Sunday, June 19, 2011


Is your characters name important?

Some writers have difficulty naming their characters. I find the name of my character influences how the story will go. I am a pantser and my stories are character driven. I set out to write a ghost story for the Y-City Writers Forum anthology: The Y Bridge, but as soon as I put down Amelia, my lead characters name, the story took on a life of its own. So for me, my character's name was very important. Sometimes, as in my case, a name can influence the whole story. Under the Y Bridge became wedding story and not a ghost story, much to my dismay.

For some writers naming characters can be difficult. At times the character doesn't feel right with the chosen name. I have a friend, who had difficulty naming her character. She continued to write the story trying out different names, as if the character were trying on clothes. Then one day the name came to her out of the blue. Thus she had her characters name.

Others just can't name their characters. There are many places you can find names for your characters: Baby name books, genealogy websites, phone books, etc. Like my friend above, you may have to try many out to find the one that fits. Or your character's name could give your story a direction, you had not intended.

So, is the name of your character important? Yes! Could you imagine Harry Potter as Fred Merkelwitz? It's certainly not as easy to say or even to remember as Harry Potter. Or another favorite wizard of mine, Harry Dresden. (What's up with the use of Harry?) They both roll off of the tongue. Although, they have the same first name and both are wizards, I picture two totally different people when I think of their names.

Some names can make you laugh like Eve Coli from a play that I saw on Friday night and combine that with the fact that the woman was the chef... Well, you can imagine that connotation. I love Thursday Next's name in Jasper Fforde's series. It's unusual and easy to remember. It's funny, because once in awhile you will hear someone say, "I'll see you Thursday next."

So, when you are naming your characters, think about what your want your reader to think of when they read the name. A rose has thorns, but it is a beautiful flower that smells sweet, so if you name your character Rose what will your reader think of her?

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