Naming Characters

E. Tip of the Week:

A name is a great way to add more depth/backstory to a character’s background. Usually when an author uses a name of foreign origin, there’s a reason and a backstory that goes with it. For instance, using the name Nikita: perhaps Nikita’s family roots are Slavic and her mother wanted her to have a traditional Slavic name even though her family lives in the U.S. To learn more about her family roots and the meaning of her name, Nikita might explore the region where her ancestors once lived. This could be a journey she might not otherwise take, but because of her name’s origin, she’s curious.

Another way to add more depth to your character is by making their name an unusual spelling. My parents named me Brittiany, with an extra “i” in there. I have a few theories why my mother spelled my name differently–one of them being she just wanted my name to be special.

However, using a different spelling can sometimes lead to confusion with your readers. They may not know how to pronounce the name in their head, and could stumble upon it, taking them out of the story. So, be very cautious when using an unusual spelling. A lot of people pronounce my name Brit-ti-a-nee because of that extra ‘i’. It’s just Brit-nee.

I get questions like “Did you realize there’s an extra ‘i’ in your name?” all the time. “Yes,” I tell them. “I’m aware, and thank you for spelling my name correctly.” I’ve yet to meet someone with the exact spelling of my name.

But a unique name can be a great ice-breaker. I love the story I can share with people when I meet them for the first time, and they ask me about my name. 🙂

To find a unique character name, go to a baby names website, or get a few baby names books from the library. Find a name that has the meaning of what you’re trying to portray for the character. You might be surprised at what you find. Good luck!

Brittiany

Brittiany has over 15 years experience in the editorial field. See her full bio on the Written Dreams website: https://writtendreams.com/

One thought to “Naming Characters”

  1. I’ve found Google to be a great help. When I’m naming characters, I take into consideration their age as well as their ethnicity. Was you character born in 1945? Odds are, her name won’t be Tiffany. I’ll Google, “Female names, 1945” to find which ones were popular there.
    And then, be sure you keep track of them so you don’t have a Mack, Mike, Mark, in the same book. Naming characters with similar names may work great in families, but it will drive your readers crazy trying to keep track of them.

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