|Olivia Hussey as Juliet in ROMEO AND JULIET - 1968|
That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
--spoken by Juliet in ROMEO AND JULIET by William Shakespeare
I am considering changing the names of my hero and heroine and as much as I love naming characters sometimes the hero and heroine are the hardest ones to name. As readers, we use everything the author gives us to build images of the characters we're being introduced to in our heads. So I'm wondering which is more important the name itself or the image it conjures?
Old Will Shakespeare says that no matter what we call the rose, it will smell just as sweet so does a name encourage or detract from how we feel about a character?
If I were to give my heroine a name like Gladys Poindexter, would you like her more or less? How about if you opened a book and the hero's name was Harold Flatbottom, what image would you draw from that name?
Of course, the description of a character may change your perception of the character altogether. Say you're introduced to a character who is described as a tall, too thin man with thin scruffy brown hair, sallow skin, and an overbite with which he could open coke bottles. I don't think you'd want his name to be something like Lance Caldwell, would you? A name like that should belong to someone tall, well built, with silky thick brown hair and a dazzling smile. The other guy is more the Harold Flatbottom type.
If you opened a book and read about a woman who was tall and elegant with silky blond hair and the face of an angel, you wouldn't want her named Gladys Poindexter, would you? Don't get me wrong there are probably some Harolds and Gladys' in the world who are knockout gorgeous but, for some reason, we just don't want to meet them in our Romance Novels, do we?
Help me out a bit and let's see what names your imaginations can produce if I give you descriptions of the characters ... you can be as outrageous as you want or as serious as you want. If you hit on a name I really like and that I think fits my hero and/or heroine, I might just use it. So let's play!
He's tall, well over six feet. He has nearly black hair which is wavy and shoulder-length - he tends to wear it in a queue. He's a man of the sea so his skin is tan, his body is strong and muscular from years of working the life of a sea captain. His eyes are green like newly sprouted grass in a springtime field. He's got a smile that lights up his face and wants to make any woman around him smile as well. His features are strong but not hawkish. He wears a moustache which gives him a roguish look. He's around thirty years of age. His mother was French and his father was English but he was born and raised in what is now Louisiana. Important point because time periods matter to names - the year is 1805. GO!
She's medium in stature, about five foot four, and thin but has well-developed curves. Her hair is long and curly, dark in color but contains a multitude of red highlights when the sunlight strikes it. She enjoys the outdoors and loves the sea so isn't as careful as she should be about protecting her skin from the sun. She easily gets a sprinkling of freckles across her nose when in the sun too long. She has large dark brown eyes. Her father is of English descent but born and raised in the Colony of Virginia and her mother was English, born and raised in Hampshire, England. She's around nineteen years old, Virginia born and American raised and on occasion has been known to use words like bollocks. GO!
Who knows, some day my book may actually be published. If I use a name(s) suggested by my readers, I'll be sure to acknowledge it then. Thanks, ahead of time.
So what names would you give these characters? Btw, I was just made aware that I had forgotten to mention that I already have surnames that I am staying with. Hero - Hawkings and Heroine - Embry. Hope that helps your creative juices. Thanks. : )
Hope you found some good reading amidst the new releases and don't forget, the FORTUNE'S SON Giveaway runs through Thursday evening. If you interested in trying for chance at winning a copy of the book, click here! Happy Reading!