Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog–A rose by any other name is still a rose. So why bother renaming it?


What makes a name so crucial? What makes coming up with names so freaking difficult? What makes changing a name so painful?!

Let’s try this exercise—it’ll only take a second, I promise.

Think about a name. It can be of a family member, a friend, a professor, or a memorable character. What thoughts or emotions come up for you?


One word. Yet millions of people recognize the name. It evokes emotions of love, fear, pain, torment…and sparkly vampires.


Immediately, I’m flooded with pictures of castles, wizards, monsters, as well as concepts of adventure, friendship, betrayal, hardship, and sadness.

Now, pretend the family member, friend, professor, or memorable character has a different name. Go on. Pick something. Do you have the same feeling?

No? That’s my point.

Lemme ‘splain. I’ve completed my most recent WIP, SHARP’S BLOOD, and am getting geared up to query the hell out of it. But there’s a problem. A couple problems, actually. You see, when I first drafted Justin’s story, I tried to develop a unique term for vampire. The market’s flooded with the fanged immortals after all and I wanted my story to have half a chance out there in agentland. I also needed a last name for Justin and a different title. Sharp is okay, but it is overused. PLUS, that wonky name for vampires is…urm, Sharpie. So. Yeah.

*growls with frustration*

I have wracked my brain for options. I got nadda, zip, zilch, nuthin’. Why? Because my concrete brain can’t give up the original.


So, have any of you confronted the same problem? What was your solution?

Don’t forget to check out Zoe’s waiting strategy! Here’s Danyelle’s from last week in case you missed it.


9 comments on “Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog–A rose by any other name is still a rose. So why bother renaming it?

  1. EDIT: I have since come up with different character names, bur it took DAYS of brainstorming. Has that happened to anybody else?

  2. amie borst says:

    yay! i’m glad you were able to solve your problem. i’ve had similar things happen to me – as i’m sure it happens to every writer. though, what i tend to do is spend HOURS researching names and places….which in turn causes me to loose precious writing time! AHHHHH! research!

  3. I haven’t had that problem yet; my character names and details usually seem to fall complete from the ether. But I have had to go back and rethink some stuff; and when I need to find the answer, I walk my usual two-miler. Answers, keys, and inspiration ALWAYS come when I’m moving. Glad you found yours!!

  4. After the WriteOnCon event, I started rethinking the title of my YA paranormal distopia — Journey to Eden. In the critique forums, I found myself selecting stories based on genre/title.

    So, I decided to revamp my title. It the middle of the night, the new title “Edge of Truth” hit me. I’m so excited about my new title. One of my critique partners told me “Edge of Truth” has a more YA feel as well.

  5. Titles and names have always been easier for me than most. But here lately I have had nuttin’ but trouble with it. That’s why I ended up doing a title contest at the blog.

    I’m glad you finally came up with some names. A lot of times I search the phone book. Sometimes it works really well. Depends on what types of names you need. Not sure it would work for you, Laura. But I hope you find the one that is THE ONE. 🙂

  6. Sometimes, I flip through the phone book too. I also find online baby naming sights helpful. Two of my favorite sites are and, which also has a random name generator. This site has last names: For fellow fantasy writer’s, this is a fun name generating site: /, though the names tend to lean toward high fantasy. Hope this helps.

  7. Lydia K says:

    It’s so hard to rename my characters after I’ve written them. But once I do, I adapt especially if I change a few things here and there in the MS.

    The Sharpie thing is so hard. I would think about creating a being that isn’t a vampire at all, but has similarities so there is no question of this being a veiled vampire story. For instance…maybe they’re not immortal. Maybe they’re quite ugly. Maybe then need the blood or they’ll die an early death. Maybe the sun doesn’t bother them and they have no fangs. You know? Maybe play with more than just the name. Invent your own, new creature!

  8. I’m glad you got the name problem resolved! Names are so important – they invoke an emotional response in the reader.

    Ah, titles. With one of my books, the title has stayed the same from day one. With my most recent, I’ve changed it many times. But there’s no point in getting too attached to a title, since the publisher may change it.

  9. Christine Fonseca says:

    Dude, when I had to retitle my novel, I FREAKED! I loved the original title so much…after trying out no less than 100 titles, you know how I actually got the title I have…it happened during a very humorous pep-talk chat with my CP….

    Now I ADORE the current title – but I KNOW it will likely change at some point. So I am trying to to get too attached 😀

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