Rose by any other name

This was originally posted on my other site, however, since it got hacked, and I can’t find it on my new site …now is a good time to post it again 🙂

I was on Twitter the other night, chatting about character names with another writer. She had a very, what seemed to me, strong, powerful name for her FMC. It was a 1 syllable First Name with a 1 Syllabled Surname. She was also considering changing the surname to a 2 syllable one.

To me, the new name flowed better. A softer edge to a hard exterior, which is what my friend was aiming for.

The resulting conversation got me thinking about, how we perceive names and people without ever seeing them. And I conducted a little test 🙂

The names I use on a regular basis are:

Boys: Alex, Kristobel, Nathaniel
Girls: Aria & Paige.

For me, Alex is Blond, blue eyed. Kristobel and Nathaniel are both Tall, Dark & Handsome. Nathaniel with a bit for of a sense of humour.
Aria, my feisty red-haired & Paige, the girly sidekick.

For my friend: Alex is Tall, Dark & Handsome, Nathaniel is either Tall, thin, cute and geeky or incredibly creepy, Kristobel – a princess (she thought this spelling was feminine and Christobel more masculine).
Aria – soft love interest
Paige – Red haired

Even as writers it appears we are not immune to preconceived ideas and judgements based on people we meet with those names. It can also work in reverse when you create a character then meet the person in Real Life.

Growing up I fell in love with the name Rainier & more specifically Prince Rainier of Monaco and Princess Grace. The name Rainier making a number of appearances as my MC’s. Including in StarDancer.

When my son was born, we named him Rainier (my writing may have influenced my husband’s acceptance of the name). It was about that time I picked up StarDancer which had been sitting in the Chapter 10 doldrums for a few years and started writing again.

I dusted Rainier off and rewrote the chapters, coming across his enemy Koltan.

My son started daycare/kindy when he was 1, and about 6 months in, he made a new friend. They were the best of buddy’s and did everything together. His name… Koltan spelt exactly the same way as my character.

I remember sitting on the floor with both of them crawling all over me thinking “You can’t be Koltan… you’re too sweet to be Koltan” (My Koltan is a Bounty Hunter and definitely not sweet).

It took a couple of years before I stopped seeing him as that … and in the meantime, Story Koltan took on a life of his own and changed slightly, becoming less obnoxious and developing his own personality.

A recent resurrection of a story resulted in me dusting off the name Wesley.  After a few days of misspelling the name as Westley, I remembered by I had chosen Wesley and his subsequent nicknames… 10 points to which ever house you support if you can pick both references :).  Again another set of names with preconceived ideas, which suit the character I’ve created.

J.J Green asked a question on Facebook recently, asking for ideas on her name for her character.  The responses given were interesting, to say the least, and started an interesting facebook debate, along the same lines as this blog.  Even published authors are not immune to the preconceptions we all have.