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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Writing Advice: Planning And Outlining

My mom asked me a few weeks ago if I plan out books I’ve written/am working on or if I make them up as I go. 

The answer is “yes” to both.

There are no set rules to writing, or how to get it done. One rule I would follow is to NOT start a story with a character waking up, unless they are in a body bag, but that’s another post for another day. 

All that matters is you got your writing done. Who cares how you got there? 

I tend to write down what I want to happen in the story and then make it happen. I also write chapters and scenes out of order. It makes it easier for me to make things happen in the story this way.

 When you are creating a  fictional universe, you get the chance to unleash your inner sociopath and play God. Regardless of your plans, things might change and that is okay. Which is why I said yes to both making things up and planning. If you are writing a complex fictional world where things are actually happening, things will happen along the way that force you to change things, hence playing God. 

If you choose to plan/outline here are some pointers: 

  1. Keep your notes in one place 

This is self explanatory. It’s much easier to keep everything you need relating to one project in a single location. Switch between apps/programs until you find the one that works best for you. I currently use Google Keep which is available across various platforms. I type up notes and ideas on the go and use them when the time comes. 

   2. Actually write stuff down 

I know it’s scary having to actually write something down. Sorry, fellow youngsters, we’re going back to 1999 and getting out our pen and paper! I find taking the pen to paper helps when I’m suffering from writer’s block. Removing yourself from technology and distractions is the best thing you can do for your creative projects. Turn off the Wi-Fi, close your laptop, and take a pen to your shiny, new notebook! 

To make this work, I recommend investing in a good notebook for this seemingly daunting task to be as enjoyable as possible. 

Moleskine is the king of all notebooks and my personal favorite. The hefty price tag is worth the investment in your writing. Unless you’re writing Fifty Shades Of Grey fan fiction. Then you just need to analyze your life choices. 

 

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For quality writing only. Image via. 

3. DON’T DELETE/THROW ANYTHING AWAY UNLESS YOU ARE SURE YOU DO NOT NEED IT! 

This is probably the most important and obvious. Let’s say you write down an outline for a chapter that you then decide to omit from your book. You then delete it. Later, you are writing and remember you had this awesome idea for X, but you don’t remember what said awesome idea was. You frantically search for it only to discover your dumbass deleted it. WHOMP WHOMP!

This is why you keep things.

As always, take my advice or don’t. Otherwise, write on.

 

Writing Advice: Just Write

I wouldn’t call myself successful by any means, but I’ve learned a thing or two about writing fiction (and writing in general) in the past year. In that time, I’ve written and self-published a novella, finished the first installment of my book series, started the second, been querying literary agents, started this blog/site, and am constantly scribbling down ideas.

I’m going to do a few posts under the tag “writing advice” as a way to share what I’ve learned as a way to help others who might be struggling.

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Pretty much. Image via.

There is no right or wrong way to write. I’ve seen/heard people say, “I want to write but don’t know how.”

Yes, you do. All you have to do is write. It might not be good but trust me, it will get better.

Writing is like working out. The more you do it and practice the better and stronger you get. Writing will be easier for some than others and there is nothing wrong with that.

 

All of your favorite books had rough drafts and were most likely terrible. We all start somewhere, so flex that writing muscle and get to lifting!

Even if you are writing gay Harry Potter fan fiction, you are still a step ahead of the person who says they are going to write gay Harry Potter fan fiction and never does.

Write on!