10 Nov 2013

What’s in a Name? A guest post by Maggie McGinnis

Thanks so much for hosting me today! I’m thrilled to be here!
It's such a pleasure, Maggie! Thank you being here :)

One of the best parts of writing a book is getting to name your characters. However, it can also be one of the worst parts of writing a book because you feel so much pressure to get it just right. The name has to suit the character, it’s gotta be pronounceable, and you have to be aware of pop culture and world events so you don’t inadvertently give your hero the same name as the guy who just had his mug shot on the national news.
However, though it’s difficult, I’ll freely admit I’m quite skilled choosing the most perfect, absolutely flawless names for all of my characters before I start. They’re exquisite, actually. 

But then I change my mind. A lot. My hero and heroine usually own their names right from the start, but my poor secondary characters suffer through an endless search-and-replace game every single time.
In Accidental Cowgirl, my heroine Kyla is named after a super-sweet gal who helped care for our twins (and my sanity!) when they were teeny. She’s smart, funny, and has a voice that could slay even Simon Cowell. Kyla’s friend Jess is named after a favorite former student (Yep, I said it. We do have them!), but the rest of the character names have no basis in my reality.
Place names are another game entirely. I spent more hours than I should admit googling Montana town names, rivers, and mountains as I tried to name the town and ranch in Accidental Cowgirl. I even looked up flowers and trees native to Montana, hoping something would trigger the perfect name.
Pages (and weeks!) of scrawled notes later, my daughter leaned over to her sister one day and whispered something that made her giggle. I loved the secrecy, the innocence, the smile engendered by that little whisper.
And bingo! Whisper Creek was born.
How about you? Do you have a favorite town name? One you’ve driven through that’s really unique or made you laugh?
For more information about Maggie and her books, visit http://maggiemcginnis.com/


  1. I love knowing how characters and settings get their names! I love Accidental Cowgirl, so it's fun to know the back story on the Kyla & Jess's names. When I'm writing, my characters usually tell me their names. Like you, my secondary characters could go through multiple names as I work my way through the project.


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