|Photo credit: Chapendra on Flickr|
For me, the process of naming characters varies from character to character. Sometimes I come across a name that I love and I build a character around the name, while other times I work out just about everything about the character and still don't have a name by the end of my brainstorming.
Naming characters isn't always as simple as it sounds, because there are many different factors that must be considered when choosing a name, such as...
- Setting. Are you writing a fantasy novel based in a time period similar to the medieval times? Then your main character's name probably shouldn't be Cayden Smith or Taryn Brown or Xander Johnson. The names you choose for your characters should fit in naturally with the world you've created. Severus Snape, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin all sound like they come from the same world as do Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark and Finnick Odair. Try putting any one of them into the cast of, say, The Lord of the Rings, and they would sound pretty strange standing next to Aragorn son of Arathorn, Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee.
- Meaning. How much stock you give the meaning of your character's name will vary from person to person, but as we get to choose everything about our characters, it's not uncommon for writers to take a good look at the meaning of a name before choosing one. If you're unsure about the meaning of a name, here are a lot of great websites that will show you tons of information about names including 20000-names and behindthename.
- Personality. Regardless of whether you want the name to fit your character or if you want your character's name to act as a contrast, personality must also be taken into account. The names you choose should fit your characters one way or another.
Of course there are other factors to consider as well—sometimes, for example, characters will choose to change or shorten their names or have their names shortened for them, which often signifies a shift in the character (i.e.: Beatrice to Tris in Divergent by Veronica Roth or Augustus to Gus in The Fault in Our Stars by John Green). Other times a character will lie about their name or choose to rename themselves entirely, which also brings attention to their new chosen name.
Naming your characters is a process that should be given plenty of thought, and it's not always an easy decision, but with the help of some brainstorming, research and sometimes feedback, you'll know when the right name for your character has presented itself.
How do you choose names for your characters? Do you have any character naming tips?