When I was in grade school, I found out that my name meant "Crowned with laurel leaves." Pretty lame to a third grader. A few years later I checked a looser translation, and there was my name's redemption. Lori= Victorious. And they included a verse. Isaiah 40:31. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles..." very poetic. If my name couldn't be lyrical, at least its meaning could be right?
At some point I stopped noticing my name. It's just there like the freckle on my cheek or the color of my eyes. It's who I am, like it or not.
I recently had a run-in with names again. I've been plugging away on my current WIP for a while, mostly brainstorming, characterizing, plotting. I've written snippets of scenes and spent a lot of time daydreaming about the characters. Everything was falling into place beautifully and I was getting excited...
But my heroine wouldn't cooperate. She didn't make sense. I couldn't see her. I knew who I was trying to make her into, but she just wasn't coming alive. Then, after reading a friend's blog post, I knew what I had to do.
Her name had to go.
How many times as a child I dreamed of doing just that! I would have a princess name-- you know the kind with lots of A's and L's and Y's. Alysianna or something ridiculous like that.
It was amazing, this authorial power I suddenly had! I scratched out the character's name on her profile sheet and gave in to the heady power of re-naming bliss.
And so it was done. I found her name. It's not the loveliest name I've ever heard. In fact, she might even have issues with it. But when I wrote it down and watched the black ink dry on the notebook paper, I knew. It's her. She's alive. She's anxious to get to her life and wondering, I think, what took me so long.
How do you feel about naming your characters? Is it an adventure? A headache? Are you the kind of person who searches websites for meanings, so your character's name enhances the theme? Or is naming more of a nuisance and all your characters would be named Mary and Joe if you could get away with it?
What principles guide your naming?
What are your favorite literary names? Least favorite? Why?
Please, satisfy my curiosity. If I can't do anything about my own name, I can at least have fun with well-chosen imaginary ones.