Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 26, 2010
How does a writer devise a name for a character? First, we can’t choose a name similar to the other main characters or you’ll run into people named Maria, Marilyn, and Merle. It gets confusing for the reader. So that eliminates certain sounds and letters. The character’s ethnic heritage or her role in the story may influence your choice. For example, I can’t proceed with plotting my next romance without obtaining a name for my heroine, but so far, nothing has struck my fancy. The story is based on Norse mythology so that gives me a place to start. I looked in The Writer’s Digest Character Naming Sourcebook by Sherrilyn Kenyon, an excellent resource that lists names by nationality and gives their meanings. Then I drew up a list of Norwegian female names that caught my interest. I narrowed these down to selections with a certain sound I wanted.
To visualize my characters, I cut out pix from magazines like TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly. So here is my heroine. She’s the perfect counterpart to my serious, brooding hero, Lord Magnor.
My female name choices:
Dagny (joy of the Danes)
Kelci (from the ship’s island) Kelsey
Mildri (mild and lovely)
Randi (lovely, goddess) Ragnfrid, Ragni
Brief character sketch: Heroine sculpts mythical figures of trolls and fairies out of natural materials and sells them online. Owns a pottery studio, wants to open a gift shop, and maybe teach children arts and crafts.
Other Women in the series: Nira, Jennifer, Lianne, Algie
Men: Zohar, Paz, Magnor, Dal, Kaj, Yaron
If I name her Dagny, I can’t call her Dag for short because one of the established heroes is Dal. So I have to keep in mind these other people when I choose her name. Mildri is cute but maybe too mild for her. Kelsey is too ordinary, although Kelci is a different spelling that might work. Ragni? Call her Rage for short? Hey, that might do. She looks kinda angry at the world, doesn’t she? I can’t nickname her Rag with a soft “g” because it would sound too much like Kaj.
What do you think? Who does she look like to you? Any other suggestions? What means do you, the writer, use to determine your character names?
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