I was scrolling Instagram the other day and came across a post about choosing character names. There are many ways to go about choosing character names. Often, a writer wants the name to represent a certain type of personality or specific personality traits. Sometimes it’s about name origin and keeping all of the names within the same one. Or the name needs to fit in a genre (this is very common in fantasy works) or time period. Sometimes a name is simply one the writer likes. I could go on and on.
That post got me thinking about the names of my characters. I’ve been writing since I was a kid so I have used various reasons/methods for picking a name for a specific character. In this post, I’m going to focus on my main characters for my current contemporary romance series to illustrate the importance of character names.
Full disclosure: I did not choose any of my characters’ names in the Silver Linings series. The characters chose them themselves. (Yes, that happens too!) The only request I had was the name had to begin with a specific letter.
Since I didn’t choose them myself and gave absolutely no thought to them, I decided to look up their meanings. I was pretty shocked to find they are pretty much all on point. I guess my characters know what they’re doing.
Here’s what I found:
Dylan = ‘son of the sea.’ My thoughts: Poor Dylan. His path is definitely a stormy one that is easily affected by outside forces. When things are going great, he floats along happily. When things get a little rough, he has to swim a little harder against the currents. Unfortunately, sometimes he finds himself getting sucked under and life threatens to drown him. (Keep swimming, D, you got this.)
Erin = ‘green water.’ My thoughts: Water again? Interesting, especially since she and Dylan both battle depression. I don’t know what to make of ‘green’ though. Maybe because her depression isn’t as bad as Dylan’s and therefore, has more algae because of more sunlight? Haha. That is probably reaching but hey, it sounds somewhat plausible, doesn’t it?
I decided to go a little deeper and look up the meaning of the color green: life, renewal, energy, growth, harmony, freshness, safety, fertility. Now that changes things a bit, doesn’t it? Erin yearns to bring the Sexton brothers back together, to help them become a family again. She also gives them new purpose, the ‘energy’ if you will, to overcome their struggles. She’s given them a ‘life’ again. She continues to help them ‘grow’ every day.
Spencer = dispenser of provisions, a butler. My thoughts: A butler is a type of servant. Spencer has been a ‘servant’ of sorts for both the Mitchell and the Cisco families. He made both families a lot of money, as well as carried out other orders (we don’t know much about this because the details of his involvement with Kyle haven’t been discussed). Spencer also arrived in Lakeford when Erin needed his help battling depression after her parents died. Again, he was ‘serving’ someone else’s needs.
Amber = amber. My thoughts: Let’s think about how amber is formed. Basically, amber is a fossilized form of tree resin hardened by high pressure and temperature over time. Character-wise, Amber starts out as soft and kind of going with the flow until BAM! She finds herself under a lot of stress and forced to become ‘hardened’ to the pressures of life. Sounds pretty accurate to me. Amber is definitely a lot tougher than when we originally met her.
Carolyn = strength. My thoughts: I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. I mean, someone has to be strong to survive the Mitchell family, right? Not to mention she’s somehow managed to make the best of her life after being abandoned by her father.
Not only is Carolyn strong for herself but she makes her friends stronger. She encourages them, supports them, and even gives them the push that they need sometimes. It’s this quality/energy that draws people to her.
Eli = ascent, uplifted, high. My thoughts: Okay, whenever I think of ascension, I can’t help but think of God or other celestial beings. This is kind of fitting because Eli seems (so far) to be all-knowing. He always seems to have the best advice and has all the answers to everyone’s troubles. I wouldn’t go as far to call him God-like exactly, but he does have similar qualities. Maybe it would be more fitting to think of him as an angel? A guardian angel who has been assigned with the task of watching over the Sexton brothers perhaps?
Trevor = homestead, settlement. My thoughts: Oh, wow. Trevor is the main reason Dylan settled down! This kid is Dylan’s anchor. Dylan is no longer just drifting through life. This doesn’t just apply to Dylan but Spencer as well. Trevor helped bring the two brothers together by making them a family again and giving them a home again as well. (Man, I do love this kid.)
Lindsay = a lake; a place of linden trees. My thoughts: Water again. (I’m going to come back to this later.) But not just water, a lake. A lake is calming and steady. Lindsay represents stability. She’s calm and collected, perfect traits for someone working in the mental health field. She provides both Spencer and Evan with stability when their lives are spinning out of control around them. But under that calm exterior are unknown depths.
A Linden tree is a type of lime tree. In many mythologies, it is considered sacred and is a meeting place for the community to get together to discuss issues and make important decisions. Lindsay leads several group therapy sessions for addicts. (Again, this was not planned!! I was as shocked as you probably are right now.)
