Character of the Week: Murderer Names

This naming was interesting partially because essentially all of the information given was background. I was left feeling that I didn’t really know what the story was, or anything about the world.

My novel isn’t set in a real era due to my problem of not wanting to get historical things/situations wrong, but I’m thinking something similar to the Victorian era. It’s a murder/suspense/thriller/mystery.

The first character is the main character. We first meet him as a young boy (10-12 years old) after someone has just brutally killed his mother in front of him. He was born in England to an English mother and a brutal half French father (I’m thinking an English first name and a French surname?). He is an only child. He lives in a poor area in London and ends up having to be independent and resourceful due to his circumstances. He ends up as a sinister murderer, avenging the deaths of his mother and love interest.

The second character is a French girl, 18-20 years old. She’s the romantic interest of the main character, a boy of around the same age. He meets her in a poor area (possibly a small village) in France. Her grandmother brought her up after her mother died in childbirth and her father left before she was born. Her grandmother died a few years ago, so now she is alone. Her mother and grandmother were poor, and her grandmother used to work as a seamstress for a rich family. She is quite naive when it comes to people and relationships, but can cope with fending for herself practically/physically. I’m thinking of her as the pretty, young girl who falls in love with the main character easily and vice versa. Both have innocent natures and plan for a future together. BUT… she is killed quite soon after and this is the turning point for the main character to become the sinister, hardened, emotionally detached murderer he is at the end of the novel many years (30 years?) later.

I wish the writer had either chosen to write a historical novel and then to go back and research/add detail later, or had chosen to write a contemporary novel. To create my list of names for these characters I searched names from the Victorian era, and I went with names that felt like the characters’ ages (his needed to work for a variety of ages) and which sounded fairly romantic and modern. Although these characters were poor, I did not look for names that sounded like those of low class people. For him I wanted a charming name, because murderers are often in their way charming, especially in novels. For her I needed a name that was less realistic and more romantic and appealing.

  • Rudolph Renard (Rudy as a boy)
  • Simeon Renard
  • Timothy Renard (Tim as a boy)
  • Gilbert Renard (Gillie as a boy)
  • Maxwell Renard (Max as a boy)
  • Henrietta (Ettie) Bessette
  • Helene Bessette
  • Lucie Bessette
  • Pauline Bessette
  • Margaux Bessette

The writer replied: Thanks for all your help. I’m so bad at naming characters! I’m going to use Maxwell Renard. It’s perfect. But, I might change up the girl’s name a bit. I’m thinking Renette?

I’m left with a lot of questions (and question marks!) about this writer and her story. And I’m left wondering how her story unfolded.

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