Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Rose is a Rose: What's in a name?

When creating names for my characters I sometimes just "know" what the character's name is. It pops into my head with no effort on my part. I'll then check through baby name sites for the meanings of the names. Just for fun? Hmmm.

Looking up the meaning of names might be a colossal time waster; however, for me the name's meaning gives me additional information about the character and even inspiration.

In Chasing the Trickster:
  • Jeanine Weaver, Jeanine means God is Gracious and Weaver represents the tale of Arachne, a young woman transformed. 
  • Pascal Guzman, Pascal is for Easter child and Guzman is "good man." French and Latino, just like Pascal.
  • His sister is Rose White because she is larger than life with lots of thorns, but has a petal soft side.
  • Kate Wainwright was originally an Elizabeth, but being best friends with Linda Brockhurst the L-L thing might have become annoying. So I didn’t' stay with the original name.  Maybe she's actually Katherine Elizabeth Wainwright. Her last name came to be because her parents run Wainwright Reality and it felt like a tongue twister. I laugh whenever I try to say it out loud. Katherine means "pure" but it can also mean "magic." Wainwright means "wagon builder."  It told me a lot about her personality.
  • Linda Brockhurst - Linda "pretty" and Brockhurst, "badger woods." 
  • Linda's daughter Amanda is "worthy of love" and is named after her step-grandmother.
  • Joe is from Joseph, a Biblical name and it means "he will enlarge." I guess that's a good thing. But Joseph was also the husband of Mary, so a father figure to Jesus. Joe, the self-given name of an ancient pagan fertility god also considers himself a father to Pascal.
  • Linda's hubby is Andrew Brockhurst, and Andrew means warrior. I recounted his last name above. "Woods of the Badger-Warrior" Cool
These names all popping out of nowhere is weird I guess, but I have a thing for names. That Andrew is the father of Amanda, pleased me no end since it would be Andy and Mandy for their knick names.

But to get a bit weirder, when I went to my high school reunion last year it sudden hit home that many of the names I had used for my characters came from kids I had gone to school with. The characters were nothing like the kids, but somehow these names had stuck with me for all these years and were leaping out upon the page without my conscious awareness.

Many authors show amazing creativity and playfulness when naming their characters. One only has to look to the books of Harry Potter to see an ironic and eclectic use of names, not just for her character alone but in place names, spells and all sorts of items.

What authors have you found to use great imagination with names? Or if you are a writer, could you share with us how some of your characters came to be named?

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