So much for mother’s intuition on this one. It’s a boy!

And of course one of the first things that came to mind was “What are we going to name him?” Not that it’s super crucial yet — we still have 4½ months — but it’s just one of those natural questions. And of course I think of all the girl names I’ve stored up and wonder longingly if I’ll ever be able to use them.

Everybody’s heard by now that Stephenie Meyer chose “Bella” for the main character’s name in Twilight because she had three boys and had been saving that name for if she ever had a girl. Maybe I’ll be in the same boat: I’ll get to spend girl names on characters instead of babies.

The thing that really fascinates me about naming, though, is the idea of a “right” name. With our first, we knew his name before we got pregnant. With our second, we chose the name in the delivery room and had no clue before hand, but he immediately looked and felt like that certain name. With this one, we had zippo boy names when we went into the ultrasound but already afterward quickly stumbled onto one we’re considering (sorry — won’t tell yet!).

I’ve had similarly varied experiences with character names. In my first novel, I changed every single name in there: Allison to Corrine, Susan to Hallie, Peter to Greg, etc. In my second, they’ve stayed so far, though there were small surprises, like nicknames I didn’t expect.

It’s like a name just has to “click” for you, like there isn’t a real way to describe what makes it perfect.

And yet, my mother-in-law gave me a printout of what my names — Jacquelyn and Nichole — mean, and my jaw dropped open at how perfect every description in there was. Hubby is skeptical, saying it’s like fortune cookies where it could fit anybody, but I disagree. I think names have significance, even if I can’t pinpoint how it works. I honestly think the right name for a person or a character “clicks” because it fits, because it says something about that person.

Call me crazy if you want, but tell me what you think! What experiences have you had with naming? Any insights into how it works? Does your name fit you? What do you think of character names in books? Any favorites — especially boy character names you’d recommend for a baby??

Leave a comment!

UPDATE: I’m blaming this omission on scattered prego brain, but I meant to include a link to an interview with Megan Whalen Turner where she was asked about her characters’ names, which all sound very Greek, and she confessed that she’d occasionally use placeholders like “Bob” until she could think of a real name, but once a “Bob” accidentally made it all the way to copy editing before she caught and changed it!


16 thoughts on “Naming

  1. Congrats on the baby boy! I feel the same way about names. I stressed and stressed over finding the “right” name for my first. Then, the right spelling. When I saw her, the name slipped into place. It’s almost like a treasure hunt.


  2. Wow! Another boy? You’ll get lot’s of insight into how male minds work as all your sons grow up.

    This conversation always makes me think of the fairy godmothers from Sleeping Beauty. Bestowing a name is like a prayer for the child to grow into certain virtues. And they probably will because you will help them.

    If a name clicks for you then it probably embodies the qualities you want for your child. I imagine the meaning for a parent could come from the sounds in the name, an example of someone already bearing the name, or knowledge of the name’s history.

    I hope inspiration for your next son’s name doesn’t keep you waiting. 😀


    1. I love the fairy godmothers! And I definitely like that idea of a name like a prayer. It sort of is a prayer in some religions, like when you’re christened as a baby. In our church we call it “giving the baby a name and a blessing,” and that fascinates me, too. Does that mean that the name you choose for your baby might possibly have significance beyond just what he’s called? Cool to think about, anyway.


  3. I know what you mean about “clicking” and don’t understand people who don’t. Haven’t you ever met someone who just doesn’t have the right name? It is an awkward experience.

    We are very serious about our name picking. When I get into it I am trying to find the right flow and to make sure the name goes well within our family as well. And then I wait. I wait for it to just “click” inside of me. Sometimes it takes a while.

    I had a name picked out a couple of years ago and just kind of put it on the back burner and forgot about it, but when we left the ultrasound this last time I thought to myself that if a girl REALLY did pop out, I didn’t have a name for her. The one in my head was NOT this child. I got home, called up my littlest sister, who immediately says “you’re not gonna name her Sophie Grace are you?” And I was just like – “that’s it!” Yes, we are going to name her that. Of course, I tell Justin this as soon as he gets home and he says to me “yeah, we picked out that name a couple of years ago.” Haha. Some names are just right.

    Justin is really into the meanings of their names. And when I feel like the name clicks into place he seems to love the meaning, so it works out, despite the fact that we are after different things.


    1. Exactly. That part about when the name clicks even before you know the meaning is what I think is amazing. Somehow it all just seems to work. And yeah, I have to let the names simmer, too. The one we thought of today I’m going to keep turning over in my head until it seems right or not.


  4. Congratulations! Boys are so fun! (So are girls, so either way I would have been delighted for you.)

    Good luck on picking out a name!


  5. Nikki! I am a name fanatic. I collect them. When I was a younger I used to beg my mom to buy me baby name books. I would probably still be buying them if I didn’t have them practically memorized (and I didn’t have a bunch of friends who own them for real reasons).

    I am one of those hippies who believes that the stories I write aren’t really created by me because they just kinf of occur. So finding the names for them is pretty much the same. It took me a month to find the name “Remie” for my main character and another three to figure out another major player. But once it clicks then nothing else will do.

    I am excited to meet Mr. Three (this is also a name suggestion).


    1. “Mr. Three” is actually a realistic suggestion in our family. We called the first two Kid One and Kid Two for the longest time.

      And I love baby name books, too. My favorite is the Baby Name Wizard because it categorizes them according to the style of the name and suggests sibling names that go well together! It also gives the popular perception of the name rather than the literal meaning. It’s awesome for both babies and characters.


  6. Wow, congratulations! Your three boys will be buddies growing up 😀 Mebbe it’s time to start naming them in order, like in 7 bride for 7 brothers…Adam, Benjamin, Caleb, etc.


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