Guest - Jennifer Lynne : Naming the Babies

Naming the Babies
By Jennifer Lynne

It is hard enough when children come along. Reading baby name books, trying out different options with the surname, deciding on the perfect name for your soon-to-be-born bub and then realising it has just been taken by a family member…or friend… or celebrity…

Then, when you finally have THE name, you find out it doesn’t seem to fit the new little person staring up at you. And it’s back to square one.

I seem to have the same difficulty when it comes to naming the other ‘babies’ in my life, those wonderful characters in my stories that for a time become just as real as the rest of my family (at least to me!).

In naming my characters, I try to reflect the personality and style of my hero and heroine. And the name I choose for them should also sound good and fit with the overall theme and flow of the story. Quite often – because I don’t plot beforehand beyond having a first scene in my head – I am still getting to know my characters as the story progresses and it can be very hard to decide on the perfect name.

So most times, my hero and heroine start with one name but end up with another by the time the story is fully developed.

In Pandora’s Gift, my July erotic romance release from Red Sage Publishing, the story is about the power of love and its promise of hope for the future. So my heroine started life as Hope. But that was just too obvious, and as I got further into the story and her mystical qualities became more apparent, together with a potentially dangerous fascination with the dark, she became Pandora. It is a name with so many different layers, both good and bad, that I felt it better reflected the mystery and complexity of her personality and her promise. And as soon as I gave her that name, she came fully to life in my head and I knew I’d made the right choice:

“She wore a long, figure-hugging dress in a soft shimmery material that changed from a silvery green to blue and back again as she moved. Her black hair hung loose down her back and a hint of red lipstick tantalized on those delicious
lips. When she turned back for a moment, tilting her head to one side as she glanced at him, it felt as if he were looking at a magical, otherworldly creature. Unattainable. Goddess-like.”

My hero, Flint, was easier to name, I must say. He was in my head for quite a while before I began writing this story, and every time I pictured him, I could that sense that cold, hard core. But it is a hardness that comes from cutting yourself off from hope, and I knew that if I gave him Pandora and the chance at redemption, a spark would ignite deep within that stone facade. His name, from that moment on, was never in doubt:
“Flint. It was such an appropriate name, she almost laughed out loud.
There was a hardness to him, both physically and metaphorically, that spoke
of stone. An iceberg, she’d decided only minutes earlier. But that hadn’t been
quite accurate. Ice could be melted. Stone could not.
This man was pure granite.
With stone you could strike a spark to create a fire so bright it could be seen from the heavens, and with fire you could burn away the darkness. But what if she wasn’t strong enough to do this? Playing with fire was dangerous. Would she be burned in the process?
Would he?”

How do others name their characters? Is name the first thing you decide on when developing character? Or, like me, does that happen a little further along in the process? Do you ever change names part way through developing the story – and if so, does that change the essence of your character’s personality? Please leave a comment – I’m fascinated with the writing process and how it seems to be different for each and every one of us!

Melbourne-based author Jennifer Lynne is very thankful to Fierce Romance for having her to visit today! Pandora’s Gift is her second Red Sage erotic romance. The first, Seducing Serena, appeared in the popular anthology, Secrets Volume 28 Sensual Cravings. For more information – and the chance at a giveaway of Pandora’s Gift – you can visit Jen at


Nicole North said...

Thanks for being our guest today, Jen! Wonderful post! I feel that I have to know a bit about my character before I can name him/her. A name should fit the personality. I just go by gut instinct as I'm scanning baby name books or website name lists. If a character isn't working, one trick I use is to change their name. That seems to change their personality as well.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I must be weird because the names pop into my head when the storyline does. It all comes together. I make names up, I look through the geneology books my Mom put together for some of secondary characters though. Since my heroes are more than likely Scots, I have lots of Scottish books to look through for if I need help. I usually just retain the names I like when I read them. I also am on a few Scottish online newspapers and see the names all of the time. I know, I'm weird...

Jennifer Lynne said...

It was a pleasure, Nicole. And Paisley - no, not weird at all!! There's probably as many ways to name/develop character as there are writers! We all have our own way of doing things - whatever works is good in my view :-)

Pat McDermott said...

I really like the name Flint, Jennifer. A reader would expect certain characteristics from a character with such a name. Same with Gladys or Poindexter. I often have the main characters' names in my head before I start a story, but I do have volumes of baby and even pet names in my writing library (checking baby names online got me on expectant mother lists). Often I'll have a sense of a chaaracter and wait until he/she materializes more before pinning on a name tag. Thanks for sharing your delightful excerpts. Good luck with your writing!

Carly Carson said...

Names are so important and you can't force them. The character will let you know when it's the right name. I often put a name in as a placeholder, but it annoys me all along because I know it's not right. I pretend it's like sand in an oyster, irritating me until I produce the pearl of the right name. Great names and a great cover! I love Pandora, though it wouldn't work in real life (for me). Flint can work anywhere.

Jennifer Lynne said...

Thanks Pat and Carly - its interesting that we all seem to know when a name isn't right, equally as well as when it is!