This week I thought I’d show you how varied Contemporary name choices can be while still being realistic for the characters’ ages.
Two brothers, 20-somethings, Contemporary
Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio
Dad is a self-made rich man who was raised Mormon. He’s politically moderate but tends to lean slightly to the right. Mom grew up poor and has the air of someone that may’ve run away with the circus as a kid. She dresses modestly, often wearing an elegant, vaguely new-age looking shawl, but sometimes the edge of a tattoo will peak up from under her shirt collar.
The characters own two hookah/shisha bars and manage to keep them open and chugging along in an existence that ranges from almost well-off to barely scraping by. They live with a group of their friends in a fairly large rambling old house (the 1880s version of a mansion) that is just a short bike ride away from downtown. The oldest brother is engaged to a woman named Ioulia (Pronounced like Julia without the J.)
The brother characters are based on my friends Jared and Trevor.
Normally with a Contemporary novel I would start my name search at the SSA Popular Baby Names website based on the characters’ approximate birth year and the state they were born in, and I’m sure I did start there; however, the list of Ohio names reminded me of the “bland” Ohio Accent I learned about in journalism class. At that point I remembered a post I read a couple of years ago on Red State and Blue State naming at the Baby Name Wizard blog, and how Laura pointed out that the most conservative “Red States” have the least traditional names.
I decided to shift focus. In this example we have somewhat conservative parents who had very conservative backgrounds and who have a less than conservative streaks—dad is a “reformed” Mormon and mom has a secret tattoo. I made a choice that dad, with his Mormon (maybe Utah) background, would have suggested names that he heard that fitted his idea of interesting names, and mom, with her circus flair, would have readily agreed.
I did a search for Mormon Names and came across a website called The Utah Baby Namer, with a list of boys’ and girls’ names with a distinctive “Utah” style. I grazed the boys list for names that weren’t too crazy and which I could see on a 20-something. I took the list I came up with and paired names that I thought sounded good together as sibling names.
In the end I really liked these names for brothers who run a couple of hookah lounges.
- Brogan and Zyler
- Alexavier (Ex) and Javen
- Aric (Ricky) and Brenick (Nicky)
- Jareph and Traver*
- Zeth and Talon
*Wink, wink, nod, nod.
I think the writer liked my suggestions, as she told me she might have me name her children someday. “I’ll be using Brogan and Zyler. That fits perfectly with the name scape. The working name for my main character is Thaya. I was planning on scrapping that later and picking something more ‘normal’ but I think I may stick with it now since her name doesn’t sound so out there anymore… Thank you. You. Are. Amazing.”