Your characters are the first thing readers connect with, so choosing their name is an important step in the building that relationship.
Every writer has their own method for finding and choosing character names for their stories. Here are two tips to help with naming your characters.
Coming up with character names isn’t always easy. The hero or heroine names might appear as easily as their face and the story, but secondary characters aren’t always so accommodating.
If you struggle to find names, whether for your main or secondary characters, here are a few places to search for ideas.
The amount of websites with names-both first and family names-is astounding, and that doesn’t even include the sites for baby names. Whether you want to see the most popular names during a specific time period, or the origin or definition of a name, there’s no name that’ll escape you.
No author’s book collection would be complete without at least one baby name book on the shelf. I recommend choosing one that give you the definition and origin of the names. If you don’t have one, I recommend investing in one or even two. Having a names book handy will save you time scrolling through the internet looking for the right site.
Ask Your Readers
Readers love being a part of the writing process, so don’t be afraid to reach out to your audience, either by email or on social media, and ask them. Your readers will be happy to provide a plethora of names, or give you feedback on the one’s you’ve selected.
Be sure to include a couple of sentences describing your character to help readers understand who they are. Knowing a bit about the characters will help readers to decide if the names fit them.
Use Different Letters
Avoid using names that start with the same letter for different characters. I made this mistake in my first self-published book when two of my characters were named Johnson and Jackson. This can make it difficult for readers to remember who’s who.
Fits The Character
Look up the definition or meaning of your character names. Does it fit their characteristics? While it’s not crucial to choosing your name, it might avoid your character deciding they want a new name in the middle of writing the book.
Check The Origin
If your character is Chinese, the last thing you want is to give them a Japanese name. The same is true for choosing a name from the wrong era if you’re writing a historical novel. Readers are smart and will notice if you’ve given your character a name that wasn’t around during the time of your story.
Say Out Loud
Certain names may look cool in print, but when you say them out loud, sound weird and don’t fit your character. In this publishing age when books have audio versions, you want to make sure your character names transition well.
The last thing you want are readers cringing when they hear or say your character names instead of falling in love with them.
Consider The Genre
If you’re writing a story set on mars, and in the future, naming your character Mary might not be realistic or practical. Your character names should reflect the setting and time, help ground readers into your world and the people they’ll meet while reading.
Choosing a name is the first crucial step to developing your characters and the relationship they’ll have with readers. You want readers to fall in love with your characters enough to continue reading your story to find out what happens to them.
How do you pick your characters’ names? Is it random or do you have a special method?