Character Names

I learned at a past conference that when you name the heroine and hero in your story, those character names (first and last combined) should be five syllables in length for proper flow when reading or saying the names aloud. I thought about my character names. The heroine’s name in my book “Gitana – Life Plan” is Gitana Sothers which has five syllables; however, my hero Cade DeVerine only has four. I like the idea of having five syllables, but I like to base my characters’ names on gut feeling. I’ve used different methods for different storylines.

One method I’ve used is by thinking about the story that I want to tell. I’ll picture my heroine first to know what she looks like and then I’ll develop her personality. Based on what I come up with, her name will usually come to me. I used this method when thinking of Gitana Sothers’ name. The character I built in my head had long, black flowing hair and deep brown eyes. Her looks and spunk reminded me of a gypsy, hence the name Gitana. Next I come up with the hero’s name. For Cade DeVerine, he’s a solid, tough guy. Cade fits the toughness. DeVerine just flowed nicely with his first name.

Another way I’ve picked my characters’ names is by keeping a list handy of unusual names that have stuck with me. The heroine’s name in my next book “Jezamina – The Calling” is Jezamina (with no last name). Back in high school, I watched a movie in my Communications class where the heroine’s name was Gelsomina. The name stuck with me, but I had to tailor it to my character’s personality. For the hero in the same story, his name is Jezero. I made his name similar to Jezamina’s since he was the one who gave her the name after finding her in the sea.

I’m also writing a book with two writer friends. We picked our heroine’s name and hero’s name by using a book of names. We opened the book to the section for their nationality and then randomly selected three names. We went with the name we liked best out of the three. This isn’t a method that I really like, but it worked for us and the story we’re building. We like both their names as they fit with their character.

I understand there are rules to picking names, but I think the best approach is to go by gut feeling. Sometimes the name will come to me right away and other times not. I’ve also changed the name of a character as I write the story and learn more of his or her personality. Either way, it’s always a good feeling when you know you have picked the right name for your characters.

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