I’m always curious about how writers come up with names for their characters. Names are important, especially if you have to live with the hero and heroine for 250 pages. You love these people and the name is part of the identity. My parents decided I had to be “Patience” since I was born a month late. Pretty funny, huh? But unless a name has special significance in the story, I like to see super normal names in romance, even common names like: David, Susan, Mary, Juan, Jason, Mike, George, Derek, Maria, John, Jessica, Jennifer, Kate.
In romance, there are no rules. But here are some things to consider:
Try to avoid unisex names: Lee, Reagan (?), Jordan, Morgan, Bobby/i, Joey. This is why: When I read about Bobby and Jake stealing their first kiss in the pantry–well, I giggle. Even though I know that Bobby is a girl, “Boy” keeps flashing in my mind.
Think beyond names we’ve seen a million times: Rafe, Jake, Tyler, Ryan, Chase. If I had a penny for how many heroes have these names… I mean, they’re okay but overused.
Rarer names are great, as long as they’re not too rare: like Ri8ck. Oh wait, that’s kind of cool. Never mind!
Overly flowery names
like Patience Bloom rate high on the cringe-o-meter, though I may be alone in this. Maybe it just hits too close to home. Maybe the name seems too stylish or obvious : Jasmine (Jazz)–she probably looks and smells like a flower; Periwinkle (Peri), her eyes like “crushed violets”*; Cinnamon, who coincidentally drinks everyone’s favorite herbal tea; Rance (rancid from working 16 hours at the ranch); Trig (short for Trigonometry or Trigger because his parents love math and/or guns); Dakota–I know I’m probably the only one who doesn’t favor naming someone after a state, but it just makes me think of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith’s daughter every time. Ron Howard and his wife gave their children middle names from the states where they were conceived. Kind of ewwww, but I forgive Richie Cunningham anything. Kind of a pointless tangent…
The general rule is that if I notice the name too much, I’m not noticing your wonderful story. But then, you have to choose a name that feels right to you–my preferences, begone. Every editor has different likes and dislikes.
If you have trouble naming your character, just think of who your hero/heroine is–what name pops into your head
Daniel Craig? You can always change it later.
*A description from Orlando
Bloom by Virginia Woolf