Name that character

I don’t know about the rest of the authors out there, but I rarely get a chance to name my characters. They always come to me with their names, personalities, and just about everything else firmly in place.

“This is my story, and this is how you’re going to write it.”

My imaginary friends tell me that a lot.

However, with this new Stonehill Romance series I’ve been working on, there is one character whose identity wasn’t quite set in stone. There were circumstances around his name that had to change a few times before I finally settled on one for him.

Well, let me set the scene… Boy likes girl. Girl likes boy. Both are too shy to do anything about it. Finally, graduation night, boy knows he’s leaving and doesn’t want to miss what he is certain is his one and only shot to  tell girl that he likes her. They end up in bed. He leaves before she finds out she’s pregnant. She’s sent away and they don’t see each other for twenty-seven years. But then, one night he sees her again…and his son… and then this happens:

Road ad 1_philcollins


So, this kid had a few names. First, his name was Delbert McClinton–Del for short– because he was conceived in 1981 and one of the top songs of the year was “Giving It Up For Your Love.” But then…lightbulb!…my kids and I love Barry Manilow! So…his name was Barry Manilow. That only lasted until I realized my hero’s name is Harry and that was just too….ick. Harry smiled at Barry. No. that didn’t work for me. So he went back to being Del.

But then, I decided to tie this book to the next one, the main characters in this book would know one of the characters from my next book. So, I had to change their ages and Delbert McClinton was now conceived in 1986. Looking at the music teens would have been listening to at that time, I had a few choices: Rod Stewart, Phil Collins, and Mr. Mister.

Phil Collins won out.

It was a tough decision, but Mr. Mister just didn’t feel right…haha!!

Out of all my characters, this was the most–er–interesting naming so far.

How do you go about naming your characters?



10 thoughts on “Name that character

  1. You had me at Barry. I’m not a Phil Collins fan, but I love the reasoning behind the name. I really don’t have a method, I just try to find a name that suits the character’s background, etc. Great post!


  2. LOL, love this post. My characters never come to me with names, so I have a couple baby name books nearby. I about gave my teenage son a heart attack last year because he saw me looking through the book. “You’re pregnant??!!!!” Hahahahaha!


  3. Great post, Em. Love Phil Collins. And I have also gone through several names until the character says — “yep, that’s the one.”

    I have a book of names and their magical meanings which I like to use to give the character a name that has an esoteric meaning that plays into his/her story arc. Oh and Sherrilyn Kenyon has a fabulous Character Naming book from Writer’s Digest that is organized by country origins. I have to say I use Kenyon’s book a lot.


  4. Of anything I’ve ever written, or stories/characters that have formed in my head but never made it beyond there, most all have names when they come to me. Or they tell me what their name is shortly thereafter. There are just a few characters in my head that have continued to be shy/stubborn about telling me their names, and even though I’ve tried to come up with names for them, nothing ever “sticks” so far. I guess they haven’t liked any of the names I’ve tried to put on them.


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