Making Up a Name?

A year or so ago, a gave a character Caulfield as a working name. (I've posted at least one other thread on this before, in case this sounds familiar).

I can't use Caufield due to The Catcher in the Rye association and the fact that the character is female.

Usually, renaming characters isn't a huge issue for me. I renamed the character Chloe, thinking it fit well enough. However, several months ago, I reread some of my old writings - in which I call the character Caulfield. At that moment, I realized Chloe never really suited her. In particular, I've become attatched to the nickname Caul for her (as I reread, I noticed I referred to her as Caul more often than not).

The best I've come up with are Colette, Copeland, Clarimond and Clotilde as alternatives (and several others I can barely remember).

want Clarimond or Clotilde to fit, but they just don't.

At this point, I'm considering mash-ups, like Cauliese or Caultilde.

Opinions and suggestions are appreciated!


June 22, 2015 11:20 PM

What about Cauliflower nn Caul or Cali? Alpha also sounds a little like Caulfield.  Or could she be named Caulfield after the Catcher in the Rye association? Many parents are giving their kids boys names, and have done so for ages.  I haven't read the book, so I don't know if this is reasonable. What are her parents like in your book, or could she have renamed herself?  Would another field name like Sheffield work? Caulfield is listed as a girls name on this website.  Would Cole work?  Many people have first names that don't fit them and they often go by a nickname, so Colette nn Cole might work.  

June 23, 2015 8:34 AM

I've considered Cole, short for Colette. I'd have definitely gone for it, except that this is for a story and the visual aesthetic is so important in writing (Cole doesn't make me connect the name to the character). It's a nice suggestion, though.

I've thought of making an intentional connection to The Catcher in the Rye, but it's not really working for me. The character is too old for the boys-names-on-girls trend. Sheffield (and other -field ending names), is a good idea and I'll definately consider it.

Cauliflower is an interesting one. It's crossed my mind, but it doesn't give the impression Rose or Lily gives off. And unfortunately, I can't pull it off through the backstory/plot.

Alpha is interesting, but the character's docile, so it's an oxymoron. 

June 23, 2015 1:20 AM

What about Cauley or Caulay, as in Macaulay (Culkin)? You could also go with Macaulay/McCauley etc. Depending on how old she is, a Mc- name might be appropriate.

You could also do Caula, like Paula with a C. Or any of the Paul- names: Caulette, Cauline, Caulina, etc.

Are you liking the nn Caul because she was "born in the veil"?

June 23, 2015 1:37 AM

I think you could just use Paula straight up, with Paul as a familial/familiar shorthand name. Or Pauley: nickname-y sound, surname-y look, can also shorten to Paul.

Another track: Calla, as in the lily?

June 23, 2015 8:19 AM

Paula nn Paul and Calla are good suggestions, but they don't preserve the "Caul" part I'm wanting to keep. 

June 23, 2015 8:17 AM

I really like Cauley/Caulay/McCauley. The character is old (young) enough for a Mc-name, so this might work. Adding it to the list of options! Thanks, nedibles.

"Born in a veil" doesn't have anything to do with it, but I could add it to the backstory, possibly.

June 23, 2015 9:17 AM

How does Clarimond McCauley or Clotilde McCauley sound? (She would mostly be called Caul).

Also, what kind of parents do you imagine would name their child Clarimond vs. parents who would name their child Clotilde? I think that's the deciding factor right now.

June 23, 2015 9:54 AM

I think Clarimond and Clotilde are fairly similar in style nowadays: they're very old feminine names that are not much used in English today; in fact, for a young adult character today, they're fairly aggressively fusty old-lady names.

Both names are of vaguely French origin/association, but Clarimond comes from medieval romances, whereas Clotilde was the wife of Clovis who converted him to Christianity. So I guess Clarimond could be chosen by parents who read Mallory and such (perhaps untranslated) for pleasure, while Clotilde would be more likely chosen by a strongly Catholic family.

June 23, 2015 10:38 AM

Over the years Clothilde was so much in use in Acadian Louisiana as to become a stereotype.  One New Orleans sports team had a pair of nutria mascots.  He was Boudreaux and she Clothilde.  He was from Many, and she was from Few (real south Louisiana small towns), and so on.  They were hilarious.

June 28, 2015 3:01 PM

Thanks, Miriam! I think I'm going with Clarimond - but that's good history to know, as I'm saving Clothilde for a future character (if it's ever fitting).

June 28, 2015 2:58 PM

I think I might go with Clarimond Lastname, with Caul as a nn worked into the backstory (not sure about the last name yet). I don't have everything completely decided on, but I think I can go pretty far from here as a starting-point.

Thank you to everyone for their help. Especially nedibles - it hadn't occured to me to have Caul as a nn unrelated to her real name, and I think it's a great idea!