Character of the Week: Paranormal Horror Names

This was e-mailed to me this week.

The Writer Describes the Character

Female, 17, Contemporary

Born and raised in upstate New York (near the PA/NY border).

Mother is a housewife, ~45 yrs. old; Father owns computer business, ~49 yrs. old.

Parents have no names now; Brother: Louis (Loo-Eee), 15; Sister: Anne, 24.

Her friends are all currently unnamed: 3 guys (all her age-ish, are her closest friends), 3 girls, 1 other who is undecided in gender.

She is a senior in high school. Long brown hair, blue-grey eyes, wears glasses, average build/height. Bisexual (open to either gender). Quick to smile, quick to fight, die-hard loyal, is the person you’d go to for advice without a second thought, addictive personality, empathic (can basically read minds, very charming/convincing, see auras), stubborn, tough outside but is actually really sensitive/easily insulted/hurt, can’t handle problems alone (needs constant support—I guess you could call her “needy,” but she hates being that way and tries not to be).

Paranormal Horror

 Extra information about the plot: Basically, 8 teenagers go exploring in a house to learn about spirits, etc. The main 4 (main protagonist, 3 boys) are all empathic and have specific abilities. The house and whatever’s inside literally draws them in through visions/vibes. (It’s irresistible!) Inside, they face unimaginable horrors, torture of body and mind, and see their friends die at the hands of a gruesome shadow monster. Whether they escape the house in one piece is a mystery, even to me at this point.

Side note: I wanted to tell this writer that readers are likely to read Louis as Loo-iss, and if it matters to the story that he is a Loo-Eee she’ll need to have him pronounce it early on. Though even then readers will read it how they want. Then I looked into the name and learned that younger readers, mostly One Direction fans, may now think of this name as being pronounced in the French way. And yet, I still believe readers will read it how they want. If this writer cares that readers will read it differently, then I would suggest choosing a different name. (A lesson I try to keep in mind with my own name choices.)

When searching for this character’s name I had a few directions to go in. First, I looked at the names the writer had already chosen and the area where the character was born for inspiration; second, I looked at the character’s birth year on the SSA database for inspiration (less helpful than usual); third, I looked at the Baby Name Wizard for inspiration; and fourth, I looked at 20,000 Names for inspiration (searching for “female emotion names”).

Frankly, I looked in too many places because none of the sources gave me enough inspiration, but then I was left with more names than would be helpful. Cutting the list down was very hard.

My Reply to the Writer

I went in several directions when looking for this character’s name. I looked at names with “emotion” meanings, at names that were popularly used in the mid to late nineties, names that fit with the sibling names, and names that just felt right for the character. I’m offering you a cross-section of the names that stood out to me.

  • Rowena
  • Felice
  • Haley
  • Renee
  • Emily: Means Emulating

The writer replied: I’m going with Rowena; it’s not one I’ve heard very often, but it really seems to fit my writing. I never would have thought of this one. Thank you!

I’m glad this writer liked the name I liked the best, and glad that this character is named. There are so many wonderful names in the world, and I love how each one gives a character a slightly different personality.

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Character of the Week: German Demon Names

To me, Horror seems to be about juxtaposing the “normal” with the “terrifying”. If I wrote Horror, I wouldn’t want to give away too much with the character’s names.

The Writer Describes the Character

Male, 72 (born 4 years before WWII)

Born in the country side of Germany in a village with no contact outside of the village (this is in a world that demons and monsters do exist but hide from humans). Spent the first 4 years of his life living in the village; after that he lived by himself off in the wilds of Germany and crossed into a few other countries until a British unit caught him for only a few months before heading off on his own again. After the war ended he was captured and was sold into fighting underground matches, body guarding, hitman. Has little real friendly interaction.

Father was a village leader; he lived during the WWI and managed to keep his village safe. Mother had no special rank; lived and survived WWI. Both parents were killed in WWII. The father was first; he died to protect the village and his family. The mother sacrificed herself; after hiding her children in a barn she was killed by the troops when she tried to lead them away.

Father: Falk; Mother: Ina; Older Brother: Shen; British Soldier (Medic): William Hawkworth (drags him back to base to get fixed up/ out of the war zone); Owners: Richard, Ciel, Lady Mongu, Holand, Monty, Charles (Cash).

