Contemporary Romance Writer: What’s in a Name

Beth Vogt Contemporary Romance, Reality, Writing 24 Comments


I put alot of thought into naming my kiddos.

No one every told me that, as a novelist, I would agonize over naming fictional people.

But I do. This vlog, which runs about a minute and a half, gives you a glimpse into my author-angst about novels, names, and keeping it all straight.

Any favorite names for people — real or imaginary? And if you ever agonize over remembering names, let me know I’m not alone!

Comments 24

  1. Nice to see you and your name-recall dilemma early this a.m. One nice thing about writing a historical, as I am now, is that someone else chose major names involved and I can check Google for basic facts on those characters–being impressed (or aghast) at the naming job they did. Just think, these characters you’re birthing will always be part of you 🙂

    1. It’s true, Dee. The characters I’ve created for my novels do stay with me after I write “The End.”
      And it’s always fun to find out what someone’s name means — and how they came by that name.

  2. What gets me is when I have two names that are similar. like in this most recent books I was writing, I had two sisters named Autumn and April. It was too much. So I switched April’s name to Claire.

    It’s sort of like in real life. How we have a dog named Bubba and a son named Brogan. I wouldn’t recommend naming your children or pets something that starts with the same letter. You don’t want to know how many times I’ve called Brogan Bubba, or vice versa.

    1. Couldn’t agree more.
      As a twin, with a sister named Brenda, I’ll let you imagine the smash-up with our names Beth + Brenda!
      Hhhhmmm … Trying to recall if I’ve ever had a pet with a name close to one of our kiddos’ names …

  3. Fun vlog, Beth. 🙂 We labored over names for our kiddos too. I still call them by the wrong name, and I know them well!!!! I’ve found, as I read back over some of my scenes, that I used the wrong name of a person. This name-remembering -challenged gal will have some interesting struggles when I’ve written a few books. Thanks for the image of the train wreck in my head of names. 🙂

    1. As I read through the galley proof (final proof) for Wish You Were Here, my main character was called David.
      Um — no David in my book.
      Never had been. Not in any version of the book.
      My husband caught that slip-up. (Bless the man for reading through my manuscript soooo many times!)

  4. I love this YouTube Video, Beth. It almost feels like you dropped in for tea! (What kind do you prefer? Or are you strictly a coffee drinker? It’s cold here today, and the sky is tossing ice pellets.)

    My latest protagonist’s name was picked in a silly way, but it seems to be working.

    The protagonist’s name in my first book (unfinished) is my favorite. I couldn’t list every character in that book right now if you stuck a pin under my fingernail (which, of course, you would never do).

    1. Good morning, Patti!
      I am a tea drinker — although Starbucks’ caramel brulee lattes are yummy!
      I have fun picking names too. A favorite method right now? Finding surnames that work as last names. And I also like to stick friends’ names into my books. Never as villains though.

  5. Hi Beth! My name is Jessica Patch. LOL

    I loved this vlog and listening to you, giggling at your name mix-ups. I also love the color of paint on your walls!

    I fall in love with every name of my hero/heroines. And I enjoyed picking out my children’s names, although it was frustrating because my husband and I couldn’t agree on anything! In my novels, I don’t have to confer with anyone…and that’s bliss. 🙂

    1. Not gonna forget your name, Jessica — although over at your blog I see people calling you Jessica and Jess. So, which is it?
      Just so you know, that green paint isn’t so lime-green — it’s darker than it looks. Took me painting it twice to get it right. But I love my living room and dining room color too! (Yep, two rooms.)

  6. For my characters, I try to pick names with significance, something that makes sense in light of their personalities. And I have always loved the name Elizabeth (is that your full name or is it just Beth?). If I ever have a daughter, that will be her name!

    1. For the record, Lindsay, my given name is Mary Beth.
      However, I changed legally changed it a few years ago, dropping the “Mary,” because I never used it & it caused some hassles along the way when people assumed I went by Mary and automatically put it on business/legal documents.

  7. It’s fun to see and hear you, Beth. =)

    Keeping track of character names can be challenging. What really makes it difficult for me is when I change a name midway through a book. I have to make sure I switch all the earlier references. Thank goodness for Word’s “find” feature.

    1. Thanks for joining the conversation, Keli.
      I changed my heroine’s name in book #2 — but thankfully I changed it before I dove in. I only had to do search and find for the synopsis.

  8. Loved your vlog. I have both a Word document that lists all my characters’ names (In both books I’m working on) alphabetically. then I have an Excel spreadsheet with their pertinent information-like eye/hair color, height, weight, age, dob (just for me), high school graduation then college graduation. Then I just have to remember what I named the file. lol

    One way I pick names is from the Social Security database that lists each year’s top names for boys and for girls. You can get the top 10, 50, etc.
    And, I love the color of your walls, too.

    1. OK, Pat, I’m thinking you don’t have the same mental train wrecks I do when it comes to characters’ names.
      I’ve googled popular names according to years too. Sometimes I go with it, sometimes I don’t.

  9. I am late piping in here but I just had to, I loved your vlog Beth. As a music teacher I teach about 370 kids and I do know every child’s name. The problem I had was when it came time to choose names for my characters I associated my students with those names, which isn’t always a good thing, if you know what I mean. I had this same dilemma in choosing my children’s names. Therefore they both have very unique Irish names I had never heard before. As for my characters I just had to seperate my students from the names, my WIP characters all of have names of kids I teach.

    1. Melissa,
      I’m so glad you chimed in.
      I am also quite impressed that you know all 370 names of the kiddos you teach!! And I would love to know your children’s names.
      And there are certain names I’ve steered clear of because I associate them with certain people . . . probably won’t ever use them.

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