Having the right name can make all the difference, but many of those choices may be driven by the genre you are working in. I often use the name Fred, maybe because I don’t know too many of them. I’m not sure why, but this is one of those names that’s always there on my list of names – I just like it. Strong and simple, only four letters, which makes it a quick type, and rather old fashioned.
But what comes to mind for a writer when we see the name Fred? First and foremost you should think about what genre you are writing. As soon as you apply the name to different genres, different images come to mind.
Romance: Can you imagine a man named Fred in the role of the romantic hero? Do you see him as a tall handsome man with all the requisite muscles and ripples? Can the name work in a love scene. “Oh, Fred. Please make love to me.” It’s not really a name that lends itself to some kind of exotic billionaire business tycoon. In fact, I’m doubtful that most women will “feel the love” for the name.
Action/Adventure: Can you imagine Fred as the rugged adventurous explorer? While it isn’t a romance, there is often a romantic element in these books so we’re back to the question of a love scene. The name has a little more potential in this genre than in the romance genre.
Military/Western: Yes, I’m aware that these are often part of the action/adventure area, but names in these genres are regarded differently. These are “manly men” who may have a real name that is used on occasion, but are often called by a rank or a nickname. Trooper Fred MacLean would simply be known as Mac or Trooper. Fred is not the name we might know him by.
Suspense/Mystery: Is he the hero or the bad guy? In these genres, the name could also be effective because the romantic element is not the primary focus of the story.
Comedy: The name Fred takes on a life of its own in this genre. As a primary character the first one that comes to mind is Frederick von Frankenstein (Froederick von Frankensteen!) in Young Frankenstein. The name has been used very successfully for secondary character for many years from Fred Mertz in I Love Lucy to a more recent favorite of Fred Weasley in the Harry Potter series.
As I said earlier, I’m a fan of the name, and I’m intrigued by the character of Major Fred Blaine in my Blood Link series. He is currently a secondary character who may eventually have his own book. My Fred is most often called “The Padre” and is an Army Chaplain, who is also a Ranger, all while existing as a vampire. The dichotomy of a warrior chaplain appeals to me – these men of course exist and are historically well documented. Add into that the complication of being a vampire and you have the type of complex character who calls out to be written. Make him an Episcopalian priest rather than a Roman Catholic and we have the potential to mess up the whole works with a love interest.
Now go back and run through those genres with a few other names: John, Ichabod, Alan, Ezekiel, Derek, Bob, Dick, Hank, Harry, William, or Hugh. You can have a field day with some of them, but the reality is that certain names work better in certain genres.
I swear it’s even tougher to find a woman’s name sometimes. More on that later.