Choosing Character Names — Darlene Franklin
Today I am thrilled to welcome my friend Darlene Franklin as she answers some tough questions, shares about how to choose character names, and offers a giveaway. Darlene was the first writer I met when I visited a certain writer’s group many years ago. She was actually writing and submitting, while everybody else in the group talked about writing. She encouraged me to submit–because I was writing–just so I could share the Kudos spotlight with her. Read all the way through to the end, because Darlene is offering a giveaway.
But first, the tough questions:
- Please describe yourself with three words.
A consensus from what my loyal street team had to say: compassionate creative, overcomer, friendly
- What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Talk about them—to your friends, family, at work, wherever you see people reading books. Ask your library/bookstore to carry the book. Leave reviews on your website (if you do that), on Amazon, on Goodreads.
- What is your “go to” routine that helps you get in the mood to write? Special beverage? Music? Etc.
I usually color an adult coloring page for about 5 minutes. Sometimes I’ll cheat and take a short (five minute) nap, too.
- Tell us about your next book & when is it being published? Why do you write the kind of books you do?
2017 is a busy year for me. I’ve got novellas scheduled for every month from April – October!
In May I’ll publish Cinderella’s Boot, a comparatively rare contemporary romance; and in June my story Sunshine in His Heart will appear in Seven Mail Order Husbands for Seven Brides as well as a novella celebrating Acadia National Park in Maine. (Not titled yet).
CHOOSING CHARACTER NAMES
In the process of writing 48 books with heroes, heroines, families, and other minor characters, I’ve had to name hundreds of characters. It can become a chore. Sometimes I’m not pleased with my choice. Other times I fall into just the right name for the character. What are some techniques I use?
At first, I pulled names out of thin air. I quickly discovered I favored certain names like Sam, Joe, and Michelle; for some reason, I liked Gallagher as a last name. My best accidental name was “Lucy Ames”—a sharpshooter. I honestly didn’t make the connection between “Ames” and “aims” until after I had written the story.
For a short period, I matched character traits and ethnicity to the names. However, that created some of my less favorite monikers. How about Audwin “Audie” Howe and Hamish “Ham” Ferguson (from my Dressed for Death series)? The same process came up with some good names: Fabrizio Ricci in Dressed in Scarlet and especially Cecelia “Cici” Wilde, the heroine in Dressed for Death.
Most recently I check the name of the first lady at the time the story takes place. That lead to Julia in Tobogganing for Two and Lucretia for my next story. Lucretia is a rather cumbersome name—but perfect for a rich debutante who is spending the summer in Maine’s Acadia region.
A quick look online will uncover several lists of popular names by decade. Women’s names vary widely, but the most popular men’s names have remained stable. John, Michael, and William are perennially popular. In naming, I look at the decade my hero was likely born and choose a number: sometimes the date of the month, sometimes the number book I’m writing—and choose the name I like the best from the cluster of names around that number.
The number process resulted in “Elissa” for To Riches Again. It suits her background as a rich flapper who had never had to work a day in her life. The hero was supposed to be Dale; but I couldn’t picture a farmer named Dale—so I returned to one of the tried-and-true names, Bill.
Lucretia’s match in my upcoming novella turned out to be Eddie, or, in French, Edouard. He’s the poor local boy. Opposites attract, after all.
For last names, I will sometimes look at ethnicity (Eddie Borgoine). Otherwise I find I lean toward English names. I rely on a list of most common surnames in the United States.
For secondary characters, I don’t worry so much about names. Avoid names that start with the same letter. Charlene and Cheryl sound very different, but the reader’s eye may confuse them. The names might even confuse the author. Those families with children all starting with the same letter? A nightmare!
For contemporary books, readers love to have their names featured in my books. I choose the hero and heroine’s names by my usual methods, then let my friends appear as often as they want. It’s a great way to garner interest.
Names do matter. Gone With the Wind wouldn’t be the same if Rhett and Scarlett were named Dick and Jane.
Best-selling hybrid author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. This year she expects to reach fifty unique titles in print and she’s also contributed to more than twenty nonfiction titles. Her column, “The View Through my Door,” appears monthly in Book fun Magazine. Her most recent titles are The Pony Express Romance Collection, Love’s Compass, and To Riches Again.
And now for the giveaway…drum roll please!
Giveaway: Answer the following question to enter to win an ebook copy of To Riches Again.
Elyssa lost a fortune and moved across country to work on a Kansas farm. What have been some life-changing events in your life?