Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What's in a Name

Before the whole Christmas thing happened, I was trying to blog about some writing stuff that I thought might be important. Character, motivation, theirs and mine, you know, stuff.

So getting back to that, what about the names we choose for our characters? Where do you find them? Are they significant in any way? Do they matter to you or are they just random names you pick out of a hat?

I had the idea for my second book, which I am now titling Mismatched long before I even had the idea for my finished manuscript Masquerade. I needed a book Masquerade to introduce the characters that I would be using for my subsequent titles in the series (there are now approximately six). I also needed to find interesting names. The series is about a mother who runs a flower shop and she named all her children (girls) with flowery names: Lilly, Violet, Camelia, Holly, Ivy, and Daisy. Yeah, I know, kind of trite but I thought it was cute. And remember, I'm into the whole Regency thing so the names are kind of important.

For the men, I actually went to Wikipedia and searched out the names of members of the Royal Navy and White's. I also needed to think in terms of who these people were (members of the ton) and how they sometimes use surnames as first names, (also very big in New England) and what that means.

I do not know, and have never thought I'd heard, the name "Ellis" before but I liked it and so decided that my MC in Mismatched MUST be named Ellis. Ellis Smith, Marquess of Haverlane. Now doesn't he sound like a snob. Which is exactly what he is. And his love interest is of course, Violet. And doesn't she sound sweet and sunny. Kind of purple-y and cute. Just the right amount of saccharine to offset Ellis' stuffiness.

I also found in the blogosphere other people are using my names. Not in any way, shape or form that I'm using them, but I'm surprised that other people have picked my names. I thought they were kind of old-fashioned, I mean, who would name their children after flowers? But they have, and I guess other writers liked them too. It's interesting to me what the 'universal mind' throws out there.

And I will confess right now, the name I have chosen for this blog, Anne Gallagher, is not my own. It's a nom de plume I chose for my career. You can't really be a major player with a name like mine -- no one, and I mean NO ONE can pronounce it correctly and I wanted a name that would roll off the tongue with nary a trip. Besides, Anne Gallagher is a family name, three times over, and I should give credit to my ancestors who wore it before me. I'm sorry if I've mislead anyone, it was not my intention, it was just a business decision. And it doesn't change who I am inside, or my writing, or my character, it's just a name.

And if you really want to know what my real name is, just ask. (I won't publish it here, for privacy reasons of my own.)


Dominique said...

I'm a total name geek, and that usually plays into my decisions for naming my characters, though less with this WIP than with others. I think it's important for the name to feel right with the story and the character. I think Violet sounds like a fitting name for your heroine.

Anne, by the by, means gracious and merciful in Hebrew. Good pick.

Piedmont Writer said...

Thanks so much on both counts.

Davin Malasarn said...

Well, thanks for telling us about your name! I think about pen names, a lot, and may eventually use one if I publish a novel.

For me, names have to sound right. The letters I use have to have the right colors and textures, if that makes sense. If that is in place, it's fun to come up with names that can have deeper meanings as well.

Stephanie said...

Hi! Just found you from your comment at the Literary Lab! I so need to read books!!!!!!! I have a degree in Floriculture Merchandising and worked in the floral industry for many years! (Gave it up to pursue writing, among other reasons!) Have you ever worked in the business???? My third novel is about a women who runs her own shop...wedding specialist though (which is what my business was after I left a full service retail shop).

I look forward to reading your posts!

I too choose names by the way they sound...I like my readers to get an idea of personality just by the name.

Piedmont Writer said...

Davin - thanks so much for stopping by. The pen name idea was more of a larger 'business' picture that someone 'in the know' suggested to me because of my situation with my daughter. Anne Gallagher is my great-grandmother, an aunt and a great-great aunt's name so I feel blessed that I can use it. They are also my daughter's two middle names.

I hear you with the colors in the name. If it doesn't look right, it won't flow. Sometimes that's all it takes to make a character go from good to bad. Change his name from light blue to aubergine and bang! you've got a vampire.

Stephanie -- Hello and welcome. It's nice to have you here. I used to take care of my clients kitchen gardens when I lived in RI. I have almost 200 house plants, of all shapes and sizes. I know plants but not particularly hot house flowers.

I was also a caterer, did a few weddings. I remember vowing I would never drive my caterer crazy like the brides did to me.

Thanks so much for the compliment.

Stephanie said...

I hear ya...I had my share of pain in the butt brides!! LOL!