Writers Write is your one-stop resource for writers. We have put together this list of 10 things to consider when naming characters in your books.
Naming your characters is important. This is especially true for your four main characters: the protagonist, the antagonist, the love interest, and the confidant. They drive the story and we get to know them well.
They are your creation and you should put some serious thought into the process. Take time when you are doing this. Treat them as if they are real people and imagine that they will have to live with your choices forever.
10 Things To Consider When Naming Characters
Here are 10 things to consider when you’re naming characters:
1. What does the name mean?
2. What were his or her parents’ names?
3. Where are his or her grandparents from? You could use a family name or a name that represents an inheritance or symbolises their history.
4. Were his or her parents wealthy or poor?
5. Where was he or she born?
6. What is his or her birthday?
- Google the date to ensure you haven’t given the character a ‘famous’ or ‘infamous’ birthday.
- Google the year to find out the 20 most popular names that year.
- What film was No. 1 in the year you’ve chosen?
- What song was No. 1 in the year you’ve chosen?
- What TV series was the most popular?
7. What are his or her siblings’ names? Have you chosen names that suit the family? If not, why not? Do the children’s names all start with the same letter? Consider what type of parent does this to their children.
8. What versions of his or her name will people use?
Example: Amanda, Mandy, Mands
9. When you say the name out loud – first and last name – how does it sound?
10. Are the initials inadvertently funny?
Example: Patty Clark will always be PC
I suggest you complete a character questionnaire for your important characters. Choose from one of these: 9 Useful Character Questionnaires For Writers
Three ways to help you choose a name
- Does the meaning suit your character’s role?
- Is it believable for the time he or she was born?
- Does it suit his or her ancestry?
Make a list of your characters’ names.
- Do they all begin with the same, or a similar sounding, letter of the alphabet? If they do, change them.
- Do they have a different number of syllables? If they don’t, change them.
Tip: Do not give a secondary or minor character a unisex name. This can cause confusion, and you never want to confuse your reader.
© Amanda Patterson
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