I think perhaps the hardest part of writing stories for me is coming up with a character name. I usually have a pretty good idea of where the story is going, despite being a “pantser”, so that’s less of an issue. And getting words down on the page is more a matter of whether my brain can form coherent sentences and whether my fingers are going to cooperate with me. Again, it’s not a huge issue.
No, the hard part is most definitely coming up with names.
The characters of a book are, to me, real people. Their names offer a glimpse into who they are, what sort of person they might be. I know that people in real life don’t always match up with what they are named, partly because the names are given to them rather than chosen, but my characters match their names as much as possible. For me, the name is the pinnacle of a character. Even secondary characters, whom you might see for a single scene, have names tailored to suit them and their personality.
With all of that pressure riding on my choice of a name, it can be rather difficult to choose. I usually go through name websites (my favourite being Behind the Name) and will search for an hour or more in a single day, just picking out whether I want the name to start with a certain letter, have a certain etymology, end a specific way, have a certain meaning, etc. It is frankly a little terrifying. But it is also oh so thrilling when I find that one name that just…fits.
Why, you may ask, am I bringing up names right now?
Well, I’ve just started writing another book. (Yes, this is literally what I do as a writer, but bear with me.) This book is going to be the first in the Fire Wars Saga, the series that follows The Wing Cycle. There are going to be at least three books, possibly more (though I think three might be enough), and the scope of these stories is going to be slightly larger than The Wing Cycle. I will be dealing with a good millenium’s worth of history, at the least, plus some other fun things that I can’t tell you about.
I’ve had the plan for this story rattling around since before I wrote The Wing Cycle, except for one thing. The name of the main character.
Okay, I had a name for her a while back, but I decided that name fit a different character better, so away it went. Which left me with a highly-important character that had no name. This was a problem.
So I went through all the steps previously mentioned, and I researched and researched and researched. I needed something a bit sharp, but not harsh. Intelligent, but not uppity. Certainly not sweet, and perhaps a bit dark. I did not want it to end in the letter ‘a’, since that was the primary naming convention I used for female sylphs in The Wing Cycle, and I needed this character to be very, very distinct. I did not want a name that was reminiscent of a particular culture found on Earth, but one that could be generally generic, yet recognisable.
This, as you may have guessed, was not an easy thing. Eventually, I settled on a variant of an Irish/Celtic name. While the proper Celtic name had distinct seascape overtones, and was technically a variant of other names, the name I chose had all the elements I wanted while still being just a touch elegant. Dark. Deep. Sharp. Intelligent. Even a touch lonely.
So, I have the name for the main character in Fire Burning Bright, the first book in the Fire Wars Saga.
I bring to you…Mire.