The name fits, but the timing doesn’t

IWSGIt’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

I’m in mourning. They killed my hero’s name!
No, nobody died, but in the novella I’m currently working on, I wanted to name my hero Cedric. I like the name. The story takes place during Regency, and I think I read one or two Regency novels with a male character named Cedric, so I didn’t worry. Then I read this post from Interesting Literature. [] They write that the name Cedric only became popular after 1819:

“The name Cedric has its origins in Sir Walter Scott’s cavalier attitude to Anglo-Saxon. When researching for his classic novel Ivanhoe (1819), set during the twelfth century and featuring the character of Robin Hood, Scott came across the genuine Saxon name Cerdic and transposed the third and fourth letters. Thus Cedric was born.”

Imagine my frustration. How do I name my character now? Cedric was my final choice; I’ve already tried and discarded several other names for him. None fit the guy better than Cedric, but I can’t use the name that wasn’t used at the time of the novel. That would contradict historical accuracy. Talk about insecurities.
The only good thing that came out of this fiasco is that I read their post before I did any serious writing on the novella, before I posted even the first chapter on Wattpad for anyone to see. At least, nobody would know about my possible blunder now. I’ve been warned in time. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise.
I need a name for my male protagonist, pronto. He is a viscount with an independent mind and a caustic tongue, in a bit of a bind with the high society. He is not imbued with an abundance of tact and doesn’t suffer fools either. Help, please. I need a name.


This entry was posted in Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim, Regency, Romance, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to The name fits, but the timing doesn’t

  1. karen walker says:

    It’s really only an issue if your book is historical fiction. If not, you can do anything you want.

  2. First off – thank you for your advice – I hadn’t thought of that 🙂
    2nd – I googled regency male names and found – The name I had expected to find, however, which wasn’t there, though it may, of course, be further down the list, was Frederick. It was a newcomer to the name pool, entering via the Hanoverian kings in the late 18th century. Jane Austen, who, incidentally, uses all of the top ten names apart from ‘Joseph’ in her novels, uses Frederick twice, for the obnoxious Frederick Tilney in Northanger Abbey, and for her energetic and likeable hero of Persuasion, Captain Frederick Wentworth.
    It’s close to Cedric and yes – have to change a character’s name is traumatic!

  3. Cecil. Or the old fallback, John. the character you describe sounds like a John to me. then again, could he be known by his last name? Does that open up new possibilities? Mr. Rothgard Fantasy is a whole lot easier on this name thing. However, I do have normal humans who needed late 19th century Norwegian names. I feel your pain.

  4. spunkonastick says:

    Do a Google search for sites with names that fit your time frame. I bet you can find something really close.

  5. It is hard to change names in the midst of a draft. I would just go with it, or change it to Frederick or something that you really like that fits.

  6. Denise Covey says:

    It is annoying as we do become attached to our heroes by name and changing is difficult. I loved my male protagonist’s name until someone said they hated it because it was the name of an American milk brand??? Its origins is Australian, so go figure. And i decided to keep the name!! I’m no expert on Regency names, but I have a friend who writes tons of Regency Romances on Amazon and she comes up with amazing names.

    I admire your desire to be historically accurate!

    Denise Covey November co-host IWSG

  7. I’m writing my fourth book and have changed the names twice already, for several characters, but I want to change them again. I just don’t feel it. I see your dilemma, but I don’t have an answer for you. Just because it wasn’t popular until that date – does it mean it didn’t exist? Maybe he was the trend setter? I mean if the guy transposed the letters maybe he did so because he’d heard of the name Cedric? Sorry if that didn’t help. I’m sure you thought of possible solutions. Good luck!

  8. Widdershins says:

    Whom-so-ever named this child transposed the letters in his chosen name, and thus ‘Cedric’ was born, long before Scott condemned it to paper! 😀

  9. cheriereich says:

    And that’s why I don’t write historicals and stick with fantasy made-up worlds. 😉 I actually like the name Cerdic better than Cedric. It seems more unique.

    • Olga Godim says:

      Yes, I like writing fantasy for the same reason: I don’t have to worry about historical or scientific accuracy. I just make up the details I needed as I go along.

  10. Do you hate it as Cerdic? That name sounds good, too. In fact, different than the norm, but I don’t know if that would be good or bad for you. I had one character whose name just didn’t fit, and I changed it over and over again. Then I found a name I liked, but the way I’d envisioned her didn’t work, yet I preferred the new image more. So I’m working on changing her character now. It was a relief to find the name, because I was really straining with this character. She didn’t feel right. Now she does. Good luck finding the new name!

  11. Carrie-Anne says:

    Good on you for researching the name and not using it anyway after finding out it’s anachronistic! Fewer things turn me off to a book, movie, or TV faster, even from just a blurb, than obviously predated naming trends, like a 20-year-old Kayden, a female Ashley in the 1930s, or a 19th century woman named Madison. My rule is, if you’re going to use an outlier, at least make sure it’s within the realm of plausibility (like a Jennifer born in 1940 or a Bethany born in 1930 to super-religious parents with odd naming taste). I also like to have other characters react to it as unusual, or the character him/herself acknowledge it’s unusual. It stands out more when everyone carries on as though it’s the most normal thing in the world for someone to have a decidedly unusual, rarely-heard name.

    Would you consider the older name Cerdic, or a name containing an element of Cedric, like Richard or Edmund?

    • Olga Godim says:

      Thanks. I think Richard will do the trick. The guy does feel like Richard. My heroine might even call him Dick once, and he will be insulted. He is not Dick. He doesn’t like being a Dick. Oh, yeah.

  12. jmh says:

    I feel your pain – Cedric is a great name! I’m terrible at naming characters, but I see you’ve already found one. Awesome!

    Sorry it took me so long to read your post. This month has been crazy!

  13. Loni Townsend says:

    Have you figured it out? It looks like Richard was an option you were considering. Did you decide to go with that?

    I suppose I’m lucky with my books landing in the epic realm. I don’t have to worry about real world dates applying. And I can get super funky with names even I’m not sure how to pronounce. 😀

  14. dolorah says:

    Just cuz the name wasn’t “popular” doesn’t mean it did not exist. I like the name. I pick my character names by researching name meanings. He’s Saxon? Research names associated with those personality traits. I know how you feel about the name though, once I latch onto a name, I hate to change it.

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