My Grandmother once told me, “Everyone says ‘what’s in a name?’ but you never meet anyone named Judas.” Touché, Granny. And maybe Shakespeare was onto something when he said “A rose by another other name is just as sweet.” I understand the meaning behind what he’s saying, however, I also believe that a name holds more power than some might think. The power and ‘draw’ that a name holds is the reason I take naming my characters so seriously, as I believe all authors do.
When I had the idea for the first book in my Art of D/s Trilogy, which was years before I wrote and published it, I had a completely different name for my hero. To me, he was that name. Heart and soul, he was THAT name. I wrote half of the first book with that name in the book when a very a close coworker told me one of his sons carried that name. I was devastated. Not because I suddenly disliked the name, but because now THAT name was my friend’s son. And that’s all I could envision when writing it. With great sadness in my heart and many days of deliberation, I changed it. Am I glad I did, not really, because to me, deep down, he’s still THAT name. Yet, he also is Dylan. And my readers love him as Dylan. So it’s a strange feeling, but one I’ve come to terms with.
Throughout history, names have signified different things. There are countless books and websites dedicated to names and their meanings and definitions. Those facts alone show you just how important names are. The names I choose are close to my heart, as well as the nicknames and so I reference many of those sites. I’m not necessarily going for the most unique name or the least used name, but rather, one that matches my character’s personality. Sometimes it’s a far-fetched name and sometimes it’s what might be considered a common name. But, to me, it’s who that voice is. Sometimes, they’re kind and tell me their names and other times, they ask for my help in giving them one.
At this point, you’re thinking I’m crazy, right? After all, it’s just a name. But before you make the assumption that I’ve lost my marbles, think about your favorite books and the characters you’ve come to love within them. Could they go by any other name? Probably not. Or are their personality traits indelibly etched into your mind along side their titles? I’m going to venture a guess that you’ve said yes. It’s no wonder that many people name their children after book characters. Just like a parent takes great time and effort in choosing a name that will suit their infant, I take care in choosing my characters names. They’re my babies. Extensions of my desires. Pieces of my writing soul. And they deserve no less than my best to give them names that they are proud to carry throughout their literary lives.