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A Name, A Name, What’s in a Name?

September 5, 2011

I love my morning words.

After exploring my main character’s bedroom with them yesterday I got to chatting back and forth with Mr. Muse (who also needs a name!) about last names for Raiyce. Ideas started to pop. It started with DuMonde, a moon word and sort of French, which is always a good thing. Even the venerable Stephen King thinks so—in his words:

French is the language that turns dirt into romance.

So Raiyce DuMonde wasn’t too bad but the name felt too modern. The letter ‘D’ was messing me up, even though ‘D’ was the letter I initially chose as the first letter of  Raiyce’s last name.  I needed the connection to the dragon, and the letter ‘D’ was to be that connection.  In the end, the French thing wasn’t what I wanted and Raiyce DuMonde wasn’t really what I was looking for. Too effeminate I think.

I thought some more about the Moondragon, a name I’ve always loved but is too obvious in a book called ‘The Dragon’s Milk Chronicles.’ But Mondrian, a variant of that, was available. I liked it, the Dutch painter notwithstanding. Broad soothing swatches of blue and red and yellow have always appealed to my sense of inner balance.

I ended up with Raiyce Mondrian.

Not so good. Way too many vowels; ai, e,o, ia. Yikes, it was starting to feel like Old McDonald’s farm in there-e,i,e,i,o. If I was going to use Mondrian I needed a new first name. I like Raiyce, but the whole Race/Rayce idea is not what I am going for, so I was willing to part with it. I decided to look into men’s names starting with ‘R’ when I was done working on my revision for the night.

Enter a debilitating migraine that brought my writing day to a screeching halt. I crawled into bed with my hands pressed against my temples. No names for me today.

As sometimes happens though when I’m not looking, the name that fit came all on its own in the dark.

Rigel. Rhymes with Nigel. I’m not crazy about Nigel-too British-although I might use it in another story when I need a Brit. But Rigel sounds like the name of a galaxy, which is always a good thing when choosing a name for a hero. (Turns out Rigel is the name of the brightest star in the constellation Orion, which is even better.) No one I know has that name, at least not until I Google it. Probably some kid in South America or something, but that isn’t a deal breaker. I can still picture my main character with this name. It fits his personality. Not too effeminate, not too intellectual, but still smart. Not too tough, or too ambitious. Just right.

Rigel. I like you already.

Sometimes, it takes a random name generator to discover a character’s identity. Sometimes,though, it feels more like magic.

(Photographs courtesy of ‘andrea j’,’JR3′, and ‘LaDeon’ at Stock.xchng)

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