Character Names

25 Oct 2015: Her name could have been Silver Versa

So I was driving into work yesterday when I got stopped at light behind this car.


And it got me to thinking I should change the name of my Female Lead in my new book project. Yes, I call them the Female and Male Leads instead of protagonists or main characters. Here’s the thing. So far her name has been Amanda “Mandy” Sutherland. I like Sutherland, but it’s a bit of a mouthful. So lo and behold I’m driving into work and see this Silver Versa with a plate on it from “Sutherlin.” I googled it and they’re a Nissan dealership here in Orlando.


I’m liking Sutherlin better than Sutherland. It’s brighter and lighter than Sutherland which is a bit mouthier.

So now I can say I got a character name off the back of a car while stopped at the intersection of Conroy-Winderemere and Apopka-Vineland Roads. Talk about a mouthful!


Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood novel series, and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

24 Oct 2015: A rose by any other name …. Would be a cabbage.

If anyone tells you that what you name your characters isn’t going to effect your book sales, they’re either lying or ignorant.

Case in point. We get a lot of books left behind where I work, and my coworkers knowing I’m an avid reader leave them on my desk to see if I want them. I had four this week and one went right into the rejection pile based solely on the fact that I didn’t want to read a romance book where the main characters names are Flint Rutledge and Dayne Templeton. I mean, not for nothing but in my opinion, those names are pretty terrible for a romance novel. Maybe it’s because I’m old school and prefer more traditional names for the characters of my books. Or maybe it’s because I have a hard time imaging Dayne (a name I feel is too masculine for the female lead) calling out the name Flint in the throes of passion.

“Oh, Flint!”

It sounds like she’s desperate to light a fire on a deserted island. Reminds me of the early days of the TV show Survivor.


There are a lot of books out there to read and I simply tossed that book aside because I knew reading those names would detract from what might have been a good book despite the author’s unfortunate choice of character names.

You’re probably saying I’m being ridiculous, but really I’m realistic. Do you think I’m the first person to have an adverse reaction to character names? I think not.

The case for more traditional names:

It makes the characters seem more relatable. In a romance novel, every woman wants to be able to identify with the female lead on some level.

Names can aid in character description. Let’s take Dayne for instance.

When you sane “Dayne,” the first thing I think of is a great dane, the dog. This is most likely an analogy the writer wouldn’t want you to make.


Let’s try again. You say “Dayne.”   Now I’m thinking about the people of Denmark.


And again. “Dayne.” Now I’m thinking about 80’s pop star Taylor Dayne, which is making me think that Dayne would have been a better choice for this character had it been her last name and not the first.


So I have to ask myself why someone would choose Dayne and Flint as names. Honestly I can only think that they wanted names that would stand out. Unfortunately, there’s standing out in a good way … and standing out in a bad way.

In the end, I think I really don’t like those names together because they are unmelodic. Flint Rutledge and Dayne Templeton are all names with hard consonant beginnings that when you same them together is choppy.  So when you’re trying to come up with names for your characters, don’t over think it, but remember to try and pick a name that aids in the character’s description, has a sound to it that is pleasing to the ear or also helps describe the character and is one that isn’t so outrageous that someone will automatically roll their eyes at it.

Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood novel series, and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

13 Sept 2015: What’s in a Name? And where to find one?

Inspiration tends to come in the strangest of places … at least it does for me.  While cleaning out the lost and found at work, I came across the following book.  When I curiously opened it, I discovered something I could have used a long time ago.  I’ve never had a baby and don’t plan on having one, but I do have a copy of The Best Baby Name Book in my library now!

img405Odd?  Undoubtedly so.  But when I looked inside I found a cure for that old dilemma … what to name a character.  How many hours have a sat around pondering what to name him or her.  Too many, that’s for sure.  Now I have this lovely resource to consult.


Now that I’m starting to really build steam on pulling together an outline for my next novel, I totally plan on using this book to help me pick names out for some of my lesser characters.  Somehow those always seem to be the hardest for me to come up with names for.

Anyway, I just thought I’d share in case this helps anyone else out there.


Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood Novels and If Love is a Lie: Finding and Losing Love Online.

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?



18 April 2015: Trying to come with a name? Look no further …

If you’re a writer and you’re trying to come up with some good names for your characters, look no further than your local cemetery.   Sound strange?  Well, I suppose it is an unusual suggestion, but as  genealogist and a writer I’ve spent a lot of time in cemeteries and love to come across a great name that’s gone out of fashion.  I remember coming across the name Sophronia in my genealogical research some time back.  The name stuck with me.  I just like the ring of it.  I liked it so much that I wrote the name into my first novel (The Purity of Blood Volume I) as the name of Daniel’s grandmother.


Another name I loved that I spotted in a cemetery was Theophilus.  I mean how great is that name!  It sounds very regal and very scholarly to me, with a twist of whimsy.  You could go with Theo for short if you wanted.  For me, I used it at the much hated middle name of Ben in my books.  At least he hated his middle name, not that I cared, I’m the writer so it’s my show, Ben.


Here’s a few other unusual names:  Huldah

Stillman - Huldah Potter Stillman

Here’s Celestia:  Whose full name is Celestia Amelia Slingerland Stillman.  Wheh!

Stillman - Celestia Amelia Slingerland Stillman

I’ll close this post out with a two for:  Jerusha and Molbro!!

Wells - Molbro Wells Jerusha Louise Gale Wells

So remember to check out your local cemetery this spring when you’re in the mood for an afternoon stroll.  It’s quiet and peaceful and chuck full of great names.  Remember to bring a pad and pen!!