For me, finding the perfect name for a character is an important part of understanding who they are. Personally, I like my main characters to have names that may not be current, but can hold their own in YA/NA, science fiction and fantasy novels. My main character in EVO Nation is Theyda Leason. However, she doesn’t go by the name Theyda (reasons why in the novel), but uses her nickname, Teddie. As soon as I happened upon the name Teddie, I knew that was her name. It was a gut instinct, Frankenstein- ‘She is alive’, moment.
- Gut instinct: Always and foremost go with what feels right. A perfect name is only perfect because it feels that way to the author, and hopefully, the reader.
- Google it: Run all possible name combinations through Google to make sure that there isn’t a famous person or politician with the same name.
- Weird spellings: Avoid unusual spellings where possible. I cannot stand names that I may or may not be pronouncing correctly. It is jarring for me as a reader.
- Age appropriate: For example, if you are writing a contemporary, young adult, romance novel, your characters might not all be called Ethel, Mildred, and Tarquin. If you are writing a Victorian regency novel the names Chardonnay and Ikea wouldn’t fit the era.
- Meanings: This is not a necessity, but I like to know the meaning of a name. Get a name book or Google your name to find the meanings. Some names fit a personality perfectly, or some may have an unpleasant meaning. This doesn’t mean I don’t use the name, but I am sometimes inspired to add a character trait or two.
- Not too samey samey: Say your chosen name aloud along with other character names. Anna and Hannah don’t work well together. And names that can be used as a nickname for another character’s name may be confusing to the reader, such as James and Jamie.
- Listen and look: Keep your ears out and eyes peeled when out and about. Listen for names and take in the description of that person. It may inspire a character, or throw a unique name into your repertoire.
- Preconceptions: Certain names have preconceptions attached to them. For example, the name Jezebel is a pretty name, but suggests a scheming, immoral woman, and has biblical references. By all means, use such a name and bring a new dimension to it, but bear in mind that people may stereotype your character.
I love stumbling across an interesting name, whether it be on a grave stone, in a local paper, or on a park bench. Here are ten of my recent name finds: (you may have heard of them before, but I hadn’t, and I had to jot them down).
- Meynell (F/M)
- Lovell (M)
- Brier (F)
- Melrose (F)
- Albion (M)
- Tayah (F)
- Merrily (F)
- Reve (F/M)
- East (M)
- Reina (F)
Content belongs to KJ.Chapman