22 January 2021

Still Collecting Names

This writer has lifted character names from sidewalks, signs, name tags in grocery stores, the Olympics, and from live television. There's a new source of names for villains and other despicable characters – the Trump Insurrection.

Just as the bad year 2020 was behind us, we started 2021 with more Americans dying each week in a pandemic many still believe is a hoax – "It's just like the flu." And an insurrection. As the investigations continue, the names of people who desecrated the US Capitol building in an attempt to disrupt the orderly transition of power, their names surface.

I have a NAMES document on my computer where I collect names for characters in my fiction. Lot of names of good people to use and many names of bad people from Nazis to murderers and now – insurrectionists. NOTE: I never use their full name so as not to further display their name so I switch first and last names but despicable is despicable.

NOTE: The FBI's postings seeking information for Assault on Federal Officers and Violence at the United States Capitol draws me to faces. So far I've recognized none of my relatives or friends.

Flag above the Battle of New Orleans, Chalmette, Louisiana

I've more names of good people to use than bad.

I've used names of friends after asking them, never using their full name. Most like it and brag about it.  I have a writer friend whose name will remain confidential who has used the last names of his three wives for villains many times.

I've named a few characters from intersections. Julia Street intersects Carondelet in the New Orleans CBD, hence the character Julia Carondelet.Robertson intersects Bartholomew so we have a Bartholomew Robertson. Dante Street intersects Joseph Street, so we have a Joe Dante.

Naming characters is a ritual I relish. I work hard at it. I believe nearly every other writer does as well. Or they should.

That's all for now.

Stay safe, everyone. This pandemic is far from over.


  1. I think anyone with a name like De Noux is expected to come up with interesting names for his characters.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. A man named Joe Dante lived two doors away from my grandmother in Connecticut years ago. He owned a machine shop if memory serves.

    I worked in medicine for a long time & encountered many unusual names but I never use anyone's first & last names together because of the HIPAA privacy regulations.

  3. As I've said before, I have lists of student names and lists from old church directories here in SD - I switch first and last names around for various characters. And sometimes I go for just plain boring - like in "Miss West's First Case", where the protagonist is named Alice West.

  4. I've been teaching for a quarter century. I have a long document filled with dozens of class rosters. It's fun to scroll through, waiting for just the right name to hit my eye.

  5. It's true that some names just seem to "fit" a character and others . . . sound drawn out of a hat. They just don't quite work. Dickens, who had more than 1000 named characters in his many works always named his characters before he started writing; they helped him fix his characters in his mind. How could someone named Uriah Heep be other than the cringing, double-dealing man he was? Julia Carondelet and Bartholomew Robertson are names that each conjures a certain type of character and, consciously or not (I'll bet consciously), helped shape that person.


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