I'm happy with them. For the kids who are usually there but not always actively involved...

Also check out Fake Name Generator - there's a lot of fun stuff there too :D.

Will have to do the extra credit later... :)

Vince said...

Hi Myra:

The only book that I did not read is yours because the type is too small. I hope it becomes an ebook soon.

Rocky Mt. Hero = Gabe Davidson,
The Price of Victory = Sterling Wade,
Oklahoma Reunion = Ryan Jones,
Reunited Hearts = Trent Michaels.
Stealing Jake = Livy O’Brien,
A Hope Undaunted = Luke McGee,
An Incontinent Match = Abigail Wilson,
A House Full of Hope = Hannah Hughes,
In Too Deep = Wendell Gilliland,
Nowhere to Hide = Lydia Sloan,
Love on Assignment = Charlotte Hale,
A Home in His Heart = Sandy Bradshaw,
A Horseman’s Heart = Alyssa Langley

~sharyn said...

I love coming up with character names! Especially that moment when you find the perfect one. I've always thought Jane Austen did a great job coming up with memorable character names: Elizabeth Bennett, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, Colonel Brandon, Emma Woodhouse, Mr. Knightley. The surnames she gave her heroes were so strong you don't really miss a first name.

Which reminds me of Daphne du Maurier's book "Rebecca," where you never learn the main character's first name and the most important first name -- Rebecca -- belongs to a woman who died before the book started.

Just goes to show what you don't name a character can be just as important as what you do. . . .

Clari Dees said...

I do a lot of genealogy for people at the library, and I love looking at the names in the old census records. So for my book, I looked at what types of names were used in that time period and location by going through the census records. It was very interesting, and I came up with lots of ideas. Unfortunately, my hero-Marshal's first name (which was an actual Marshal's name in the 1880s) had to be changed as the editor thought it could be used for male or female. I was kinda sad over that for a bit.

Thank you for sharing all these links, Myra. I'm excited to check them out. They look like a lot of fun, and the naming tips will come in very handy!

In other news, I finished Karen Witemeyer's Short-Straw Bride this weekend. Wow! Loved It! Goes on the keeper shelf.

And, I have my Facebook author page set up. (Finally got my professional head shots back.) Tell me what you think, and if you have any suggestions, I'm all ears...or is that eyes? www.facebook.com/ClariDees
Please, and thank you! :-)

Mary Cline said...

I don't usually point out typos because I make tons of them. I usually do laugh at my own, my sister and I e mailed jokes about one of mine for a couple of weeks. It is sometimes hard to read what is written on this little comment square but, I wonder how long we can talk about "An Incontinent Match, Vince. Or did you do that on purpose?

Iola said...

Some names have different meanings in different cultures, and it pays for authors to be aware of this. For example, a kip is a short sleep, to chuck is to vomit, and no Christian novel should ever feature a character called Randy (sorry, Mr Ingermanson).

One novel I read had the lead character named Paul Ignatius Greatoreaux, and made a feature of it. (What was more disturbing was the review on Amazon UK from a real Paul Ingatius Greatoreaux, who had read the book purely because he shared a name with the lead character).

And I am one reader who gets really annoyed when the hero and heroine both have names like Jesse, Taylor or Jordan - it makes it really hard to tell who is who!

Tina Radcliffe said...

I had no idea this book existed, MJ!

And I agree with Jeanne. If a name can be shortened it is nice for affectionate terms and for plain old VARIETY!

Tina Radcliffe said...

VINCE!~!! Wow, that's an amazing list.

And WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? I think there is a monthly guy convention as you two (you and Walt) generally go into your man caves at the same time.

Ruth Ann Dell said...

Thank you for the interesting blog and links, Myra.

I love hidden meanings in names, and one of my heroes is called Hugh because he adds color (hue) to my heroine's life.

Mary Curry said...

Great post, Myra. I can work on a book for ages with INSERT NAME here while I get the right name, but I can't write at all on a story if I've got the wrong name.

Love your excel chart. Thanks for sharing it again. Somehow I missed it in the past.

Happy Tuesday, Seekerville.

Mary Curry said...

Ruth Ann, that is a cool reason for naming him Hugh. Very cool!

Kirsten Arnold said...


This is such a fun post on a subject that can give me the most problems when starting a new book. I'm such a stickler for names and they have to fit the character's personality. I've even had characters refuse to tell me their story until I change their name, because it wasn't right.

I also can't use names already associated with people I don't care for in real life. I think I get this from my parents who had a horrible time naming my brother and I, since they were both teachers and each name could be associated with a child in their class. :o)

My first hero was easy I combined the names of two of my favorite heroes in books that inspired me to write.


Helen W said...

I am TERRIBLE at naming my characters. I'm very repetitious with starting letters and surname endings (like having a lot of '-son's). At the moment I'm not letting myself get bogged down, I just throw names in there and I'll fix it all up when my first draft is finished.

But here's a problem I have - names that can be pronounced a couple of ways. At the moment my main character is Lila - how does everyone think that is pronounced? Because I think the way in which you pronounce it will change the connotation associated with it.

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Myra, I love playing with names and was surprised how many of your tips I remembered from baby naming decades ago.

My heroine has a name based on a real person, deceased. I have changed the spelling. My hero has a long family name, you know one of those with a V after them. But he goes by a shortened version.

Some of you know my grandson has a perfect romantic name, Henderson Steele. And he has the blue eyes to go with it. The child isn't even four yet and already has the ladies following him.

Clari, love your cover. I am sending you a FB message about it.

Myra, thanks for posting the link to the excel charts. I was another who missed it the first go round.

Peace, Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, Myra, what a FUN post today!! I LOVE talking about names!!

Since I write about an Irish family, I spend all my time in Irish surnames websites and having just begun my 9th book, trust me, I have just about exhausted all my faves!!

