What’s In A Name?

Happy Halloween! My little Gene Simmons is off at school, coming home tonight so Mommy can apply face paint and rhinestones.

I am looking forward to Falling Back, that is MY treat this year.

In writing news, I am considering changing my heroine’s name. Right now, it’s Alys, which seemed to suit her when I started, but now I am not so sure. I thought about Hyacinth–courtesy of some spam email–but that seems too frilly for my heroine. Perhaps you have some thoughts?

She looks like this picture here, she is smart, knows what she doesn’t know (in other words, is well aware she is out of her depth dealing with her current situation), is wryly witty and interested in new experience (enter: The Hero). She has freckles, too, and I am considering adding other ‘flaws’ so she’s not divinely, perfectly beautiful.

Until I have the name right, I can’t write the character. I will be browsing through name books, mainly Withycombe‘s Oxford Dictionary of Christian Names, but I wouldn’t mind some help.

Do character names jar you if they don’t seem right? What’s your favorite name for a character? How important is a character’s name in terms of defining the character?



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Cara King
14 years ago

Hmm… Doesn’t seem to me that Hyacinth really suits her. It seems overly, um, romantic to me. Or something.

Racking my brain here…


And, yes, character names do jar me if they aren’t right!


Diane Gaston
14 years ago

I’ve forgotten, Megan. Is this a Regency? I know you’ve been spreading your wings, writing-wise. If she’s Regency, then Hyacinth doesn’t work for me, because I don’t think Regency ladies were named after flowers very often.

here’s my favorite name site:

I usually go into the category of ethnic names.

I like Alys, but maybe you want something earthier.
Under Celtic girls’ names
Vanora, Treva, Emogene
Under Welsh:
Cara (!!!), Lowenna, Tressa
Under Old English:
Arden, Kendra, Lynne, Twyla

But those are just some that struck my fancy!

One of my pet peeves in naming characters is naming the Heroine with a traditionally male name, like Alex, Charlie, etc. Bugs me every time.

I’m manning the door for Trick or Treaters tonight. I’ll be so glad to get this candy out of the house!!

Susan Wilbanks
14 years ago

I like both Alys and Hyacinth, since they’re both unusual enough to seem distinctive but are period-appropriate (I’m assuming this is Regency). But in case you’re looking for other ideas:


FWIW, Hyacinth works for me as a Regency name because I’ve encountered a real one–Richard Wellesley’s wife and one of his daughters were both named Hyacinthe. Of course, she was French, but it still passes my personal plausibility test.

I am fairly picky about names. Anachronisms bug me, and I get tired of some of the obvious Romance Hero Name Elements (anything devil/dark/raven/wolf/etc. in the name or title, pretty much).

Amanda McCabe
14 years ago

Hyacinth makes me think of “Keeping up Appearances,” which is hilarious but maybe not what you want for a sexy romance heroine!!!

I like Alys. But Catherine and Olivia also seem to suit. I like Julia, too.

14 years ago

She seems to be, to me, a:


Janet Mullany
14 years ago

She’s a Cecilia.
Though I couldn’t tell you why.

La Belle Americaine
14 years ago


Pam Rosenthal
14 years ago


14 years ago

On the issue of names, I once wrote a draft of a story and made up a name ‘on the spot’ as it were for a minor character – one who was going to come and go within a scene or two. In the end, I liked her name so much I kept the character and she ended up becoming one of the principle cast! If the name doesn’t feel right, it can jar. If it does, the character can (for me, anyway) definitely be transformed.

Elena Greene
14 years ago

Sorry, I have the same reaction to Hyacinth as Amanda. Sorry! This is rather like when I named a hero Gerald and then someone said it reminded them of Gerald Ford–hero promptly became Jeremy!

I like Alys but you are the best to judge it that suits her. I’ve had characters who wouldn’t behave until I named them properly. I have so much trouble with names that I often use placemarkers for secondary characters such as (maid) or (hero’s cousin) and figure them out later.

Diane, I know what you mean about heroines with masculine or androgynous names. It works OK for me in a contemporary because such names are more common now, but it’s trickier in a historical context. Though I did once hear of a woman named Sidney during the Regency and nicknames could sound masculine, as in Harryo for Harriet Cavendish.

Megan Frampton
14 years ago

Thanks for all the comments, everyone! You have given me plenty to consider.

14 years ago


It’s the first name that popped into my head.

14 years ago

I think she looks like a Jeanne.

14 years ago

Emmaline or Emma….

14 years ago


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