Choosing Character Names?

When I wrote an outline for my book I also wrote out descriptions for the main characters. I choose names I thought best represent the characters and their family history, because their family history is important to the plot. Now that I am writing and creating new characters needed for the story I am not sure what to name them. 

Since I have been struggling with a few character names I decided to do some research on how other authors named their characters. I looked up certain authors to see if they ever answered that question on their blogs and came to two very helpful post. 

These were the main tips I found helpful in naming my new Characters:

 "Check root meanings.
It’s better to call a character Caleb, which means “faithful” or “faithful dog,” than to overkill it by naming him Loyal or Goodman—unless you want that for comic/ironic purposes. Some readers will know the name’s root meaning, but those who don’t might sense it.

Get your era right.
If you need a name for an 18-year-old shop girl in a corset store in 1930s Atlanta, you know enough not to choose Sierra or Courtney, unless such an unusual name is part of your story. Browse for names in the era you’re writing. A Depression-era shopgirl who needs a quick name could go by Myrtle or Jane; it will feel right to the reader. Small public libraries will often have decades’ worth of local high school yearbooks on the shelves. Those things are gold for finding name combinations from the proper era.

Use alliterative initials.
Employ this strategy to call special attention to a character: Daniel Deronda, Bilbo Baggins, Ratso Rizzo, Severus Snape.

Think it through.
You might notice that in most crime fiction the murderer rarely has a middle name or initial. Why? Because the more you explicate the name, the more likely there’s a real person out there with it. And reading your story they might become upset and try to sue you or come after you some night with a bayonet."- Writers Digest: Source If you want to read the full post!

"Let the Names Reflect the Characters
Give characters names that tell you something about them. Is your hero an alpha hero and a warrior? Then give him a name that alerts readers to his personality. Is your heroine an artist? Find a name that projects a creative personality. In my romantic suspense novel, I had a great time finding names that suited the characters. For example, Sebastian Gregoire, a passionate artist; Constance Wynter, cold, wealthy woman; and Laurel Walker, the down-to-earth heroine.

Avoid Names That End in S
This tip sounds trivial, but it can save you a lot of trouble later. If you give a character a name that ends in the letter S, you will have an awkward time of it when you write the possessive form of that name. One of my first drafts included a character named Demas. That name was history once I started the second draft because I was sick of pausing every time I wrote the possessive form of his name. Demas' didn't look right, and Demas's looked even worse. This character had a run of bad luck in the naming department, however, as I eventually renamed him Uring.

Avoid the Trends
There are already a lot of heroes named Rafe, Damon, Demon, Devil, and so forth, just as there are many heroines names Jayne, Alex, Angela, Samantha... Well, you get the picture. Readers are already getting sick of the throngs of characters with the same names. Try to find something new.

Avoid Androgynous Names
This isn't a major no-no, but it can be a bit of a distraction to readers. If your heroine is named Pat or Sam, it can be easy for a reader to pick up the book and them find herself wondering why Sam is complaining about PMS before remembering "Oh, right, that's the heroine. Also, don't forget that readers will be reading the back cover copy before they read the actual novel. I've come across back cover copy that took a couple of passes to "translate" because I couldn't tell which character was the hero and which was the heroine. In some cases, I've found myself blinking when the back cover told me that someone named Pat was wearing high heels!

Don't Get Hung Up on the Meanings
Knowing what a name means is great. However, never let it get in the way of picking a good name. When I first started writing novels, I used to look up the meanings of names before picking names. However, more often than not, I ended up with terrible names.
Some resources on naming characters do suggest doing this because it can give your name a sort of "subliminal message." This sounds like a good idea at first. In some cases, it is, if you can get across a meaning without being either obvious or too obscure. (For example, J. K. Rowlings does this well in the "Harry Potter" books, with names just as Sirius Black and Remus Lupin.) But keep in mind that most people don't know the meanings of names, especially very old names."- Source If you want to read the full post!

I found both articles to be truly helpful in my naming process and recommend them to anyone who is writing!

PLEASE Comment if you have an great advice or liked this post. :)


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T.M. has read 1 book toward her goal of 10 books.