Guest Post: What’s in a Novel Name?

The writing duo of B. I. Woolet (Benji and Ila Woolet) have graciously consented to writing today’s post, What’s in a Novel Name.  They are the authors of The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister and will be our guests on tomorrow’s Journal Jabber (2 p.m. CST) to be interviewed by Amy Eye.  Thank you, Benji and Ila, for this great post!

— Angela

What’s in a Novel Name?

The Hunter the Bear BIWoolet ebooksmWhen we were eight months pregnant with our first child, the panic set in. We still didn’t have a name! Horror images of sitting in the hospital with this beautiful little human in our arms and no name flooded over us. It may seem silly, but a similar panic sets in while writing a story. The characters may be breathing on the page but without a worthy name, they feel lacking and lifeless.

There is something epic about naming another human being, fictional or real. A name is more than a unique sound coming from the mouth; it holds power. We want a main character’s name to be easy for readers to pronounce yet memorable. We want the name to set him or her apart from other characters in the written world. We want the name to encourage readers to deeply connect in the that-fictional-person-is-my-real-life-closest-friend sort of way. It’s much easier to cross off the names we don’t like.

  • Nope, I went to school with that one…not a nice kid!
  • Nope, they just used that name in a hit movie…too cliché!
  • Yes! What a pretty name!…Nope, it means “anguish and untimely death.”

It’s difficult enough naming one human baby or even a pet. So, to narrow down options for storytelling, we often look to myths, outside cultures, and even plants to find memorable names.

When my husband and I first started writing The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister in the World of Arcas series, we were growing a strong interest in astronomy. The characters in our world naturally arrived one-by-one from the night sky onto the computer screen. We had a character theme to go with the basic plot, but we still needed to research, a lot. We looked up nebulas, deep sky objects, and even frozen lakes on one of Saturn’s moons.

OrionSome names were too familiar, so we chose to use less known star names. The constellation Orion represents the The Hunter in our story. But those who are close to him call him Rigel, which is the brightest star in Orion. Instead of using the dragon constellation Draco, we chose the star name Eltanin—also a sturdy sounding dragon name but not as famous or overused as Draco. Buckpasser, Hambletonian, Niatross, Whistlejacket, I think fate is leading us to be inspired by horse racing names next!

So, while you’re working hard to name your literary babies, go read The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister. Have a bit of fun in our appendix seeing where these interesting names come from in the celestial night sky. Then, think of what things inspire you. Look up rocks formations or tree types or dog breeds or dance moves.

It takes a bit of research, but a simple theme search through the vastly connected cyber world can inspire and guide your character babies to fresh names and fresh life—though I cannot be held responsible if you use the same methods to name your real-life human babies.

B. I. Woolet (Benji & Ila Woolet)

B. I. Woolet (Benji & Ila Woolet)

About the authors:  B. I. Woolet (Benji & Ila Woolet) is the author of The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister. They enjoy creating lyrical and literary arts, playing music together, and exploring nature.

They are happily married and live in Indiana in with their children. Benji manages a busy veterinary hospital, and Ila manages a busy home! This is the first book in the World of Arcas series.

About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, author, and publisher with over 20 years of experience in newspaper journalism. She is a Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist and HWA Mentor of the Year for 2020. She co-publishes Space and Time, a publication dedicated to fantasy, horror and science fiction since 1966. Join the community at
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