N – Names

My A to Z Challenge theme is teaching you how not to write a book, or a short story, or any piece of creative writing whatsoever. For more information, including links to previous chapters and lessons, please refer to this post. Now buckle in and proceed with…



Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.

There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.

Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever.


Hawk abruptly sat up. The wrinkled, haggish old woman they’d seen walking along the lakeshore stood before him, next to the dwindling fire. Her wrinkled old hands were curled into fists and her black eyes glittered with malevolence. The warts on her hooked nose glistened in the firelight.

“Who are you?” Hawk demanded. He grabbed up his sword, pistol, three throwing stars, and an axe. “What do you want?”

The old woman cackled. “I am Broomhilda Glinda McHag. I know you are protecting the mermaid Dropsy Velvet. She is mine, silly man. You will never possess her. On the day I drain this lake, she will be sucked down with the rest of the fishes!” Her cackle grew loud and maniacal.

Hawk threw his axe at her, but she vanished in a puff of green smoke. He wished he was having a nightmare, but he was wide awake.


Naming your characters can be difficult. Some character names come easily, while others you need to scour baby name blogs and click name generators until your eyes glaze over to figure them out. Names should be dependant on a few things: the time period during which the story is set, appropriateness to the characters themselves, and how they blend with the rest of the elements of the story. Some authors name characters to indicate what and who they are, deriving their names from things that relate to or symbolize their background. A very prominent example of this is the Harry Potter novels. However, this must be done creatively and as unobtrusively as possible, because it can spill over into parody.

In case you’re unaware, both ‘dropsy’ and ‘velvet’ are bacterial infections in aquarium fish. Hawk MacHardcastle is a parody of romance hero names. ‘Broomhilda,’ ‘Glinda,’ and ‘hag’ are all heavy-handed references to witches. Latrine, while actually being a rather pretty word…well, I’m sure you know what a latrine is. As I’ve pointed out several times during this exercise, if you’re writing comedy, by all means be ridiculous and make up ridiculous names. But even comedy requires subtlety, or else you’ll be trying too hard and it won’t be funny at all. On that note, if I’m not making you laugh, I apologize. I’m not actually a comedy writer.

Author: Megan Morgan

Paranormal and contemporary romance author.

25 thoughts

  1. The name of the witch was absolutely fantastic! Il made me laugh.

    Names are indeed a strenge beast. I named some of my charactes without a thought and their names were already perfect. I changed the names of a coupel charactes because there was no way they fitted (but I try to avoid doing this). And yes, I’v even resorted to name generators.

    These are all good methodes, in my opinion… and long as you end up with the right name.

    I know of authors who changed the name of a character halfway through the first draft, or in the second draft, and even further in. I don’t think I’d be able to do this…

    The Old Shelter – Jazz Age Jazz


    1. Yes! I love when characters come with their name already attached to them, and you just don’t question it. I don’t think I could change a character’s name when I’m nearly done with a story…though I had to change a minor character from ‘Mindy’ to ‘Cindy’ in my urban fantasy series because there was another character whose name started with M and my editor thought it sounded confusing…but now she’s Cindy to me!


  2. Everything about this is just amazing and so funny. Flush Latrine forever, Hawk with his afluenza. Priceless! And you don’t have to worry, funny you’ve achieved! The names are perfection! You’ve put a lot of thought into this and while entertaining your are teaching. I love that, and this one goes into my favorites list for the Challenge! Great job, hell, better than great!


  3. Dropsy Velvet also sounds great as a romantic heroine’s name… 😀 Especially the Velvet part.
    Naming is hard… I have never been great at it. I also noticed that bestsellers like romance and mystery novels always have names that sound a little ridiculous… 😀

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    The Multicolored Diary


    1. Yes! Those over the top names that people probably wouldn’t actually name their kids…I think that’s supposed to be part of the ‘fantasy’ though, having sexy, incredible, wonderful names. Maybe that’s why so many authors choose a pen name…

      Thanks for stopping by!


  4. I enjoyed your post and, once again, we ended up writing about the same topic, naming those characters. Yours was much funnier than mine. Who could forget Dropsy Velvet, a mermaid living in Lake Latrine? I think you’ve got something here.


  5. I like her names. From her last name, she sounds Scottish–maybe she belongs to an antagonistic clan to Hawk’s family? There could be history there (but I’m probably overthinking this for a short story). 🙂


  6. You are indeed making me laugh! For more on names, check out my J for Jack Dixon at roblogtime.wordpress.com. In the meantime, thanks for a truly entertaining A to Z collection, Megan.


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