I am, however, having some fun in book 2 of The Heart of San Francisco series that I'm currently working on because the hero is an Italian!! Kind of excited to see the sparks fly between a hot-blooded Italian police detective named Nick Barone (pronounced Ba-ron-ee, but mispronounced Barone on purpose by the heroine throughout the book) and a hot-tempered Irish lass. ;)

And I STILL laugh when I think of the original names I had for my A Passion Most Pure characters. Faith O'Connor has always been Faith O'Connor, but Collin McGuire? Bart, named after Bart Maverick, which was a favorite show of mine back when I was 12. And if you think that was bad, Charity was Del or Delatha ... and she deserved that name, I think! ;)


Glynna Kaye said...

As I'm sure Julie already knows, Margaret Mitchell originally named Scarlett PANSY O'HARA. Can you imagine?

KC Frantzen and May the K9 Spy said...

Great info - thanks!!!

And so interesting, the subtleties...

Watched a recent episode of
Golden Girls with Mom (who isn't doing very well by the way... Still... Thx for praying...).

Rose I think, had found a diary of Blanche's and they discussed the initials on it: Blanche E Devereaux, which of course spells out BED.

Mom had to pick me off the floor.

Have a wonderfully blessed day.

I need a post about naming the book itself. I'm struggling with that. Will scour the archives. :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

That's sort of funny, Julie. Where I come from Barone is pronounced BA-RONE. And people mispronounce it as BA-RONIE.

My last name RUSSO gets mispronounced like the name RUSS-OH.

Myra Johnson said...

DONNA, congratulations! You win today's prize for being NUMBER ONE to comment in Seekerville!!!

Yes, I agree, finding the right name for your characters can be tough. I've done the name changing thing midway through a story as well. Sometimes you just realize it isn't working, or you've got two character names that sound too much alike, or whatever. You'll know it when you find it!

Myra Johnson said...

WALT, I can certainly understand your dilemma. One of the hardest aspects of using foreign names, for me, anyway, is helping the reader know how they're pronounced. You don't want to be obvious about it, but you also don't want the reader going through the whole story with the wrong sounds in his/her head.

Myra Johnson said...

MARY, I just saw you were up at midnight! Yes, I hope you did go to bed and get some sleep!

I always think you have the best character names in your books--so fitting. Sophie certainly was wise, and Beth was gentle (in a tough kind of way!).

Myra Johnson said...

JEANNE, I love being able to create an endearing nickname for my hero/heroine to use as well. The hero of my next Heartsong, A Horseman's Hope, coming out later this year (I HOPE--pardon the pun!!!) is Ryan, and the heroine sometimes calls him Ry. In the book that just came out this month (A Horseman's Gift --YAY!!!), the heroine is a Latina named Filipa, but the hero calls her Fil.

Myra Johnson said...

CAROL, thanks for the name generator link--those are always fun! It's probably okay to have minor characters' names that start with the same letter, but you do have to be careful. The fact that they sound quite a bit different does help.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I had Beth do up name charts for me... I tend to use A's, B', M's, J's, S's and T's....

So the name charts are a huge help (especially in a series) of keeping names straight. Also, I've had to change a few names, but even though I change them on paper MY HEAD sometimes remembers that Heather was Carleen for two books... but that we needed to change that because there were too many hard "C's and "K's"...

When I named Kayla in Winter's End, I wanted a name a mother would pick, a mother who still had hope for her daughter's future... No matter what the mother did eventually, it gave the sense of a mother longing for a pretty name for her baby girl.

DeHollander (the studmuffin farmer from Winter's End) got his name because my son dated a beautiful girl with that last name... and it sounded like a romance hero's last name, LOL!

Meredith Brennan in A Family to Cherish just sounded good to me, and I've used lots of Irish/Scottish/Celt names in Allegany County because a lot of the original settlers were from those ethnicities.

And of course, I stick in people I love... Like Helen... (big grin here) Pepper (who is "Ginger" in Reunited Hearts) "Russo" a last name near and dear to a lot of us here, but we know her as Radcliffe... Connealy Crossing... A little girl named "Glynna" in Waiting out the Storm... And of course there's next year's spring book dedicated to my friend Lisa... And the heroine's name is "Lisa Fitzgerald" and her hero is Lt. Alexander Steele (named by and for our own Julie Hilton Steele).

I have lots of fun with names!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Myra, Loved this post. Finding names is so much fun. Its like a puzzle.

When I started writing though I had no idea of the importance of a name and all the rules about using names. Like don't use names of people you know.

One of my first published books I used a name of someone I knew as it is a very unusual name and I liked it.

Well I had no idea what I had done because my family and close friends were horrified. They thought I harbored romantic feelings for that person.
EEEWWWW!!!! It wasn't that at all. I just liked the name.
Thankfully hubby understood.

So I learned the hard way to be VERY CAREFUL when selecting names and be sure it is someone you don't know.

Kirsten I can imagine the problems your parents had with naming you and your brother. They did a good job with your name. I like it. Too bad I know you now as it would have been a great heroine's name. smile

Sandra Leesmith said...

Vince, good job on the names.

I'm with Nancy. Was the Incontinent Match intentional?

I would wager its this silly computer system that thinks it needs to spell words for you. I hate that. It wastes so much time going back and rewriting the word it thinks you want.

Myra Johnson said...

VINCE, good try on matching characters to book titles! However, I don't see Trent Michaels anywhere on MY list.

And Alyssa Langley is NOT from A Horseman's Heart.

Oh, and, um...I don't think An INCONTINENT Match has been written yet--LOL!!!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Myra, forgot to thank you for the links to find names.

Great resource.

Myra Johnson said...

SHARYN, you're right--Jane Austen's characters had wonderfully memorable names. They do say a lot about the characters, don't they?

CLARI, what a great idea to use old census records! I'm sure those provide a wealth of inspiration for character names related to a specific time frame. Something to remember when looking for era-appropriate names is that you're not necessarily talking about the character's present, but his/her past--when the character was actually born.

Joanne Sher said...

I LOVE this post. So very helpful!

