Thursday, March 8, 2012

My Character Naming Habits.

I've been trying to get my office put together. (I've only lived here since the end of August.) While putting on the millionth coat of blue paint on the walls and listening to music (including tons of Pearl Jam - Eddie Vedder's voice = bliss), I started thinking about character names.

I like unique names and I like the plain names. It's weird how sometimes it can take FOREVER to name a character.  Like nothing fits them just right.  Other times a name just pops into my head and I know it's perfect. One thing I realized as I started thinking of all my past stories and the characters that popped up in them was my own character naming habits.

My first one: I love guy names for girls.  Like in my short lived Four Brothers fanfic, I had a girl named Danielle who went by Danny.  In a Death Sentence fanfic I wrote my craziest character whose real name was Charlotte, but she went by Charlie.  And of course the most recent and obvious one:  Gus Novel.  Her real name is Augustus, but all her family and friends call her Gus.  A confession:  I wish my parents would have given me a boy name. Don't ask me why I love them, but I do!  So much that if I ever have a kid and it's a girl, I plan on naming her Charlee. (Of course I may never mention to her that I decided on that future baby name while writing the Death Sentence fanfic since the character Charlie was a coked out stripper.)

Second habit:  A lot of my main character's names start with a "G".  It's something I noticed when I was writing Fairy Tale.  My MC's name for the longest time was Gabby.  Fairy Tale was the fourth "serious novel" (aka a novel idea that lived past 20 pages) that I had tackled. I already had the name Gus in one story, and Gracie in another.  Even though I knew all four novels wouldn't get published because hell they're still not actually done-done, I thought it was just too weird to have that many "G names".  So I decided to ax Gabby around the time I decided I sucked at writing fantasy.

Third habit: My characters get named after cities.  There's Memphis Jack *sighs*.  (Technically I stole the idea from some friends about 4 years ago when they found out they were having a boy. I was so glad they chose the other name because the name Memphis Jack just seemed to be perfect for this character.)  Then there was my beloved Jackson in Always a Day Late and a Dollar Short.  In What Isn't Killing Us, I had a girl named Savannah.  And in Summer Story, I had a Sydney.  

When I was Tennesse last year, I squealed when I seen this sign because even though I wrote Always a Day Late and Dollar Short years ago Jackson and Memphis are probably my favorite guy characters:

Fourth and most notorious habit:  I nickname just about every single one of my main characters.  The worst story to get it is probably The Unexpected Clash of Strangers.  There's my MC Gracie, but you can only call her that if you're super close to her.  If you're not, you call her by her birth name Grace.  Then she has this fake boyfriend whose real name is Dean, but his fake name is Ethan, hence why she always refers to him as Ethan-Dean.  Then there's Ace whose real name is Bob.  And Gracie's best friend Vicki gets nicknamed anything Gracie can think of (Vicki-o-licious, V-Jay, you get the point). Of course Derk aka D-Man.  Hhmm maybe I should just blame the nicknaming on Gracie.  She gives everyone in her life a name, and you should hear the list of ones she comes  up with when she discusses her ex-husband.  

But seriously though there are only two stories I can think of where my main characters DIDN'T have nicknames. Those were Celes in my Death Sentence fanfic, What Isn't Killing Us and Serenity in Always a Day Late and a Dollar Short.  That's it.  Every other character I write have some sort of nickname. It's ridiculous, and I probably should put some sort of stop to it.

What about you lovely fellow writers?  Ever notice some weird habit in your writing when it comes to naming characters?  I'm thinking I may need to break some of mine.  Give the boy names and city names a break (even though there are like two boys names I'm DYING to use in a story at some point) and quit nicknaming all my characters.  Then again if it's anything like my old smoking habit, this may take a few (10) years.


  1. Replies
    1. Really? Hhmm never thought the name Memphis was a weird one, but okay.

  2. My characters always have nicknames. Jackson goes by Jack. Elenora goes by El or Ellie. Seraphie's brother calls her Fifi. Sebastien goes by Bastien. In real life, people tend to go by nicknames. I have nicknames for my friends. Some friends get called different things depending on my mood. I think it's realistic to give them nicknames.

    And I never even thought about the fact that my characters had weird names until someone told me Jackson is usually a last name. When I started writing, that just *was* his name. I didn't have to think about it. And I also love giving girls boy names. But I love role reversal. Not that you'd get that from the two female examples I gave. O__O

    1. When you put it that way, I don't feel like it's overdone with nicknames then cause I get called by a nickname from a lot of my family and friends and vice versa.

      I know Jackson is usually a last name, but I don't find it weird. And not because I have a Jackson in one of my stories, either. Sometimes when a name hits you, it just fits completely.

  3. I have a habit of nicknames too. Not only in writing, sadly. My poor daughter has more only-my-mom-calls-me-that nicknames than she has toys. I've always thought this is because I don't like my full name and I've always preferred a nickname or because it's just easier to establish close relationships by having them use a nick. But I also enjoy when the characters in books I read have them, so *shrug* I guess we just like them then.
    Also, I always thought Gus was a guy. I'm glad that's cleared up! :P

    1. LOL! I'm feeling better and better about nicknaming characters when everyone says how natural it is in real life. I think I over-analyze myself too much.

      I thought I told you Gus was a girl! I wish I could write a guy's POV, but sadly, no. Her parents thought she was going to be a boy the entire time so they refused to switch the name when she arrived. And for whatever reason Gus just seemed to fit perfectly way back in the day when I got the idea to write a crazy family story.


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