Naming Your Character

Sheenah Archive, Writing Advice 2 Comments


A concept page of one of minor characters, Alona.

Naming your character can be just as important as developing your character. Do you really want to name your main character, Bob, or do you want to give your character a name that means something? J.K. Rowling (whom you should all know I idolize by now) gave her characters clever names, that at first glance, you wouldn’t realize actually meant anything like Sirius Black or Remus Lupin. Suzanne Collins also incorporated meaningful names in The Hunger Games.

Most of the time, I have a word in mind that I want to use for a meaning behind a name and then start to look for names related to that. If you look over at the picture on the right, you’ll see a conceptual page of one of my minor characters from The Number, a dryad named Alona. For some reason, I was having problems coming up with a proper name for her. So I took my favorite picks of the names I came across for her and grabbed the sketch of her and said the name aloud while looking at her. The one that really resonated with her face and who she is was Alona. She was happy with it so I was happy with it.

Obviously a meaningful name isn’t necessary for every situation. There are plenty of parents who pick out a name for their baby just because they like the name. And truth be told, I’ve named more than a handful of my own characters randomly just because I liked the name, too. But if you’re ever stuck, why not give them a unique moniker? Sometimes a silly name like Pippi Longstocking can be so catchy, that your readers will always remember it (besides, she did wear longstockings, so it makes sense).

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  1. When I’m starting a new project, I can spend hours upon hours on baby name websites trying to find a name with a meaning that fits the character, but also sounds right. It’s another one of my methods of productive procrastination. 🙂

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