The twin brother of my MC in my current WIP (Biblical fiction) is named Amal. His name has two different meanings - one Arab (his ancestry) and one Hebrew (who he lives among). The Arabic meaning is hope, and the Hebrew one is work. It TOTALLY fits his role within his family vs. his role as a servant to the Hebrews. Cool, eh?

Myra Johnson said...

MARY CLINE--glad you caught Vince's faux pas!

IOLA, "Kip" happens to be the hero of my book A Horseman's Heart. I just liked the sound of it. He doesn't nap very much, though--LOL! Oh, and I can't imagine that Paul character--not even going to attempt to retype his full name here--but the initials? P-I-G! Good grief.

Myra Johnson said...

TINA, you're right, Seekerville just isn't the same without our resident male writers, Vince and Walt.

RUTH ANN, how sweet! Hugh=hue! That's a lovely play on words.

MARY CURRY, I would have a hard time writing very with just "insert name" for a major character. They aren't real to me until they're named. Needing to name a character, even a minor one, can stop me cold until I make a choice.

Myra Johnson said...

KIRSTEN, I completely agree. I just can't name a character after someone I don't care for in real life. Now the villain? That's another story altogether! (Although I DO have to be careful with that one!)

Myra Johnson said...

HELEN W, name pronunciation is something I'm always thinking about, too. In my debut novel, One Imperfect Christmas, the couple's daughter is Lissa, pronounced like Melissa with the Me- cut off. But others who've read it aloud have pronounced it LEE-sa.

I would pronounce your character's name LY-la. Is that wrong or right? With my character Filipa in A Horseman's Gift, I actually have her thinking about how people mispronounce her name and wondering why they can't get it right. I use phonetic spellings to get the point across.

Myra Johnson said...

JULIE H.S., oh my goodness, I LOVE your grandson's name! He's destined to be a romantic hero!

JULIE LESSMAN (wow, 2 Julies in a row!), I cannot imagine your characters with those other names--sheesh! Once names are embedded in our brains and attached to certain people (real or otherwise), it's next to impossible to think of them any differently. And I bet you are having fun with that Italian police detective!

Myra Johnson said...

GLYNNA, uh, no, in Scarlett's case, a rose--make that a pansy--by any other name would definitely NOT smell as sweet.

KC, that's hilarious!!! I never made the connection with Blanche's initials! Oh, how appropriate! Bet that was indeed a fun day with your mom!

Myra Johnson said...

RUTHY, I love your name choices and how you come by them. Oh, and anyone who reads many Seeker books will notice several familiar names sprinkled in throughout. That's part of the fun, isn't it?

SANDRA, I remember subconsciously naming a villainous character once for a girl at our church I didn't much care for. Fortunately (at least in this case), that story lies among the rejections in the bottom of my filing cabinet. It was from a MUCH earlier period of my writing career.

Myra Johnson said...

JOANNE, I really like how you've blended the two meanings of Amal into one character that totally suits his background and situation! Very cool indeed!!

Jennifer Thompson said...

Good morning!

When I pick character names, I choose names of people I have never met.

If I think of a name and it's the same as a boy I knew in 7th grade, I can't use it.

It's hard for me to create a unique character because I think of that person and their personality. And I want a different personality.


Connie Queen said...

I have one character's name that I'm going to have to change. A couple of judges made comments they didn't like it.
Doak Coley.
He was a captain in the Civil War, hence Captain Coley. But if I say "Doak" outloud, it sounds like "Dope."

1. Marti Atkins (yes, she's a girl.)
2. Grady McKnight
3. Kathryn Tanner (Aka Wild Kat) (historical)
4. LillieAnn Cotton who wants to get out of Smalltown USA. Not with that name, Sweety.
5. Jack Ramsey
6. Connor Callahan. The name of my son, kid #3.
7. Jack Thunder. I want to steal this name so bad, but a writer friend of mine thought of it first.
8. Ransom. Writer friend's grandson. They call him Handsome Ransom. So cute.


Janet Dean said...

Fun post, Myra! I struggle with naming characters. Too often I start the names with the same letters. I don't realize it until a critique partner points it out.

I've named characters to fit occupations or their persona. Like Doctor Wellman in Last Minute Bride. The names Oscar and Cecil Moore in The Substitute Bride and An Inconvenient Match conjure up an image.

Vince, An Incontinent Match is coming once the h/h age. ;-)


Connie Queen said...

Told my husband a long time ago, if I die first, I don't mind if he remarries as long as her name is not one of the 3 "b's".

Bunny, Bambi, or Bubbles.

Like I'd really have a say anyway.


Myra Johnson said...

JENNIFER, you're smart not to use names of people you know. That can get in the way of seeing the character as his/her own person. (Not to mention save you a lawsuit or two--LOL!)

CONNIE, unfortunately, I have to agree with your contest judges about the name Doak Coley. Is he the hero, or a secondary character?

And, oh my, "Handsome Ransom"? Too cute!

Myra Johnson said...

JANET, I can see the blurb already:

AN INCONTINENT MATCH. Is it possible to find true love on the Depends aisle? When their hands met as they reached for the same box, it felt like a current of electricity . . . or was it only a sudden urge to find a restroom?

Connie Queen said...

Yes, Myra, Doak is the hero. I have put that book on the backburner anyway. If I decide to bring it back out, I'll change the name.

Jamie Adams said...

This post is just what I needed. I have a hard time naming characters. I find myself flipping back and forth half way through the book. I think if I put more thought into them they might stick.

I downloaded your Excel Novel Planning Workbook! It's great, I've been 'playing' with it all morning. Thanks!

Myra Johnson said...

CONNIE, I know you'll come up with the right name for your captain. Good luck!

JAMIE, I'm glad you're having fun with my spreadsheets! Remember, though, they're just tools. Use the ones that best suit your needs, and feel free to tweak them in whatever way works best for the project.

Jan Drexler said...

Names are so much fun!

