What’s in a Name?

I’m not one for research while writing a book. Sure, I’ll look up some things I need to know but full on research? Not for me – of course that isn’t to say I won’t write something down the line that requires it but for now, minimal research. That being said, if I need to look up something or book mark a page for reference, I’ll do it.

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My current, thisclosetobeingfinished and by finished I mean Iamthisclosetobeingsatified, WIP had me perusing the Internet for some information – to be specific, names. names of angels, other names for devil – because, though Lucifer is a fabulous name – full of sinister appeal, it has a stigma attached to it and if I wanted readers to sympathize with my devil, then I needed to change his name.

Some names have emotions or memories attached to them – Romeo, Juliet, Gatsby, Bella, Edward, Katniss… Writer’s need to be wary of reintroducing them. For this, my advice is do some light research.

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Back to my devil – like I said above, Lucifer is an obvious name for the devil and thought it fit (my character is, after all, the devil) I didn’t want the heads of my readers to go there every time he was on the page. I needed sympathy, I needed them to forget. At the same time, I wanted him to be named for what he is. Beelzebub? Sounds like Beetlejuice. Satan? I picture horns and a tail. I eventually settled on Damien. Damian is often associated with being the son of Satan but actually means to tame. I liked the name, it fit so I changes it a bit, took out the “a” added an “e” and voila! My devil was born.

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I also did research as the Angel of Death makes an appearance. It would have been too obvious to call him as such. So, once again, I trolled the internet. I needed a strong name. I settled on Abaddon, meaning “to destroy” – it’s also another name for the Angel of Death.

Lastly, I needed the middleman between my main character, Samantha, and Damien. It’s very “Children of the Corn” but Malachi means messenger.

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There are a few more examples within the pages of TORN and the sequel but the point of all of this is, when it comes to Biblical FanFic, we have a plethora of options to choose form. Be careful when naming your characters. Names form the Bible evoke emotion and you need to decide if you want your characters to be obvious, sympathetic, strong, or ambiguous. For this, Google is your friend. Using baby naming sites, sites that highlight the names of angels and demons. It’s easy enough even if you dislike research as much as I do. Bookmark the pages for later use. You’ll thank me for it.

~Christine

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About Christine Hughes

A few things about me in no particular order: 1. I love the NY Jets (I know, I know...) 2. I love where I live. An hour to NY, Philly and the Jersey shore. 3. I have two boys and they make me laugh hard enough to blow liquids out of my nose. The hubs is funny enough to make me pee my pants. Not that it's ever happened. Of course not. 4. Being a writer is the best job on the planet, and not just because I can wear jammies to work, drink coffee by the gallonful, randomly catch up on my DVR'd shows, troll YouTube, flip on E! News and browse iTunes - all in the name of research. 5. I have some of the best friends in the world - they put up with my inappropriate jokes, foul mouth, strange musings and don't judge me if I drink too much wine on a Tuesday. Just sayin' - a girl needs her friends. 6. Represented by the most fabulous Michelle Johnson of Inklings Literary Agency. I fell into it with her - she is perfectly amazeballs. LOVE!

Posted on January 31, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Such a wonderful point, Christine! In my Vesper series, I picked the names carefully according to meaning, too. The character of Sychar means “The End” because the series ends with him on a major strong note, and also because he has kind of a morbid, death-based perspective on the whole series. And because of his traumas, the sound of “Sychar” goes along with “Psycho” which does wonderful things in the reader’s mind, particularly when it becomes a nickname for him.

  2. I like that, Sychar. It definitely makes me think of psycho. When I used Malachi I tried to get the image of the twisted little kid out of my head, but in the end twisted is exactly what I needed. I wrote him so the reader would almost feel sympathy for him. Poor little Malachi.

  3. Oh, poor Malachi. I see a twisted little kid too, but one with potential to grow into something frightening.

    I did the same with my character Festus, who is full of good cheer (good cheer as far as he is concerned, though others find him rather conscienceless and careless), and the female character Desiree, since that name evokes a bunch of different feelings from the reader, as well.

    • Random, but my first crush was on a boy named Malakai (he was from Tonga). 😉

      I loooove choosing names – it’s so important and personal and, well, kind of intimate. I often look at lists of first/surnames by country and/or time periods (I’ll Google ‘female names, England, 17th century’) and usually come up with some great stuff. If not I’ll make them up 🙂

      And I totally did Malachi (obviously) and Abaddon…very cool. Congrats on being close to finishing!

  4. Character naming is always fun!

    My novel involves a group of characters who may or may not be angels (finding out exactly who or what they are is part of the plot). To reflect this, and to give them a less earthly feel, some of the characters who fulfill specific roles have names that are phonetically similar to angel names but are visually different (“Gab’nEn Ryel” for “Gabriel”, for instance).

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