Optimize Me, Baby!
A character's name is of course enormously important. For example, if your protagonist is a half-feral, demon-killing maiden of the Sacred Sword of Arnooth, who has sworn bloody vengeance against the spawn of Beezelbub who slew her mother lo these many years past (now, that I made up) you don't name her Pickles. Actually, you don't name anyone Pickles. That's a Rule. Write it down.
I hear you whispering back there. You think the example I just gave is easy. Because obviously the perfect name for a half-feral, demon-killing urban fantasy protagonist is Shzaghatha of the Rampaging El. What novelist worth her salt needs a website for that?
Well fine, smartypants. Name me this: a boy's name that means warrior.
With no more than two syllables.
Ha! Not so easy now, is it, my pretty?*
And yet--it is. Writers,** say hello to the Baby Name Optimizer. Make your choices among 17 variables--not only ethnicity and number of syllables, but style (trendy, timeless, exotic), popularity (Top 100, less popular, unusual), origin (Biblical, Buddhist Zen, Muslim, Sanskrit, Saints, Shakespearian, among a slew of others). Want a celebrity name? A name that conveys your character is athletic? Dark? Graceful? A name that is associated with animals? A place? A gemstone?
The Optimizer, it is a veritable garden of geeky delight, my friends. A garden! We're talking wild climbing roses and birds of paradise and lilies of the freaking valley here. Not to mention, it's a procrastinator's dream.
And remember: Once you've optimized your character's name, pop over to the Baby Name Wizard and find out how popular it's been in every decade since the 1880s.
Sigh. And they say we can't find heaven here on earth.
Okay, enough geeking out (although really, can one ever truly get enough?) But I gotta get to work. Just as soon as I plug in a request for a four-syllable Teutonic girl's name meaning "peacemaker" that does not end in the letter a.
Axelle. Ah well--four out of five ain't bad.
*I have got to stop watching Wizard of Oz late at night. Oh, BTW, the Arabic boy warrior's name? Shamar. Nice, huh?
**Yes, I suppose you expectant-parent types can use it, too. But don't you dare take Axelle. That name is mine.