Contemporary Romance Writer: What’s in a Name


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!

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  1. January 26, 2012, 2:52 am   /  Reply

    Oh….that is funny, Beth! I’m perfectly horrible at remembering names IRL (I secretly wish everyone had to wear nametags), I can only imagine my angst if I was writing fiction.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 26, 2012, 6:50 am   /  Reply

      Here’s the funny thing, Patricia: I rebel against wearing nametags. But I need people to wear them for me!

  2. Alena
    January 26, 2012, 5:47 am   /  Reply

    Loved the video and the topic. I too have trouble rememberimg names!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 26, 2012, 6:49 am   /  Reply

      Nice to know I’m not alone!

  3. January 26, 2012, 5:55 am   /  Reply

    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 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      January 26, 2012, 6:45 am   /  Reply

      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.

  4. January 26, 2012, 5:56 am   /  Reply

    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.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 26, 2012, 6:47 am   /  Reply

      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 …

  5. Jeanne T
    January 26, 2012, 6:37 am   /  Reply

    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. 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      January 26, 2012, 6:48 am   /  Reply

      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!)

  6. Patti Mallett
    January 26, 2012, 7:04 am   /  Reply

    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).

    • Beth Vogt
      January 26, 2012, 7:19 am   /  Reply

      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.

  7. January 26, 2012, 7:34 am   /  Reply

    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. 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      January 26, 2012, 7:38 am   /  Reply

      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.)

  8. January 26, 2012, 7:44 am   /  Reply

    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!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 26, 2012, 9:03 am   /  Reply

      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.

  9. January 26, 2012, 11:05 am   /  Reply

    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.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 26, 2012, 11:08 am   /  Reply

      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.

  10. January 26, 2012, 7:10 pm   /  Reply

    LOL! I am sooooo glad I’m not the only one. ;-))

    • Beth Vogt
      January 26, 2012, 7:47 pm   /  Reply

      Glad I encouraged you, Casey! :O)

  11. January 26, 2012, 8:41 pm   /  Reply

    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.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 26, 2012, 9:50 pm   /  Reply

      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.

  12. January 27, 2012, 6:00 am   /  Reply

    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.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 27, 2012, 6:29 am   /  Reply

      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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