Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A New Pet

Today is kitty day.  My oldest son turns 23 next week and we are picking up one of his birthday gifts this afternoon. There were four adorable kittens to choose from all with beautiful markings (their grandfather is a Maine Coon cat and their mother is a smokey brindle).  After much deliberation and spending about an hour playing with the kittens, Justin finally picked one out.  It was the little orange one.  He always wanted an orange cat so I knew he would go with his long-time wish, but he was tempted by the white and and orange one's playful demeanor.  The orange kitten soon proved to be pretty and playful as well.

I hope this new pet is a good companion for him and an encouragement as my son suffers from Major Depression. Pets can be so healing.  I literally went through some of the darkest times in my life with my little spoiled cat, Briar Rose, and her purr warmed my spirits. 

It's been 4 days since Justin picked out his pet and no name yet. I picked out Justin's name when I was in high school and wrote a report on Morgan horses and learned about Justin Morgan. Who would have known by the time I had my first son, ten years later, it would be a popular name. My other son (Brandon) was named on the way to the hospital and I didn't even know he was going to be a boy. So this is driving me nuts - this is his baby! I've been trying not to nag him.  No wonder I had a dream that I was pregnant and trying to choose my baby's name. He says he wants to get to know his new pet and then decide on the name so the name fits her personality.  This might have something to do with his brother's cat's name evolving from Cinnamon to Tinny to Snafu. For now the wee one will be simply "kitty".

What if I had waited to name my sons according to their character traits?  I think I wanted them to grow in to their names, yet they seem to fit anyway.  Justin means just and he has always had a good sense of righteousness in his heart and wisdom.  Brandon means brave and he has always been my quiet yet bold adventurer.

That got me thinking. When I write a story I usually pick out names for my characters before I know who they are. I have even written characters, and stories too, based on their name alone and who I want them to be.  I often go to baby names websites and look for names that mean character traits that I want the character to have.  That might seem kind of strange because as a writer I can imagine any name I want and think up any characteristics I want, but somehow doing this seems to authenticate the name for me. At times I've changed names mid-stream, after I got to know them better. They might say, "Why do you keep calling me that? You know my name is really ____." Occasionally I've drawn a blank and haven't found a name until the very end and just gave them a generic name or called them "hero" or "bad guy". That is usually an indicator to me that the character needs more development, that they don't have a true identity yet.

What about you?  When do you name your characters?  How do you go about naming them?


  1. I do the same thing! I had a "noname" character for quite some time. I went in a change it frequently to see how it felt. Thanks goodness for computers and the "find and replace" key.

    The kitty is adorable!

  2. Hi Carla -

    I changed the surname of a family in Book 1 halfway through the writing process. Their new name matches up with the father's occupation.

    One of my main characters in Book 3was named right from the beginning. It fit her personality.

    I've looked at baby name sites, explored the Random Name Generator, and also use a lot of Biblical names.

    Susan :)

  3. I think of a name that sounds good to me, look up its meaning, and if it feels appropriate that's the name I start with. Sometimes I change the name as the character changes, but most of the time I keep the original one.

    That's a beautiful kitten. I've always wanted an orange one, too.



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