All Posts / Tips and Tricks

Guess who? 

Naming characters can be a little too fun. Some authors get carried away, so I’m going to give you some advise on how to name your characters.

First off, you should probably figure out what sort of name you want and this ranges from being unique (such as Harbuu, Ceris, Draco) to as common as dirt (Alex, June, Harry). Most authors start out wanting all their characters to be special, with unique names that they’ve found online or made up. This goes one of two ways… Either these characters live in the most multicultural place in the universe, or they sound way too cheesy.

There are some exceptions, though. If you want to write a Sci-fi novel or short, your readers probably won’t get how an alien warmonger came to be called Jonathan. Think genre, think culture. Anything outside of Earth might need a solely unique name, and that can be hard. To help, I suggest doing what I did in Purple, I created naming rules for men and women, cities and towns. By creating rules you can more easily make names that don’t sound over the top and you’ll know how to break them.

But let’s scale back a bit. Returning to Earth, you will need to be a bit more careful. Be aware of human cultures. Not all people are of one race and if you want a more diverse, and realistic, selection of characters you should definitely do some research! Naming a Spanish character Fernando Fernandez isn’t technically wrong, but Spanish readers might wonder why every Spanish character in English books has the same name.

To make a character stand out in a novel you might want them to have an unusual name, but what about your character? Someone who thinks they’re utterly normal, who’s thrown into an abnormal situation, could do with a more common name that reflects their humble background, and gives the reader something relatable to hold on to. On the other hand, a special character in a normal background works the other way around. Furthermore, a character that’s charismatic or a show off would definitely be helped out by a more unique name, whereas your socially awkward character would be a bit less keen.

Then there’s name meanings. These are the most fun things in the world, if you can get them right. A character may have a very normal name like David, but actually that comes from Hebrew and means beloved. Pretty handy for your unexpected love-interest. By finding the right meanings you can provide great Easter eggs for your readers to find. Just maybe don’t prioritise these.

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