My character’s new name

Last week I asked for help to rename Rosalie Brown, a major character in my novel who shared a first name with my publisher.

People chimed in with an amazing list of suggested first names – 78 in all. Although I only need one at the moment, I will certainly keep this treasure trove of names for future use.

How to name a fictional character

In the world of fiction writers, naming characters can be a challenge, so let me share how I selected a new name out of the 78 suggested ones.

It’s technical

My choice was guided in part by writing issues. The new name had to have the same number of syllables and the same stress pattern as Rosalie, so it would not disrupt the rhythm of the sentences in which the name appears. It also had to sound good with the names of other characters in the book, and be appropriate for the character’s age, gender, race, class, region of the country, etc.

It’s personal

The name had to feel right to me. It had to convey the same kind of strength I think the character has – and it couldn’t be a name I associate strongly with a real person in my life. Among the suggestions were the names of my grandmother, my best friend’s mother, several friends, and an ex-girlfriend. Can you see why this might be problematic?

Drum roll, please

Allow me to introduce Caroline Brown. (And let’s all take a moment of silence for the former Rosalie Brown.)

Caroline was suggested by two people, and I will thank them here as well as in the book’s acknowledgments: Marjorie Fine and Michael Alan Weinberg.

Margie and Michael, Caroline Brown thanks you. Rosalie Brown, not so much.

A new name blooms.

A new name blooms.

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