What is in a Character Name?

I have seen many Twitter posts concerning naming characters in the last few weeks. I was looking at the methods that I use, and decided to write them here to see if they help anyone along the way. I first think about the attributes I plan to use on my characters. The attributes of a character are paramount to selecting the proper name since the reader is going to have preconceptions about a character if you choose the wrong name. I then look at names that I have come across in the past and decide if I can combine anyone’s names to create the image that I want. If I find a good combination that fits my characters, I use that name and my character is born. If I can’t think of anything that will fit into the image that I want, I will go to the long list of names that I keep written down to help me past the block. A good name for a character can mean the world to that character’s image and personality throughout your story.

If you read the name Albert, someone is going to form a picture of what Albert is just by reading his name. Since this is the case, “Albert” may not be the super hero main character that you planned him to be because of that preconception. “Albert” might end up being the lawyer that lives down the street that has glasses and constantly stumbles around instead of the badass super hero that you wanting the reader to envision. Giving a stronger name like Tyranion or Gabriel might bring out the qualities that you envision in your characters. A little bit of description of some attributes can also seal the deal on the name that you chose.

Another factor in naming your characters is exotic names. I have read in many different blogs and books that it is ideal to stick to one exotic character name for your story. This allows the reader to follow what is going on without struggling over names like Truyrean, Groendil, or Edrec’k. As a writer of science fiction and fantasy, sometimes it is hard to stick to this rule because exotic names can fit into the fiction, but I try to keep it limited to make it as easy to read as possible. Face it, if the character names are hard to understand, the reader isn’t going to take the time to continue reading when they can’t understand what is happening to whom.

I try to stick to naming characters through the people I meet. It is pretty easy to stick a someone’s first name with someone else’s last name and make a name that fits your characters. There are also many naming websites on the net that you can use to create useable names.

I hope that by sharing this tidbit of information on how I draw my characters names and how they are important to the impression that each character makes on the reader has helped you take a deeper look into your own naming methods. Until we meet again, good luck in your writing.

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