Posts Tagged With: names

The Dangers of Naming Characters After Friends

Yesterday morning, I got an email from my mother. She’s been compiling all the comments from beta readers for Chasing Nonconformity (you rock, mama!), and during this activity she came to the realization that I have yet to name a character after her.

Oh dear.

This arose as a result of my naming one of the characters in the sequel “Akaeli”, which was inspired by my roommate Kaleigh. I have a habit of calling her name in a sing-song voice when she walks through the front door, and have grown very fond of her name as a result. Hence, I borrowed her name, alienized it, and stuck it in Chasing Nonconformity.  I would like to note that the character wasn’t based on her in any way, shape, or form — her name just inspired the character’s name.

Which brings me back to my mother, who put forward the question: Why have I named a major character after my roommate, but none after my own mother/editor/manager/life-giver?

The basic reason I gave her is that I haven’t named a character after her because I don’t name characters after people. Sure, I’ll honor my friends by throwing in their name as like a school name (Barlow Collegiate Institute!) or a kind of pudding or something, but I don’t do that with characters. Characters get names that fit them, that work with the story and the setting and the culture. If one of my friends’ names gets twisted around into a major character, it’s not because I felt a pressing need to insert them in the story, or because I have chosen to honor them above all others — it’s because I enjoy the way their name sounds, and think it goes well with the character.

Mother accepted my reasoning, as she is an eminently reasonable woman, and the topic was put to rest. So, all’s well that ends well.

What about you guys? Have you named characters/buildings/stuff in your books after friends? And if so (or if not!), what have your friends said in response?


Unrelated link of the day:

Funny article about romance hero tropes: Things I’ve Learned About Heterosexual Female Desire From Decades Of Reading


Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , | 29 Comments

What should I call my book series?

As work on the sequel to Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It proceeds at a glacial pace, my thoughts turn to the series as a whole and what it should be called. Considering that the first two things that draw me to a book are 1) the cover, and 2) the name, I want to make sure the series name is just as catchy as the book names themselves.

So to recap you, the two books currently in the series are Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It (published) and Chasing Nonconformity (not yet published). The genre is young adult space adventure / romance / humor. And now I need a series name.

The obvious choice is to base the name off of “Imminent Danger”, since that’s the first book in the series. But that could look a bit silly. Imagining browsing through Amazon and coming across this name:

Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It (Imminent Danger, #1)

Seems a bit redundant. Then again, that sort of thing happens to Twilight, Divergent, The Hunger Games … lots of popular series. Hmmm …

Time to draw inspiration from popular book series! Let’s see which popular YA series have “series names” that differ from the name of the first book in the series …

  • The Mortal Instruments (first book = City of Bones)
  • Caster Chronicles (first book = Beautiful Creatures)
  • The Infernal Devices (first book = Clockwork Angel)
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians (first book = The Lightning Thief)
  • House of Night (first book = Marked)
  • Lunar Chronicles (first book = Lunar)
  • Gemma Doyle (first book = A Great and Terrible Beauty)

Time to analyze! Weeeeeeeeeee …

So it seems like most YA series go with whatever the name of the first book is. Probably makes life easier. The series that don’t do that seem to draw their names from either the protagonist, important items in the story, or … well, whatever the heck “House of Night” means. The word “Chronicles” also seems popular.

Either I go with something slightly dull, like The Imminent Danger Series, or I spice it up and capture the essence of the book with something a bit more vague, like The Lamri Chronicles or The Reluctant Xenophile Saga or Abducted! (I quite enjoy the gratuitous exclamation mark in the last one).

Hmm … what do you guys think? What’s a good series name for my fledgling YA space adventure / romance / humor series? All suggestions welcome, no matter how silly!


Unrelated media of the day:

I may have already shared this last Christmas, but whatever. It’s a lovely Christmas medley shot in a very cool way, so listen/watch and enjoy!

Categories: My Works, Self Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 46 Comments

How do you name your characters?

I ask this because I’ve always had trouble naming my characters — let alone remembering their names once I’ve come up with them! If you watched one of my recent vlogs, you’ll recall me admitting that one of the characters in Imminent Danger started off named Vallin, and then changed halfway through to Varrin because I forgot his name. Eek. Obviously that has been corrected, but still … eek.

I have several naming methods for my characters, some of which are more or less ridiculous than the others. Are you prepared to bathe in the gentle hurricane that is my wisdom? Awesome. Here are my naming methods, in no particular order:

Drawing inspiration from surrounding signage

My favourite example of this is a character from one of my WIPs. I knew her name was Caroline, because I love that name, but I couldn’t figure out what her last name was. I was sitting in Starbucks one day, looked up, and saw a McDonald’s Drive Through sign. I stood from my chair, shrieked “EUREKA!”, and Caroline Drive was born.

Basing names off of a character’s species

This one mainly applies to all my crazy aliens in Imminent Danger. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know there’s a race of six-armed, blue scaled lizard men called the Ssrisk. How did I name them? Easy. What sound do reptiles and snakes make? Hsssssss. Hssssssss … Sssssssssssrisk … EUREKA!

Naming after friends / family

Not main characters, obviously, but I’ve definitely done this with locations. The Barlow Collegiate Institute, for example, in Imminent Danger, is named after my best friend. Anyone who’s followed the adventures of “Immin Dang” (my ill-fated book cover) will also be happy to know that there is now an Imindang district in a new alien city they visit in the sequel.

Classical allusions / Pop culture references

This one is obviously my main character, Eris — aka the Greek goddess of Discord. I actually first fell in love with that name when my brother introduced me to Final Fantasy VII (you know, that iconic game where Aeris is famously stabbed by Sephiroth and dies despite the fact that resurrection spells are very common in that universe?). So I combined the two and came up with Eris, abductee extraordinaire. Woo!

Making up names that sound cool

I love names with Vs and Rs in them. Oooh, and Zs! I’m a sucker for a good Z. Hence my awesomely-named emperor of Rakor, Ka’zarel. Booya. Note how I included a totally unnecessary apostrophe in his name for style.


How do you name your characters? What’s your favourite name that you’ve ever come up with?


Unrelated media of the day:


Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 120 Comments

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