Romance Character Names

Dirk and Mason and Vaughn are all fine, but how many of them have you met in real life? And are you looking for real life in the romances you buy or do you like bigger-than-life characters? This is a debate I’ve often had with my critique partners–the romance fantasy versus romance reality issue. Some readers love fantasy romance that may take place on worlds very different than our own or in dimensions when characters have magical abilities not seen in this world. Any writer knows that readers prefer characters to have names different enough from each other not to be too confusing as to pull the confused reader out of the story. Names, too, can help define characters-the smarmy “perfect guy” who pursues the heroine, but who she ultimately realizes can love the true her or the goofy friend type with the silly name. Names serve many purposes and I love them. Seriously love them. I started reading baby name books before I even decided whether or not I would have kids. When I eventually did decide to parent, I gave my daughters each four names besides their surname. They’ve never given me crap for this, but they usually just use the first two. I think they tolerate me in this area. As writers, we wrestle with our own name-love and try to respond to readers’ preferences. Do they care if a name is hard to pronounce or will they just make up a pronunciation in their head and read past the carefully crafted names we sweat over? Probably both will happen. I try to stay away from the silly and the overly-used, but every now and then, I’m a name fool. Thank God for my critique group.

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