Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's in a name? Plenty...

As with naming your kids, naming your character is very important to the success of your story. You want to pick a name that fits your hero or heronie's personality and is cool at the same time. I've read plenty of stories where the name just doesn't fit the heroine and I spend the rest of my time wondering why he's named "x" not "y"  instead of enjoying the story. Keeping a list of names you like or using one of the baby naming sites is fine, but how do you choose the right name from thousands of choices? I have come up with a few guidelines:
  • Make sure that its easy to pronounce - There's nothing worse than stumbling over the hero's name every time he makes and appearence. It's also fine to take a popular name and give it an unusual spelling, but make sure you tell us how to say it or else we won't.
  • Take ethnicity, background into account - If your hero is hispanic, why are you going to give him the name Ken? The same goes for naming all of your ethnic characters the same ones that other authors have already used like Carlos. Please pick something else.
  • Meaning vs Substance - Sometimes it's necessary to name the character something that has a meaning to it. That's fine, but make sure that we are clear on what that meaning is. Don't just mention it once and never again in the story. Make sure the meaning becomes and underlying theme or back story.
  • Tough guy, wimpy name - If your character is strong, make sure the name is too. There's nothing worse reading about a rugged, cowboy who doesn't have a name to match. The same goes for your heroine. If she's strong, don't pick Jennifer because it's the first one that came up on the baby name list. Pick one that is strong and feminine at the same time.
If you follow these guideline, you will be sure to pick a name for your character that is as unique and exciting as your story.

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