Names, Names, Names

I’ve been brainstorming about names for a week or two, in between heat waves and book binges and headaches and out-of-town visitors.

I like finding the right sound for a character name, but I also like playing with connotations. In MY LADY GAMESTER, I named the hero’s somewhat immature, rather weak younger brother Edmund — hoping to draw on memories of either the Edmund in THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE, or the one in MANSFIELD PARK (or both).

On the other hand, the heroine’s younger brother was Tom. As opposed to Edmund, Tom was boyish, energetic, and none too sophisticated.

But right now, I’m figuring out names for my work in progress, which is a young adult novel (and, eventually, a loosely-linked series of young adult novels.) The first one has a lot of minor characters, so I need to find names which are memorable, distinct, and sound like the character they represent. And, if I’m lucky, the social group the character belongs to!

See, in the modern-day high school where my story takes place, there are two basic social groups I’m dealing with:

1) the group which, for lack of a better term, I’m currently calling the POPULAR KIDS, who are high-achieving, good-looking, athletic kids from well-to-do families; and

2) the group which for convenience sake I’m calling the NERDY KIDS, who are brainy and studious and come from more varied backgrounds than group #1.

However, I’m having a little bit of difficulty, so…if you could all help me out a bit, I’d really appreciate it!!! Could you let me know, on first seeing each of the following girl’s names, which of the above two groups you would expect them to belong to? (Knee-jerk reaction here.)


Thank you all SO much!!!!

Cara King
, who hated her hard-to-spell-or-pronounce name as a kid

About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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9 Responses to Names, Names, Names

  1. Ooh, I love talking names!

    Gretchen – nerdy
    June – nerdy
    Harmony – popular
    Nia – popular
    Wren – nerdy
    Jena – popular
    Wynne – popular
    Jazz – nerdy
    Tabitha – nerdy
    Holly – popular
    Wenda – nerdy
    Hope – popular
    Ivy – nerdy
    Jasmine – popular
    Winter – nerdy
    Jenny – nerdy

    I just spent the morning naming characters myself. I’m planning to eventually introduce an American couple to the otherwise British core group of my alternative history, and I wanted names that set them apart without sounding over-the-top or backwoodsy, since they’re well-connected, reasonably sophisticated Bostonians. I came up with Samuel and Rebecca Caton, which I hope has the right ring…

  2. I didn’t know “Cara” was hard to spell or pronounce. I have had so many different variations of “Soleore” (soh-leo-ray). To wit: soh-leo-rr, soh-lo(umlaut)-rr, sol-ee-yore (hee-haw; no, my ancestors weren’t the Disney family, equines, or other beasts).

    P = popular
    N = nerdy

    Gretchen – N
    June – P
    Harmony – P
    Nia – P
    Wren – N
    Jena – P
    Wynne – P
    Jazz – N
    Tabitha – N
    Holly – P
    Wenda – N
    Hope – both
    Ivy – N
    Jasmine – N
    Winter – neither
    Jenny – P

  3. doglady says:

    Hmmm. This takes some thought.

    Gretchen – popular
    June – popular
    Harmony – nerdy
    Nia – popular
    Wren – Nerdy
    Jena – Popular
    Wynne – nerdy
    Jazz – nerdy
    Tabitha – popular
    Holly – popular
    Wenda – nerdy
    Hope – popular
    Ivy – popular
    Jasmine – popular
    Winter – nerdy
    Jenny – nerdy

    And Susan I think your names are spot on.

  4. limecello says:

    Group 1: Jena, Harmony, Ivy, Jasmine, Jenny, Hope, Nia

    Group 2: Gretchen, Wren, Wynne, Jazz, Tabitha, Holly, Wenda, Winter

  5. Gretchen–nerdy

    Fun, Cara!

  6. Diane Gaston says:

    I have not paid attention to others’ choices, but mine usually skew the results. I may be thinking with an old-fashioned mind.

    Gretchen nerdy
    June Popular
    Harmony Popular
    Nia Nerdy
    Wren Nerdy
    Jena popular
    Wynne nerdy
    Jazz nerdy
    Tabitha nerdy
    Holly popular
    Wenda popular
    Hope popular
    Ivy nerdy
    Jasmine popular
    Winter nerdy
    Jenny popular

  7. Cara King says:

    Susan, Keira, limecello, Doglady, Megan, and Diane — thanks so much!!!! That’s a huge, huge help.

    Susan, I think Samuel & Rebecca Caton sound perfect for what you want!

    Keira, sympathy on the difficult-to-pronounce last name. (A bonus: now I know how to pronounce it! And it was just what I’d been guessing it was, handily enough!)

    As to my first name, it’s common enough nowadays, but when I was a kid, pretty much 95 percent of folks who saw it written pronounced it kahra (like a car), instead of (more or less) kerra or kara, which mine is. And of folks who heard it first, 95% seemed to spell it Kara. (Luckily for me, the combination of spelling & pronunciation I use is much more common now, for some reason…)

    Thanks again, everyone!!!


  8. Cara, I have to admit I’ve been pronouncing it kahra in my mind, since that’s how most of the Cara/Karas I’ve met say it. I’ll try to remember to say it right if/when I meet you in person!

  9. Todd says:

    The problem with deciding nerd girl names–as we nerd guys can attest–is that there just aren’t enough nerd girls out there to collect a decent sample. Took me years to find a good one…

    Tabitha–witch, I mean, nerdy
    Hope–could be either, maybe a bit nerdy
    Winter–hippy, which may or may not mean nerdy


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