Monday, February 14, 2011

On Character Names

I thought it might be cool to talk about how I came up with the names of my main characters in CLARITY.

For most characters, I flip through the white pages for last name inspiration and baby name websites for first names. But for main characters, I put more time and intention into it.

For example, for CLARITY, I knew I wanted my main character’s last name to be short and punchy—like her. I went with the name “Fern” because, like the plant, she looks delicate but is actually quite hardy. :)

Part of the Ferns’ family dynamic is that Starla, the mother, leans toward the strange and her kids sometimes just want to be normal. So it made sense to me that Starla would give them unusual names. And they’d just go by more “normal” nicknames.

The boy was always Periwinkle “Perry” Fern. I worked backwards with this one. I picked the nickname first—Perry—and searched for an unusual name that could be a longer version of that.

My main character was originally called Andromeda “Andie” Fern. ("Andromeda" because I’m an astronomy buff and I like the name. "Andie" because I think it's a girl's name that's both cute and tough at the same time.) But I suddenly needed a new title. Something suggestive of Andie’s gift. My friend and I pored through words in an online thesaurus and “clarity” stuck out. I thought…that’s a cool word. It’s evocative, a bit mysterious, and speaks to my main character’s ability. So with the title change, came a name change.

And Clarity “Clare” Fern was born!


  1. Great post, Kim. I love hearing how authors come up with character names!

  2. I am such a sucker for nicknames - I love how you worked backwards from them to find your characters' true names.

    Can't wait to read about Clare and Perry.

  3. Absolutely love reading about how authors come up with their character names. Clarity is definitely one of the coolest names I've come across in YA fiction!

  4. And how did you name Victoria Happel, hmmmmmm????

  5. Thanks Sarah, Tiffany, and Tammy!

    Susan - she was named after some crazy lady who...oh wait, nevermind. ;)

  6. They were great name choices...every one seemed to fit the character perfectly. It was really cool to hear how you came up with them!

  7. So interesting how you came up with the names. I always like to hear how others do it.