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Sunday, January 11, 2015

What's In A Name?

I am a weird little collector of names. The moment I hear one I like I scribble it down in my journal. I think the names of characters are one of the most important elements of any good story.

While I am sure that there are moments in which you can pull any old name out of the hat and it will work, but normally you have to put some more consideration into naming your characters. Here are my tips:

1. Write down, email yourself, text yourself any and all names that you love. I would hate to miss a great name.

2. Watch the initials. Do all of your character's names start with "B" or "N"? If so, maybe you should switch it up a bit.

3. Check on name origins. If you are writing a story about the Irish Mafia but you give all of your characters German first names and Italian last names, you're going to take the reader out of the story.

4. You should also check out name meanings. Sometimes its a good way to subtly say something about the character. Also, instead of naming your character Hunter, you choose Chase because that means hunter. Or instead being in your face by naming a pretty girl Bonita, name her Alannah, which means beautiful.

5. Think about your novels time period and try to keep the name in the same tone. If you are writing a piece about the 18th century you wouldn't want to give your characters modern names (unless it was a fantasy novel, then that may work).

6. Try not to use names that are too long.  Or at least shorten them to nicknames. Typing out names that contain every letter of the alphabet is not only labor intensive to you, but distracting to the reader.

7. Avoid names that sound all the same. Do you have a Dan, Ann, Fran, Stan, and Jan in your story? Maybe you should replace them with their full versions. Daniel, Ann, Francis, Stanley, and Janette don't rhyme and are less likely to annoy the reader of time.

8. If you love a name, fuck the haters. I love my name and I swear, I will have a Vanessa in all of my stories, even if the Vanessa is just a background character! 

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