On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Naming Characters

Yes, I have a baby namer book. There are also a lot of baby name sites up (just looked last night and used http://www.babynames.com) where you can put in a meaning and get a name. For contemporary books, you can put in a date and see what the census or public social security data base said were the most popular names for that year.

Or, if you write fantasy, you can choose a language and make them up. For my Celta series, I am VERY strict with myself. The characters are named after plants -- the 13 Great Houses are the Celtic months of the year, the 25 FirstFamilies are the Ogham alphabet, and I use those names for heir (male or female) of the House, with the exception of Holly. For members of a lesser house, I'll look at my "herbal tarot" and pick some characteristics and use the name. Yeldoc, a Bailiff for SupremeJudge Ailim D'SilverFir, came from the 2 of pentacles, Yellow Dock. So did Goldenseal, Sage, etc. For lesser family members of a clan, I'll look under a plant book name for different plants under that family and use names from there...Bucus Elder was from Sambucus...and sometimes the Latin names are cool, sometimes not. Melissa is Latin for Lemon Balm....I also have a handy Welsh dictionary -- hey, the name is Owens -- that I might throw in a word or two that I've modified or not.

For the Lladrana series, I use French, again modifying the words or names. Marrec Guardpointe (I think that's the next hero up, LOL) came from French words I wanted to use. This was mostly because Bastien, as a hero, came to me first and his name is French.

Last night I was working on my contemporary paranormal romance (yes, STILL) and I needed a secondary character name who will become a hero in a later book. He's a Native American, which in Colorado means about three tribes. But I want him to come from the mountains, which means he's probably Ute. I had him named Whiteriver (surname) but wasn't satisfied, so I went looking and found 1954 Ute Rolls for the Census. WOW. I scrolled down the surnames -- and for romanic heros you need a strong name, not something like Katytogoov, and something easily pronouceable (hey, I've made that mistake T'Ash is Tash, T'Holly, is T-holly not TEE HOLLY, and not THOLLY, etc...)

Anyway, there I was on the Ute Rolls and saw several with the last name of Ice. Is that cool or what (snicker). I don't recall ever reading about a hero with the last name of Ice, and this will be pretty fine for my guy. I wanted his first name to be Garrett, but that means "to watch" which I'll have to think about. Garrick, "Leads By The Spear", is better. And I checked the rolls, and there were plenty of English, French, etc. given names...in fact, the oldest man on the rolls (born in the 1850s I think) was a Charles -- probably his "white" name, but maybe not. I have more research to do on the culture, too.

So I'm nearly set. Hope this was some help.

Love to all,
Robin

4 Comments:

Blogger sex scenes at starbucks said...

I think naming is the best part of writing, frankly. Sometimes the character picks his name without even trying, and one of mine: Kaelin, a name that took time to grow on me, went through three name changes to find something that could stand up to Aidan, his outgoing twin. But when I found out Aidan means roughly "fire," and Kaelin means roughly "water" (babbling brook or something dumb like that) their names fit their personalities and the story perfectly.

Beware of the name Alex, or Alek, though! My son is Alex, and I know two other variations, and it must be the name of a wild-child, because that's what they all are. I've talked to many other people who know people of that name who have said the same. Someday I may use it for an outrageous character.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Robin D Owens said...

Yes, it can be fun or it can be frustrating. I was asked to rename a heroine in Sorceress of Faith, and I did. I had to rename her companion (hamster) too. It took me a while to find the right name.

And I named my first woman who is Summoned to Lladrana in Guardian of Honor, Alexa, but they really needed a hellion...

Robin

6:17 AM  
Blogger moonhart said...

Well, I am thrilled to know that I have been pronouncing all the Heart names correctly. I assumed using the "t" sound since D'Arcy from P&P is pronounced "Darcy."

Score one for me.

On names, I find my heroes and heroines easy and my antagonists tougher. H/H pretty much pop into my head and announce themselves not unlike Fams.

;)

Terri

6:41 AM  
Blogger Robin D Owens said...

LOL, Terri. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes hard, like titles. Baby namers help...

8:42 AM  

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