Myren, my chauffeur, will tell you names aren’t important, but I disagree (he isn’t particularly fond of his name, so it’s a sour grapes thing with him and probably why he goes by some other crazy nickname which I can’t remember). That’s my big problem with names: I have trouble remembering them. I seem to have an impenetrable block. You would think my biggest headache would be when I’m in a room full of new people trying to keep track of names, but no. At least then I have faces to go by.
No, my biggest name-headache is when I have a book full of characters. I have trouble remembering their names. Heck, I have trouble coming up with their names. I start using place markers, like Mr. X (thus the Name That Character Contest) and when there’s yet another character introduced I have to call them Mr. Y. You get the picture. I’ve gone through quite a bit of the alphabet while writing a book this way before I throw up my hands and give in to the need to come up with the actual names.
Once I give into the challenge of coming up with character names, I create a cheat sheet of course. Then I go online and browse names. They have to be good ones, meaningful and appropriate.
But I save the most challenging name for my SQ Name That Character Contest which I run for every single book. The most challenging name? The name of the villan.
You may wonder what I look for in my contest entries. Myren wonders all the time (and he’s very annoying about it in his usual skeptical way, suggesting that I probably use a blindfold and a dart board—but never mind Myren. He has a terrible name anyway.) In choosing the winning name in my Character Name Contest, I mostly go by gut instinct, but I have two rules:
- Rule one: I must be able to pronounce the name.
- Rule two: I can’t use the same first letter for a name twice. (the exception here is if I ever write a book with more than 26 characters. Then I probably will name one of them Mr. X.)
But I love memorable character names, the ones that fit, the ones that you couldn’t imagine being anything else. One of my favorites is Jack Reacher, the main character in Lee Child’s thriller series. Love that name—suits the character. Few syllables. Uncomplicated. Blunt. Another character name I love is Scarlet O’Hara. Fiery and sexy. Earthy and unconventional.
What are your favorite character names that work?
Now that we’ve covered the subject, I’m officially inviting you to enter my Name That Character Contest to name the current Mr. X occupying the story world of my work-in-progress, Beachcomber Heat. Mr. X is really a Miss X this time around. A Hot Bad lady causing problems on Martha’s Vineyard at the height of tourist season. Beachcomber Heat is brand new novella in my Beachcomber Investigations romantic detective series. It will be available exclusively in the exciting new box set Summer Heat scheduled for release May 24th, along with 15 other enticing and exciting brand new exclusive novellas!
Here’s the blurb for Beachcomber Heat:
Ex-special ops legend Dane Blaise and former young Scotland Yard beauty Shana George have been partners in Beachcomber Investigations for a year now, but their sizzling attraction has not cooled off one bit.
Pretending to keep his cool is wearing on Dane and agitating Shana.
They may be good partners in catching criminals, but they are all wrong for each other in every other way possible. He’s soulless and lost and likely has more wounds from his past than the bullet and knife scars scorching his body. He’s older and world weary and impatient. But she’s crazy about him. For some reason she needs to sooth his soul and relight his passion.
She’s young and gorgeous and ambitious and has an icy chip on her gorgeous shoulder that annoys the hell out of him. She’s looking to do all the things he’s already done and her presence is a constant reminder that he’s past his prime. But he can’t seem to let her go. The thought of it causes a sharp pain in his chest. It could be he’s having a heart attack, or it could be his heart is breaking at the thought of losing her.
This summer the heat wave on Martha’s Vineyard is breaking records, but so is the crime wave—and the combination is building to a tsunami-like wave of hot red dangerous desire between Dane and Shana.