A Rose by Any Other Name...

I'm enjoying the new HBO show, TrueBlood, based on the Charlaine Harris books, which I haven't read, by the way. The name of the main character, Sookie Stackhouse, got me thinking about names. Because of the southern accents of the characters, a lot of them pronounce Sookie, "Sucky." It cracks my husband up all the time and every time we watch the show, he drives me nuts by saying, "Sucky, Sucky, Sucky" every five minutes. Of course, we realized the play on names for a heroine in a vampire series to be called "Sucky." Sookie actually makes her own name observation in the first episode when she discovers the vampire's name is Bill. When he tells her his name, she laughs and says she didn't expect a vampire named Bill.

It got me thinking about the names I choose for my characters: Justin, for a hero who stands up for justice; Lila, for a sweet, earth-mother type; Anna for a prim and proper librarian; Vivica for a tough, strong-willed business owner; and Ryder, Rafe, and Rod for a trio of cowboy brothers. My editor actually asked me to change the name of one of the brothers from Ridge to something else, and I chose Rod. She thought Ridge was just too weird. So Ridge is now the hero of my current erotic romance work in progress! I don't know, Ridge just really works for an erotic romance hero - makes me think of hard and rigid things.

What are some of your favorite character names and why? Rhett and Scarlett are perfect for those characters. I liked Will Turner in the Pirate movies too because he "turns" into a pirate, something he never wanted to do. But I can't figure out Jack Sparrow - a Sparrow seems too delicate, but maybe it represents his freedom. In Dirty Dancing, I found the name Baby annoying, and who could forget that awful line! "Nobody puts Baby in the corner." LOL Couldn't get into the name Dean as a football player in Natural Born Charmer. None of these names make or break the story for me, but they do lend another layer of interest, whether I realize it or not.

I think I'll have to blog again about TrueBlood because the show is really good (and this from someone who doesn't typically read paranormal). Of course, my very favorite show, Dexter, is coming back to Showtime next week, so TrueBlood may have to take a back seat.
10 Responses
  1. Hey, Carol, good topic. I usually name characters according to what sounds good together for the hero and heroine. Although for one book, I needed names for the hero's twin friends, so I used my co-worker's son's names (not twins) Justin and Jordan. Somehow, from their bit parts in that book, each guy got their own book. :) I work as a travel agent and hear different names all day long, so I keep sticky notes where I write down first and last names I like to reference for my next story. And just to show different taste, :), I love the name Dean and liked it in Natural Born Charmer. I agree with Baby, though.


  2. Nicole North Says:

    One of my favorite topics. I love naming characters! I write Scottish stories and I find good names in short supply. A lot of them are overused. So I have to dig deeper to find a name that at least sounds Scottish but is still unique. Or ones I can change, like Torrquil which I shortened to Torr. For me, the name must fit the character's personality. I'm going to have to check out TrueBlood. Sounds like my kind of show.


  3. Stacey, you have a great resource for names! Dean just didn't sound macho enough for a football player!

    Nicole, the Scottish names don't have to be weird or different, do they? After all, my husband's name, Neil, is Scottish (he's named after his Scottish grandfather) and of course, William and Robert are Scottish names. You MUST tune in to TrueBlood if you get HBO. It's a fabulous show. I may have to check into the books, which I understand are written as "the Southern Vampire Chronicles."


  4. Nicole North Says:

    The Scottish names don't have to be weird. LOL Neil is a great one! Haven't used that yet. Names like William and Robert are Scottish but just incredibly common in the US. I guess I like unusual names that you don't see every day for my main characters. I've used Lachlan, Alasdair, Gavin, Brodie for heroes. I generally have several secondary characters who also require Scottish names so have used names like Angus, Fergus, Padraig, and several others for those. Sometimes I even use last names for first names, like Campbell. I do tend to use common names for minor secondary characters. But the more important the character, the more I want a unique name for them. I also tend to not use the names of people I know for my characters.


  5. Liza James Says:

    Great blog, Carol, as usual! ;-)

    I like the name Dean, reminds me of this little hottie from 4th grade, Dean Caruso...LOL His mom was a belly dancer and the other mothers used to talk about her...LOL

    I also love the name Lachlan...I used to LOVE those Scottish romances (Julie Garwood, Johanna Lindsey, etc.)

    I wish I had some great system for naming my characters. I usually just pull out my little pocket 'baby names' book and skim through until I find a name that strike my fancy.

    I worked with a couple of brothers a few years ago named Wade & Garrett Ripley, and I just loved those names...cowboy names. Luke & Jake, too. In Meant To Be, the hero's name is Garrett, his uncle's name is Luke, and the villain is Wade. *G*

    I've used most of my family for secondary characters, but I've been saving my little brother (Darrin) for a special book. :-)


  6. Nicole, I wanted to name my younger son Gavin in keeping with his Scottish roots and I love the name. But DH vetoed that name. Said it reminded him of Gavin Macleod from the Love Boat! LOL I told him he was dating himself. So we named him Lukas instead, keeping with his German roots.

    Liza, I named the smarmy villain in Hot on Her Heels Charlie (Champagne) after my son's Little League baseball coach, whom I disliked (he wasn't smarmy though, he just never let my son pitch). LOL Beware pissing off a writer.


  7. I love this topic! Great for starting it. Most of my characters come with names when the story gets formed in the mists of my mind, but every once in a while a name, usually the heroes', escapes me. My last hero wouldn't tell me his name either, so I threatened to call him Fred, or something equally boring until he coughed it up. He was pretty quick too. Conor, one n.


  8. Jordanne, my characters usually get their names once the story starts rolling. I'll start with a "filler" name, and then I'll go back and change it as the story gets moving.


  9. Sandy Says:

    Carol,
    I had to laugh at your editor making you change a name from Ridge to Rod. Is there really any difference?

    When I hear the name Dean, I think of James Dean. Of course, you are too young to remember him, but there was a wild one, and he was definitely an alpha male.

    Great post, Carol.

    Sandy


  10. Sandy, I do indeed know James Dean, but am too young to remember him in anything but reruns of Giant, East of Eden, and Rebel Without a Cause.

    And I guess Rod, at least, is a "real" name. I don't think it was the connotations she objected to. Ridge is a soap character - you can always get interesting names from the soaps!


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