Name Games

To follow up on my previous post, anyone who has ever written fiction can agree that naming characters so that the results are believable and convey everything you want a name to convey is…hard. It’s like naming your children, if you somehow already knew everything about them and were trying to come up with the perfect label for all that awesome. Also, if you weren’t hemmed in by your partner’s preference, family requirements, and social convention. But I digress.

One of my favorite resources is Baby Center, which has a tool to display other “similar” names. This is great if you’re like me and the process of naming characters goes something like this.

“What would a WASP name her son? You know, something like Bradley but not?”

Which is how I ended up naming the hero in the manuscript I’m finishing now Parker.

The Social Security Administration database is good too, particularly if you want to find the top names from a specific decade. Before 1900, I also like this site, which uses data that SSA doesn’t have online.

And we’re halfway through NaNoWriMo and I’m at 21,889 words. Still just a bit behind but I’ve made up some of the ground I lost when I had serious election fever. Bad planning on someone’s part, that was. John Adams, I’m looking at you.


I’m at 16,689 words for NaNoWriMo. I’m about 5,000 words behind, though I haven’t done any writing today. With some consistency and luck, I might be able to win. At the very least, I’m making good progress on The Easy Part, which now has 40,035 words and should be done by the end of the year.

Really, though, this post mostly serves as a reminder to check your characters’ names against those not just of the other characters in the book you’re writing but those in your other WIPs. The heroine in the recently finished Brave in Heart? Margaret. The heroine in The Easy Part? Millie (short for Amelia). The heroine in Brave in Heart’s sequel, which I’m plotting in my head? Matilda.

Why am I so fixated on the letter M?

I can’t change any of these names. I’m far enough along in the characterization that it would be weird. Margaret is Margaret. Millie is Millie. Matilda is Matilda. But I think it’s safe to say that I’m done with M-named heroines for a while.