Wednesday, June 6, 2018

What's in a name? #IWSG June

It's the first Wednesday again, which means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. The June 6 question - What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

The awesome co-hosts this week are Beverly Stowe McClure, Tyrean Martinson, Tonja Drecker, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor! Be sure to pop over and see what they have to say, too!

For my Menopausal Superhero series, both the titles and the character names came pretty easily. Going Through the Change was the working title pretty much from day one for the first book, and finding Change of Life (book 2) and Face the Change (book 3), was a quick sidestep and a little bit of thinking about phrases using the word Change. Not too difficult. 

Naming the characters was a little tricky, but still not anything I struggled over for long. Once I'd gotten far enough in to know about how old my characters were, I just went to census records for popular names during their likely birth years. I was going for an "everywoman" kind of feel for these characters, so giving them common names (Helen, Patricia, Jessica, Linda, Cindy) went along with that. 

There were some personal Easter Eggs in there as well, since Helen was my grandmother's name (though she preferred to go by Liz, a nickname off of her middle name, Elizabeth) and Patricia is my mother's name (though she prefers to be called Pat). I have a cousin named Jessica, too (who goes by Jessie). I liked Linda because it's a bilingual name and Linda Alvarez lives her life in two languages. 

Other works have been harder to name. His Other Mother (unpublished) went through a lot of titles while I was writing it. For the longest time it was just called Sherry, after the main character, even though I knew that wouldn't be the title in the end. 

The short story I finished last week still hasn't settled on a title even though I think the story is otherwise complete ("The H.O.A" or maybe "Late Bloomer"). Sometimes I can't title something until I've written it completely and the title rises up and suggests itself somewhere along the way. 

In my current WIP, working title Thursday's Children, the main character has been named Kye'luh the whole time, but I've tried out a bunch of different spellings for it: Ki'lah, Kai-luh, Kyla, etc.  Her youngest cousin used to be Jared, but became Camden when I realized I had two J characters with two syllable names: Jason and Jared. Could be confusing. 

A name can be so important. It can give ethnic cues, generational information, geography hints. The same with names of books. The title can give you tone and genre, as well as a hint as to the plot or theme. These seemingly little choices, can really impact a reader's experience with your work! 

How about you, friends? Got a character whose name you love? Or would change given the chance? how about a book title? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. 


  1. I have to say that your series' title...Menopausal just genius. And so is the concept. :)

  2. I have a few stories where for the longest time the title was the main character's name.

  3. So right. In some cases, a writer can put a lot into a name.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  4. I've never worked very hard on naming characters. I have gone to the phone book a few times. No one's ever told me that the names in my works are problems. Maybe they're just being nice.

  5. I had several untitled stories. They didn't get titles until I submitted them to my publisher.