Since I write Amish historicals, my name choices are interesting. I usually go to my genealogy for good names for my northern Indiana characters, although Ruthy (in my current WIP) is from our own Ruth Logan Herne.

(Sorry, but there aren't too many Seekers who have names the Amish would use - no Julie or Tina, etc. Mary works though!)

An interesting thing about Amish names is that you can tell how "worldly" a family is by the names they choose. If you have boys named Eben, Isaac, Hezekiah and the like, you know that family is very different from the one who names their sons Wayne, Lavern or Leroy.

Along with the names in my genealogy, I also pour through "The Budget" - an Amish newspaper. Because there are contributors from all over the country, I can find names that are more popular in Pennsylvania for a Lancaster Co. resident or a popular Ohio name for someone from Holmes Co.

In my WIP (currently on hiatus until I get my edits done), there's a family of ten children. Now naming them was fun!

Clari Dees said...

You all come up with some very cool names!

Julie, I love Henderson Steele. And blue eyes? That four year old is already a heart breaker isn't he?

Connie, Handsome Ransom. That made me smile! :-)

Myra Johnson said...

JAN, it sounds like you've found some very helpful name sources. Interesting how the names Amish parents choose might reflect their "worldliness."

Also trying to picture Julie and Tina in white bonnets!

Carol Moncado said...

I have a Ruthie. She's named after the kid on 7th Heaven and has nothing to do with our Ruthy. Yep. That's my story and I'm sticking to it ;).

I also have Travis Harders [Travis after the now-deceased manager from my Panera :(] and Harders... well, who knows where that came from ;).

Same with Abi Connealy.

Or their daughter Kimberly Connealy-Harders.

Or Travis parents Keith and Julie Harders...

Or my heroine Pepper. [She's Pretty Pirate Pepper because she has Bell's Palsy and an eye patch. I forget her last name though...]

Or my fictional character Mya Elizabeth Linscott. The last name apparently comes from one of Mary's neighbors ;).

I KNOW there's more, but that's it off the top of my head... :D

Myra Johnson said...

CAROL, I love your names--and where they came from! Too clever!

And how sweet of you to honor your late Panera manager. That's really touching.

Helen Gray said...

I've been known to take the names of people I actually know and "distort" them. For instance, I had a principal whose name was Doug, with a last name that started with a K. (And Ken is my hubby's name.) So when I named the principal in a book, I named him Ken Douglas.

I have a lot of Seekerville books, and I teehee over the names that pop up.

Now back to that place y'all describe as the writing cave.


Myra Johnson said...

HELEN, enjoy your writing cave! That's where I'm headed right now--with regular breaks to check in at Seekerville, of course. And I do the same thing--use names of people who are special to me but mix them up somehow.

Digging for Pearls said...

Great post Myra. My favorite name (nickname) is from my current WIP. The heroine's name is Jules.

Jodie Wolfe

Myra Johnson said...

JODIE, I love the nickname "Jules." Makes me think of jewels. ;>D

Mary Cline said...

I think the names I choose are too simple and boring. I'm like KC, I have trouble with titles too. So I am using the boring name of the heroine as the book title so that is double boring. The real problem I am having right now is naming a dog. The working name is Jimbo but he is really a cooler dog than that, he needs a better name.

This is very helpful, good reminders. Thanks Myra!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Hah, I LOVE that Vince added me to the list, Myra!


Alyssa Langley is the heroine of Reunited Hearts.

And Trent Michaels is the hero of the same book.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

And isn't that funny how Sandra and I see that differently????

Or maybe it's because no one in this world things I'm looking to date Pepper.

Or Helen.

Not that there's anything WRONG with that.

(Ruthy grin here)

So, picking names... to me they have to suit the character in the book, the mindset I've mentally developed for them, and the personality quirks I'm envisioning.

Sandra, Sterling is a great example of that. Strong. Focused. Polished.

So I like names to resound with emotion to me... because the reader should catch some of that.

And Twila Beasley, a secondary character for next year, is a wonderful old gal with a great name. Wouldn't the lot o' youse just LOVE to have a neighbor named Twila Beasley???

Mary Connealy said...

That matching game is hard, Myra. I had trouble even matching my own.
I finally looked at the titles of the books, realized that YES there was a Mary Connealy in there and looked a lot closer to find my character.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Jan, darling...

Using Ruthy is more than enough, dear heart, to make us smile...

Why on earth would you want to use Mary????


Thank you for using Ruthy/Ruthie! I'm just grinning ear to ear while I drop off dark chocolate brownies studded with peanut butter and milk chocolate (Ghirardelli) chips and frosted with peanut butter fudge frosting....


Lunch and supper.


Myra Johnson said...

RUTHY . . . Twila Beasley. Does have an interesting ring to it. Sometimes it's even more fun coming up with names for minor characters than it is for the hero and heroine!

And I love Sandra's "Sterling" too! Just love the connotations of that name!

But I think there are way too many Ruthys running around in books these days. I mean, really.

Myra Johnson said...

MARY, you are too funny. Can't even remember your own (dead) villain's name! I just like the way Wendell Gilliland rolls off the tongue.

Oh, as I was telling Janet the other day, I'm reading a book right now with a minor character named Myra Dean. Don't you love it??? And we don't even personally know this author (Robert Whitlow, award-winning Christian writer), not to mention it isn't a recent book!

Mary Connealy said...

I tend to use one syllable men's names :
Clay, Gabe, Wade, Rafe, Seth, Jake, Joe, Red, Paul, Gray (real name Graham).
I like long vowel sounds. I guess that sounds strong to me:
Silas, Ethan, Michael, Logan, Wyatt, Tyler, Elijah whom I called Eli.

Women, well, lately I've just been naming them after Seekers. I'm on a role. Julia, Audra, Ruthy, Tina (coming up). I've got a little girl named Janet and I had a Missy but she hit the cutting room floor I'm afraid. I had a Carrie (close to Cara???) I'll bring her back someday.
It gives me a wealth of women's names, I tell ya!!!
I did a Myra once, who coincidentally died in a nursing home. It was unspoken but I think we all understood that she was incontinent.

