A Rose By Any Other Name


While I haven’t started writing-writing my WIP, I am loosely writing scenes. And those scenes read like a math problem: X and Y were talking. Z enters. What’s the angle of the bottom left corner of the equilateral triangle*?

This is driving me nuts! I usually have my main characters’ names by now. And they usually just come to me. Julia was always Julia.

My first go-to name finder, when I need it for secondary characters, is the bookshelf. I check the spines for author names and plug in a right-sounding first or last name as needed and, voila!, character named.

I haven’t tried it yet for this WIP, but things are getting desperate. I might have to go further than just the bookshelf and even break out the yearbooks. Past classmates, beware!

The only time that I can remember really struggling with a main character’s name was in high school. I knew his last name: McDougal, but no first name sounded right with it. I turned to the bookshelf but it failed me.

It just so happened that this was at the time of the VCR. My dad, a huge University of Michigan football fan, asked me to tape a game for him. Why he didn’t program it, I don’t know. Destiny, probably (no, that’s not melodramatic).

I watched the game as I recorded it and my ears perked up when the announcers talked about the players. They kept talking about this guy named Kevin…so perfect! I was so excited that it took me a while to realize that the player’s name was actually Kevin McDougal. Destiny!

Despite the fact that he was on the opposing team and would lead his team to the win, I was giddy. I had a name!

I still had a crazy smirk on my face when my dad came home and asked how the game was. “OK,” I said, trying to play it cool. I knew he wanted to watch it and I didn’t want to ruin it, no matter how painful it was going to be to watch. Unfortunately, he saw me smiling, smiled back and said “Oh, that good?” Ug. I didn’t bother to correct him because, well, parents just don’t understand.

I have at least one male and one female protag to name. Which sporting events should I be watching? Or any naming secrets you’d like to share?

*The answer: 60 degrees


7 thoughts on “A Rose By Any Other Name

      • bethfinke

        Disclosure: my research is based on wait staff at my local tavern, most are 20-somethings. Alison, Ali, Emma, Amanda, Stacey, Caitlin, Rachel, Natalie. Young men are Jesse, Collin, Ben, Garrett, Joe (lots of Joes that age, actually), Will, Kyle, Brian and tons of Ryans.
        Does this help, or just complicate things?!

  1. Kim

    Oh, your blog makes me smile. I groaned when I realized that your character’s name came from a football roster. My husband forces me to watch football with him. The names are bizarre. (LaQuin Zandovillier Smith comes to mind.) Thank goodness a guy named Kevin was the star of the game that day. Hey, watch the Olympics this summer in London, the athletes have great names and play sports you didn’t know existed!

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