Friday, July 1, 2011

-Cue Shakespeare's Cliche Rose Quote-

Yeah, I'm totally not going there.  I can barely stomach Romeo and Juliet as it is.  (More of a Julius Caesar girl, see?)  But as I'm considering names today, that was the natural allusion to make. 

    So.  Names.  Incredibly, ridiculously important, right?  Socially acceptable or not, whether we admit or even realize it or not, we all judge books by covers -- and people by names

    Some authors like to pick names with meanings that connect with their characters -- J. K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins are two popular authors who do this.  J.K. employs this, especially with Latin, more than any author I've ever read.  (Here's a list of character names and meanings behind them -- it doesn't have all the characters, but a lot of them, and it probably does a better job handling it all than I could.)  And in Collins' case, Katniss was mentioned in the book as a plant that the character was named after, but "Katniss" also means "belonging to an arrow" in Latin.  Peeta's name sounds just like "pita" bread -- fitting, since he comes from a family of bakers.

    Of course, there are other authors who pick names specifically for the meanings -- and tons who don't.  In my current project, I just went with random names I liked.  But if I can find a name that I like the sound/look of and applies to the story, I'd definitely be open to doing that in the future. 

    Just for fun, I looked up a few name meanings.  My first two names -- Jenna and Blake -- mean "light" and "dark" (depending on which language/search engine or website you're consulting).  My MC's named Mallory, which apparently means "ill-fated" and "unlucky".  Kind of makes me wonder . . . .

    Anyway, how do you pick your characters' names?  Have you ever looked up their names
-- or yours?


Jenna Cooper said...

In the baby name book my parents found the name Jenna in says that it means "little bird."
I always try to find some meaningful connection either in name meaning or an allusion to another famous character, but I oftentimes give up and just go with what sounds right.
And though I know Peeta's name sounds like pita bread, I'd stake a lot that Suzanne Collins got his name from Peter in the Bible.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Usually character names are easy for me, but I write fantasy, so it's easier. For a particular villain, I wanted a harsh sounding name, so I took two harsh consonants - v and k - and put them together in a short name. :)

Imogen said...

Generally I don't give my characters names that mean anything about them. However that being said, one of my characters is called Maxaira, which is Greek for 'blade'. It suites her because she's a very warlike girl.

The Story Queen said...

Thanks for the link to the Harry Potter character names! That was really interesting :)

Sonia is Greek for 'wisdom.' My sister's name (Anita) is Hebrew for 'grace' or 'graceful.' Clearly my parents had no idea what they were talking about...

I wrote a story years ago which involved a prince named Brendan. I'd looked up the word and the literal translation is 'prince.' I don't normally pay too much attention to meanings for my characters though. Interesting post!

Jenna said...

Jenna -- I found the "little bird" meaning online, too. It was on a site that listed Jenna as a derivative of names like Jennifer that I found the "light" one. And I like the idea of Collins taking Peeta's name from Peter -- I never would've made the connection, but it's interesting.

Bethany -- I love that! I think the whole concept of using harsh consonants is brilliant. (:

Imogen -- Me neither. But it's awesome that her name translates to "blade" -- and that it's so... pronouncable. You'd think that a literal translation like that would be funny looking and hard to say, but works out nicely. I like it.

Story Queen -- ha, if it makes you feel any better, my mom picked my names from a soap opera. And I'm sorely lacking the grace department myself. (:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog :) Oh, and my *real* name means 'Laurel Crowned' or 'Victorious' :) And, most of charries names have meaning attached to them :) Although, I'd have to go and look to see exactly what which one meant :)