Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why did you name him that?

Ever wonder "why did the author choose that name?" Reading my books, you probably ask that question a lot. Yes, I like unusual names, made up or obscure. My children have my husband to thank that they were given classic names like Jonathan, Katelyn, and Daniel (he vetoed anything too unusual). However, I did get a Theodore in the middle name slot.

Having just read a blog post on naming characters, I figured I might write a post of my own to answer the above question about my own characters. So, here it goes. Confession time.

The Mercenary's Marriage

Darius - Darius the Great was a Persian king mentioned in the Biblical book of Daniel. I have always liked his name. So, when a fierce, decisive, surprisingly gentle mercenary with a noble heart popped into my head and demanded I tell his story, I named him Darius. Also, my character is Ratharian, a society similar in some ways to Persia, so it seemed to be a good name for that reason as well.

Brice - I chose Brice's name solely on the sound. I had never met anyone by that name before. It was only after I began writing about her that I discovered it is primarily a male name. However, many of my naming sources list it as unisex. The meaning, "son of a nobleman," doesn't really fit her, but the sound seemed to fit her. She is strong and feminine, but in a quiet, understated way.

Ewian - This time I was just playing with sounds. The poor guy got a bit of a raw deal. Sorry, Ewian.

Karyn - I pulled the name out of the air as I wrote and dropped it into the story before the character had even entered the scene. I have an Aunt Karen who bears little resemblance to Karyn except for sharing her strength and generous heart.

Kurt - Well, I needed a healer who could stand up to a bunch of brawny mercenaries and not be intimidated by the rigors of war and travel. The blunt sound of the name and the meaning (bold, wise councilor) seemed to fit.

The Crown of Anavrea 

Labren/Tranhern - Labren's birth name in its entirety is Trahern Marcus Theodoric. This is significant because of the name meanings: Trahern means "strength of iron" and Marcus means "warlike." It is a name a king might name his first born son, which is Trahern's past. Labren, which means "brown one," is also significant. He chooses this name for himself to conceal his identity, but it also indicates his heart. Labren, in his heart, wishes for obscurity. Theodoric means "people's ruler." An appropriate name for a ruling family, wouldn't you agree.

Eve Ethan - Eve means "life." She symbolizes exactly that for Labren. He has given up, chosen to let his father kill him vicariously, until she intervenes. Her last name means "firm or strong" and also demonstrates an aspect of her and her brother's characters, displayed differently in each sibling.

Ruarc Ethan - A reader chose this character's first name. She named him well. Ruarc can mean champion, rain, or famous ruler. My character tends toward the champion aspect of his name. After all, he earns his sister's freedom price and then tracks her down when she isn't where he left her. He fights for her safety and well-being. A true brotherly champion, if only he were not so stubborn and hard of hearing. ;)

Han/Atluer - I don't recall why I chose to name him Han, but the name fit in my head. A diminutive of John (God is gracious), it defined him much more clearly than I thought at the time. His chosen name, Atluer, is an entirely made up creation from my head. I liked the sound. :)

Professor Olof - Olof was complete fancy on my part. He needed to sound eccentric.

How do decide the names of your characters (or children)? 
Did you consider the meaning of the names for any of them?

- Rachel Rossano (meaning "lamb from the peninsula")


~Jane~ said...

Hi Rachel!

Thanx for inviting me over, and posting the link to my blog!

I loved your post! You really researched your character names, and the meanings are very interesting. (Well, except poor Ewian! LOL)

I'm more of a "pull out of the air" character namer, but I do give names I like to heros/heroines and names I don't like to villains! (Usually!) LOL

For our daughter, I chose a name I liked, and made sure it didn't mean anything weird, then checked the initials. Initials are big for me. Hubbys spells a word, and I didn't want hers to spell anything bad! :)


Rachel Rossano said...

I do a lot of pulling names out of the air in my science fiction short stories. That is why I didn't list them here. The theme would have gotten really old fast. :)

I completely understand the initials concern. My sister's initials spelled a word and we teased her about it as children. She didn't appreciate it. None of my kids' initials spell words; we were careful about that too. :) We didn't want any of them walking about with JAR or something like that so we stuck to middle names starting with consonants. :)

Thank you for stopping by and commenting. :)

- Rachel

Katherine Sophia said...

I love - or hate, depending on where I'm at - character naming! :D Usually I like the ones that simply introduce themselves to me - it makes the whole thing soo much easier... but then I also love names that mean something important to the character and the story, and those I usually have to think about. :D

You have a couple there with more than one name... do you think that is ever distracting or confusing for readers? I'm realizing most of my characters have at least a nickname, if they do not wholly change their name for some reason or another during the course of the story. :P

Rachel Rossano said...

Labren/Trahern and Han/Atluer are the only two in print that have two names, but that will change soon (hopefully). I can't hint more or I would spoil the plot twist in the story. Overall, I find that names are really important to many of my characters.

For one of my novels, each of the characters have multiple names chosen for a special reasons or meanings by their parents. The heroine goes by her full first name or her nickname which are easily interchangeable (Zezilia and Zez).

The hero on the other hand is called different names by different characters based on how they knew him and the context of the conversation. The meanings of the names are closely linked to what the other characters' know about him. Hadrian (his public name for use for official Sept Son business and people who know him only within the few years before the story beginning) means dark one which describes his appearance. He goes by Ilias among family and close friends who know him intimately. Ilias means Jehovah is my God, political suicide in a society centered on goddess worship. Just the uttering of this name would be considered heretical among some of the high officials of Pratinus (Latin for green).

Confusing? Maybe it is out of context. Within context, I hope it lends a depth to the characters and the world, a society which takes great pains to choose their children's names. (Fun fact: Hadrian/Ilias was given seven names at his birth because he is the seventh son. Zezilia, likewise a seventh child, also has seven names. Talk about confusing if I used them all regularly.)

In general, I haven't found multiple names, if handled well and carefully, can add to characterization and world building. What is your take?