I have this thing about names: I like to know where they come from, what they mean, and especially, how I can make them do something really cool for my story. First names, last names, love them all!
I guess I've always been a bit obsessed with names. My mom picked my name for the meaning, and that struck me right off. I don't ever remember not knowing what my name means. Mom picked my name, Kira, because it means "light" and "sun". But by the time I hit middle school, I'd found out that Kira also means "dark," "killer," and "lady." So pretty much, my name is a bundle of contradictions, and that just makes me love it more. Because it reflects the human condition!
Seriously, it does. And as an author, I think that's a pretty good thing to have going on.
Naturally, with my early introduction to name meanings, I've paid attention, a long time, to the names of people around me, and what they mean. I'm not a very good name collector, but I do collect them nonetheless. This leads into, naturally, my name choices for my book characters.
I think a lot of writers spend some time with names. After all, characters don't generally name themselves. You have to go track a name down, do some research until you've found a name that hits the exact right note for that specific character. Often, in order to achieve this, authors look at the meaning of the name.
And I do so as well, usually focusing just on the first name, on the sound and meaning. Usually I'm much more careful with main characters than minor characters, but I like to do some work with the minor characters as well on their naming. The entire process is getting more and more complex as I go along. I'm even doing stuff with last names at this point. Before, I'd just pull last names from newspapers or CD backs.
When I research a name like this, usually I've got a few different meanings I search the name databases for, meanings that relate in some way to the character's powers, gifts, personality, or purpose in the story. Sometimes it's more narrow, with a very specific kind of name I'm looking for, other times I've got some leeway. Once I've got the name I'm done for the moment. I write my story, I move on.
Afterwards, in editing, I will occasionally change the name, usually only for side characters. In general, names stay about the same after I've chosen them. As I edit, I create for myself a database about the book, and this includes name definitions for every mentioned character.
In fact, you'll get to see these databases: as my books become published, they'll gain their own section on this website, and that will include character profiles with name meanings and other information! So, as my career moves forward, look for those.
To give you a bit of a sneak peek, I'm going to give you the name meanings of my main characters for each book still in the running at this point. Enjoy! Don't forget, if you find the time, to start doing some research on character names for your favorite books. J.K. Rowling is really good at this, and it's always fascinating to look up the little details and inner meanings in her works. She will never fail to have something new to give you, I don't doubt.
THE ICE ENCHANTRESS'S PLOT
Main character: Augusta Regna
Name meaning: Great Reign
THE LAST HOPE
Main character: Athena Tremont
Name meaning: Goddess of Wisdom and War On the Three Mountains.
THE PSYCHIC STORY
Main characters: Mandy Gale; Darren Beamer
Name meanings: Loveable Calm; Great Trumpeter
ON THE DAWNING
Main character: Cassie Mont
Name meaning: Mountain Leader
ON THE BRINK
Main character: Hunter Cole
Name meaning: Hunter of the People's Victory
ON THE RUN
Main character: Sage O'Riley
Name meaning: Gilded Prophet
ON THE OUTSIDE
Main character: Quinn Miller
Name meaning: Son of the Wolf who Works in a Mill
THE PROPHECY KEEPER
Main character: Jedrek
Name meaning: Strong
WHAT IT TAKES TO DEAL
Main character: Suzanne Clever
Name meaning: Clever Lily
Main character: Kaela Timberley
Name meaning: Beloved Girl of the Forest
Main character: Danae Goade
Name meaning: One who Judges Goodly
Thanks for the read, and come back next time for a guide to writing world vocabulary. Also, in a week, I'll be posting a list of writing advice from people who are not me--other writers, editors, agents, etc. And I'd like you to contribute! Whether you be a writer yourself or a well-read reader, tell us what advice you have for writers. Also, for today, what's your name and its meaning?
Image via joystiq.com.
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