The Importance of Picking Names: Phlebotomists in Love

danger in the vetch

I can’t stop thinking about my new book which is in its infancy.  While I don’t want to reveal too much about the actual story as it’s in a delicate stage of its creation, I am coming up with names for my characters and brought this up on Facebook asking for some input.

Tess and Flynn.  Most people were not crazy for the name Flynn.  Everyone who commented liked Tess.  So I set about to consider some other options for Flynn that were suggested and that I could come up with.   It has to be a name that is suitable for a lanky skinny nerdy phlebotomist.

Kelly, Matthew, Clive, Trent, Silas, Nathan.

I have to like a name enough to write it over and over again and it has to suit the character OR it has to not suit them so much that it actually plays a part in their story.  Then there’s the question of reality.  How much would you be able to believe in a story where every character had a really unusual name?  You have to think about this in the creation of a world.  If it’s science fiction you have more leeway but if it’s regular fiction you have to think about the impact of every character being named things like Olivia, Connor, Madison, Apple, Miley, and Brooklyn.

I made one naming mistake in Cricket and Grey – using the name Sariah for the Mormon child bride.  I did research to find a distinctly Mormon name for her and I succeeded.  It’s an unattractive name – reminding everyone of “psoriasis”.  I chose it because when I first started writing her character I didn’t like her and she was going to be a minor character and not a recurring one.  However, as I wrote her I started to really like her friendship with Cricket.  I started to simply like her and I plan to bring her back.  So now I’m stuck with her unpleasant name.  I think I’m going to have to have the other characters give her a nick-name.

Here are the names used in Cricket and Grey: Cricket, Grey, Peter, Mairead, Julie, Tommy, James, Mary, Malakai, Jack, Natalie, Shockey, “Butterfly”, Mitch, John, Matthew, and Jeb.

Here are the names used in Jane Doe: Jane, Isaac, Galina, Tim, Luca, Carl, Pat, and Letta.

As a side note, looking over the manuscript for Jane Doe (my very first novel, still unfinished) is SO BAD and yet has such potential.  The good bits are really strong and powerful and the rest of it is embarrassingly shitty.

While I am planning to start writing the second Cricket and Grey book soon I can’t help but work on notes for this new novel while the ideas and inspiration are coming.  I think I’m going to need to spend some time with phlebotomists and interview a bunch of them – it’s not going to be easy to work up the nerve to do it.

Here’s just a little bit about my two main characters so far:

Tess is a junk-food junkie of medium build, grown-up goth style, habit of dying her hair, and all she ever wanted to be was a phlebotomist.

Flynn is scarecrow thin, wears glasses, always has dark circles around his eyes, writes math-based poetry, and “fell into” his work as a phlebotomist.

If you write fiction – please share how you pick names or what kinds of things you think about when considering names for characters.  If you don’t write but you love reading fiction – do you ever notice the names of characters in particular?  How important do you think names are in fiction?


  1. Lonnie says:

    Phlebotomists have been some of my favorite people over the last three years! I am scheduled for a routine visit soon – I shall ask “my team” if they have any suggestions for names. When I took piano lessons in Rome, my teacher was Mrs. Malditesta, which, if our Italian still serves, your mother will verify translates as Mrs. “Headache” – I always thought that was a very good name for a piano teacher (I was not a very apt pupil). Happy Spring!

  2. angelina says:

    Lonnie – I have already settled on the names so don’t ask them about that but DO ask them what made them become phlebotomists and what is the best thing about their jobs and the worst. And this bonus question: what is the worst mistake they can make in their work? These are questions I want to be asking phlebotomists. I actually need to get some blood taken so I think I’ll do that next week and ask these questions too. What a great name for a piano teacher! Happy spring to you too!

  3. fala cedar says:

    I like the names you choose for your characters! I honestly tend to stare into space until a name I like pops into my head. Or, I start looking around until I see something that strikes me, which is why I have characters with names like Mister Nest.

    I am very squeamish about blood in scientific settings, especially if there are tubes involved; I would not be able to do the research involved for such a story. I hope you’re not squeamish like I am!

  4. angelina says:

    I’m glad you like the names. Most of the names of my main characters are names I like that just pop into my head but I tend to give the supporting characters’ names more thought. I like the name Mr. Nest!! (But now I want to know what nest you saw that made you think of it)

    I’m squeamish when my own blood is being taken, I do NOT like seeing it go from my arm to a bag or a tube and can’t look at it when it’s happening. But if it’s other people’s blood I’m a lot less squeamish.

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