What’s in a Name? A Guest Post by Amy Durham

Today, we’re spending time with Amy Durham–parent, writer of young adult fiction, and music teacher. Amy DurhamAmy’s new YA, Once Again, recently hit the shelves, and she blogs at amy-durham.blogspot.com. Take it away, Amy…

What’s in a name? Well…a lot. When I was a young girl, names were a kind of hobby for me. I’d spend long hours thinking about what I’d name my children, experimenting with different first and middle names to see how they sounded together, and…yes, I’ll admit it…even adding the last name of a boy I secretly liked. In my day job as a middle school teacher, I’ve discovered that many girls do the same thing. I think it’s because even as kids, we realize that names are important, names give us identity beyond just what people call us or what we sign on a check. Names help define us. I’ve never known any parent who just randomly chose a name for their baby. Parents spend lots of time talking about names in their quest to assign the perfect name to the child they’ve created.

A similar process happens when I name the characters in my books. There’s thought and consideration…nothing at all like drawing a name out of the hat. The first thing I consider is the personality of the most important character in the story. Is there a name that embodies and illustrates the personality I intend to create for the character? Sometimes, the name jumps right into my mind. Other times, I must go on a search. The search is never the same. Sometimes I have a beginning consonant in mind, and I’ll look up names that start with that letter. Other times, I visit one of the many baby-naming sites on the web and search for names with a particular meaning. Other times, I mentally flip through the names of characters on TV shows that I like to watch. Once I’ve nailed down the name of the main character, which is the toughest (and most critical, in my opinion), I move on to the other characters. This many times proves easier, because there are names that naturally “go” together, and since I already have the main character names, I find it easier to assign names to other characters.

For me, it’s a combination of embodying the characters’ personalities, fitting the vibe of the story, and just generally “sounding good.” Some of my characters names? Layla and Lucas…Phoebe and Todd…Jessie and Will…Zoe and Adrian. For each set of characters, I looked for names that would not only be identifiers, but would weave themselves into the DNA of the character!

* * *

Once Again

The phenomenon of reincarnation simmers beneath the surface of Sky Cove, Maine, where teenagers Layla Bradford and Lucas Ellis experience frightening visions of their past lives – and discover that the evil that killed them in their previous existence is alive and well –  and coming for them again. Can they find the truth in time to stop the same tragedy from unfolding once again?

Lucas and Layla’s story is now available in eBook format at:

Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Once-Again-Sky-Cove-ebook/dp/B0071NTTV0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1328998797&sr=8-1)

B&N (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/once-again-amy-durham/1108428186)

Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/126513)

Print version will be available from Amazon soon.

13 thoughts on “What’s in a Name? A Guest Post by Amy Durham

  1. Tess Grant says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Amy, and the great post. I find names to be very important, so much so that once I find a character’s name I can’t bring myself to change it later on. Guess that’s what you mean by it weaving itself into the DNA.

    1. Kate says:

      I have the same problem (or is it a problem?) with names sticking. Once I’ve named a character, that’s it. And if it doesn’t stick, I find it’s usually because I don’t know the character well enough yet/ haven’t given him/her enough personality.

  2. Amy Durham says:

    Thanks for the invitation to hang out here, Tess! And yes, once I assign a name, it’s so important to the character that I can’t imagine changing it! It’s so much more than just how we identify a character… it speaks about their DNA!

  3. Kris says:

    Wow, and I thought “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, but then I’m just a scientist! My daughters—well, the one who does think she’ll be a mom someday—loves to come up with names for her future kids, and they all dabble in writing a bit and I’ll hear them say “that would make a great name for a character in my book” and then argue over which one gets to use that name!

  4. Taryn Raye says:

    I couldn’t agree more! I have a thick baby name book, as well as lists from baby name websites, that I draw from to name my characters, too. Naming your “book” babies is equally as important as naming your IRL children. Names help solidify the characters, shape their personalities, give them characteristics and bring them to life. Lovely post!

  5. Kate says:

    Anyone write fantasy? I usually dig into names from other cultures (Egyptian, for instance) when trying to come up with names, and then tweak them so I’m not using *real* Egyptian/Ethiopian/Asian names for a fantasy world. Or I’ll just make them up, but I try to make them internally consistent each different race/culture in my world.. lots of “a” sounds, or instance, or no “s” sounds, mostly shorter or longer names, etc.

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