What’s in a Name?

Every time I start a new story, I go through a certain amount of naming angst.  Sometimes I don’t have the luxury of going through lists and lists of baby names and meanings to get the perfectly nuanced name for the character I’m about to create.  There are also times when I don’t know the character well enough yet to name him or her, so I’ll just grab a name from the air and use it until I get a sense of what I am doing.  

What’s sort of funny is that I usually grab the name “Karen” for a female character.  After a bit of time writing, I get a feel for who this character really is and can change the name to something more fitting for the character’s personality.  I sometimes forget, though.  Two of my published stories last year featured female protagonists who were named Karen.  Now you know why.  It was more my being lazy than intentional. 

I have spent hours researching names. making sure that the character I am working on is somehow reflected by the name I give him or her.  I like it when a name reflects some personality flaw or trait that is exhibited in the story.  If I am about to start a roleplay, I tend to research a new name specifically for that roleplay from the start since it’s harder to do a’ find and replace’ on a forum and it might confuse my writing partners.  It’s better to stick with one name.  One time, I chose a name for a RP that required me looking at it and copy-pasting it each time because it was such a funky strange name I couldn’t remember it.  Drove me a little bonkers.  

When I write for erotic material, I add in more than just ‘who is this character’ to my search criteria. I have a whole list of squigg-worthy names I won’t use in sexual circumstances.  This counts for any erotic stories I write as well as roleplays.   At one point. I was working up a f/f roleplay that involved an older woman (my character).  My roleplay partner came back with her character being the same as my daughter’s name.   I have a particular taboo around incest in general, so this just sent me running.  Whenever someone suggests a character name that is the same as any of my brothers’ names, I ask them to change it.  I do the same when someone comes up with my real name, my hubby’s name or almost any other close family members.  I don’t confuse characters with real people, but the names can still affect me in irrational ways.  There are enough names in the world that I don’t feel it’s a real issue to avoid the handful that bug me for whatever reason. 


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