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Friday, 10 June 2011

Bella Swan, Sookie Stackhouse. Crafting Your Characters Name

A characters name can either make or brake a book. A warrior hero called Fred or Cyril would definitely lose your readers interest. Or maybe even stop them picking up your book. A characters name can reveal not only their gender but also his or hers nationality,ethnicity, social status and sometimes religion.
An example of a name revealing a characters social status is that of Fitzwilliam Darcy in Jane Austins Pride and Prejudice. Here is a pic to sigh over

You could not imagine a male with that name working down the coal mines in eighteenth century England. The name projects an image of high status, education and wealth.
Names an also be used to conjure a picture of their appearance and personality in the readers mind. In Louisa May Alcotts novel Little women the character Josephine March goes by the nickname Jo. This masculine name emphasize her tomboy nature.
The writer Charles Dickens was a genius at creating names for his heroes, heroines and villains. Take a look at this list of his fictional characters. 

If you are having trouble thinking of a suitable surname just pick up your nearest phonebook!

In today's modern world author J R Ward uses dark, dangerous sounding monikers for her heroes in her Black Dagger Brothers series. The names she uses suggests the characters personalities and even the direction of the story. For example the character Rhage battles his emotions and when angered turns into an attacking beast. The character of Vishous? Well, lets just say he is an S & M fan.

The author Stephenie Meyer`s choice of “Bella Swan” for the name of her awkward, plain, depressive heroin reminds of the children's story of The Ugly Duckling. In the tale the sad ugly duckling who is an outcast in his world grows into a beautiful swan. A clever play on words.

Think very carefully when choosing your characters names. Avoid androgynous names as they would just confuse the reader. Avoid weird or cute spellings as they would just irritate.Avoid names that are too popular or belong to a famous person as again it would just irritate and distract from the story. Make sure the name reflects the time period. But most importantly remember that names can reflect the character and make or break a story.


  1. I once read (in a QPB calendar) that the way to name a fantasy character is to look out the window, name the first three things you see, and smash them together: beer bottle - gutter - dead dog = Butterdog!

    In my short story "Herbert," I had the heroine name her son Herbert in the hopes that he wouldn't turn out to be a smooth-talking seducer like his absentee father. It didn't work.

  2. LOL reminds me of the method I have heard for finding your porn star name. Take the name of your first ever pet and the name of the first street you lived on. Mine would be Fluffy Stonehouse!!
    Come on fellow bloggers tell me your porn star name!

  3. Mine would be Amber Blyler, but my mom's is even better. She grew up on a new road that didn't have a name yet, so they called it X Street. Her porn star name would be Midnight X!