Moral lifter (back with Medic William Hawkworth), underground fighter (was given drugs), hitman (after some brainwashing), body guard. He only takes orders in and understands German (his native village tongue has been lost) and understands a few words of English. He does not age the same way humans do. After being owned by Charles (Cash) he was freed and returned to Germany where he currently lives far away from humans. Has a number of scars and wounds; he’s a tired yet lost person and he is a type of German demon.

Horror

While this story is a Paranormal Horror, the world is one in which humans do not know about the demons around them. Even if he was born a demon (which is not clear from this description), his people probably would have hidden that fact and given the children “normal” names.

I chose strong sounding names of German origin that I felt could fit a demon/killer such as this character, but which also sounded “average” and “normal” thereby making his actions less expected and more disturbing. I also chose names that were used during that era in time.

My Reply to the Writer

  • Bastian Eberhardt
  • Rolf Eberhardt
  • Ernst Eberhardt
  • Kurt Eberhardt
  • Dieter Eberhardt

The writer replied: Thank you for giving me some names and allowing me to use them. I’ll be using Dieter Eberhardt.

There is a difference in naming characters for a Paranormal Horror vs. ones for a Paranormal Fantasy. Fantasy may have aspects of Horror, and Horror can be Fantastic, but readers of these genres are looking for different things from their stories.

Character of the Week: 1980s Preschooler Names

As my own preschooler is in his last two weeks before starting kindergarten, I thought I should write some of my thoughts on children’s names this week.

The Writer Describes the Character

Female, 4 at the beginning of the story (born in the early 1980s)

She was raised in a small, close suburban neighborhood in the Midwest. Not country, but not crime-riddled either.

Parents are very minor characters. Mostly uninterested, suburban parents. They think she’s more of a ‘strange child’ than anything else.

The parents will probably remain unnamed. Only child. 

Named characters so far: Mallory and Melody, twins that are her best friends as a child. 

She’s brown haired and brown eyed. Blind. Able to see things beyond what is actually there. Possibly a “Firestarter” type of girl, who may be able to make things happen just by wishing they would. Loner, but is not socially challenged. Her other senses are very heightened due to be being born without sight.

Genre: I’m going with Horror/Supernatural. But nothing modern.

When seeking names for this ‘80s child, I focused on names that were similar in style to the twins—that is, on names that were typically ‘80s. I did, as usual, seek a name that was less popular than her friends’ names.

My Reply to the Writer

  • Darci
  • Caryn
  • Lia
  • Lora
  • Alice

The writer replied: Thank you for coming up with these names for me. I really appreciate the time and effort. Unfortunately, I decided on the name Beth. I was leaning towards using Alice, but the more I thought about it, the more it smacked of weird little Goth girls. Not that it’s a bad name. Just didn’t want my character to be portrayed incorrectly. Thanks again and Happy Writing!

As I looked for less common names than those the writer chose for this character’s friends, I think the writer was looking for more common names. Since this is a paranormal/horror kind of story, it is natural that the writer would use a “normal” name to help ground the readers in reality.

Character of the Week: 1950s Names

This writer gave me the information I needed in story form.

The Writer Describes the Character(s)

My no-name protagonist was born in 1952 in New York City. She is now a suburban empty nester. No name has spent most of her life taking care of her children, now estranged, and her husband, now unemployed, depressed and becoming an alcoholic. She is introverted, has few close friends and has never developed any talents of her own as she has lived vicariously through other members of her family. 

Seeing few options as unemployment, debt, foreclosure and illness encroach upon what were supposed to be their golden years, no-name agrees to move to a rural Florida community where the deal was too good to be true. What seems like a retirement paradise at first turns into a… please no more clichés!

The genre is horror/science fiction. Please help me find a name for this nice lady and her husband whose luck has run out.

By telling me the story of these characters (rather than just relating to me their facts), this writer has shown me how much she cares about them and how she thinks of them. I really wanted to help her find no name’s and her husband’s names.

For genres like horror, where the story starts out normal and then gets fantastical, I feel that the characters needed more normal names. Still, I gave her some interesting yet appropriate choices for these characters. These names were normal choices for their time, and they give a clearer indication of age than classic names would.

My Reply to the Writer

  • Rona
  • Norine
  • Teena
  • Mitzi
  • Leona
  • Harmon
  • Garold (Gary)
  • Marlin
  • Vincent (Vince)
  • Ronald (Ron)

The writer replied: Thank you so much. I have a lot to think about.

I don’t know if she chose any of these names, but I wish her the best with her writing. It’s clear it means a lot to her.