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Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Name Game

I am the first to admit that I have absolutely no routine yet when it comes to writing.

I can go on a creative surge so all consuming that I barely eat or sleep for days and then swing violently into stretches of complete literary nothingness. Mercifully, though, I do seem to be able to focus on edits when they are called for.

Names of male characters are a huge issue to me, as both a reader and an author.

As a reader, if an alpha male hero has what I perceive as a less than macho name, I don’t believe in him. If he’s got any form of Rock, Steele, Hard, Stone, or any other cliché in his name, I feel manipulated and again, don’t believe in him. I get confused by names (not nick names) like Chase, Grey, Hawke, Wolf; what parent looks at their newborn son and picks those? Don’t even get me started on names that are so ‘out there’ in spelling I can’t even figure out how to pronounce them in my own head.

As an author, I’ve erected even more stumbling blocks on the road to male moniker assignment. I write erotica and proudly tell everyone I know. I work with 35+ men. All of their names are off limits in my mind, or I’d be spending a great deal of time explaining that I wasn’t writing about them, or blushing because maybe I was?? Names of my immediate relatives are also off limits, as are the name of an ex or a kid I hated in school or any unusual name I equate with another author’s character. Do you see my problem?

So I spend a freakish amount of time pondering and agonizing before choosing, and by the time I’ve selected, my man is his name.

Recently, I faced a test of monumental proportion. I was told that a hero in one of my books (I shan’t divulge whom) had an overused name and I had to change it. But…his story was written, his name was selected to perfectly fit his personality and emotions and to meet all of my crazy requirements; I almost succumbed to a fit of the vapors! Almost being the operative word.
I am a newbie; supremely aware that I have much to learn. I did some research and found that the name was indeed too common in romance. I kept the root word, changing it just enough so it didn’t lose its appeal to me, and the dynamic of the character was not compromised in the least.

Note to self - lighten up, sweetheart!

I’d love to hear your name hang-ups. What ones have you clenching your teeth or rolling your eyes? Or what about the perfect name for the perfect hero of your fantasies?

Tessie

7 comments:

  1. Hey you didn't mention the fact that the whole family had a brain storming session to help figure out that new name!!!

    I think Rider Strong or is it Rider Hard, I can never which one it is is the funniest name I have ever heard.

    Is Seth over used? I like that name! You should use that one!

    Sarah

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  2. You're absolutely right-I should have given credit where it is due! That was a riot picking out the name. We came up with some real crazy ones, didn't we?
    And I also like the name Seth. Off the top of my head, I'm not thinking its over used but I will investigate.
    Thanks Sar

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  3. Tessie I loved this blog. A name is a magical thing. It lends a soul some Mojo. Choosing a name for a fictional male character or a real baby boy is a trauma for those involved. Choosing a name for a girl is a breeze-hey let's name her Breeze! Male names must fit so many categories all at once. They must sound masculine, be rooted in the culture's masculine values, extoll a leadership vibe... etc...etc Male names carry a lot of baggage and expectations. At my son's elementary school there are several children named for Greek gods who may struggle to live up to their names.
    XXOO

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  4. Kat-
    Please tell me your son does not attend school with some poor child named Zeus? Or Posiedon? Or Promethius??

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  5. When choosing a name for a male character, I like to make it a name that doesn't carry too many preconceptions. I want it to be a name that women can attach their own fantasies to. So manly, but kind of generic and maybe a little old fashioned.

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  6. Kat -
    Choosing a name for male characters is difficult. I don't understand how parents name their kids such crazy names. Do they think about the torture the child will be subjected to in school? Most likely not.

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  7. Whatever you do, try to avoid hero names like Guy Hung or Heroine names like Pussy LaMour. Lord, I have read some books lately that I can't get through because of the names. I end up laughing so hard I can't read!

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