Choosing Character Names

Character Creation Series

Juliet: O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father, and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.
. . .
’Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself though, not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O! be some other name:
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.

(Source: Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet)

A name is the most important part of a person. Without it, it can be hard to distinguish one person from another. How many times have you asked yourself “…what’s their name?” when you try to remember a person, but their face becomes a blank slate because you can’t put a name to it? You take if for granted but a name, your name, is important. It is for you character too.

One time, as a writing challenge from my boyfriend, I tried to write a story that didn’t include names. I still have it and after a few more revisions, I’ll remember to post it later for all of you lovelies to rip it into shreds. 😉

Sometimes you when you create a character you already have a name in mind, or maybe just a nickname. Then you have times where you only have a face but no name to put to it. Hopefully this post can help you with the latter.

While working on the character profile for my main character, I realized that I only had a nickname for her. Mainly it’s the name she is called the most often in the series, but I had no idea as to what her last name would be, or even her real full name. Her parent’s were nameless. All she was was a face to me, and it desperately needed to be fixed if I am to go anywhere with this story.

So I started thinking about my character: what she is, her heritage, what she was to become. It’s a lot to take in consideration when you give a character a name. I wonder if it is this hard for parents. Her father was Irish, her mom Italian. She is also a little bit ashamed of what she really is and how it keeps her from being normal. From there I started searching the baby naming websites, and the sites that tell you the meanings behind names and surnames. The last name part was a hard one. It took me almost an hour or two to create the name for my main character, along with those of her parents. (I even got her mother’s maiden name!)

I like choosing names that have special meanings to them. It gives them a new importance to the story. For example in my favorite urban fantasy novels the Mercy Thompson Series the fae are brought into the Mercy Universe and with it the power of the name. In old fairy tales knowing the true name of a fae is to control it. The same applies to your characters, to know their name is to give them life.

Have you had a hard time choosing names for characters? Do you have a specific way of choosing them?

Please let me know in the comment section below.

Don’t Forget to Check Out the Other Posts for Character Creation:

Making Character Profiles in Fiction

It’s Just A Bunch of Backstory

Character Interviews

She’s Got the Look – Character Appearances

Character Opinions

Character Motivation

Character Relationships

Character Speech Patterns

Creating Flaws

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2 thoughts on “Choosing Character Names

  1. I do like when character names have a meaning, though mine aren’t always chosen that way 😀 Sometimes a name will pop up in my head and I just know it’s perfect.

    Great post! 🙂

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