Naming characters for your spanking BDSM romance

Dominant Dom… are we all a little tired of hearing about Dominic the Dominant yet? I am. I feel mean, but I have to try not to laugh every time anyone uses it. It’s never quite done it for me. I know, I know, it’s an extremely popular name for male characters in BDSM and even some spanking (non-BDSM) romances, and most people probably don’t care, and there have been one or two books which I sort-of liked which did this (but I didn’t like them enough to remember titles/authors years later), but I just struggle to see past the ridiculousness of it. I mean, should the female character be Submissive Submeera? When the Dominant male is called Dom or Dominic I have to work extra-hard to like a book.

Anyway, naming a character can be a tricky business. Male leads need to be strong and sexy but lovable. The name needs to fit the setting of the book.

I name my characters (at least, the main ones, the bad guys, and any with a significant role… can’t say I do this for every last character) the same way I named all my pet rabbits (and I’ve had 8 of those): I look through baby name lists, figure out a shortlist, then take a mental break for 5 minutes (making a cup of tea, switching the laundry into the tumble dryer, vacuuming the carpet, petting one of my bunnies…) and usually during that time, I find one or two of the names from my shortlist are playing around my mind more than the others. If it’s just one, I go with that. If it’s two, I’ll cross out everything else on my shortlist then think it over some more, imagining my character being called each of the two names, until I have one name.

When I took creative writing classes 12 years ago (I was underage, but I showed up anyway and they never asked me to leave so I tried not to draw attention to the fact I was there), I was told three “golden rules” about naming characters:
Firstly, that in a short story, all characters should be named (I disagree, and I’ve seen it work really well in some short stories where one or other of the main characters has no name). Secondly, I was told that you should never give more than one character in a story the same first initial. Thirdly, I was told that the first name and last name should never begin with the same letter.

Well, all this advice was for women’s fiction (that undefinable genre) and I don’t think it’s all true for spanking or BDSM romance. Nameless characters can be sexy and mysterious, especially in short stories. In longer books, if it’s natural for two characters to have a first name beginning with the same letter, what’s the issue? In real life, plenty of people have the same name, let alone the same initials! As long as the story isn’t all characters with the same name or same initials, and as long as each character is unique and interesting, I personally don’t see the issue with occasionally breaking these three rules. I mean, if a reader is confused about which character is doing what, it’s probably not the names that are an issue.

But where do I find inspiration for naming characters when I get stuck? Different name websites have different names (and a lot of the time, the origins/meanings don’t agree between different sites). Here’s some fabulous sites I use for picking names:

This one shows you which names were popular last year (that might be a good or bad thing). If you want to do more historical research, the social security agency in the USA keeps a historical list of popular baby names which is searchable here
For a great international list of names (which includes American names and names from further afield), Nameberry is great! Here’s their list of girls names and their list of boys names! They even have a list of unisex names, too!
Emma’s Diary is more aimed at British names, because guess what? People have different names in the UK to the US (and common American names would get you viciously mocked on the playground in the UK).

Another good source of ideas is to Google some characteristic you want your character name to convey, e.g. “strong, modern boys names” because chances are, there’s a thread on a parenting forum somewhere! Here’s an example for “strong modern boys names” from Netmums. I’m not sure I like any of those names for characters, let alone human beings, but I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to actual baby names for real live babies, so each to their own.

When I’m choosing a name, I usually do it after I’ve already written a profile for my characters, because that way I know if a name sums up the “feel” of the character or not. Some people start with the name and work backwards. When I’m really stuck, I have been known to throw out my entire list and just mix up letters until I find something that sounds right, although that’s not a great solution for historical romances (but I find those easiest to come up with names for).

Do you have any tips for other spanking or BDSM romance authors for coming up with character names? Let me know in the comments!

Lots of love,
Katie xxxx

Articles in this series:
Spanking writing prompts
Erotic romance: Where should the story begin?
The main spanking scenarios for spanking erotic romance writers
Erotica words for spanking and anal sex writers in BDSM erotic romance
Naming the characters in your BDSM erotic romance
How to make a Twitter advert for erotic romance authors
How to make your erotica or erotic romance advert shine!

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KatieDouglas

I am the author of several spanking, BDSM and ageplay books, as well as the artist behind Corner Time Now, the Saturday-updating spanking and CP webcomic. I play the ukulele (badly), I like instant noodles way more than anyone should, and I'm currently in grad school studying an obscure science.

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