Character Names

character names in heart shapeHow did you determine what to name your characters? Did the names just pop into your head? Did you change the names often? Did you look up their meanings?

In my multidimensional novel, Norman in the Painting, I choose the first or second name that came to me. I decided to look up their meanings and found a site that gives a one-line description for each name. The link is http://www.meaning-of-names.com

The names I had chosen for the novel a year ago fit the meanings I found today. The protagonist, Jill, means sweetheart, which she is. Her sister, Vivien, a complete opposite of Jill, means full of life. Viv is an extrovert compared to Jill so it fits. Their last name is Steele, hard and durable as steel, a perfect name for Jill’s parents and sister, but not for her. However, she has felt like a misfit in the family, so it works. Reginald, the antagonist, has a few meanings. The one that fits is mighty ruler, which is what he acts out, but in criminal ways. Jack, an immature friend of Vivien’s, purposely annoys Jill and her friends. The link stated Jack means a supplanter. It comes from the verb supplant and means “to trip up or to overthrow.” In Jack’s simplistic way, it’s what he does all day long.

If you aren’t a writer, it’s interesting to learn the meaning of your name or names of family and friends. I didn’t have time to check other sites. I doubt if the meanings are consistent, but probably close.

What do the names of your characters mean?

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timetowritenow

For over twenty-five years, I've taught elementary grades, high school, and county special education classes. Now I am a field supervisor for teachers working toward their teaching credentials. I also teach writing classes in Dublin and Pleasanton, California. I have won 5 awards in short story contests, My stories are published in The California Writers Club Literary Review, and several anthologies including four times in Las Positas College collections. I have several book projects, but the two that have my immediate attention are HADA'S FOG, which is women's fiction, LILLI, a YA novel, and NORMAN IN THE PICTURE, a paranormal mystery. I have published an anthology WRITTEN ACROSS THE GENRES that includes writings from members of my writing classes and other writers. It's available on Amazon and Kindle.

4 thoughts on “Character Names”

  1. In Next of Kin, my crime fiction novel in progress, I chose Rojas, a Spanish suname, for the commander of Maricopa County Sheriffs Office (MCSO) in Ironwood, a fictional town in Arizona. While rojo translates to red in English, naming him Luis supports his current position as “warrior” suggested by his German and Spanish heritage.

    I chose Madrid for my second protagonist’s surname because I liked the sound (a secret late in the novel reveals that she isn’t Hispanic). I chose Taylor as her first name because she needed something strong, not a wimpy or feminine name, to bolster her position as a detective at MCSO. Plus, her name needs to have an enduring quality and look good on the covers of my next mysteries where she will be the main character in a series.

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  2. Totally cool!!! Can’t wait to test the link with the names I’ve haphazardly chosen for my stories — how off-track or dead on I might be.

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