The linden tree has been linked to the Goddess of Fate and also Freya, the Goddess of Love and Truth.
(Wow. I was speechless. Lindsay knew what she was doing when she chose her name.)
Okay, moving on …
Nicholas = victory of the people. My thoughts: Nick is always trying to look out for those he cares about. His main goal in life is to protect. His methods might be questionable at times, but he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep his family and friends safe. When someone he cares about is threatened, he doesn’t hesitate to bend/break rules or toss his morals aside. He is willing to become a monster to save others. [Side note: I didn’t want him to be Nicholas but he demanded it. I tried to talk him into Nathaniel but he shot that down within seconds. By the way, Nathaniel means ‘god’ or ‘gift of God.’]
Evan = young warrior; right-handed. My thoughts: Well, he is right-handed. (Haha.) He is also the second born and second in command at the family company, which could make him Nick’s right-hand man?
When I first saw the words ‘young warrior’ I legit snorted. Young warrior? Evan? Whatever. He has spent his whole life being complacent. There is no way he is warrior material. But then I made myself really think about his journey. In actuality, we only get to the beginning it in Fool’s Paradise. I can’t go into much detail because the book hasn’t been released yet, but I can say this: Evan still has a long fight ahead of him, one I’m not sure will ever end. So maybe he is a warrior after all. (I humbly stand corrected.)
Rebecca = to tie firmly, snare, noose, beautifully ensnaring. My thoughts: This one could not be more perfect! Rebecca uses her beauty to ‘ensnare’ men. This name meaning is especially fitting when it comes to her relationship with Spencer. She ‘ties’ him to his past, keeping him from being able to move on or grow. Rebecca also keeps her brothers ‘tied’ together in their need to protect her. She is the only girl and they work together to keep her safe. [Side note: I tried to convince her to be Rachel but like her brother, she was not having it. Rachel means ‘sheep’, by the way.]
Kyle = a narrow, straight channel. My thoughts: When I think of ‘narrow’ and ‘straight’, I think of perfect lines. There is nothing linear about Kyle Mitchell. Nothing. Honestly, I had to take a day or say to think about this one. Surely there was some reason he insisted on this name, right? There had to be more to it. There’s always more to Kyle than meets the eye. And then I realized that’s exactly the point. Kyle is the opposite of linear. He’s all over the place. You never know what to expect from him. He likes to keep everyone guessing. Maybe he wanted this name to try to confuse everyone and throw people off?
And then I realized that at his core, Kyle is very ‘narrow’ minded. Once he gets an idea into his head that is all he can think about. There is no changing his mind. In addition, his way of thinking, his driving force is one thing. One. You can’t get much narrower than that, I don’t think.
Okay, now back to the whole water thing. First of all, let’s stop and think about the setting of the first book. Lakeford, Virginia. What is a lake made out of? Water. I swear I did not even make the connection until I was halfway through writing this post. Three of my main characters have names meaning water. What?! How did that even happen? Wait, it gets better. Second, think about those characters: Dylan, Erin, and Lindsay. What do those three characters have in common? Spencer. (Again, this was completely unintentional on my part. And seeing it now is kind of blowing my mind.) Spencer has essentially surrounded himself with people who represent water. Hmm, what does this mean?
Let’s take a look at the symbolism of water. Water can represent many things to different cultures and religions but here is a short list: life, motion, renewal, blessing, intuition, reflection, subconscious, fertilization, purification, and transformation.
In regards to Spencer, several of these stand out to me. Life, motion, renewal, reflection, purification, and transformation. He desperately needs all of these in his life. He wants to start over and leave his past behind (renewal and transformation). He needs to keep fighting his addiction (motion, reflection, purification). Dylan is his example that it is possible to overcome the struggles life has given him (reflection).
I could go on and on about this but I think you get the picture. I find it fascinating that the three people he relies on during various times of his life (usually the most tumultuous) all represent water. And he continues to rely on them for strength and to help him grow into the person he wants to be. (Let’s face it, Spencer is probably the most immature character out of the entire line up. He has a lot of growing up to do still. What helps things grow? Water. Just saying.)
One more note because I have to point it out. Purification. Spencer wants desperately to cleanse himself of his past and the mistakes he’s made. He turns to his brother, a friend, and a mental health counselor for that. (He’s trying, God love him. He’s trying. We’re supporting you, Spence!)
Okay, I’m done with the whole water thing now.
I hope I haven’t bored you with all of this. I know sometimes I find things interesting that others don’t, and I can get a little wordy at times. But I guess if you’re still reading you must have found this whole naming thing somewhat intriguing.
Feel free to comment with your own opinions about character names.
Now I will let you get back to your lives. Thanks for reading!