I may try a Myra heroine. My trouble there is I can't spell it. It always twists into Mary, which is an anagram for Myra and a word I'm my more used to spelling!!!
But I will persevere.

Nancy Kimball said...

I'll be honest I really wanted to cheat because I've read over half those books, but these were the ones I remembered:
Luke McGee - A Hope Undaunted
Ryan Jones - Oklahoma Reunion

Mary Curry - CONGRATS on the double final in Duel on the Delta! (I hope you weren't planning to keep that a secret, hehe)

I have a clandestine addiction to names that begin with C and T. But I'm trying to rehab myself. Slowly.

My most special names are in my first manuscript. My hero is named Jonathan for the biblical Jonathan, who is to me the most unsung hero of the Old Testament. Without Jonathan, there would have been no King David. There are only two things in that MS I would ever refuse to change, and that's one of them. In that same MS, the young woman who is instrumental in restoring his faith is named Nessa, which means pure in Greek and miracle in Hebrew. That was on purpose. ;-)

Myra your post is eerily on time. Just today I pulled a great name from a list of common 1st Century names because it sounded really great for a "good guy" secondary character in my WIP.


I was all excited it wasn't a C or T name, lol, but thank the merciful God I researched it out. Had it made it through to the reader, one of them would have let me know in a scathing review on Amazon no doubt that Phanes is a pagan god of a specific sin. So yes, names = super important. :-p

Mary Connealy said...

I had a Schuyler once. There's a town near me named Schuyler and the first syllable is pronounced the same as SKY.
Wouldn't that make a great name? Nickname 'Sky'.
Except no one could pronounce it. SKYOO-ler? maybe?
I changed his name to Logan. But still, SKY for a nickname, how great would that have been? He was my artist in Wrangler in Petticoats. An artist who loved painting outdoors named SKY.

Mary Connealy said...

I guess I could have just named him Skyler.
that could work.
And my wip right now had bad guys named Flint and Simon...they're tough.

Vince said...

Hi Tina:

I’ve not been in a man cave. I’ve been writing 8 to 10 hours a day, for the last ten days, recreating (with new exams) ten three-hour real estate correspondence courses which are up for certification again. If I’d work this hard on a novel, I think I’d be published by now!

P.S. Still two courses to go, one I hope, is a brand new one. So back to the salt mines.

Mary Connealy said...

And the heroes in the series, which begins releasing next February so forget all about it for a long time are:

What a team they are. And they've got a parson friend named Jonas. I'm so in love with that name I will use it for a hero someday, and Big John the Texas Ranger.

The heroines in this series are:
Ruthy (workaholic red head-that's a coincidence Ruthy!)
Glynna (long suffering widow--after the heroes kill her worthless husband)
Tina (persnickety reformer--no resemblance at all, Teenster)

Oh, yeah, I'm havin' fun.

Vince said...

Hi Myra:

OMG! I did that post last night in 10 minutes almost all from memory. I knew that Trent was the hero in Ruth’s book. What I didn’t bother to do is see if his name was on the list. I was also set back when I saw Wendell Gilliland. (Why would you pick Wendell?) I was really wishing for Sidney but he was not there. : (

I never even proofed that post. I found out that if the cursor is outside the text box and you hit enter, it will post the entry! You don’t have to hit the Publish button at all! I never even read the post after I posted it. But then, that’s probably obvious.

Not only was there “An Incontinent Match” which is the first book in the new “Golden Years” subgenre but I also wrote Rocky Mt. Hero. That was meant to be spelled out later. That post was a true first draft.


P.S. I think next time it would be fun to match pet names to the book titles.

Vince said...

Hi Julie:

I think I like your name selections the best of all but then you have a lot of Irish names (like mine) and your books are long enough so that I get read each name hundreds of times per book.

BTW: After living in Italy for three years, I’m pretty sure that no Italian would ever pronounce ‘Barone’ as Ba-ron-ee. It’s Ba-ron-nay. Ba-ron-ee is written Baroni ala “Ronzoni Sono Buoni” (do you remember this commercial?)

I would be very happy to look over any of your Italian if you’d like. I know a lot of bad words to avoid.


Myra Johnson said...


I suppose she could be the heroine of Vince's AN INCONTINENT MATCH, however.

Myra Johnson said...

NANCY, isn't it funny how we can get attached to certain letter sounds? And really, Phanes is the name of a pagan god? That's too bad, because it really is a cool-sounding name.

Myra Johnson said...

MARY, I just love your bad-guy names. They are always perfectly fitting.

Myra Johnson said...

VINCE!!! You matched up all those character/title names from memory??? I am MAJORLY impressed!

But I'm tellin' ya, it's gonna be a long, long, looooooooong time before we let you live down AN INCONTINENT MATCH.

Vince said...

Hi Ruth:

You asked this question: “Why on earth would you want to use Mary????”

If I remember right, wasn’t Mary Graham in “Small-Town Hearts” one of the most sympathetic and likeable characters in all of your works?

Trent made such a strong impression that I saw him there when he was, in fact, not there.

I can’t wait to read your next book when it comes available on the first for Kindle. My Sony eReader will not make the type big enough for me to read anymore. I have to wait for Kindle. : (


Anonymous said...

Hi Myra and all of Seekerville!
I do like having the choice to name characters in stories I write.
Appreciate the post and as for the characters at the bottom, Luke McGee is definitely in A Hope Undaunted (Would you believe that He's the one I kept thinking about while reading this post? Oh yeah, His name goes with his personality!.) Wendell G. is in Mary Connealy's Out of Control and Livy O'Brien is in one of Ruth's books? I think.
The cover for a Horseman's Heart looks pretty good; congrats!

Ganise (thanx but I think I'll let the published and very soon to be published writers win this one..)

