Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Would you like Sookie if she had a different name?

by C.L. Phillips

True confession.  I never watch True Blood and I just started reading Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris.  I'm seventy pages into the book, and it hit me.  I liked Sookie before I even knew her because of her name.

Her name?

I kid you not.  Something about Sookie Stackhouse makes me want to cheer for her.  Even though, I'm not so sure I like her flirting with that Bill character.  After all, he's a vampire.  She should know better.  And reading people's thoughts is no excuse for hanging out with a vampire.  Not in my book.

That's when it hit me.  A name works on so many different levels.

So, tell me, which characters do you love simply because of their names?  Who did you dislike because of their name?  When is a name more than a name?  How do you name your characters?

Keep writing!


Annette said...

C.L. You always throw out such good questions. Problem is I haven't had my coffee yet, so the brain is stalled in neutral. I have to think on this...

Joyce Tremel said...

I think character names are so important. Your post made me think of my own characters. I seem to unconsciously give them (some of them anyway) names that are the opposite of how you'd picture them.

My protagonist's name is Irma Jean. She's a 6 ft tall redhead, named after her grandmother. Her ex-husband is Curley--not named after the Stooge, but Curley from Oklahoma. IJ's best friend, Rafe doesn't look like the cover model on a romance novel. He's short, with white blond hair, earrings and lizard boots, and he's gay. The other characters have mostly normal names. Normal for the town of Spite, WV anyway.

One of my favorite series (by Julia Spencer Fleming) has protagonists named Clare and Russ. I couldn't imagine them with different names. They fit so well.

Ellis Vidler said...

Good point, CL. Names are so important, but what my ear likes may not appeal to others. I try to fit the name to the personality in the beginning, but sometimes things change as the story gets going. The name doesn't work and I have to change it.

Gina said...

This is a hard one. There are so many great character names. Severus Snape. Albus Dumbledore. Hermione Granger. Glenda the Good Witch. Mike Hammer. Miss Winter. . . .

C.L. Phillips said...


You described my problem so well. I'm contemplating a couple of major name changes in my current manuscript.

When I read the first page and meet Sookie, I said, "Now this is how you name a character."

Wonder if tequila would help? Maybe this is a discussion for the bar a Bouchercon? Annette? Joyce? Is this an appropriate topic? Or will we confine ourselves to the discussion of Walt Longmire's casting choice?


Mary Sutton said...

I think certain names fit certain characters - Gina mentioned Severus Snape and I can't imagine him with another name. But I'm not sure how the influence works in my mind: character > name or name > character.

Now I'm thinking about my own character names!