Happy Monday, everyone! This post is part of the A-Z challenge. Please take time to visit the other blogs that are participating.
Names. Everyone has one. Novelists sometimes have many. In fact, being a novelist is one of the only professions where it’s perfectly okay to have multiple personalities, voices and imaginary playmates (including creatures, shapeshifters, vampires, and werewolves, among others) running around in our heads constantly. And of course, each one of those characters has a name, but what are they, and how do novelists come up with those names you love?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but some names just come to me when I write, like David, Charlotte, Trogsdill (“Trog”), Einar, and Eric from my novel, In the Shadow of the Dragon King. I liked the ring that each name had and didn’t really realize what the significance of their first names were until I started doing some research into a last name for Trog. I was really amazed at how their names spoke volumes of their characterizations:
David Alwyn Heiland: beloved/noble friend/savior
Charlotte Breanna Stine: free man/noble/anointed
Trogsdill Domnall: to walk heavily/mighty; great chief
Eric Finian Hamden: forever, ruler/handsome/praised
Einar: warrior; battle leader
Aside from having random names pop into my head, how else do I come up with character names? I look at several things.
Era: current, trendy names may not work very well in the era your story takes place. “Electra” probably wouldn’t work in a story set in the early 1700s.
Place: Where does your story take place? “Bobby Jean” may stand out like a sore thumb in wealthy societies.
Reserved or Contemporary?: Is your character conservative? Maybe a name like “Arthur” would be more appropriate than a more contemporary counterpart like “Sonny”.
I’ve also learned to try and avoid famous names, and not make the pronunciations too difficult. Readers can’t relate to names they can’t pronounce. And, unless you’re writing a comedy or trying to make a specific point, try to avoid same sounding names, like Harry Larry or Kendell Wyndel.
Where else do I look to find cool, interesting names? The phone book, the Bible, baby books. There are tons of “name” sites on the internet. I also pay attention to those movie credits. You’d be surprised by the gems you find there.
I found that keeping a running list of names at all times helps a lot. Whenever I hear a cool name or come up with one, I jot it down so I don’t forget it.
Whatever I do, I try to make my character’s name identifiable and memorable. I’ve been told it helps to make a story stand out from the others. I hope I’ve succeeded.
What are some of your favorite character names?
- #AtoZChallenge: April 16 – N is for Names (ofglassandpaper.com)