Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Q/A: What Is In a Name?

Q: How do you come up for the names of your characters? Is there a special meaning behind them?

Yes. This is actually not uncommon. Have you ever looked up your name to see what it means or its origins? It is not uncommon for expecting mothers to pick up a book of baby names and choose based on popularity, meaning or general like of a name. There are even some online baby name indexes.

For example, Nalin really does mean "lotus flower"and the lotus really does stand for peace. Alexis, as in the main character of Sangre Falls, is another form of Alexander/Alexandra like my name, Sandra, and it means "helper of mankind." All the characters of overboard have either a first or last name that has something to do with water, whether sea, pond or ocean.

Some authors choose a name because a publisher tells them that is a good name for a character. Other authors choose a name because they like it or have some connection with it in their day to day lives. I like to choose names I like, but they need to have meaning within the story, too. It adds dimension to the characters. If a character is considered a villain, I want them to have a name that is strong. It can mean strong or dark or black. Brenna's, a character in Overboard, name means "raven or dark-haired."

However, some names I choose for personal meaning and not public ones. I chose most of the characters names in the Weeping Willow series based on nature. Everyone knows the willow tree and how it appears to be drooping as if in sadness. My uncle, who is no longer with us, lived in a house next to a willow tree, and it was alive with the sound of animals. When the breeze moved its leaves, it actually sounded like it was weeping. This fit with the character of Willow since she was always in predicaments that would keep her from attaining happiness.

So, next time you pick up a book, think about whether the character's name means something about their personality or position within a story. Sometimes you may be able to spot the villain without having to read or unlock a secret that can only be confirmed at the end.

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