26 October 2011

What's In A Name?

I'm continuing to shape the characters and their arcs for my historical romance, and I'm itching to get started on proper drafting on November 1. I still don't think I'll have a full outline by then, because I get a lot of my ideas as I write. I'm just going to have to take a leap of faith that I can generate enough ideas during the month to see me through.

One thing I do want to have sorted though, are the main characters names (at the very least). With some stories, the characters come to me with their names. Not so with this one. When I first started sketching out scenes, I did have a tentative name for the heroine, but her character has morphed so much since then the name no longer fits. I have toyed briefly with a couple of names for the hero, but nothing has stuck. So in my notes they are mainly just "hero" and "heroine"... which is, frankly, lame. I want the names to reflect who they are (to me, anyway), and for minor characters I'd love to be clever with symbolic names or sounds which illustrate their personalities.

I'd like to believe I'll know the protagonists' names when I see them, so the plan is to expose myself to as many period-appropriate names as possible, in the hope a first name-last name combo with magically stick. There are some helpful resources for first names and last names, and this site is a bit of fun. I've started to make lists, but I think it'll be a few more days before I have time to evaluate my favourites. I can't see myself plunging into the draft without them, so fingers crossed I work it out soon!

How far could you get through a MS without names for principal characters? At what point does the name become part of the character? What are some of your favourite names in literature?


  1. In my historicals I take a lot of first names from the Greek. Then I usually go to a British site to grab surnames. My characters always come with names, I should say, I'll find a name and wah-la, a character magically appears.

  2. The names will come to you...and they will feel right.

  3. That's so interesting Anne, that names become characters for you. I should try that sometime!