6) How do you choose names for your characters?

Mar 27, 2014

It’s a very intuitive process and it can happen in one of several ways. Sometimes a character simply is who he or she is, and will tell me his or her name right away.

In Mindel and the Misfit Dragons, Mindel simply appeared as Mindel. She was Mindel from the first moment the story came to me.I can’t explain it, except to say that Mindel is a very special name in my family. My paternal grandmother was named Mindel, and my oldest daughter is named after her.

Sometimes I make lists of names and recite them until something feels right. That’s how I named Mindel’s parents, Sir Benjamin and Lady Leah. A name is never a compromise. It has to resonate deep inside of me. It has to be right. This applies to minor characters as well. Mindel’s nursemaid appears only briefly, but she is Bess, and could only be Bess.

Sometimes I arrive at names a bit more logically, as in the names of the dragons in Mindel and The Misfit Dragons. Here I combined prefixes and suffixes that had meanings pertaining to the characters, but even then the name I arrived at had to feel right; the character had to embody the name.  (For an analysis of the dragon names, please see the glossary in Mindel and The Misfit Dragons.)

By the way, the same can often be said of place names, especially if, as in the case of Castle Draconmere, the place is almost a character in itself.

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