Writers have the Power to change the World

Choosing the Right Names for Your Characters is Crucial

Choosing the Right Names for Your Characters is Crucial

Have you struggled to find a name for your protagonist? Are you guilty of Googling “Examples of Male names for a story”? I’ve been there. In my first book, “My Love is Deep“, Peter and Briana (not a typo, that’s how she spells it), were very close to being named Patrick and Beth. Why did I change their names? The ones I initially chose simply didn’t feel right and that’s where following your gut instinct comes in.

Just as in writing the actual story, every thing related should also come from your intuition, or, as I like to say, “listen to your heart.” Close Google. What does it know, anyway? You are the one who has written an original work and you are the one who has explored every nuance a million times over. Only you can choose the right names.

It’s true that to my readers, had they read about Patrick and Beth’s love story, they would have never known the difference. However, as the author, choosing the right names is exactly the same as parents stressing over what to call their human child. I would have forever felt like I did my characters a disservice.

Imagine if Margaret Mitchell had named her famous character “Eugene Butler”. Again, we, as readers, would not have been privy to the author’s thought process nor to the fact that “Rhett” was even a possible moniker. We would have forever known the handsome, devilish rogue as “Eugene” but, frankly, we are all silently thanking Miss Mitchell for ultimately choosing Rhett as his name.

If you are struggling with this very thing, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Say the name out loud. Does it roll off the tongue?
  • Will it take a rocket scientist to try to determine how to pronounce the name? Is it Jadee when you really mean Jade?
  • Is it a classic name? One that can withstand the test of time? My protagonist’s last name is Travis. I.e. Peter Travis, which I think is a timeless name exuding the very strength my character possesses. Take a lesson from the Kardashian’s usual faux pas and stick with something classic.
  • Take into consideration the genre. If you are writing a romance, do you want the heroine to call out the name “Harry” in a moment of passion? Does the evil villain’s name in your thriller match his personality? Just as you want your cover photo to depict the very characters inside, you want your character’s names to match the personality traits you bestowed on them. (Side note: I did once see a blond male on the cover of a book, only to find out that he’s a brunette. It struck me as odd and it was entirely distracting when trying to read about this dark-haired man who was portrayed on the cover as blond.)
  • Conversely, you don’t want to fall into the trap of calling your male lead something that will make your readers roll their eyes, such as “Buck Stallion”.

Close your eyes, breathe and let the name come to you. It will. If you have to change it a hundred times before publishing the work, do it, but only because your heart is telling you to. It will make a difference. Trust me. You can’t market something you are not happy with.

Shakespeare enlightened us when he wrote, “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” My apologies to the Bard, but in this case, a name is everything. Sorry, Will.

Barbara Avon is the author of ten novels spanning several genres. She is also the author of three children’s books. In 2017, Avon won second place in FACES Magazine “Best of Ottawa” awards in the female author category.  In 2018, she was once again nominated and won in her category.  She vows to write until her pen runs dry.

Leave a Review

One of the best ways to help the Author is to leave a review.
Nobody yet left a rating. Be first?
Click a star to add your rating
5.0 Rating From 1 Reviews.
on 09, Apr 2018
Great points and a funny portrayal of the lesson at hand making this a good read. Shared with my FB group.
Shawn

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Udemy Academy Courses

MASTER NEW SKILLS & ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS

Twitter For Authors: Book Marketing and Brand Building

How to use Twitter to market your books and build a large following of responsive readers in 20 minutes per day.How to use Twitter to market your books and build a large following of responsive readers in 20 minutes per day.

Become an Author: Write Self-Publish & Sell Books on Amazon

Are you an expert who wants to build your brand? Learn how to write a book, how to self publish a book & sell books
Are you an expert who wants to build your brand? Learn how to write a book, how to self publish a book & sell books

View More Udemy Courses

GET INSPIRED!

This information will NEVER be shared or sold to a third party.

Sign up for exclusive offers and instant access to our latest articles.