Today I have a fabulous treat for you! I’ve asked the wonderful writer Kayleigh to share her insights and inspiration on finding the perfect name for any character.
Thank you to Brianna for having me guest post on her wonderful blog. When Brianna asked me what I might be interested in writing about, I had just been questioned by a fellow writer about how I choose character names. The timing was great, and I hope this post is helpful in some small way.
Many moons ago, I put together a check list of eight important factors to consider before naming a character. The following tried and tested steps have not failed me, yet.
Gut instinct: Always and foremost go with what feels right. A perfect name is only perfect because it feels that way to the author, and hopefully, the reader.
Google it: Run all possible name combinations through Google to make sure that there isn’t a famous person or politician etc with the same name.
Weird spellings: Avoid unusual spellings where possible. I cannot stand names that I may or may not be pronouncing correctly. It is jarring for me as a reader.
Age appropriate: For example, if you are writing a contemporary, young adult, romance novel, your characters might not all be called Ethel, Mildred, and Tarquin. If you are writing a Victorian regency novel, the names Chardonnay and Ikea wouldn’t fit the era.
Meanings: This is not a necessity, but I like to know the meaning of a name. Get a name book or Google your name to find the meanings. Some names fit a personality perfectly, or some may have an unpleasant meaning. This doesn’t mean I don’t use the name, but I am sometimes inspired to add a character trait or two.
Not too samey-samey: Say your chosen name aloud along with other character names. Anna and Hannah don’t work well together. And names that can be used as a nickname for another character’s name may be confusing to the reader, such as James and Jamie.
Preconceptions: Certain names have preconceptions attached to them. For example, the name Jezebel is a pretty name, but suggests a scheming, immoral woman, and has biblical references. By all means, use such a name and bring a new dimension to it, but bear in mind that people may stereotype your character.
Listen and look: Keep your ears out and eyes peeled when out and about. Listen for names and take in the description of the person. It may inspire a character, or throw a unique name into your repertoire.
For me, finding the perfect name for a character is an important part of understanding who they are. Sometimes, a name comes easily, others times, we ponder over it night and day. Either way, once you get it right, it fits like a puzzle piece. That name becomes as important to you as the character who owns it, so a little extra effort spent on the decision is worth it in the end.
Do you have any useful suggestions not mentioned above? Do you find it easy to name characters, or do you like to ponder? I’d love to hear your stories.
K.J.Chapman is an avid tea drinker, writer, blogger, book lover, Whovian, and author of the EVO Nation Series, and new release, Thrown to The Blue.
Born and raised in Cornwall, England, and with an accent to match, she is a self-proclaimed fan girl and geek; lover of everything science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal.