How to Name Your Characters for Your Novel?

Last updated on March 23, 2020
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    “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” However, writers would beg to differ. Naming characters sometimes prove to be more tedious than writing the actual story. We live in a world where various connotations are associated with every name. The name Leia now has a cult following after Princess Leia of Star Wars.

    Princess Leia Star Wars
    Image Credit: Lucasfilm

    Similarly, the name Anne became associated with a girl with bright red hair from Anne of Green Gables. In our Indian mythology, too, we have borrowed names constantly from our Gods and Goddesses. So, how should you go about it when you are naming the characters for your story? 

    Well, first of all, you need to ask yourself a few questions. 

    What is the purpose of the character in the story? Are they the protagonist, the antagonist, or the sidekick or the catalyst? A lot depends on their personalities, to be honest. 

    Once you clear that up, the next question is, should you give them a unique name or a relatable one? Do you want people to be able to recall your characters’ names easily, or do you want them to remember the characteristics first? If it’s the latter, go for a unique name. Besides, as writers, we are always trying to introduce characters who are a force of their own. 

    However, it would not be wise to name a spunky, young character, a name that sounds wise. Although the wise old person was once young, somehow, it doesn’t fit well. A heavy name never quite rolls off the tongue when your characters are young. Maybe that’s why J. K. Rowling named her young boy wizard Harry Potter instead of Henry Potter. The age of the characters you are writing also becomes important. In fact, if they are teenagers, they would hate whatever name you give them. Because that’s how most teens just are. 

    Harry Potter
    Image Credit: Warner Bros.

    This brings another interesting point that one could consider while writing a story. Should you name tour character after someone? My mother always told me that a few cultures do not name babies after family members who are still living. While other cultures think of this as an honor. For my own part, I do not name characters after people. I like creating fictional versions of characters in my books. It’s just more fun that way. However, if I do come across a name that sticks in my brain for too long, I tend to use you for a story down the line. It’s like how country singer Dolly Patron wrote her song, Jolene. She met a young fan with the name, and Ms Patron liked the name so much she declared she would write a song on it someday. 

    Finally, it is wise to create a name bank for all the unique and unusual names you come across. Because, let’s face it – as writers, we tend to treat the world as our material for the next story. 

    So the next time you are stuck, trying to figure out what to name your characters, might we suggest that you scan through this article and use the suggestion that suits you best! 

    Let us know in the comments section if this article was helpful to you. 

    Last updated on March 23, 2020
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