Feb 1, 2016

Choosing a Name

by Bronwyn Jameson

You may recall my December post, when I pondered whether a No-Gift Christmas would work out for my family.  I promised to report back and I'm here to say that it worked out pretty well.  Except for the "thank you, Mum" and "I love you, honey" gifts which I was assured were not Christmas gifts.  Hmmm.

One such gift was this little bundle of cheekiness who arrived a few days prior to Christmas and promptly took up all my time and attention and cuddles.  The perfect pre-Christmas gift from my eldest son and daughter-in-law.  To distract me from the fact that they're moving to London for several years.  (So far the distraction seems to be working!)

At Christmas everyone wanted to know his name.  At first I thought Digger was a good fit. He'd already dug his first hole in the garden (and tried to bury his squeaky chook toy) and I liked the idea of a good Aussie name.  But, alas, my husband kept calling him Roy.

Fast forward several weeks.  Puppy is growing quicker than asparagus and is now totally ruling our lives although no name has stuck.  Son has moved to London and during our first FaceTime he mentions going for a run in Richmond Park and the deer which we all remember from this video.

Suddenly my pup is re-christened Fenton and the new name sticks. For no particular reason: he does not chase deer (or sheep) and always comes when he is called.  But that's the thing about names, isn't it?  Sometimes they just fit for no particular reason.

When starting a new story, it can take me chapters -- and many trial names  -- to settle on the right one.  And sometimes it is the exact opposite; a character arrives in my mind with the perfect name already attached.  If you were to ask me why the name is perfect, chances are I would not have an answer.

That said, there are names that I know will never "fit."  Often because of an association with a real person, either someone I know in real life, or a celebrity or fictional character.  Point in case: my first published book featured a heroine named Paris.  Shortly afterward, Paris Hilton hit the headlines and I wanted to go back and change that name.  It no longer sat right with me.

Sometimes -- although not often -- when I'm reading, a character name does not sit right either.  Perhaps because I associate that name with a real-life person who has made a remarkably negative impression, perhaps because I feel the name doesn't fit the character's background or age or personality.  It can distract me, it can affect my enjoyment of the story, but usually not enough to stop me reading.

Does this ever happen with you?  Do character names matter enough that they can influence your enjoyment of a book...or stop you buying a book after reading the blurb?


  1. Oh, Bron, he's gorgeous. He looks like a fun bundle of mischief :) What a great distraction gift! Hope he brings you much love!

    Cath xox

    1. He is a cracker and, yes, brings much love to everyone here (but especially me!)

  2. What a gorgeous ball of mischief you have there, Bronwyn! So lovely to meet Fenton. :-)

    And, yes, I'm nodding my head vigorously at the name thing. Some names are just total no-go zones for me. Sometimes it's because of unpleasant connotations evoked by the name. But that said, I could never use Mr Douglas's first name or my dad's first name either -- they just seem a bit too close. :-)

    1. Michelle, I am nodding my head vigorously at your mention of husband/dad's name. Yes, yes, YES!!! In total agreement.

  3. Hi Bronwyn

    Fenton is so cute I could give him a cuddle :) and I am glad the no presents worked out fine

    The only time I have problems with names in books is when they are so different and for me they are hard to pronounce and then it puts me off for a bit until I work out something in my mind to call them LOL but I don't not buy a book because of it

    Have Fun

  4. He is a real bundle of energy but when he wears himself out playing, he likes to curl up on my lap.

    Hard-to-pronounce names are a problem, I agree, but like you I can usually come up with my own pronunciation and make it work.

  5. Fenton looks like a lot of high-action fun, Bron. We had a Jack Russell briefly but she took a little too much interest in the wildlife in the national park we lived adjacent to so we had to give her away. She is very happy now chasing rats on a dairy farm.

    I take a while to settle into names of my characters and often change them a few chapters in.

    1. Anything that moves, Jen, and we are in the right location to keep an active JR happy!

      Like you, I often take a while to settle on names....or for the name to settle on the character might be a more accurate way of putting it.

  6. OMG Bron! That video cracked me up! Almost spat my cuppa all over the screen :-)Fenton is a perfect name for your cute little bundle of energy!

    Names are hard, aren't they? And it gets harder and harder the more books you write. I've just handed in a medical with a Callum - Cal for short - as a hero. I didn't think I'd used it before and then I got a translation in the mail yesterday, one of those multi-volume European ones and the only words I understood were the hero and heroine's names. And, you guessed it, the hero was Callum :-( Now I want to email my editor and ask her to change the name. The thing is though its stuck and Cal really grew on me too.
    I really need to go through my books and make note of the names I've used....

  7. I still laugh whenever I watch it. Probably because we've had some dogs like that one!

    There are only so many names you can assign to a romance hero, aren't there? And when an author has written as many books as you, I'm sure you have to start repeating. I'd leave him as Cal, especially if the other guy was known more often as Callum. That's almost like two different names, right? (I did that once with a guy who insisted he was Nick, which I'd already used and my editor wouldn't let me use again so soon. So I named him Dominic -- Nic for short!)

  8. Bron, Fenton is adorable! What a perfect name - after seeing that video I can see why.
    Names are very important - I agonise over mine for my books, can't really get the person right until their name is right!
    I remember years ago when you and I were at our first Romance Writers of America convention, how charmed people were by your name which seemed so different. Kandy was not at all a notable name in the US!

  9. Awww he's gorgeous!! What a cheeky little face, I'm having some serious puppy envy right now :)

    I care much more about names for books I'm writing than ones I'm reading. However, I really struggle to read a book with a hero or heroines that has my name or an immediately family member's name. I find it hard to disconnect the name from the person I know, but if the books good I'll still read it :)