Writers can get stuck trying to find the perfect name.
Personally, I love naming characters. Finding the perfect name is the first step to developing a true character but I’ve made plenty of mistakes.
So to avoid all the trouble I’ve been through, here are some tips to help ya’ll with choosing the perfect name for your characters.
1. Forget yo’ genre
It would simply make sense to name your character in their genre. A character with the name of Damon Salazar, the name sounds like it belongs to a prince but it belongs to the boy next door.
Fantasy characters can be unique and odd. Meanwhile contemporary characters tend to have normal names like Rose, Elanor, Anna, etc. A misleading name can lead to a misleading genre classification.
2. Stick to cliches
We’ve all heard it. Antagonists with the a name like Ace Beckett or the hero’s name is Angel. It can be easy to give them a name that fits into their archetype but it gets real tacky, real quick.
3. Confuse the crew
Similar sounding names are simply going to confuse your readers. I particularly love names that have their first letter at the beginning and end of the alphabet.
This meant that in one of my stories, I had the characters of the following names: Zorah, Zola, and Zoya. Just because I love all three names doesn’t mean that get to be in the same story.
While this up to debate for writers, many are at a general consensus that being able to simply say the name provides a deeper connection with the character.
It also makes sense in marketting. Say that your readers get an audiobook or reads an e-book with text-to-speech enabled. A beautiful name on paper isn’t always able to sound beautiful, especially if your readers are unable to say it coherently.
1. Know your setting
If your story takes place with Vikings, simply give your characters Viking-like names. It would be illogical to have a character in pre-colonial Africa to be named Catherine.
In fantastical genres, there’s a lot more freedom. No matter what-please be consistent.
2. Parents named them
When naming characters, it’s crucial that you are not naming them. The character’s parents are naming them.
A particularly religious family may name their child Lakshmi or Esther. A wealthy child may have an eccentric or snobbish name with III as a title. Not only does it add a sense of world-building but it also adds depth to your character’s life.
3. Check ethnic roots
If you’re going to use a diverse cast (which is highly recommended), at least do it in a respectful way. Lack of proper research always results in a bad book. Worst of all, lack of research could result in an offended audience. Then your author image would be forever tainted.
It’s not hard now to google “Indigenous Ethiopian surnames” and read a few blog posts on the subject. You don’t want to pull a J.K. Rowling. Not knowing the difference between two Chinese surnames will come off as rude and ignorant (which is did).
Do yourself a favor and spend more than a few minutes creating diverse characters.
1. Find Hidden Meanings
It’s obviously a ton of fun to sprinkle in easter eggs. Little hints like that makes the story more rich. Not to mention, your readers will appreciate the extra thought put in.
Symbolism can take on so many different forms. For example, Shaelin Bishop named her two love interests with names meaning wolf and lamb.
2. Play with Alliteration
This is just a simple way to help keep that character ingrained in your reader’s mind. Alliterative names just have a tendency to roll off the tongue.
3. Siblings with themes
This isn’t just in novels. In real life, parents may name their children around a similar theme. Sometimes, they all start with the same letter. Other times, all the girls are named after flowers. This helps the family stay memorable and even a bit quirky.
4. Consider Nicknames
Nicknames will let your characters name themselves. This allows so much insight on characters when they have the opportunity to show independence, rebellion, and many other traits.
Say that your main character’s legal name is Nirvana, given to her by hippy parents. To sepearate herself from her past, she goes by Ana.
Naming characters is a ton o’ fun! This is your chance to visualize a character. A name isn’t just a name, it’s who someone is. It doesn’t have to be a daunting task if ya’ll can see the fun of it.