Names and Research

Today we’re continuing with answering questions that you have asked about Stone Curse and the Five Enchanted Roses contest.

How did you come up with names for your characters?

I get asked this a lot.

I do quite a bit of searching for names, because I like my characters’ names to have meanings that reflect something important about their story or personality. It’s a ton of work, but I think it’s worth it in the end. Naming a character is not something I can be flippant about. Sometimes a name just pops into my head and fits perfectly, but most of the time I have to do a lot of searching on baby name websites. My favorite site is no longer around, which is very sad, but I manage to get by.

I knew right from the beginning that my “Belle” character was going to be a bit different. I didn’t want her name to mean “Beauty” by itself, because she was going to be less obvious. Karyna is pretty, but she’s not the most beautiful woman in the world or even in the castle. After a lot of searching, I happened across “Karyna” which means “pure” and “beloved one.” I liked that, and went with it.

Prince Barend means “bear” (no surprise there). Yeah, I went with an obvious one for him… but I liked that his name also sounded regal.

Ritter means “knight” or “mounted warrior” – which is really fortuitous, because I had his name before I even looked at the meaning, and he was just so “Ritter!” that I couldn’t have changed his name even if I wanted to.

While Karyna is pretty, the Princess is breath-takingly beautiful. She was the one I wanted to have a name that meant “beautiful.” Originally I was going to name her Bellina, which means “little pretty one,” but didn’t really like the way it sounded. My husband suggestion “Bellenya” and it stuck.

Setella is a name I made up completely, and is loosely based on the name “Stella” which means “star” and has nothing to do with Setella’s character… unless you consider her steady loyalty and friendship to Karyna to be a guiding light of some sort… in which case, I suppose her name’s meaning does have some bearing on her character

Finally, Karyna’s horse. In the rough draft her name was “Apple.” But I really didn’t like that, it was just kind of a place-holder. Naming horses in my stories is probably one of the most difficult things for me. If it was MY horse, I could name it easily. But I have to pick a name that my character would choose, and that is much harder to get right. I had at least 20 names that I used and discarded before Kaycee rescued me yet again! She suggested a female version of “Phillippe” from the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast. I liked that idea, and found “Pippa.” I could see Karyna naming her steady, dependable mare something like that.

At some point, it became apparent that I really like female names that end in “a.” But by the time I realized it, it was far too late… the names I had chosen fit, and I couldn’t change them.

What kind of research did you do for Stone Curse?

I didn’t do a lot of research for the rough draft, but I did a ton of research when I was editing the story in April. Just a few of these things included:

-noble titles and what they meant

-the roles and responsibilities of a lady-in-waiting and how a person becomes a lady-in-waiting

-common foods that might have been served in an inn in Europe in the middle ages

-the origin of apple pie

-styles of dress in Europe for men and women in various time periods throughout history, but specifically between the 500s-1400s

-what type of climbing gear might have been known about or available in the 1500s

-the care and tending of roses at various times of the year

-types of roses and when they bloom

-how far a person can ride a horse in a day in various types of terrain

-what a fight looks and sounds like between wolves or dogs (let me tell you, trying to search the internet for “dog fight” purely for research purposes is extremely frustrating!)

If you are a writer, what is the most interesting thing you’ve researched for a story? As a reader, what sorts of things annoy you most if they aren’t represented accurately in a fictional story?

~ jenelle

4 Comments

DJ Edwardson (@djedwardson)

Ah, baby name websites. What did writers do without them? I’m with you on the naming. It is super important, though sometimes I will go with the feel of a name and ignore or not bother finding out the underlying significance.

That is quite a bit of detective work you did. I don’t think I’ve done anything close to that for any of my work. Then again I haven’t written anything based on history or strongly connected to cultural conventions. But kudos to you on all the research you did for Stone Curse. I haven’t gotten to your story yet in the collection, but when I do, I’m sure it will show in the story.

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jenelle

They probably used baby name books… I have a couple of those, as well… for when I get desperate. :) haha

I’ve done research for other stories, but none quite this extensive. The editors really wanted the story to have an “Old World England-y” type feel, so I tried to stick to that. But I also felt a little like, “Um… fantasy… not actually set in our world…” about it, as well.

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Claire B.

I like using the site behindthenames.com for all my character naming needs. ;) Naming horses can be rather difficult, more so than people some times. :) Looking forward to getting to read the story at some point!

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