THE ONLY 3 THINGS THAT REALLY MATTER IN CHARACTER NAMES




Today's post is partly inspired by one of my favorite Peanuts strips. I've silently (or not) echoed Lucy's thoughts more than once!


There are so many bits of advice out there about naming characters in fiction. Consider the sounds! Think of the origins! Never have two characters whose names start with the same letter! Do any other famous characters/real-life people have those names? How many syllables does the name have? What does it mean?


Admittedly, I'm a nerd, so all those things have played into my character-naming decisions before. But ultimately, there are really only three things that matter when figuring out what you'll call a character:


  • Do you like the name? (You'll be encountering it a lot as you write, reread, and edit, so this is important.)

  • Does it fit the character and setting? (For example, a medieval character named Alex sounds really out of place.)

  • Is it identical/similar to famous or overused names in your genre? (If you're writing, say, paranormal romance, you probably shouldn't name a male love interest Edward or Jacob.)


All other factors are window dressing. You can use them to add layers of complexity to your book (e.g., characters from different fantasy kingdoms have names that originate from different cultures/languages), but that's not required.


In fact, if all else fails, you can just pick a placeholder name and use your search-and-replace function to change it when you come up with a better one. Character names do matter, but readers care much more about whether the story about those characters is compelling and entertaining. (How many readers are going to know the meanings of names off the tops of their heads, anyway?)


Write on,

Candice


(Photo: Jon Tyson, Unsplash)

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