Sunday, August 4, 2013

What's in a name? One heck of a lot!

When I am madly searching my mind for character names...

I try to come up with something that hasn't been overused...something that has a definite zing to it. My heroes must have names that remain firmly embedded in a reader's mind. My heroines must have names that symbolize what kind of woman each is. And that is not an easy task. Take Uncertainly Yours, for example...

Jacqueline O'Halleran (aka "Jack") and Lance Blackfeather. Of course, my heroines are often tomboy types, so Jack lives up to her name. And of course, the name Lance brings to mind amazing phallic images for most of us with happily dirty minds. It also keeps with the Native American imagery.

And, of course, Woman on Fire had a few twists, so to speak...when the heroine (who was a red haired, blue-eyed pale face) was named Cheyenne Red Wolf. And our hero was named Azrael (the Arabic/Hebrew name for the angel of death) Thunderhorse. Cheyenne was raised by her Native American adoptive father and grew up more Indian than Anglo. And Azrael's mom didn't think he deserved to be saddled with a name like "Bubba" or Jim Boy". 

 Now, Never Tempt Fate has a heroine with a simple, traditional name that has a connotation of prim and proper. Christine (Chris) Lange is not your world wise, jaded gal, and she has absolutely no luck when it comes to men. In spite of her age and her experience, her experience of men is nil. Antonio hates to have anyone call him by his full given name, and prefers "Tonio" to prove she isn't under his thumb, Chris calls him Antonio. 

When I used to write my stories back when I was a brat, I used the exact same name for every hero and heroine, just to keep it simple. But when I subbed the stories many years later to a publisher, I had to think up something unique for each couple. Or think up a unique twist on the way each character views their own name.

Names are very personal, very important issues for authors. I sometimes start reading a book or story I have purchased, and I cringe when I try to place the name given with the hot, sexy character I am reading about. Unless the story is tongue-in-cheek...and then I totally suspend my own thoughts, and go with the flow and the fun.

What are your thoughts on names for characters? Do you often find yourself making up new, sexier names for the characters you read about in books? Something that flips YOUR switch? I have to admit, I certainly do from time to time. LOL!


Fran Lee


  1. I so agree with the power of names. Like you, I labor over each and every one. For one book, I was writing about the hero but couldn't get into his head. One day I was in a bookstore browsing calendars -- male model calendars, fireman calendars, policeman calendars. A first name on one page and a surname in a totally different calendar just clicked in my head and *zing* Magnus Thorvald (Dance of the Butterfly) was born and I saw him in all his stubborn, contemporary-Viking, Alpha-male glory.

    His heroine was Kat (not just Katherine, but I needed to create images of a slinky and promiscuous alley cat). And boy, did they create fireworks!

    You do a great job with your character names, Fran. It's always a pleasure to read your books.

    1. Thanks, Cris. And I do so love that book...LOL!


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