Character of the Week: Iowa Names

Sometimes naming is just a feeling.

The Writer Describes the Character

Female, not quite 30, set in the modern day
Born and raised in a small town in Iowa, transplanted to Boston.
Her parents don’t figure very prominently in this story, but they probably own a small farm supply or grocery store and aren’t very remarkable.
Mother’s name is Ida; love interest’s last name is Kvamme.
She is a completely unexpected genius who won a scholarship to MIT, went to school there, and now works there. She discovered time-travel pretty much single-handedly, and now has to figure out who has been changing things in her life, and why.
Soft Science Fiction

I admit I don’t remember being very inspired when searching for names for this one. The love interest has an interesting name, but the mother has a “normal” name (albeit, a very unpopular name for when the character would have been born). I thought that since this character is from a small Iowa town and “transplanted” to a major city, that there may be a bit of a fish out of water thing going on, and therefore the character should have a normal/popular sort of name.

I searched the SSA database for names popular in Iowa about 30 years ago, and I skimmed the list for names that “felt” right. For other namings, I know I kept character qualities like intelligence in mind, but for this one I think I just let the names hit me.

My Reply to the Writer

  • Sophie Miller
  • Bridget Miller
  • Lacey Miller
  • Kara Miller
  • Molly Miller

The writer replied: Bridget Miller sounds perfect. Thank you!

Often it’s good to be thoughtful about character naming, but going by instinct is a valid technique. Somehow my instincts often helped me as well as or better than my “smarts” when I was helping name characters for other writers, as evidenced by this writer’s enthusiastic response!


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