Thursday, September 26, 2013

How Do I Come Up with Names?

TJ asks: I have a question for you Mrs. Marlow. How do you come up with names for your characters?? I always have a terrible time coming up with names. :(
I'm sorry it took so long to post this, TJ. The fan stories have been coming in fast and furious. Hurrah!

From all over the place. First of all, my "Andi" name I saw in an old western once, and I never forgot it, since I liked that it was kind of a "boy" name but really meant "Andrea," so she could be a lady too, if I needed. I tucked that away for future use.

I've always liked the name Justin, and apparently so did my daughter. She named one of her kids "Justan."
Besides, that, all my characters are named for people I know, mostly from my church and homeschooled friends:

Chad is my oldest son, and he is just like the Chad in the book.
Mitchell was the little blond son of our pastor.
Melinda Jane was a little girl in my homeschool co-op, whom I taught. I thought her name was old-fashioned, so it worked for me. She ended up marrying MY son Andrew (who was "Andy" until he learned about my "Andi," and then he decided he was ANDREW, not Andy any longer. He was 11 at the time.) LOL
Katherine was the daughter of my good friend.
Rebecca (as in Aunt Rebecca) was her sister.
Levi is my grandson (although MY Levi in the story came first. It was originally Caleb, but my editor didn't want another "C" name for a character (already having Chad), so I changed it.
Elizabeth and Hannah are the names of my two nieces who live in Kansas.

To find names that are historically accurate, I Google "Baby Names 1860" or something like that. I find all kinds of names that way. I don't use a modern baby book much, but you could if your own story is set in modern times. For River of Peril, a new Goldtown book coming out next spring, I need some French names for a riverboat captain and his son, whom my heroes (Jem and Ellie) befriend. I looked up "French names." By the way, I got "Jem" from To Kill a Mockingbird, but made up the Jeremiah part. "Ellie" (Ellianna) is my granddaughter.

And . . . finally . . . Jem's cousin Nathan is the name of my oldest grandson.

Hope that helps, TJ!

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  1. Great post Mrs. M!
    maybe you could use Jacques? (its French for Jack) its pronounced ZHOH-kuh.
    or maybe Pierre?
    (for the captain?)
    and the son could be Gus? or Felix? or Henri? :D
    just thoughts... ;-)

  2. Wow!! Thank you Mrs. Marlow!! :D

  3. Half of those names I never knew the origins of. Such as Elizabeth and Hannah. Never even thought of those ones.

    In case you are wondering, I am one of Mrs. Marlow's five grandsons, Nathan.

  4. Hey that's cool how you used different peoples names... ones that you knew. Before I ever read the Circle C's I started writing a book with two twin kids, Amber and Andrew (Andy) lol. I guess we like some of the same names. I also know people with the names, Chad, Mitchell, Hannah, Ellie, Rebecca, Jeremiah, Katherine (Spelled it a C) and my cousins name is Justin! :O

  5. When I was writing my first book "Home Fires of the Great War" I did look up common names from 1900 - 1920 and found it very helpful. And since I also had many Scottish people in the book I had to look up Scottish names as well. :) One fun this is that all four children of one of my really good friends have names of characters in my book. I don't think it was intentional though. ;)

  6. Baby name books are great!
    I love looking through, reading about the meaning, history, origin, countries it is from, etc. for names!
    I love giving my characters middle names, even though they might never be mentioned. It just sounds nice! I have a story with a huge family of about eleven kids, and I like to try to remember their whole names (some of the kids have two middle names).
    Looking up what names are most used in a country helps too!!!
    God bless!
    John 3:16

    1. That's sounds fun Ira-Grace!!
      I know a family that has twelve kids! :D

    2. We have 8 kids in our family! :-)
      And one of our friends have 13 kids in their family!

    3. We have 10 kids :)
      I know a family that has 14!!!

    4. we have 7 kids and i know a family that has 13!!!

    5. We have 8, 4 boys and 4 girls!

    6. Our family has 4 boys and 4 girls also!

    7. Hi, "Nate." Are you using your Gmail account now? What happened to "astronautnate"? :-)

    8. Yeah, I linked by Google + account to the blogger account. It's going to stay Nate R forever now. Oh, and where did you get "Nathan" in the Goldtown series? *wink*
      You forgot to add Nathan up there with the list of family/friends names...

    9. I remembered later but kept forgetting to go back and put it in. Thanks for the reminder! It's all fixed now! :-)

  7. Just curious, how many fan stories have you gotten?

  8. Sixteen so far . . . which includes all the ones I've posted on the blog so far. :-)

  9. My family has 6 and I'm the 2 it's funny it went 3 girls then 3 boys!!!!! :-)


Let Andi know what you think!