Category: hero names
I was sitting here last week, making a list of what I was thinking of as Modern Hero Names – you know, like Palin and Winslet – when the news came in about the names Mariah Carey had chosen for her newborn twins. She’d given her daughter the Old Man Name of Monroe, she said, to honor one of her heroines, Marilyn Monroe.
Bingo. I’d been hesitating a bit about whether this was a real trend, but Carey’s choice confirmed it. There’s a new generation of Modern Hero Names that are, typically, surnames and that honor heroes and heroines who may not have been considered baby-worthy before now.
Not only do the namesakes need to be surprising and cool; their names have to be too. So we’re going to disqualify choices like Armani, Chanel, Kennedy, and Lincoln that are feeling a bit too familiar these days.
Modern Hero Names we’ve heard:
Bowie – Are parents honoring rocker David Bowie or do they just like this Western-sounding name? Whichever: Three times as many baby boys received the name in 2010 as 2009 and 19 baby girls were called Bowie too.
Last year the world was falling into the icy clutches of the vampires. The Salvatore brothers of L.J. Smith’s The Vampire Diaries were fighting over the beautiful Elena Gilbert, lethally handsome Edward Cullen once again rescued his mortal love, Bella Swann from a gruesome death in the new Twilight movie, Eclipse, and a vampire child by the name of Abby has been terrifying audiences in Matt Reeve’s new film Let Me In.
Unfortunately, not all of us are lucky enough to escape the bite of immortality, but fear not fellow name lovers! There is hope for us mortals yet, a hope that comes in a very furry form.
This Halloween goes to the wolves. The vampire reign is in danger of coming to a close as the popularity of werewolves quickly rises. The vampire-werewolf rivalry is one of the oldest feuds in existence, so it’s no wonder that we humans have been caught in the middle once again. At least the wolves will get the vampires off our backs for a bit. Right?
Okay. You may be thinking that werewolves are just as bad as vampires, but let’s think about this. Unlike vampires who have absolutely no escape from their condition, unless they go a day without sunscreen, werewolves only change during a full moon. So if someone you love is carrying the curse of the Lycan, it’s best to take a little vacation from them once a month. After all, we all need a little me time. Also, werewolves aren’t constantly craving your blood. They’re actually quite normal in human form (I should know because I used to date one), whereas vampires obsess over the sound of blood pumping through your veins. Hence, werewolves are the lesser of two evils.
Every new TV season or so we like to check out the recently launched shows, as well as those still running, for any interesting names that have emerged since the last time we looked. Most scripters continue to come up with the obvious and the formulaic, giving their characters names like Jessica and Jeff and Rick and Robin, Amy and Andy.
But there are some who do think out of the box—though usually for not more than one character per show. The list below steers clear of reality shows, so no Khloes or Kourtneys, and no cartoon characters or kiddie shows.
- Astrid – Fringe
- Calleigh – CSI Miami
- Chastity – Ten Things I Hate About You
- Chima – The Philanthropist
- Cricket – The Starter Wife
- Divya – Royal Pains
- Effy – Skins
- Elka — Hot in Cleveland
- Felix — Waking the Dead
- Fiona – Burn Notice
- Jinx – In Plain Sight
- Lavender – The Starter Wife
- Lyla – Friday Night Lights
There’s something undeniably cool and, well, jazzy, about the names of jazz musicians. Take the ultimate example, the personification of cool –Miles Davis– who imparted a silky, seductive veneer to his name, as Quincy Jones did to his.
The inimitable Ella Fitzgerald gave hers a jazzy edge long before Ella was anywhere near the pop lists. Names like Ray and Roy, Cecil and Percy and Dexter all take on an appealing funkiness and rise to another level when looked at in the context of jazz.
Jazz immortals’ surnames are another possiblity,as chosen by a few celebs—model Helena Christensen called her son Mingus, and Woody Allen used Bechet, the name of one of his musical heroes, Sidney Bechet.
Here, some of the jazziest choices:
- ABBEY Lincoln
- ALBERTA Hunter
- ANITA O’Day
- BESSIE Smith
- BLOSSOM Dearie
- CARMEN McRae
- CASSANDRA Wilson
- CLEA Bradford
- CLEO Laine
- DAKOTA Staton
- DELLA Reese
- DINAH Washington
Best-selling, prize-winning mystery writer JEFF ABBOTT takes us inside his character-naming process in part one of a two-part guest blog. Today he describes his methodology, tomorrow he reveals how he arrived at concrete examples–and, incidentally– of the part that’s been played by our very own books and website.
I think it is sometimes easier to name a child than a character in a book.
I have used Pam and Linda’s books to name characters in my novels now for the past several years. And they are perfectly geared to finding that ideal character name, given that the lists are organized by groupings such as style, energy, creativity, and so on. (My favorite all-time list as a resource: The Fitting In, Standing Out list).
I first used a baby naming book as a second-grader, when I was writing my first stories in pencil in a Big Chief tablet. I told my mom I was having trouble knowing what to name a certain character, and she gave me the baby name book she’d used. It listed names alphabetically, with ethnic origin and “variations and diminutives.” What I mostly learned from this book was that Teutonic meant German and I would have been named Caroline if I was a girl. (It was the only girls’ name circled in the entire book.) It offered a fairly slim list of choices, compared to today’s books, and I pretty much resorted to either trying to match a name to the feel of the character (like naming a pretty girl Melissa, which was the epitome of a pretty girl name at the time) or matching the name’s original meaning to the character. (I named a king in a very early short story Frederick because it meant ‘peaceful ruler’, and he was a nice king.)
I knew even then that picking a name because it meant ‘brave warrior’ in Old German had very little to do with how the name was viewed in our culture. And in the shorthand of fiction, you want a name that matches the character,that signals, however subtly, to the reader, a trait or feeling about this person.
When I started to write a new crime series about an ex-CIA agent who owns bars around the world, I wanted the characters to have names that matched their personalities. Now, the advantage of naming characters over kids is that you know the personality of the character, and you don’t know (yet) the personality of the beautiful little baby.