When reading a story, have you ever been jarred out of it because of a name? I have and it’s annoying. If a name is hard to pronounce and I’m constantly trying to figure out how to say it, even though it’s in my head, I’m distracted from the story. And that’s not a good thing.
How about when a name doesn’t go with the character? Sometimes a writer can have fun with that and make it work. I remember one story where there was a bodyguard and his name was Pony. The author played with that and it was funny and added to the character actually making him seem stronger and more daunting.
I obsess about names in my writing. I feel that names have power and meaning. Sometimes characters arrive with a definite name and personality. When they don’t I feel that I have to get to know them. Once I know them I want to make sure I give them a name that matches who and what they are.
While I’m working on the first draft of a story and if a name hasn’t clicked with a character yet, I just give the character a place-holding temporary name, like xxx or zzz. Then when I find the perfect name, I use the find and replace feature in my word processor to fill the permanent name in wherever it’s needed.
I’ve found names by looking through baby name books. I’ve found a couple of sites online that give the meaning of names. There is one site www.behindthenames.com that lets you play around with the meanings of names. Every now and then I will base a character on someone I know but I find that can be tricky and limiting so I don’t do that often.
It can be fun making up names. Since I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction I wonder how the authors come up with names.
There are great suggestions in the links below.
How do you name your characters? Do you name your characters after people you know? What are some of your favorite character names?
- A Rose By Any Other Name (lynnebubbles.wordpress.com)
- Finding the Perfect Name for Your Characters (kathytemean.wordpress.com)
- A King Named Sue: Picking Perfect (Character) Names (omnivoracious.com)