What is in a name? Does the name you choose for your characters matter? Why yes, yes it does. As a matter of fact, it is very important. I mean, what is a fiction novel without fictional characters? Choosing your characters’ names can be a daunting task. It’s almost like a parent naming their child. You want it to be the most perfect name and that usually means you end up searching through thousands of names on the Internet on five different baby name websites for countless hours. Which, by the way, is one of the best places to look when you need a name. I highly recommend it.
Aside from baby name websites, there are a few other tricks and tips when it comes to naming your characters.
- Definition and origin.
Knowing the different meanings and origins behind each name can help you choose the right one for your character depending on their personality, background, role in the story, etc. For instance, the name Maximus means “greatest” and it has the connotation to go with that thanks to Russell Crowe’s performance in Gladiator. This doesn’t necessarily mean that if you name a character Maximus that he must be great and be able to fight tigers. You could have a young boy named Max who is shy and timid. Just keep in mind that the meaning and origin behind a name can help you when choosing for your character if you already know their personality.
If your names aren’t the easiest to pronounce, or could be pronounced more than one way, maybe have a page in the back of the book showing the phonetic pronunciation or something along those lines. Unless, of course, you don’t care whether or not people mispronounce your character’s name. We’ve all renamed a few characters when reading a book with unpronounceable names and then we hear the correct pronunciation and our lives are momentarily ruined.
- Cool names.
Keep a list of names you like. Whenever I stumble across a name I like, I write it down so that in the future, I already have several to choose from. You can find names anywhere…including the grocery checkout line. I actually named a character after seeing a cashier’s nametag once.
Every genre is different and special, unique to its own era and styles. Keep this in mind when giving your characters their names. The place and time period that your book takes place is important as well. If you’re writing a historical romance novel, you wouldn’t have names like Cinder or Rocket, etc.
- Be wary of similarities.
This is purely for the sake of confusion, which you want to avoid. When a book has so many characters whose name starts with the same letter, it can become hard to keep track of who is who. For instance, if you have a Brittney, Brianna, and Barbara or an Aiden, Adam, and Allen, it will be easy to get these characters confused with each other. Also, avoid using a bunch of names that sound the same; like Keri, Terry, and Barry.
Naming your characters can be one of the most exciting parts of creating people that don’t really exist. Sometimes, however, finding that perfect name can be hard and difficult. Just do your research and eventually, you’ll stumble over that one name you’ve been searching for all along.
What is your opinion on naming characters? Do you love it or hate it? Do you like to make up names all on your own? Let me know what you think!
P.S. Just a heads up that there will not be a blog post next week.