Who Likes Mildred and Bill?

In thinking about that last post, I left something out. I like the character names I chose to mean something. For instance, in my first novel, the protagonist is a warrior searching for justice in a kingdom ruled by corrupt men. My protagonist would be a defender, a guy who stands up for the truth, even if it costs his head. When searching for a name, I found that “Alexander” means “defender of man.” It fit perfect. I named my character “Alex.” It worked much better than Luke (“luminous”) or Owen (“well born”) or Brian (“noble”).

I like my method, but it doesn’t always work. For example, if my story were set in ancient Ireland, I’d have to choose all Irish names. It would be really out of place to find a Swahili name in the story. Also, I have to avoid the whole rhyming thing (I found myself naming three people Zane, Thane, and Shane. Two of them had to be changed) and the alliteration thing (Aaron, Abel, Abram, and Aaron).

I find names fascinating, so naming my characters is a really fun and important part of the process. Choosing the wrong name can kill the story. Can you see Scarlett O’Hara with the name Mildred? Or Frodo Baggins with the name Bill? I can’t picture my Alex with any other name.


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