- Is the name appropriate to the time period and to the character's station in life? This might require a little research, but nothing too heavy. A couple of years ago I found a nice list of Victorian-era names on-line, printed it out, and stuck it in a notebook. I also had to brush up on titles, correct forms of address, and peerage basics. If you watch a lot of Jane Austen movies, you've got a good start in this department. ;)
- Is the name clearly masculine/feminine [to correspond with the character's sex]? I once read a historical romance where the hero had a feminine-sounding name, at least by today's standards. It threw me for a loop throughout the story. Very jarring in love scenes.
- Do the hero and heroine's names begin with different letters? It's tempting to have an "Alec & Abigail or a "Benjamin & Beatrice," but if you like to use first initials when brainstorming/plotting, it's just not worth it. Trust me.
- Is is somewhat original? But not too original? I try to find names that are familiar, but not terribly overused. I'm not always successful though. Kind of like finding out there are four kids in your daughter's preschool class with her name.
- Is the name subtle? I like names that are a bit surprising. For example, I had a tomboyish heroine that I gave the ultra-feminine name of Isabella. The heroine in my wip is named Patience, but she's always tapping her toe and gnashing her teeth over something. :)
- Does the name roll off your tongue when you read it aloud? I try to avoid names that are hard to pronounce or trip me up for whatever reason. But I liked the name "Rhys" (pronounced "Reese") so much I broke my own rule.
- How do the hero and heroine's names sound together? Hopefully, when they're paired up, they have sort of a "Romeo & Juliet" quality. Here are my couples: Isabella & Owen, Amelia & Craven, Phoebe & Rhys, and Patience & Simon. *Sigh*
Cool link: This is a fun little program that creates all sorts of combinations of Regency names. http://www.ugoi.net/nonsense/name.html
What about you? If you're a writer, what are your hero/heroine's names? How did you pick? If you're a reader, what kinds of names do you like?