5 Tips For Naming Your Characters

5 Tips by Anne Brees

The name of your character is going to stay with your book the whole way. It’s very important to get it exactly right. Lucky for you, you don’t have to know your characters’ names before you start writing. I have started stories and named my characters @, $, ^, %, and *, just so that I could get on with the story and come back to the hard naming business later. But, once you get to that hard naming business, here are five tips to consider.

  1. Consider the traditions of your story world when it comes to naming. For example, in the Hunger Games, all of the characters from District 12 have nature based names. (Katniss, Primrose, Gale, etc.) If you have a story set in any time period besides our own, don’t chose name from this time period, because chances are they won’t be popular. (Just as Edith and Mabel aren’t still popular today.) Making your names fit the story world is very important, just be careful not to go too overboard. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rolled my eyes at the ridiculous names in some stories.
  2. What is the character’s parents’ pasts and values? Even if you don’t answer this question with in your story, this is a good thing to consider when naming your character. It can add a lot to your character’s background too.  Parents’ lifestyles often affect what they name their child. Sports fans may name their children after their favorite athelete. Music fans may name their children after their favorite artists. What is your character’s parents like?
  3. How does your character feel about their name? Most people have some sort of feeling regarding their names. Once again, even if you never mention it within your story, it can still add a lot to your character building. Do they love it? Hate it? Accept it, but would rather have something different? Is it too different? Too normal? The name you choose shapes the character.
  4. How do others feel about your character’s name? Everyone has their opinions about certain names, based on the people that they’ve met with that name. How do the characters in your story respond when they hear your character’s name? And how does your character respond to their response?
  5. What is the current day connotation of that name? How would your readers respond to this name? Think of any famous or infamous people with this name and how they are viewed. Will it affect the way your character is viewed?
  6. (Bonus) Does your character’s name have a hidden meaning? One of my favorite things to do is to put hidden meaning into my story. Maybe your shy character’s name means bold. Or, maybe the character’s unknown father’s name means father. *cough Vader cough*

Some other website tools that help me choose my characters’ names are Nymblr, Behind the Name, and Random Name Generator.

What tricks do you use to help name your character?

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6 thoughts on “5 Tips For Naming Your Characters

  1. nesbitandgibley says:

    Great list. I always liked the Dickensian approach to naming characters. In Great Expectations, Pip is a great name as it resembles a young, innocent and small – much like Pip is! And Pumblechook sounds like a bumbling, large man. To add, Draco Malfoy is good, too. Malfoy in French means ‘bad soul.’ Well thought out names / titles for characters really show!

    Like

    • Anne Brees says:

      I agree completely! Some people don’t realize how much a name can affect your readers’ perception of the character. (I never new that Malfoy was dark soul…very interesting…) Thanks for the comment! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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