Am Hesitant on my Choice

A couple of years ago, I created a character who I named Dakota.

However, now that I am actually planning to use the character in a story, I realise it doesn't really fit the time he was supposed to be born.

Another name I considered for him was Noah, a name which fits equally as well, if not better, for the character, & fits his birth year (early 2000s), much better, I find.

Here's the problem: I've been calling him Dakota for so long, I feel like I can't really go back on my choice now, or at least it doesn't feel *right* to go back on my choice.

Dakota feels like *his* name... but I know Noah could also become *his* name, IF I can get on board. (I feel like I WANT Noah to be his name, but can't commit to it...)

I also like Dakota's meaning: "allies, to be thought of as friends", (which also fits with the story very well), more than Noah's meaning: "rest, comfort." 

I am seriously considering moving Dakota to the middle spot for the character, (no surname yet), to preserve the name for him, in part.

But I can't help thinking, there are many kids in a class with names which are not *popular*, or don't fit the *trend*... so this shouldn't be a problem... BUT I still feel like it is a problem... 

My friend's first reference was Dakota Fanning. She said the name sounded too girly... So now I'm seriously taking that into account, too, (even if I disagree.)

I guess I just need some advice on what to choose: Dakota or Noah.

I am not interested in alternatives. (Sorry!)


February 16, 2013 8:21 AM

I know a boy named Dakota who was born in 2003 or 2004, so it feels like an okay choice to me.

February 17, 2013 11:33 AM

Thanks for your input! It's nice to know there's a real Dakota born around that timeframe out there, & I'm not totally off with the birth time. :)

February 17, 2013 8:36 AM

Dakota was not rare/off-trend in 2000. It ranked number 88, which means 4,553 American boys were named Dakota that year. I'd say you're perfectly safe in using it.

February 17, 2013 11:32 AM

Thanks. I didn't know that. I tried to read the popularity chart shown on BNW, but I wasn't entirely sure with that chart how popular it was. It's good to know I'm not totally off with the era. I really appreciate you pointing that out.

February 17, 2013 10:48 AM

Dakota fits the time...his parents were trendsetters! 

I admit I think of it as more of a girl's name, though my cousin named her baby boy Dakota just a couple of years ago.  But you can write that into the story--have someone mistake him for a girl and how he deals with it, or have him meet a girl named Dakota.

How much of the story is written?  If most of it is written as Dakota, don't change it now.  Finish with Dakota. 

Do you give your manuscripts to "test readers" before submitting to publishers?  Give one with the name Dakota to one reader, one with the name Noah to another and see what they say.

Have you thought how Noah Dakota Surname rhymes? 

Having said all this, I--speaking as a writer--would keep the name Dakota.  I know how we own the names of our characters.

In my writing group, one lady has her main character as Stacie and a secondary character as Stephanie, nn Stevie, and no matter how many times I tell her that I get the two mixed up, she refuses to change either name.  SHE would most definitely tell you to keep your original name!


February 17, 2013 11:43 AM

Thanks for your comment. It's nice to know I got a comment from a writer who knows what I mean about feeling like I should keep the name Dakota for him, but not being sure of it.

I've written bits & pieces, but that's more practice. You know, just for the sake of writing him in a scene. I probably won't use the things I've written so far with him. 

I can see how Stacie & Stevie would be a MAJOR confusion! I have a friend who writes, & she's named her character's all unusual names, (which do fit her story well), so I confuse them all the time, too. But that's more just me not remembering all the odd names.

I have noticed the rhyme in Noah Dakota, but thanks for pointing it out.

I really like the idea of giving "test scripts" with one saying Noah & the other Dakota. I'll probably try that sometime soon.

February 17, 2013 11:41 AM

But the thing is, I actually have A LOT of characters with unisex names in this story. I've just counted 10, excluding Dakota & unisex names of characters I plan on changing/might change...


February 17, 2013 7:56 PM

Well, then that is your style in this story, so keep it.

Forty years from now, when your story is published and on required-reading lists, scholars will ask their students "What was the author trying to convey by giving all the characters gender-ambiguous names?"


February 26, 2013 5:52 PM

Forty years from now, when your story is published and on required-reading lists, scholars will ask their students "What was the author trying to convey by giving all the characters gender-ambiguous names?" Haha :)

Yes, I think I'll probably keep Dakota...

February 26, 2013 5:52 PM

Thanks to everyone who posted for their help!