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Naming Characters

Out in the middle of nowhere, inspiration hits!

Think picking a name for a new baby, puppy, or kitten is difficult? Try naming a figment of your imagination!!


For me, the story idea arrives with a main character attached. If I'm lucky more than one. As the story progresses other characters develop: the love interest, the villain(s), the friends, and miscellaneous people who help the story along the way. What do they all have in common? They all need NAMES!


Their names show up, oftentimes spontaneously with the character's personality. Know what I mean? On occasion, I've been known to "Google" the name to see if such a person. exits


In a story inspired by my time working at U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service—Restoration—I used the name Seth Tobias. That name was meant to be the name of a son. Not being blessed with children, the name went to a character. Guess you could say he's kind of a son. The name works for my story.


Garrett in Resolute Love (Consequential Love Series #1) came from a road sign! I needed a name for my main character and found it while driving home from a medical appointment. Rather than take my usual left turn, I decided to drive straight. At the stop sign (I'm in the countryside not in town), I glance at the road sign, Garrett Ave. Eureka!! That's it, the perfect first name!!! As Garrett Dane believes, everything happens for a reason, and my decision to take a different route had a definite reason! Where Dane came from, I don't recall, but it works.


I got hooked on the name Zach for a while. Used it in my short story, Beyond Puppy Love, and in a longer story that doesn't have a final title yet. Is it short for Zachariah or Zachary? Do we really care? Could be his parents didn't want the longer version. In the longer story, we find out Zach's first name is Zachary through one of his friends.


With my new story idea of a smokejumper (there's a posting on my Facebook page about this one), I'm thinking Caleb for the main character. A strong name for a strong man. But I'm stumped on his last name. Tower? Grant? Suggestions anyone?


The females are more of a mystery. In Resolute Love, Leigh started with a memory of the actress Vivian Leigh. Why? Who knows? It just came to me. (Remember? Everything happens for a reason.) And where did Ramsey come from? Possibly from my Minnesota History studies in 6th grade.


Other names just show up while I'm writing. Alex for Alexandra in Restoration. Emily in the untitled story. And I still need a name to go with Caleb. The struggle is real and continues.


Recently, I learned that character names are best when they are 2-3 syllables in length. Preferably no more than four. In Resolute Love, I struck gold with Garrett Dane = 3 and Leigh Ramsey = 3. In Restoration, I'm okay with Seth Tobias = 4 (living on the edge) and Alex Lyon = 3 (Note: using her full name Alexandra Lyon = 5, so good thing she prefers to go by her nickname!) In the untitled story Zach/Zachary Taylor =3/5, Emily Whitney =5 (tricky numbers, good thing for nicknames), and the new smokejumper story idea Caleb = 2. I'm rockin' the syllables!!


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