16 May 2015: What’s in a Gender Neutral Name

While writing my books, I’m always in search of good names to use.  I even have a list going of names I can draw on for my next book.  It’s going to be set in Texas so I want good sounding Texas names, ones that evoke the sound of a sexy cowboy or lonesome cowpoke without being too cheesy about it.

One thing you won’t find on any name list of mine is a gender neutral name.  I have to say that since I like my names to evoke some visual along with them in a subtle way, a gender neutral name is a big no-no for me.

So what is a gender neutral name.  Chris is one.  Could be Christine or Christopher.  I can name a character Christine or Christopher, but they’ll never be called Chris for short.  While in life, Chris is a fine name, in literature, at least my literature, it’s a murky name that requires explanation.

Don’t think this doesn’t happen in real life too.  For the job I’m forced to do to pay my bills, I deal with rooming lists of names for groups that stay at the hotel I work at.  For years the same group has stayed with me.  It was only this year that I found out that Cassidy on that list was a GIRL!  For years I’d always pictured Cassidy as a man!  Imagine my surprise!

I digress …

I like names for my characters like Daniel.  Strong, masculine.  Sara.  Feminine and old-fashioned, but spelled without the h at the end to give it a modern twist, just like the character was.

Here’s a list of some more Gender Neutral Names I’d avoid:

Skylar, Jamie, Jordan, Cameron, Jean/Gene, Sloan, Payton

So do you as a writer agonize over just the right name to fit your characters?  What criteria do you use?

-Jennifer

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