View Full Version : The Romance of a Name–or how easy is it to screw up a hero’s image?

July 28th, 2010, 01:09 PM
Story lines are delicately crafted, edited, shaped and molded. An author spends months going over each chapter, replaying each scene in their head, agonizing over each precious phrase, breath, and look. Neither do character names just fall from an author with absolute ease. The name of the characters have to, literally, leap from the pages of a book. Many of you may shake your head and think the name of the leading man or female is something that just pops into a writer’s mind and Viola! we have it.
Oh, boy, I wish it was that simple.
Character names are something that I mull over for days—really. I liken it to giving a person on paper the same consideration as I would in naming one of my children. It is a procedure that is carefully thought out, nixed a half dozen times, then graciously remodeled, before being accepted. I have to have a name that flows, blends, and makes me happy. I want a name that, when you think of it, you automatically envision my character.
If you have read my contemporary novel, My Lord Raven, my lead character’s name was an item that I had never changed. Even after all the years I spent writing the romance, Dante was the perfect name for a six foot five man with the body of a Greek god and piercing eyes of sapphire. His name justfits him.
There is a romance to a name that says volumes about the person. We, as humans, are conditioned to envision an entire persona in the development of a single name.
For example:
There was a pretty popular undead character in a best selling book and extremely popular movie over the past few summers. (OMG—I can already hear the squeal of excited teenage females as I write these words). This young and deathly pale hero’s name brings a sigh to many a teenager’s lips and that dreamy look will seep into their eyes. Why? His name, and that of his rival, are simple. In fact, they’re familiar monikers among many males and so easy to remember. In five or six years, there will probably be an influx of Kindergarten aged boys, all with this particular male character’s (or his rival’s) name. How many young darlings will have the name of the lady the two wish to win?
Would our darling young vampire have been as popular if his name would have been Brutus, Percival, Nigel or Leslie?
Probably not.
Why? It’s simple. Just as we are mentally stimulated to purchase popcorn the moment we walk into a movie theater, we are conditioned to envision the person behind the name.
I hear the name Bob and I immediate ‘see’ the character from The Dresden Files; Michael? A burned spy with a heart of gold, as only imaginable from the hit television series, Burn Notice. Shanna has to be an exotic strawberry blonde with curves to die for; Nigel loves to read and wears tweed; Anton is a delicately boned man that walks on the toes of his feet, due to years of classic dance instruction; Desmodina is a seductive minx with age old charm; Bethany is angelic; Gabriel has the touch of an angel, but could be something more dark….I’m certain you are beginning to understand.
Is “name programming” fair? Most certainly not. Since our youth, we judge a person (sight unseen) from their name.
Next time you read over the synopsis of a book, consider this:
Change the lead character’s names. Pick two names that you personally hate.
Would you even think about purchasing it?
Many of us have a favorite novel, somewhere among the piles of books that may litter our house. Can you recall the lead character without opening the book? I know I can, the name left that much of an impression upon me. It wasn’t by mere chance that this name was chosen by the author. It wasn’t a random listing out of the phone book or the lucky draw from a hat, it was given as much care as every word written around it.
Lucien and Julian(my leads from Angel’s Fire, Demon’s Blood) made me think of a slender, fair haired men. My reasoning behind their choice of names? Julian Sands, the actor. Evangeline Keegan’s name (the female lead) was an entirely different matter. The subject of the novel is the fire of the angel. There is a meaning behind every name in existence. I research the female names in history with the meaning of angel. All the names that I found were too ethereal and delicate. Evangeline was the one that leapt from the page. Strong, defiant and fiery. The name Keegan was a perfect fit. If you look under the definition of Keegan, you’ll find it is the old Gaelic word for fire.
Angel’s Fire.
When I had to consider a male lead for Blood of the Beast, where would I have turned for one of those delicious Russian names that ooze charm, power, and a hint of mystery? Demetri just drips from the tongue, images of a strong armed and powerful man filling the space of my imagination. His love interest, the entrancing Valentina, whispers at ancestral roots as strong as the penitent vampire, just a bit more human.
Dominic–now, he’s another matter entirely. Coffee colored skin, sloe shaped eyes that reflect the image of the Blood Moon.…
Just a little something to consider…