Category: heroine names
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.
Fictional spies have glamorous names to go with their stiletto heels and hidden daggers. But for every femme fatale we find in books or movies, there’s a real life Spy Girl who risked all for her cause.
Ian Fleming created legendary super-spy James Bond, but also invented a bevy of Bond girls, some capable, some less so, most with outrageous names. Fleming based at least one character on a real-life spy: Vesper Lynd, she of Casino Royale fame, was modeled on Polish-born British agent and saboteur Krystyna Skarbek, also known as Christine Granville.
As the fiftieth anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird is being celebrated, the thought comes to mind that it sometimes can take decades for an iconic fictional character –usually one imprinted on our minds from a classic read during our formative adolescent years—to take off as a baby name.
A prime example of this is Atticus, as in Atticus Finch, that noble lawyer/father Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s novel, which appeared in print in 1960 and on screen in 1962, and yet didn’t make it onto the Social Security baby name list until 2004. The same is true of Holden: J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield appeared in The Catcher in the Rye in 1951, but not on the pop charts until 1987. Scarlett O’Hara (GWTW book 1936, movie 1939) didn’t hit the top half of the list until 2004—when it combined with the Johanssen factor. And if we want to go back even further, it took Huckleberry well over a century to suddenly be used by a couple of celebs.
Below are some literary names from 20th century American novels and plays, a few of which, like Daisy, Owen and Ethan, have already made their comebacks, others which conceivably could, plus a few that are probably too eccentric to be condsidered.
As always there’s the caveat that not all these characters were particularly likable or noble namesakes. Some American literary names to consider, for both boys and girls, include:
ÁNTONIA — Willa Cather, My Ántonia