My first name is the 34th most common name in the United States. My last name is the fifth most common last name in the US. My name doesn’t say original. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun…. My first name means “She Who Ensnares” and as it’s a direct translation from my Hebrew name (Rivkah), it has the same meaning in that language. “She Who Ensnares” doesn’t sound like a boring girl who is going to lead the same life as every other Rebecca out there. It sounds like the title of a dramatic book. With names you can’t go by looks and sounds alone. Scratching the surface is what it takes to make an impact.
So I don’t come up with character names off the top of my head. I prowl babynames.com more obsessively than any expecting mother ever did. If a name sounds good I scroll over it to see the meaning. If the meaning doesn’t fit my character or at least a hint at a more interesting person, then I move on, even if it’s the prettiest sounding name on the website.
This year for my NaNo novel, I decided to step it up a notch. I’m working from lists of specific name ethnic origins. All the characters from my main character’s country (we’re talking about an alternate universe here) have names from Latin, Polish, and Welsh origin. All the country names come from Turkish origin. I think choosing names in this fashion preserves the cohesiveness across the story, makes it look like this world has exited for an eternity.
And main characters Perrena and Arrian sound far better together than Kayla and Umberto!