What’s in a (characters) name?


Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

Don’t forget to click the purple button to see what everyone else has to say on this week’s subject. It’s at the end of my post.


How do you come up with the names for your characters?


If only I did.

I’m afraid I can’t take the credit (or the blame), for that. As you will all know by now, my characters (and stories) come to me fully formed. I only find out their names in conversation, as the action progresses.


With one exception. My amateur detective Andorra Pett was named by me. Probably because she was a special case (pardon the pun) and grew in my head as an amalgamation of the traits of my wife and daughters. However, once I had her name, her story was produced in the usual way. The voices took over and she was off, with her bestie Cy, meeting all the people on the space station. The bodies came later.


There’s a strange thing that I’ve noticed, all the people from the futures that I write about have very familiar names. It sticks out because you sort of expect them to be exotic, to feel, well, futuristic. And then they appear with names like Dave Travise, Layla Balcom, Davis Jansen.


It’s hardly Anakin Skywalker or Seven of Nine, is it?


In contrast to the normality of the names of my future heroes and villains, in my Steampunk world, the characters’ names reflect the Victorian style, with people such as Horis Strongman, Aphra Claringbold and Jessamine Batterlee. Names that people of the past would be familiar with.


To be honest I expect that names are one of those things that won’t change much over time. Sure, you will get the rise and fall in popularity, but the basic idea will be the same.

Although, I sometimes wonder if, in the future as in the past, surnames will emerge that describe people’s occupations. Like Smith (Blacksmith) or Fletcher (one who makes arrows). Will we get surnames for skills as yet un-invented?

Or will everything be homogenised into one, as we finally realise that race is such an artificial construct and embrace the fact that, on a spaceship or another planet, we are all just humans?


While it’s nice to be relieved from the chore of having to pick names, the weirdest thing about it all is that I couldn’t have chosen better ones for any of the inhabitants of my worlds if I’d tried. Every one of them fits their character perfectly.


Until next time.



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8 Responses

  1. Stevie Turner

    It would be interesting to see future surnames for skills not yet invented. Maybe somebody might be called Mr Techie?

    • Richard Dee

      Maybe people will name their children after the inventor of something that revolutionises life, like lightspeed engines or, dare I say it, photon torpedoes?

  2. Daryl Devore

    Aphra Claringbold – what an amazing name. The stories you could write with that character name. And yes, isn’t it amazing how they characters seem to fit their names.
    Tweeted.

    • Richard Dee

      Aphra is a radical feminist in my Steampunk world, one of the Ladies Who Lunch (q.v.) and a real social reformer.

  3. Steven Smith

    I think it’s interesting how and where our character names come from. I still think Andorra Pett is my favourite of your characters though!

    • Richard Dee

      Thanks, Andorra means a lot to me. I love the names in Chasing Shadows, they fit the characters so well.

  4. P.J. MacLayne

    I have read sci-fi stories where everyone wears bright colors to relieve the boredom of space. I can see names being like that too- becoming more unorthodox to relieve the boredom. Or maybe it’ll go the other direction and we’ll all be Dave?

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