A Rose by any other name…

This past Fall Break, I was puttering around the kitchen while My Favorite Domer was watching one of the sports channels on TV.

All of a sudden, I heard the announcer speak a familiar name. Whirling around, I declared, “Hey, that guy’s my hero!”

MFD turned a puzzled face toward me and asked, “Who? That guy?”

“Yes!” I screamed, repeating the man’s name.

“You’re kidding,” MFD said. “How do you know him?”

“I don’t know him,” I said. “I know his name. It’s the same as the name of my hero, the one in my book.”

For those who don’t know, I’ve been working on a novel for the past few years. I’ve basically finished the writing portion; now I’m in the editing/polishing stage and soon will be ready to pitch it to prospective agents (say a prayer, okay?)

“You used the name of a real guy for your book?” MFD asked in a rather horrified tone. “That was dumb, Mom. You should’ve Googled him first.”

Duh! I guess I should have.

But who would have thought the name I’ve been “living with” for this long would turn up on a real person?

In all fairness, my hero isn’t an athlete (an athlete who’s managed to get himself in a bit of trouble with the law, to boot), but he hails from the same U.S. state, and that’s just too much of a coincidence for my comfort.

So I decided to re-name my hero. It’s easier to find another acceptable name than to face possible legal consequences.

But doggone it, those few seconds put me in a tailspin. With as many people as there are on the planet today, it’s not easy finding a good name that hasn’t already been taken, and I was rather fond of the one I’d chosen!

So I did a bit of research into what other writers do when naming their characters. They:

  • Browse telephone directories
  • Buy character naming books
  • Use online random name generators
  • Thumb through baby naming books
  • “Steal” names from spam e-mail
  • Traipse through cemeteries
  • and even “borrow” names from their friends and families

Interesting, huh?

Naming characters isn’t easy. You’ve got to find a name that fits the type of fiction you’re writing as well as the period and place it’s set in; you’ve also got to “live” with the name for a while and see if the character accepts it.

Does anybody else have other “foolproof” naming resources? I’d sure welcome them!