Monday, October 8, 2012

Blog Chain - What's in a Name?

Our blog chain is rolling again! I've missed it :D We have a bit of a different format now - each chain will run for 2 weeks, Mon-Fri and I will be posting the 2nd and 4th Mondays of every month :) Our first topic was chosen by Kate who wants to know:

What's in a name? What if Harry Potter had been Larry Snotter? What if Edward was Jacob and Jacob was Edward? What favorite books had character names that you loved or hated? And how do you come up with your own character names?

I think a character's name can make or break a book. But it depends on the book. Some books are just amazing no matter what the characters' names. There are books I haven't wanted to read because the characters' names seemed so ridiculous. Hunger Games, for instance. A girl named Katniss? A sister named Prim? Boys named Peeta and Gale? Ugh.

And then I read the books. And I can't imagine them being named anything else. The names fit. They worked. The story transcended the names and made me love them.

Then there are the Sookie Stackhouse books. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE this series. It's one of my all time favorites, I've read the entire series (of 12 books and counting) numerous times, and if Eric the vampire ever knocks on my door, he is more than welcome to my neck ;) (I like his name, btw).

But every single time I see the name Sookie, I cringe. Bill the vampire made me cringe too, but it fits him in a way. It's a horrible vampire name. But then, Bill is a horrible vampire. But Sookie....I just can't used to that one. For me, the thought of "really? Sookie?" is always in the back of my mind, making every scene, no matter how terrifying, passionate, or intense, just slightly "less" because...well really....Sookie? *cringe*

For my own stories, I usually try very hard to choose the absolute perfect names for my characters. I want them to mean something. Sometimes a name will just pop into my head, sometimes I'll see it or hear it somewhere else and fall in love. I spend a lot of time with baby books and on naming websites to find the right name with the right meanings.

Interesting fact, I'm generally not that attached to my character names, except for my main heroines' names. I'll change any name in the book, but not that one.

The MC in my upcoming novel Treasured Lies is named Minuette (she goes by Min). It fits her so perfectly. I really can't imagine her with any other name. She started out as Noelle. Soooo isn't her. I heard the name Minuette (with Min as a nickname) on a Star Trek NG episode :D It stuck in my head and when I was searching for a more fitting name, it just clicked.

Min's best friend Charlotte went through two other names before she got her name. I love her name now but really, if my editor asked me to change it, I could without too much flinching. But not Min :)

For one of my WIPs, I needed an Egyptian or Arabic name, something that was short, easy to pronounce, cool enough it would fit in a modern setting but would still work in a historical setting as well (it's a complicated storyline lol). I found the name Kesi and instantly fell in love. It's absolutely perfect. Short, sassy, and beautiful. Just like the character it was meant for. And when I saw the name meant "born of a troubled father" it became even more perfect. :)

What about you? What books had names you loved or hated? Are there stories that were made or ruined because of a character's name for you? If you are a writer, how do you choose your character names?

Be sure to check out Lisa's post from Friday and Alyson who will post tomorrow! :)


Sandra Almazan said...

What do you think of "Stackhouse"? My hunch is the author is implying Sookie is stacked herself. ;) I've read a lot of the series, but I finally gave up on it.

One thing I've noticed about this topic is that we seem to focus more on the first name than the last name. Perhaps that's because readers see the first name more often than the last name, and sometimes we might only get one name for a character. An unusual combination of names can say something interesting about the character too.

Michelle McLean said...

very true about the last names! I do actually try to get a good one in there, something that stands out or fits well with the first name. I like the ones that are a little unusual but still believable :)

As for the name Stackhouse, that is the last name of my high school boyfriend so I tend to think of him when I see it. He is a very sweet all around great guy - so I'm kind of fond of the name lol

Katrina L. Lantz said...

I love Minuette and Kesi! You are fantastic at names! And I totally agree about Peeta and Gale. When I first heard the names it was in the context of "Team Gale" and "Team Peeta." *rolls eyes* So I had quite the prejudice when I started reading the books, but within each district, the names just make sense. I felt the same way about Hermione, which now of course is the perfect fit for that character.

Michelle McLean said...

LOL I hated Hermione because I didn't know how to pronounce it and was saying something along the lines of Herm-ee-own-ee :D Once I figured out the correct pronunciation, I loved it :D

Alyson Greene said...

I totally agree about Sookie and Bill. When I started reading the series, I kept thinking, "Seriously? Bill the vampire?" and Sookie is an awful name.

Elana Johnson said...

I definitely agree. Sometimes a name just clicks and something it so... doesn't.

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

I didn't mind the name Sookie until I heard it pronounced on the TV show with their overwrought Southern accents making is sound more like, "Suckie". Blech. I do love the names Minuette and Kesi. Those are both really strong and original heroine names.

Lisa Amowitz said...

Funny--I'm the same way with my character names. I am usually most attached to the MC, but frequently change the secondary characters names around a lot.