Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Names by Merrillee Whren

We've probably all been someplace where we have worn a name tag. They are very helpful when we are with a group of people we don't know or don't know well. Names identify people. Throughout the centuries people have been given names that have meanings. In many cultures the meaning of a name is very important.

As an author I often take care in choosing the names of my characters. Sometimes I have a specific name in mind for a character. Other times I use a random name generator to give me ideas. I also like to use surnames that are popular in the area where the book is set. In my most recent book, SECOND CHANCE REUNION, the heroine's name went through several changes before I settled on Annie Payton. I recently received a letter from my brother and sister-in-law, who told me they had purchased several copies of my book. They said their granddaughter, my great niece, was very excited that I had used her first name as my heroine's name. Also in this book, at the request of a friend, I named the two children after his son and daughter.

In my book, AN UNEXPECTED BLESSING, I used the names of two of my nephews in combination to make the hero's name, Chase Garrett. Sometimes I've had to change a name because it is too similar to another name in the book. I've also had to use a different name at an editor's request. In the end, I like the name to say something about the characterhis or her background or personality.

Does your name have a meaning? Do you like your name? Do you like characters with common names or unusual names?

Merrillee Whren is the winner of the 2003Golden Heart Award presented by Romance Writers of American. She is married to her own personal hero, her husband of  thirty-five plus years, and has two grown daughters. Her latest book, Second Chance Reunion, is available at all major book retailers. You can find the buy links at her website. Connect with her on her Facebook page.


  1. I like unusual first names, especially "old" names. And for my books, I also check to see what last names are common in the area I'm setting my books in.

  2. As a longtime, now retired teacher, there are a couple of names I can't use for my characters because they bring up such bad memories of difficult students. Others, I've used because I liked the original owner of it so much. Haven't used many family names, but I probably will.

  3. Jean, I have two women's names I would like to use. Amelia and Sedona I tried Amelia once but had to change it because another author had used it. Someday. :)

  4. Patricia, I know what you mean about student names. I have few that I won't use myself.

  5. I used to take a long time thinking up names for characters. These days I am less choosy, but I do try not to repeat names that I've recently used in another book, and I do make sure the name fits the character.