Names are one of the hardest things to settle on when creating a character. Mostly because no writer intends to settle and believes the perfect name must be out there somewhere. We often waste valuable writing time searching for more than Joe or Hank, but what’s wrong with those names? I know they seem common but few books’ characters don’t feature overly modern or complex names, so go with whatever your heart feels is right.
And if you can’t decide, put in a placeholder name, something easy to replace without catching other words. Or a name you like but aren’t sure about. You have all the time it will take to finish your writing in order to come up with and lock in names for your characters. I was probably about 12 chapters in when I made my final name changes. Names can be difficult because we all have different preferences and associations.
Let’s talk about name associations. I knew three girls in middle school who shared the name Eden. One was a lovely girl with a great personality and similar taste to mine, Another was very middle of the road on all accounts (not particularly spectacular in any way), and the last was pretty to look at, but mean and awful. After we butted heads a few times, she saw the error of her ways and made changes in her life, but whenever I hear the name Eden, I think of that last girl. And not who she is today, but the girl who tormented my friends and who I was not a fan of. Thus, the name doesn’t sit well on my tongue, nor my pen, and I will not use it. At all.
There may be many people who you’ve dealt with that have spoiled names for you, and your readers have undoubtedly experienced it too. For this reason it’s best to try and avoid the top ten names of your generation, or the generation you’re writing for.
One last thing I want to mention is, do your research. Before you name your ethnic character something that simply “sounds right” take the time to find culturally appropriate (not appropriated) names. I wouldn’t expect to read about a character as white as Cinderella named Yumiko, and whether or not you think so, it can come off very silly and offensive. Like with all things, consider the reader.
One great tool for researching names and the meanings and cultural significance of names is a name meanings online dictionary, such as www.behindthename.com/.
See you next week my little busy bees!
Latest posts by Cara Rowen (see all)
- Something Clever Here? – Naming Your Characters - April 4, 2014
- Crafting Personality Part V: Change Will Come - March 28, 2014
- Crafting Personality Part IV: The Clothes Make The Man - March 19, 2014