What’s In A Name? A Guide To Naming Your Fictional Characters

I’ve had this saved in my drafts for almost 2 years now #lazy. After two years I figured that I should finally right and this blog post. Actually, I’m using the dictation feature on my iPhone while I’m in the car with my dogs waiting for my husband to come out of the grocery store.

Dictation is a success. Dick Dick Dick Dick Dick Dick Tatian. That was me playing with the feature. Haha. Dick!

On to the point because I hate when bloggers tell me about their lives before they get to the recipe.

As someone who writes fiction, I often get asked where do you come up with the names for your characters? For some reason, people seem to be really baffled by the fact that you can make up a name for a fictional person even though there are millions of them in the fictional universe.

 

 

 

Here are some pointers.

1. Keep it simple

My characters all have simple, meaningless names. Rex. Alex. Evelyn. Aaron. Kat. Autumn. Chris. Craig. Claire. Gavin. Holden. Jack. Lola. Candy.

You’re going to be typing these names a lot. What would you rather type several hundred times…Jack or Balthazar?

 

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Don’t be Rose. Don’t let go of Jack.

 

The most complicated names I have in my book series, which has a lot of characters are Jeanette and Deirdre. They might have to die.

Also, names don’t have to mean anything. Mine sure as hell don’t. The majority of the names I’ve used in my fiction are from this site.

This rule might not apply if you’re writing a fantasy novel. If that’s the case, go nuts. It’s what the readers want and expect from a fantasy novel.

A murder mystery set in the 1930s wouldn’t have the same type of names that a fantasy novel would. The one-off short, horror novellas I churn out on occasion are full of characters who are going to die in a few pages anyway. What’s the point in investing in typing out some crazy ass name for 5 pages when you’re just going to kill them anyway?

Readers are going to get frustrated with hard to pronounce names or names that don’t fit the narrative. Also, flowery, overly descriptive writing, including names reads like your seventh-grade portfolio or that you’re trying too hard. Neither one is cool.

Just a friendly reminder you will never be this cool.

 

2. Be original

By this, I don’t mean unique. I mean don’t blatantly rip off another character’s name. Don’t name your hero Wayne Bruce or your female character Scarlett.

Bonus: avoid naming a fictional character after a real person. It’s lazy. Unless you are writing historical fiction about a real historical figure. However, naming characters after cities, towns, counties, and streets is fine.

3. Don’t over think it

Insert cliché here. It’s not rocket science. Think about all the crappy books out there and the crappy books you’ve read. If those bonehead authors can come up with names for their characters, so can you.

Sincerely,

Another bonehead author

 

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