What’s in a name? (help me pick one, please!)

Yellow dress
Bess wears this dress at one point in the novel.

So now that I’m starting to think someone in the wide world out there might actually read my novel one of these days, it’s occurred to me that I need to change the female lead’s name. Currently, her name is Bess. I chose that in honor of my Aunt Bess who is quite possibly my favorite person ever.

HOWEVER, novel Bess is the mother of an illegitimate child in 1950s West Virginia. And while Aunt Bess up in heaven probably doesn’t mind a bit, her daughters and grandchildren might not think this is a compliment. So, name change.

Allow me to sum up the process of selecting a new name.

  1. Think of name I like.
  2. Try first name with last name. Yuck.
  3. Think of another name that goes with the last name.
  4. Compare name to other characters and realize it sounds way too much like someone else’s name.
  5. Think of a third name that goes with the last name and doesn’t sound too much like anyone else.
  6. Realize that character is a grandmother in the sequel and name does NOT work with “Grandma” in front of it.
  7. Lose all perspective and be grateful that I never had to name an actual, real person.
  8. Put up a poll on my blog with several names that I could live with and let YOU choose among them while secretly hoping someone will respond with the perfect name that I haven’t thought of yet.

So here are some possibilities that I’m thinking meet all my criteria. Please let me know which one you like in the comments section below. Oh, and feel free to suggest something that’s not on the list. The character is a petite blonde, born in WV in the 1930’s with the last name Long. I’m hoping for a name that sounds Appalachian. Thanks!

  1. Iona
  2. Mayfair
  3. Perla
  4. Edina
  5. Adair

23 thoughts on “What’s in a name? (help me pick one, please!)

  1. Mom

    Of your list, I prefer Mayfair. But after reading a list of Appalachian girl’s names, I’d offer Biddy (nickname for Obedience,) Bithiah (daughter of the Lord,) Cora, Dovey, Gilly, Hester, Gincy, Mazzy, Tacey (be silent,) Vesta or Winifred (joy/peace.) I don’t know why, but I think Bess might like Iona…
    But since the power went out after my first 3 words of the above, maybe you should ignore my comments! 😉

  2. I see your Mom’s power went out, too! I wondered how far that reached in WV. Ours was out 1 1/2 hours last night. Bad memories of the derecho!

    And I actually like the Tacey name your mom mentioned. But Mayfair is really different and something I’m sure I’ve heard growing up around here. You know there are some INTERESTING Appalachian names. As for last name, I think half of our area is comprised of people with the last name of Lilly. Most people are related to a Lilly here somehow.

  3. Buffy White

    OK, Steve has a suggestion–go more standard and try Catherine or Kathleen. Or my suggestion is Fairlee. You may remember a character in Christie with that name. I assume it’s a mountain name. A friend of mine’s granddaughter is named Fairlee. I think that’s how you spell it.

  4. Mom

    Just don’t make it something that is ambiguous in pronunciation. I hate it when a main character has a name I’m not sure how to pronounce and I keep reading it different ways and find out later it’s something entirely different!

  5. And I must add that I LOVE Vesta–big fan of that. I just used it in my book (side character). I had a great-aunt named “Gay” with a twin named “Faye.” Then there were twins “Meryl” and “Pearl.” I’ve always loved “Pearl.” Sorry, I could ramble on and on about names…

  6. Katie Newingham

    Sarah,
    I like Biddy and I also like Mary-Beth or something hyphenated.
    Congratulations on an agent. I suspected you would be agented at Bootcamp 🙂

  7. Pat Maruca

    You know, I like Bess (I’m sure Aunt Bess would be thrilled) or Biddy. I don’t like those unusual ones. My aunt’s name was Octavia, but she wouldn’t let anyone say it, much less call her Octavia. Put all the candidate names in a pot and draw one. Your character will grow into her name as you develop her.

  8. Pingback: 2012 in review–blog stats | Sarah Loudin Thomas

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