Jan Drexler said...

I'm having so much fun reading these comments - now that I'm out of my cave for the day.

78 pages edited today. I'm surprised the sun is still shining.

Walt mentioned medieval Japanese names being hard - just like Dostoevsky and Tolstoy! I just gave all those guys new names in my head.

and ooooh! Did I see another Mary Connealy book in the works a few comments back? Yay!

And finally (before I go feed my family), a belated congrats to contest winners and finalists yesterday! Where would we be without the great education and encouragement from Seekerville?

(I know I wouldn't be playing in my cave all day, for one thing!)

~sharyn said...

I'm having so much fun reading everyone's character names that I thought I'd share the ones I've chosen for my WIP. The genre is contemporary women's fiction & the book is about 3 women dealing with singleness after 40. Here are their names, with a brief description:

Catie Delaney (48, workaholic, sarcastic, short auburn hair, petite)

Jolene Woods (46, African-American, social worker, tons of thick curly hair, curvaceous but athletic)

Uli Odell (almost 40, blonde, slightly overweight, an artist who's underemployed &, I think it goes without saying, a dreamer)

There's a fourth friend who's a supporting character but very important to the plot named Tess Carpenter (32, planning to head to the mission field, the kind of woman everyone loves with brown hair and a bright smile. Though I might give her red hair. We'll see. :).

Thoughts? Feedback?

And, if you want to know more, please feel free to visit my novel Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Spinstered



Debby Giusti said...

Myra, I needed this post! Thank you! Wonderful info that I'm saving.

You may recall my struggle with my heroine...Sylvia who became Sophia and eventually Stephanie. Now I won't have to pull my hair out when I name my next characters.

Also love the chart to keep track of everyone! You are so smart. Almost as smart as Tina! :)


Myra Johnson said...

GANISE, nice to see you today! You got Luke and Wendell correct, but Livy is from Pam's book, Stealing Jake. I agree, though--Luke McGee is truly an unforgettable hero!

JAN, you did good! I've also been working on edits the past few days for my next book, A Horseman's Hope. It felt really good to finish up and return them to the editor this afternoon. Now I'm trying to make progress on my wip. Only 800+ words today, which is well beneath my daily goal, but at least the story is starting to take shape.

Donna said...

Myra, I don't know how I missed your Novel Planning Worksheets. I think they are great, thank you for including them!

Sharyn, I really like Tess Carpenter and Jolene Woods is great too!

Congrats to the finalists and contest winners!!

Myra Johnson said...

SHARYN, those are some great names! They have nice rhythms.

DEBBY, I'm "almost" as smart as Tina???? I guess I can live with that--LOL!

Vince said...

From the English Collins dictionary:


1. unbridled, unchecked, uncontrollable, uncontrolled, ungovernable, ungoverned, unrestrained

2. debauched, lascivious, lecherous, lewd, loose, lustful, profligate, promiscuous, unchaste, wanton

Used as an adjective, as it was in “An Incontinent Match” this title could well apply to: “Days of Wine and Roses” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

Just a thought.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Honey, there are never enough Ruthy's... And they're all kind of snarky but smart and really good looking.


Or maybe that's just how I SEE THEM, LOL!

Debby Giusti said...

Myra, honey, I was just kidding!!! :)

The hero in my current WIP: Brody Goodman.

Secondary character: Will Upton. He's my heroine's brother.

Heroine: Stephanie Upton.

Must check my syllables with your rule of thumbs, Smart Myra! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Or is that "rule of thumb," Smart, Smart Myra?

Debby Giusti said...

Smart, Smart Myra AKA Grammar Queen! Your majesty, have you forgiven your humble subject for her gauche mistake?

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Carol, I'm laughing out loud!

I loved that "Ruthy" on Seventh Heaven. What a great character, wasn't she? Awesome.

And I love that there are little Ruthy's running around again. 'Bout time.

Myra, I read an online article (blog) about naming heroines from Harlequin and it said do not name your heroine Myra if you're writing contemps because the reader sees OLD when it reads "Myra"...

Which stinks, but I think it's kind of right, for the moment. It's like Ida, Myrtle, Mabel... but I'm naming a little girl Myra or Mary Myra or something with your name because we need to start a NEW MYRA GENERATION TREND.

Like they tried in some TV show, although I don't see a whole lot of "Mabels" running around. Now "Emma" from Friends????

A whole lot of Emmas out there!

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...


OK, now that that is out of my system, I just have to say I absolutely adore studying the etymology of names, and picking just the right one for my characters. I have had a baby name book since I was about seven years old, and it has seen better days. I have newer ones, too. I also love cemetery walking, and finding old names on tombstones to "borrow" for a character. One of my favorites is Meloria, a Gypsy Queen who died here in Omaha back in the early 1900s.

Such a fun post! Thanks, Myra!

Myra Johnson said...

VINCE, you're scaring me. I'm not sure we should perseverate this conversation.

Interesting. I just learned that word from Ruthy, but it's showing up with the red dotted underline when I type it. It's in my computer dictionary, though.

Myra Johnson said...

DEBBY, I think it's "rules of thumb"--LOL!

Smart, Smart, SMART Myra

Myra Johnson said...

STEPHANIE, ooooh, Meloria! I like it! I wonder if she knew Madame Zelda. You know, for a while I collected interesting names from obituaries in the daily paper. And I came across some really different ones!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Ah, Vince, you got me! Mary was the family lineage name for the Sandoval/Graham/Romesser family that developed Grandma Mary's Candies....

And by the way, using the Romesser name in the book brought me into touch with long-lost Romesser cousins from just outside Allegany County! How cool is that????? They came to a book signing two weeks ago and we're having a fun cousin reunion!

But I love to jab Connealy, even though I used her name ad nauseum.

I do believe you called me out on that, like a hundred times. My "M" fetish.

Hey, Love that you're developing new class stuff. That keeps us strong and motivated and somewhat short of brain dead.

