Do these names fit the characters?

So, I'm a total name dork with no plans of ever having children. Since I'm also a writer, this means I put way too much thought and effort into naming my characters.

I'm starting a new story (currently only about 5 pages written, but it's only been like 27 hours since I began so not bad) and I'm really big on making sure my characters' names suit them. The protagonist is 18, a college freshman. She's got severe anxiety as well as moderate OCD, but is very sassy, loud and opinionated. This creates a bit of internal conflict for her because she doesn't want to draw attention to herself and likes order and planning, but sometimes she can't help it. Combat boots and funky clothes with a bit of a punk edge are what I tend to picture her in. She has an eyebrow piercing and dyed lavender hair. She's tall for a girl, but not model tall. I really don't know what information is pertinent here. She's really smart and a dedicated, organized student but a bit wild outside of class. She's saracastic and closed off. I think that sums it up. Basically, I'd like to know what people might think to name her based on this description. Suggestions would be so fantastically helpful.

Another major character is the protagonist's best friend, also a freshman. She's a dancer, she's very mature, responsible and somewhat reserved, but doesn't care what other people think about her. She's gay and has an inclination to wear clothes and use accessories that announce this. For anyone who may now be thinking lots of flannel and short hair, I've been writing her as a femme so disregard those stereotypes. She's funny and articulate and really dependable. Any ideas about what her name should be?

Finally, the other major character is a guy. He's a junior in school with the two girls. He's from a small town in Texas and is very all-American boy in terms of appearance, other than the lip ring (can you tell I'm a fan of facial jewelry?). He's cocky and obnoxious and tries a little too hard to maintain a "bad boy" image. He studies Biology and enjoys harassing the protagonist and calling her by her full name, which she detests. He's typically disdainful and disrespectful of authority figures. I'd appreciate thoughts on his name, too.

I have this taking place at a small liberal arts school in central California. I haven't really written in a while, so it's nothing brilliant. Pretty formulaic, actually. Anyway, I currently have the main character named Katarina Abernathy, but she goes by Kat. Her friend is Lydia (no last name yet). The boy is Theodore Zakowski, goes by Theo. I'm not sure if the last name Zakowski fits, though. I believe it's Polish in origin, but I'm not totally sure. I'll have to research that, but if anyone has any spare knowledge on how common or uncommon it is for people of Polish descent to live in small town Texas, I'd appreciate if you shared it with me.

So, this is a really long post, but I'd love thoughts on the names!! Thanks!

Replies

1
November 25, 2014 10:46 AM

A Polish-origin name (like almost anything ending in -ski) would be more typical of the places that had factories, foundries, or mines in the late 1800s to early 1900s, because they got much of their unskilled labor force from European immigrants. This means Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan. At the turn of the last century, Texas mostly had agricultural jobs, and mostly the more "remote" sorts of that (cattle ranches), and had a much closer source of ready cheap labor just to the south. That said, people moved (and move) a lot in the US, so you can find Polish names in the phonebook everywhere. (And then there's the mixing that went on before families even got here: there are a lot of Hungarians with Polish-origin family names, and Slovaks with German names, and Croats with Hungarian names, and so forth and so on.) But if you want this character's family to have "long roots" where he's from, put them in Massachusetts, or give him a Mexican surname.

The most realistic names consider the personalities and context of the character's parents, not of the characters themselves. So for your sassy OCD college freshman, what were her parents like 18 years ago? Were they young parents, or older? High school dropouts or college grads? OCD has a strong family correlation, would it have influenced her naming? Perhaps her dad was a compulsive gamer, and her name reflects that somehow? (I frankly have no clue what computer games were current in 1996.)

For the best friend, my immediate thoughts were the stereotypical boyish-nickname names like Samantha (Sam) and Nicole (Nick, Cole), but her parents would not have known that she'd need such a name. I had a dancer roommate once named Tina, short for Christina (in some spelling or other), so that was my second thought. Lydia is not typical for her generation, but not impossible either -- there were 1794 baby girls given the name in 1996.

2
November 25, 2014 8:36 PM

I doubt this is very helpful, but the first thing I thought when I read Kat Abernathy was Katniss Everdeen and Haymitch Abernathy; if that doesn't matter to you, feel free to disregard my comment!

3
November 25, 2014 8:41 PM

Also, I'll suggest Jessie for the best friend. I think Jessica was a common enough name is 1996, plus the "Jessie" spelling is more femine than "Jesse", but  the name itself is unisex. But I dunno if you're looking for a name like that.

 

For the boy, I automatically thought Mason/Mase for some reason, but I don't think that was common at all for that generation.

4
November 26, 2014 1:45 AM

I think Lydia fits the 2nd character perfectly, i'm not a fan of Katarina Abernathy though. I really think you should change the last name as it us heavily associated to the hunger games triliogy. I think she could be more original than that. Maybe she had a really traditional name and changed it to something a bit naturey, or different. The boy however knows her original name and teases her with it. Her original name could be Catherine/Katarina and she could change it to

- Eternity

- Ocean

- Blossom

- Azzura/Azure

- Zen

- Lilac(hair connection)

- Clover

- January

- Indigo

- Luna 

- Mist

- Serenity