In writing novels, one of the more difficult things for me is naming a character. This is especially true for the bad guys, though sometimes it’s true for the hero/heroine too
5 Tips for Naming Characters
- Make it easy to pronounce. Imagine you’re reading along and a new character is introduced. No problem, right? Well, no problem unless you can’t say the character’s name. Even foreign names can be pronounceable for native English speakers.
- Avoid similar names for multiple characters. If you have a character named John, you probably don’t want a Jonathon and a Johnny. There are situations where this might be appropriate, but for the most part, you want to avoid the confusion this would cause.
- Consider the time period. While some names are common throughout time, spelling variations are important. At the same time, some names are too modern (or too old) for the time period you may be writing about. While you have to be careful about word usage and research when words were first used, the same is true for names.
- Consider the character’s age. This is similar to the tip above. While Irene may be a good name in the 1920s, it would be considered too old for an 8-year-old girl in 2020.
- Consider the character’s background. Where is your character from? Their nationality, region in which they live, and even their socioeconomic status influence their name and/or nickname.
Picking Character Names
When you choose a name for your character, understand the process may be different for each character. For example, I have one character (in an unpublished novel) who walked around in my head for two weeks telling me all about herself. Then, one day when I was washing my hair, she told me her name.
You might have characters tell you about them in a dream. (Kiernan of Kiernan’s Curse did that to me.)
Another character might show up in your morning pages/journaling.
This just means there is no right or wrong way to pick your characters’ names. You could even read through baby name books or websites.
Creating Unique Names
For fantasy novels, you could use someone’s name backwards. (Nylhsa, a character in a fantasy short story, was name after one of my nieces.) There may be other methods for naming science fiction characters. You would need to research that, as you do with anything else pertaining to your novel or short story.
One thing to remember: A sci-if name doesn’t have to sound alien to be used. Earth-based names or nicknames are acceptable.
Name a Character for Me
I am in need of a character’s name in my current novel. It is book 2 of the RealmWalker series. I’d like your help in naming him. Here is what you need to know:
- He is a pseudo-villain. He doesn’t see himself that way, of course.
- He is a doctor.
- He is about 50-55 years old.
- He convinces seriously ill patients, typically teenagers, to kill themselves because they’re a burden to their families because their treatment is so expensive.
- He has no children of his own, though he is married.
- He is a minor character in the book.
When I get the entries, I will enter them into a random number generator. If your name wins, you will be mentioned in the acknowledgments of the book and receive a free Kindle copy of the book/ Entries should be received by April 30, 2022.