And do you need a large print hard copy? I still owe you sponge candy and can't send it (again, I'm a dork) until it's cool in the fall but mine kept getting gray spots from hurrying the chocolate. Who, me?




And I thought it was pretty cool of you to include me in Myra's list, since she conveniently left me out...

And I have NEVER ONCE mentioned her incontinence online. Because I'm that nice. Nor have I killed her in a book.

I have been killed a couple of times, I believe.

I may or may not be paranoid.

Myra Johnson said...

Old smart Myra.

Yep, that's me.

Seriously, I am not offended (much) that no one wants to name their contemporary heroine for me. Even as a kid, I wanted to change my name to Amy Elizabeth. Doesn't that sound so much more romantic?

So, um, tell me. Why does Kyra (as in Kyra Sedgwick) sound so much more modern than Myra? I think it's the K.

Myra Johnson said...

I did NOT leave you out, Ruthy!!! Didn't you see Alyssa Langley on the list???

Cindy W. said...

Wow! Good food for thought. Guess I can't just pick a name because I like it. Shucks! Really, thank you for the great post!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


Vince said...

Hi Myra:

My intention was to mitigate not to proliferate.

BTW: I think it is my fault that Ruth thinks you left her out. People should not assume that my selections were right. Also, the heroine in “Reunited Hearts” was almost always called Lyssa. Besides, with Trent in that story, who’s paying attention to the heroine? : )


Debby Giusti said...

You're right, Vince. Trent was yummy! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Stephanie, you know I love your name, don't you? You're my next heroine! Really!


Piper said...


I love talking about naming and onomastics! I think it is because I have such an unusual name myself (even though it is charting higher every year now with lots of young ones with my name!) Thanks for the blog and for reposting the novel planning spreadsheets. I had never seen them before.


Myra Johnson said...

CINDY, I'm sorry, but it's true. You can't use a name for your character just because you like it. Although liking the name does make the story easier to write!

PIPER, you just gave me a new word I need to look up! I love expanding my vocabulary! And I love your name, BTW! Have fun with the spreadsheets!

Pam Hillman said...

I've been on an online chat with virus software tech support. Can anybody hand me a tub of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream!!!!!


Myra, loved the little game. I think I matched about half of the titles and names up for sure.

Too fun, if I wasn't so mad at tech support!

Mary Connealy said...

Myra died a natural death of old age in dire poverty in my book. You can't say I killed her, that would be unkind of me and I an always very kind.

Mary Connealy said...

My hero bought Old Myra's house and had no time to fix it up so he moved his poor beleagured wife into that dump and went back to work.

The Bossy Bridegroom.

Mary Connealy said...

What new word did Piper use...oh, I see it. Spreadsheets.

I'll go look that up too, someday.

Nancy C said...

Gasping for air as I come up from edits ...

Myra, those spreadsheets are fantastic. I'm not sure how I missed them the first time. Thanks for sharing them.

In my 1880s Texas stories, some of the best first names have come from historic cemeteries. For my Texas contemporaries, I've been known to use town, county, and street names. Hence character names like Reed Throckmorton, Tye Sloan, and Jewel Grayson. Someday I would love to use the woman's name Serephina :-)

Often, though, the character and name come about simultaneously. Love it when that happens!

Nancy C

Ausjenny said...

Helen I would read Lila as Lee la, but thats cos we have a friend called Lilo who is lee low,

I too find with names that I dont know I am trying to work out how they are pronounced. Its like a friend Jana I always thought it was yar na.
but its actually Jane a.
I love when authors give the pronunciation. Darlene Franklin did it really well in a book when the girl said her name and the hero in his thinking re said it the way it is pronounced.

Has anyone read a book with your name in it. I was reading a christmas novella and my name was a secondary character I read Jenny Blake and it was a surreal moment.

Nancy C said...

Memorable names from books --

Hewey Calloway in Elmer Kelton's "The Good Old Boys." Hewey was coming to grips with the fact the open range, and cowboy life as he had lived it, had changed. Something about the last name Calloway evoked the 'gone away' aspect for me.

Jim Chee in Tony Hillerman's novels. The name reflected the unadorned way the character had of expressing things and the crisp, sharply defined landscape in that part of the country.

Well, and Atticus Finch because how could he have any other name? :-)

Nancy C

Cara Lynn James said...

Loved your post, Myra! I enjoy coming up with names for my characters. I can always come up with unfashionable names (to us) since I write about the turn-of-the-century and they fit some of the secondary characters and villains. For the h&h I have to search for names that sound pleasant to our 21st century ears, and many of them don't!

Helen W said...

Myra - yes, you have the pronunciation right! I have thought about incorporating the mispronunciation in the story. But I guess I'll have to see how much it matters :)

Audra Harders said...

Myra, what a fun post. There are so many cute names out there, but they have feel right for the character.

My daughter went to pre school with a little girl named Shea (pronounced SHAY) Rasmussen. I'm waiting for just the right character to fit her name.

Great points, M!

Audra Harders said...

Still snickering over the whole "incontinent" thing. Hee...

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, all! Sorry I've been AWOL but was watching a movie with hubby. Now I'm about to turn into a pumpkin. I'll check back in the morning and respond to the later arrivals. 'Night, all!!

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Debby, I'm flattered you're using my name! I've always liked it, although most people call me Steph. My parents named me Stephanie because it means "crowned one," which fit perfectly with my last name of Queen!

Julie Lessman said...

GLYNNA ...Noooooooo!!! I'd forgotten Margaret did that!! Oh, "Pansy" makes me puke ... and question Margaret's sanity or writing ability ... one of the two!! :)

And, TINA ... I think I will do it your way, darlin', because the heroine butchers his name all the time by calling him "Mr. Ga-roan" because he's a grouch and calling him Mr. Baloney to mock Baron-ee. But the reason I went with the Baronee pronunciation is that is how an Italian website said it would be pronounced!! Thanks for changing my mind. :)


Julie Lessman said...

