Characters Names

A character has to fit a name or the name fit the character; often easier said than done. Where do you find names for those who people your fiction?  The phone directory, inscriptions on grave stones perhaps? Or do you get revenge on someone who once crossed you by using their name for the least likeable person in your story.  A former school teacher might be  case in point.

Just as we take care in naming our physical children, so too we take care in naming our imaginary characters. A name can say so much, even set the tone of a story.  It is very hard to picture Godzilla Clatterborne as a fountain of all serenity and goodness. On the other hand Primrose Faregood just doesn’t ‘feel’ right as a revengeful murderer.

Then, just as in everyday life, there are no absolutes and having our beloved Primrose as a knife wielding, tattooed and pierced, biker confounds expectations and stereotypes.  There are no limits on what the imagination conjures.

When naming your characters which comes first, name or personality?  And what sources do you use for inspiration in naming them.  Perhaps they appear named and fully formed in your subconscious.

Plod on.

Happy writing.




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4 responses to “Characters Names

  1. I’d say it could be dangerous to name a baddie after someone you hated if he or she is still alive! There’s no doubt that a bullying boss, a sanctimonious acquaintance or the teacher with a vicious tongue are all good material, but if you are going to plunder your own life avoid the law courts.

    If your character is based on a flesh and blood person make sure the fictional name is radically different to their real life one. AND that includes the good guys. Legal action was taken against Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, by a maid working for a family member who had a name similar to the main character. Now in this instance the author denied any connection between the two and the case was dismissed, but it started me thinking… Better that Marianne becomes Bertha than she morphs into a Marilyn.


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