Wednesday, January 11, 2012

RTW: What's in a Name

I've been looking for something I can do on the blog to post more regularly and have it be, uhm, not stupid. Then mysterious forces, aka my Google Reader, led me to YA Highway. I've been following this blog for quite some time and reading my fellow writer's responses on Wednesdays.  Lately one of my CPs, Juliana, has been encouraging me to join the fun. So here we go.

This week's topic: If you couldn't use your own name, what would your pseudonym or penname be?

Let me state right from the start that I place a lot of value in a name. A lot.  For me a name carries a story all on its own, a hundred times so when it comes to me having to find names for any new novel I start writing.  With my current WIP I might have spent almost two weeks looking for the right name for my main character.

One of the most significant reasons I place such  high value in names is that when I plan a novel and decide on names, when I finally find a name that I complete love, a few pieces of said novel starts falling into place.  This name carries with it its own history and future and it has to be taken into account when I begin fleshing out my characters.  Naming my characters is like writing a part of the story without having to think about it, and I love it.

So having to choose a pseudonym or penname for myself is torture! What a cruel question for somebody who loves names as much as I do.*  Give me a few minutes to go search my favorite name sites for something that will do until I find a name I'll be absolutely in love with....

*one week later*

I kind of like Cassia, Daliza and Iris. I'd pair it with a color to keep it close to home.  So I'd probably end up with one of the two below:

Cassia Black
Daliza Blue

I kind of like those. These jumped out of me, and best of all, none of them had a lot of story behind it so I would get to build my own.

This was such a fun exercise.  I'm looking forward to read everybody's answers.

*At work today I stumbled across a name that made me smile.  The lady's name is Salon. Which is almost as great as a lady named Surprise. No jokes. I love names!


  1. I hear ya!
    When I choose a name for a character in a wip, I research meaning too. Besides sounding right in my ears, the meaning has to convey they character's personality or task or future. I usually like what I come up with lol

    Oh, I like Iris.
    Iris Purple (me loves purple!) lol

    Btw, thanks for mentioning me ;)

  2. I love names!! It takes me FOREVER to find a name for my characters. Each name is important in it's own way, whether the reader gets it or not. My story wouldn't be complete without 'the right' names. I totally get it.

    I like Cassia Black. Sounds like an awesome name :)

  3. Juliana and Jess. Yes! to what you both said. You can read so much into a character's personality, whether it agrees or contradicts. I'm glad I'm not the only one who takes ages deciding. People who get it are awesome.

  4. Oh yes! I love names and naming characters. (Which is why my MC is named Lividia Blackwell.) I like the names Cassia and Daliza too. They have a kind of Mediterranean feel to them. I think of sun and wine and long peasant skirts.

  5. Donelle, Lividia Blackwell is such a wonderfully complicated name. I love it! I've got that Mediterranean image in my head and then remember I have to go to work tomorrow.

  6. I love names too. I love the feeling you get when you finally find the absolutely perfect name for a character. I can get really distracted by my babynaming websites and my name book, though.

  7. Glad Juliana convinced you to join the fun :-) I love choosing names for my characters but a pen name would be more complicated even though I did think about it at some point. Today though I decided to reveal my real first name *Big step for me* :-)

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  9. For me, naming characters is not a formula. Sometimes a character comes with a name, and try as I might, I can't shake it. Whether or not I like the name is irrelevant. For others, I'll think of the characters parents and what name they would have given to this child. Or I'll consider their personality and come up with a fitting name. Those are just a few options.

    While I have not plans to take a pen name, if I were to, I'd want it to fit both my personality, and the type of writing I'm associating with that name. I wouldn't want to call myself Michael Sunshine-Glitter and write horror. Or Jack Bloodlust writing picture books for children.

    Yes, names matter. And you want to be sure you're happy with the names you choose, either for yourself or your characters, because once they're in print, they're in stone.

    Welcome to RTW, Jani! Good to have you. :)

  10. Tyler-Rose, I love my baby-names websites, have got a few of them saved close at hand.

    Commutinggirl/Elodie, you have a beautiful name! It makes me think of soft music. Love it.

    Colin, I admire the amount of thought you put into names. It kind of makes me happy to know that there are so many people really thinking and considering what they name their characters. It's a responsibility and you owe it to yourself and your characters to do the work properly.

  11. I love, love, love names. I have an entire blog post devoted to naming characters and how I research them. I'm actually anxious about having a second kid because I worry we can't live up to the story behind our son's name.

    As for a pen name, I've seriously considered it. With a last name like Kaczorowski, I've thought it might be better to use something easier to spell/pronounce/remember. I've played around with variations on my maiden name (Jamison) and my middle name (Maureen), but I'm proud of my husband's Polish heritage and I love being a part of his family. I don't think seeing a pen name on the shelves would have the same thrill as seeing my real name.

    But I like Cassia Black! It's one of those names that actually tells you what to expect from the book :)

  12. I like Cassia Black-- but what about Daliza Ochre or Iris Aubergine...
    Hmm. Cassia Black may be the best one.

  13. Jenny, link me that to that name post of yours on twitter when you have the time, would love to read it. I've always wondered about your last name. Do you pronounce the first 'c' or is it a silent one?
    I would actually never use a pseudonym but for the fun or RTW I thought those two names were great. I do like Cassia Black, it just looked right when I placed it together. Maybe I could use it in one of my future novels.

  14. KO, nice with the Daliza Ochre. I like that. And Iris Aubergine reads like they were made for each other. Rolls right off the tongue.

  15. The 'c' is silent - otherwise it's phonetic: Kaz-or-ow-ski. I suspect the 'c' once had a stronger pronunciation, but has been Anglicized. Folks from Poland always make fun of the way I say it :D

  16. I'm like you with taking a century mulling over names for my characters. I like names that have significant meanings. Not obvious ones, but if readers were to take the time to look them up they'd get why I chose them. It also has to sound a certain way based on the character. So, so tough coming up with just the right name, isn't it?

    1. So very tough. There's so much behind a name. I like taking my time, not just any one will work.