MYRA SAID: "Also trying to picture Julie and Tina in white bonnets!"

Okay, I just got sick. :| I'm not exactly the bonnet type ... tend to like a wee bit of cleavage, you know? But if wearing a bonnet would up my sales, who knows??? ;)


Julie Lessman said...

CAROL SAID: "Keith and Julie Harders..." Sounds like a good mix to me, darlin' ... ;)

VINCE SAID: "I would be very happy to look over any of your Italian if you’d like. I know a lot of bad words to avoid."

LOL ... I think I'll stick with Irish, Vince, since I know the pitfalls there, but thanks for the offer. I almost feel like I'm cheating on somebody going with an Italian hero ... and I don't mean a sandwich! :)


Janet Kerr said...

There are so many different views about names. Some think they don't matter. But, for me they do. Every name has a meaning & I like to use names in this regard.
Thanks for the interesting post.

marybelle said...

I've just re-read LORD OF THE RINGS. The character names are superb. They just fit so beautifully.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

ROF, LOL!!!!

Vince, you nailed us. I'm not even sure why we PUT heroines in stories, right?????

Ah. Trent. sigh.... ;)

Myra, I totally did miss it because I'm a dork. And not nearly as smart as you or Tina.

ROF, SLOL, probably/possibly drooling uncontrollably because of the smart wars going on...

And Kyra/Myra...

It's in the pronunciation, right? Kyra is from the Celtic "Ciarra" with the hard "C"... so it was kind of like "K-yarra!" with a slightly rolled 'r'...

My niece is Kiera, sounds the same, but different spelling. And a lot of the "Sierra's" you see/meet/hear about don't realize their parents saw "Ciarra" and thought they were seeing a different spelling of "Sierra"...

And that's way more than you wanted to know about naming Celtic babies, right?

Anyway, how 'bout if I use Moira for a Celtic gal? It's "Myra" with the old spelling, and I could get away with that.

Or if we change the spelling to Maira....

We can get around this Myra, m'love and give you a character that isn't wearing Depends or setting her teeth on a ledge at night.


Emily Ann Benedict said...

Wow, I didn't know there was a book out just for character names. I usually end up on google or the US census. Thanks for the advice.

Myra Johnson said...

LOL, Julie, I'll let you, Tina, and Vince hash out the Italian pronunciation thing!

JANET KERR, thanks for stopping by! I agree--I prefer to use names with meanings significant to my characterizations.

MARYBELLE, I just love the Lord of the Rings books! And the movies! I'm sure I will reread AND rewatch them many times yet.

Myra Johnson said...

Oh, RUTHY, I think Moira is a charming name! If you name a heroine that, I will be honored in secret. :)

EMILY ANN, there are scads of name books available. I have at least four on my bookshelf next to my computer. Each one is slightly different in the types of names it includes.

Myra Johnson said...

PAM, did you get your tech support issues worked out? I just HATE having to make those calls! Send me to the Apple Genius Bar any day!

MARY, I hate to tell you this, but the word "spreadsheets" has been around awhile. And it doesn't refer to making the bed.

Myra Johnson said...

NANCY C, glad you like the Excel spreadsheets! (Maybe you can give Mary some pointers???) I like the idea of getting names from historic cemeteries. Just walking through them is fascinating!

And Jim Chee--yes, a perfect name for the character! I've enjoyed Hillerman's novels!

Myra Johnson said...

AUSJENNY, yes, in fact, Richard Mabry named a character Myra Johnson in one of his medical mysteries. I was very flattered because I knew it was "me." Doc Mabry was my ENT back in the '80s, and we still chuckle over the fact that now both of us are published novelists--and both made our debut with Abingdon Press.

Myra Johnson said...

CARA, your character names are quite fashionable for the era you write about! But I agree--sometimes names from earlier times just don't sound as pleasant to modern ears. You've chosen some lovely ones, though.

AUDRA, I like the name Shea, and thanks for giving the pronunciation. It reminded me I am never sure how to pronounce the name Rhea. Is it Ray or Ree-a?

Carol N. said...

Hi Myra,

Thanks so much for your insight on this topic. And thanks for sharing your Novel Planning Worksheets. As I'm still new to writing this promises to be a tremendous help.

Please enter me in the drawing for Sherrilyn Kenyon’s The Writer’s Digest Character-Naming Sourcebook.

Thanks again and God bless!

Carol Nemeth

~sharyn said...

Hello, again!

Quick name question: Would calling the bad guy in my book Cole Darke be too obvious?


Katie Larink said...

Great post! Names are fascinating to me even if I have a hard time coming up with them often.

Frequently, I will look up popular names from the era I am writing in. I will then either pick one of those names that fits well with the temperament of my characters, or I will judge what the sound of names was in that time and go from there.

Coming up with names for fantasy or sci-fi novels is always a blast, too! I love working out my own system of letters for a particular made-up region and putting them together to form a name. It's a lot of fun, even though it can be taxing.

For my latest WIP (a dysotopian novel), my main character's name is Haven. Because of the context and characteristics she possesses, her name fits very well! She's a one-in-a-million person in a government-controlled environment and has a chance to save everyone from the brainwashing they go through every day. The dictionary definition of haven is as follows:
1.a harbor or port.
2.any place of shelter and safety

Obviously, her name fits more with the second definition in that she will ultimately bring shelter and safety to the people. I suppose the first definition could fit with her name in a different way. Hmmm...she's the safety a harbor/port can provide amongst a stormy sea? ;)

Myra Johnson said...

CAROL N, welcome to the crazy world of writers! I hope you'll find my spreadsheets helpful.

SHARYN, I would have to say that, yes, "Cole Darke" is kind of obvious for a villain. However, it might be just fine in a purely allegorical story, or even fantasy/sci-fi. At any rate, it is very creative!

KATIE, I think "Haven" is a very cool name! I bet it is fun inventing unique names for a fantasy. Your story sounds fascinating!