Trouble Naming Your Characters?
Here are some hints:
- The name should fit the character – I doubt Bruce Wayne (Batman) would have sounded better as Eugene Rawlings. But then Eugene Rawlings might fit a bumbling, intellectual character more than a streetwise kid from New York. So remember to ask some questions.
Where does your character comes from?
What name fits their background and personality?
How do they feel about their name?
Are they from a particular culture or background?
- Have some sympathy for your reader’s attention span – I don’t know about everyone else but I’ve closed books in the first page because there’s either too many made up names to remember or the made-up names are too complex. If you need to create fantasy names try to keep it simple. Use sounds and words that people are more likely to understand.
You can pick real place names and scramble or remove a few letters. I.e Louisiana could be Losana, Liana, etc. Names with only one or two syllables will be easier to read and remember than something like Xythllaxc.
- Research Name Etymology – This is the meaning and history of a name. You can find a wealth of information on this. Look through baby naming sites such as: http://babynamesworld.parentsconnect.com/ and http://www.babynames.co.uk/. You’ll often come across mythological names as well on your travels and sometimes will fit the name meaning to the character’s personality. If you’re on holiday abroad you can also pick up local baby name books. I got a book of Celtic names I just happened to spot when I was in Ireland.
- MS Word – If you’ve written over a hundred pages and decided that you really don’t like the name you’ve used for you character then take advantage of the find and replace feature in word. This can be found in the top-right hand corner in Office Word 7 and in the Edit menu at the top in Office XP. Also you can add your made up words to your dictionary when you check the spelling so that you don’t have to keep hitting ignore.
- Don’t forget about cultural differences? – Remember that many cultures (such as Chinese and Japanese) have their family name first and their first name last. So Paul Smith would be Smith Paul. Also, many Chinese-Americans or Chinese-British will have a Chinese name and an English name. I.e David Chan. Don’t forget to check this information when writing or revising your work.
Random Culture Note: The Japanese language consists of certain phonetic sounds and does not contain the letter L. R is usually substituted and it is written based of their sound system. So Leanne would be Riian pronounced Rii (Ree) an. They also use the surname first and have a suffix added to the name to indicate their position in society and the level of formality.
I.e Mr Paul Smith would commonly be known as Sumisu-San or (if he was a child) Sumisu-Kun