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The Art of Choosing a Name

Updated on October 21, 2014
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Neil is an owner of DragonTech Writing, a techncial writing firm located in Logan, Utah. He is also a published freelance writer.

The choice of a name will have lasting effects, extending well beyond a child's life-span.
The choice of a name will have lasting effects, extending well beyond a child's life-span.

Beware these pitfalls.

There are a couple pitfalls to avoid when choosing a name.

First is the name so similar to another family members (in sound or spelling) that the two names may get confused? Changing one letter in a family name to make a new name may sound like a good idea at the time, but later on it can cause a lot of trouble.

Second, think about the initials of your child. There are some combinations that will not turn out well.

...A lone figure moved silently down the dusty, once paved street. This tall husky young man, broad in the shoulders, with blonde hair and a mustache to match, wore a fine leather holster strapped to his belt that bounced with each long stride he took...

Naming characters like the one above is much like naming children. As a writer I am often faced with the dilemma of naming the person just mentioned. Does Felix fit his description, or might Hank be better? Most important of all, will the name still fit the character when the story is finished? Fortunately, I can also control many of the variables that make the name I've chosen for the character right.

While parents don't have the advantage of seeing their child in a situation like the one given above, they are usually holding the child in their arms while that child is starting to explore his world. The name given to a child often labels them with certain character traits, and while a person in real life may not have those traits, people meeting them will try to impose those traits on that person. The mystery, then is how do a parents go about choosing a name for their child?

From the first time you see your child you will find names that fit him or her better than others. Often these vague impressions will not give parents a definite choice. For new parents, and even parents with several children, this can be frustrating. Fortunately there are ways to get around this problem. While I was in Taiwan, a friend showed me this technique and it has worked well for me.

First, take each letter of the alphabet and pick a name that starts with that letter. If after several minutes, a name that fits your child doesn't come to mind, move on. That will be one less name you'll have to eliminate later. Often parents will not make it to the next step because the perfect name has already been found. If so, the agony is over. If not, go through and eliminate any names that may cause confusion in the family or that don't seem right. From the names left on the list, the choice should be relatively easy. If not, just pick the shortest name, or the easiest name to spell. This will make things easier for you and your child later on.

There are several sources of names for those who are struggling. Read a book of names, or other books, like the Bible, (particularly the genealogies). Your own genealogy may also help, or then names of friends. If you don’t know the sex of a child, try making a list of names that fit both. As a last resort (or first resort) look on the internet.

No matter what technique is used, choosing a name for a child is a difficult proposition at best, but it need not be impossible. If the name fits, your child will love you forever.



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