Do you have difficulty finding the right name for your heroes and heroines? Gina Rossi takes us through the pitfalls and pleasures of finding exactly the right appellations as she asks and answers: What’s in a name?
Quite a lot, actually, when you’re three quarters through your romance oeuvre, still referring to your heroine as ‘Whazzername’ and hero as ‘Thingy’ – or, even worse, ‘XXX’ and ‘???’.
Carrying on writing until the name comes to you is the best way forward, trust one who procrastinated for the better part of a week thinking up a name for a dog (Trooper, eventually). Yes, ‘thinking’ is a great way to not get writing done so what do you do in the event of nameless protagonists?
The internet, of course! We all look up baby names online, and then click on the French Connection sale ad that pops up on the right hand side of the page. Browsing the gorgeous items – oops, just a quick glance at Accessorize while I’m here, all in the name of inspiration, and oh! The White Company, and…let me quickly email my niece to tell her that her name is third favourite, three years running…
You see? Really, for a number of reasons – names aside − you should turn off the internet when writing.
To get to the point:
Names of family and friends: Awkward for so many reasons. However, second names can be a rich source of inspiration. Not in my family though – everyone’s second name seems to be Margaret, apart from my mother-in-law’s which is Shoreland; that could suit a Poldark-esque type of hero, don’t you think? Friends? A good friend of my daughter recently got engaged to a tall, dark and gorgeous lad called Adam Gallant (emphasis on the second syllable). There’s a name I’d love to use, but can’t. Anyone want it? It’s up for grabs!
Airport arrivals hall: All those names on boards, held by drivers who await their lucky passengers – the ones who don’t have to go by train. Once, I spotted the name ‘Orlando Ducque’. Taught from an early age never to write on myself, I did just that, in ballpoint, and Googled same on the train. One of those mad, Red Bull, cliff-diving maniacs (and not too shabby either, I might add). Subsequently, my hero in ‘To Hear You Smile’, Zac Jordan, came from the airport.
The newspaper: Have a look at the sports pages. Apart from a rich source of strong verbs (pound, slam, crush, hammer, etc.) there are good names to be had. Davit Kacharava, eastern European hero of my chick lit romance ‘Life After 6 Tequilas’, came from the sports’ page of the Nice Matin, no less. A Georgian rugby player on loan to Nice. His photo was an inspiration too, just saying.
Magazines: Turn to that page that lists the editor and her / his underlings. Names galore, with which to play.
Film titles: If you must watch daytime telly instead of writing, at least make it work for you. When the titles roll, pause that thing. ‘The Good Wife’ alone will throw up a treasure trove of names. Mix and match first names and surnames, why not? But watch out for Czuchry, DiCillo and Zakrzewski – readers may be puzzled enough to lose the plot.
Cocktail of celebrity names: Turn Jackie Kennedy and William Windsor into Jackie Windsor and Will Kennedy, why not? Beware however of iconic names. Mandela, Jesus and Elvis could take your story way off on an irrelevant, if noble, tangent.
In conclusion, promise one thing: once you’ve plumbed the depths of the above resources, and your ‘Index of One Hundred Names to Possibly Use in a Future Romantic Novel’ is complete – please get back to your story.
Happy writing RNA, and all members of the NWS.
Gina’s newest release is titled ‘The Sea Horse Door’:
Although Lara Fairmont directs passion and focus into her London business, it goes bust with spectacular finality. Despondent, almost bankrupt, she nabs an astonishingly well-paid job as a carer for an elderly grande dame of Lobster Cove. What could be easier? Almost anything, for a start. A heady mix of misunderstanding, folklore, suspicion, and the hand of fate unbalances Lara from the moment she steps into Lucas Dalton’s desolate mansion on the shore. How many unanswered questions can there be? For a start, is her boss, Lucas – deep-sea diver, oil-rig maintenance man, and closet architect – unhinged? Is he way out of control, or merely lost in a dark place? Where’s his wife? Why so little light, and so much shade? Bewitched, Lara falls in love with the beauty of Maine, and the inexplicably irresistible Lucas. But, is he the devoted son, widower, and father he claims to be, or someone entirely different?
What a lovely light-hearted way of approaching what is, after all, a very serious subject. Thank you, Gina
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LOL. My WiP is based in Ireland, in the 1740s. I'm finding Irish Rugby Teams of my childhood a very good source of names!
It didn't happen second time round, when there was much deliberation over names, but with my first novel, Beneath an Irish Sky, the majority of the characters, arrived with names already. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but the names really did turn up at the same time - okay, maybe a nano-second behind, but there was no thought needed for the main characters, They just 'were'.
Loved this post. I have just changed my heroine's surname as my husband said it made her sound like she was in a Jane Austen novel rather than romantic suspense!
Must admit I've been trawling the Cornish Guardian obituaries for good Cornish names!
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Thanks for the comments everyone. Apart from dr kold - have no idea what that's all about! - been moving house so have been a little 'out of it' to say the least. Now en route to Greece for a wedding - SO looking forward to it. Sitting on the runway at Gatwick - pilot has just made an announcement; his name is Joshua Dance. Note to self and RNA fellows wrt naming characters: pilots.
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