2016 A to Z Challenge: N is for Naming Characters

2016AtoZDay14

One of the most difficult tasks I do as a writer is naming characters. I think in order to make a character more realistic, he needs to have the right name. I feel like when we listen to our characters, they’ll let us know their names. The same way in what we name our children. Something in our conscience tells us that the name feels right. It’s kind of instinctive.

At the same time, what we name our characters depends on the genre of literature. As such, there is some research involved when naming our characters. For instance, historical fiction characters are going to be more rigid than those of contemporary fiction. In the same respect, characters are speculative fiction are going to have more room for creativity.

When it comes to creating names, I try to pay attention to what’s out there in my everyday life. Whether I’m at work or vegging out, I try to keep my eye out for combinations that speak to me; combinations that sound unique or common names that make for interesting pairings. On my Pinterest board, I have pins that have names from specific time frames or nationalities. I make note of the ones that speak to me the most.

Like I said, naming characters is not an exact science, but I find it to be fun.

What say you? Is naming characters easy or difficult? How do you come up with character names?

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Author: G. R. McNeese

I'm originally from Illinois, currently residing in Georgia. I graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Creative Writing. I am blessed with a supportive wife and family.

7 thoughts on “2016 A to Z Challenge: N is for Naming Characters”

  1. Naming characters is one of the hardest things for me when it comes to writing. I can try out several but always end up agonizing over it – especially the Main ones. I write almost always Fantasy so I don’t really have to pay attention to what’s ok (even though the name has to work within my made-up culture), but still the name has to be _right_ before I can even start to get into the character’s head. It’s very frustrating.

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  2. Read a name and your mind creates an image. This is so different from real life. My name is Keith, but I’m not a Keith! I try to choose names that are perhaps gritty; Gareth, or gentle; Sophie. But when I’m writing something intended to surprise or shock I choose the most unlikely names. Seems to work!

    A bit of A-Z nonsense!

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