Names are important, never forget that. You can’t just slap a name to a character and get away with it. The name must have meaning and personality that matches your character. But there is no need to hunt down the official meaning of a name in order to use one in your work as long as it holds meaning to you.
For example, when ever I hear the name Penny I am reminded of a happy perky young girl who’s full of life and love. Thus when I had a character that was happy, bubbly, border-line overly perky with a bright sense of fashion and a love for anything, I used Penny.
The name Josh fills me with images of an average guy covered in mystery and a little bad boy shadow that takes his boy next door looks to new heights. Mark brings with it a sense of responsibility and hard work. Sandra is caring, well-meaning but self-centered and her idea of what is the right thing may not be the right thing for everyone. Alex is fun and a rebel while Kayla gets the job done with facts and learning. Tim is immature and childish but understands the value of a dollar and a days work. See where I’m going with this? I have strong preconceived ideas about what a person will be like based on their name a lone. Every one does.
If I meet a John on the street or in a shop I expect him to be family originated because most of the John’s I’ve met have been. So if I use the name John in my work, he’s most likely going to have a strong family background. Of course this doesn’t mean that every John is like this. Not every Kayla finds comfort in text and numbers. Not every Penny loves life and has bad fashion since. But this is what I feel when I read or write those names.
What I’m trying to say here is when you pick names for your characters, these names must reflect who they are to you. I would never dream of naming the big bad lady April or Amy, but I would name her Sarah or Samantha.
What do you think of when you see names? Do you have any strong feelings about any certain name or do you feel the same as I do with the above names?