Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What’s in a Name?

Choosing characters’ names comes easily for me. In fact, most of my characters somehow already have names when I first imagine them. Rarely do I have to think about it.

Some writers do struggle with selecting just the right name, and I can understand that. We as a society and as individuals associate certain characteristics with certain names.

What type of character would have the name Tiffany? What about Agnes? Brittany? Jane? Grace?

Chances are, each of these names invoked an image in your mind. Want to know what a cross-section of people think about the name of one of your characters? Check out Behind the Name. Find the name in question and click on “ratings.” You’ll see how many people rated that name and what they think of it in a variety of categories.

I tried this for my main character, whose name is Liz.

Here's how the 23 people who rated “Liz” feel about the name:

Good Name: 63% - Bad Name: 37%
Feminine: 85% - Masculine: 15%
Modern: 67% - Classic: 33%
Youthful: 76% - Mature: 24%
Informal: 89% - Formal: 11%
Common: 57% - Upperclass: 43%
Urban: 57% - Natural: 43%
Devious: 59% - Wholesome: 41%
Strong: 57% - Delicate: 43%
Refined: 50% - Rough: 50%
Strange: 67% - Boring: 33%
Simple: 67% - Complex: 33%
Comedic: 70% - Serious: 30%
Nerdy: 50% - Unintellectual: 50%

Many of these were tossups. Of those that had wider margins, I’d say my Liz fits the categories pretty well.

BTW, I checked the ratings for Linda … when did my name cross over into Mature (63%) vs. Youthful (37%)? Boo hoo!

How do you select your characters’ names? And what do people think about them?


Lauren said...

Wow, I use behind the name all the time and never noticed that little rank meter thing. Thanks!

Now to find names for 3 boy characters in my next book...

Rilla said...

This is a fascinating resource. Thanks for sharing. Didn't know it existed and had no idea that my name was both delicate and strange...the latter I can relate to ;0

Disco Mermaids said...

Apparently, I've got a masculine, simple, and strange name. But people like it!

- Jay

Oh, and're it! We've got a meme back at our blog with your informal name written all over it!

LindaBudz said...

Hah! Our comments crossed in the ether ... I was just on your site asking to be tagged as you were here tagging me!

Thanks, and I'll try to do you proud!