Name Those Characters!

I was sitting in a NaNo group chat the other day, and the question of how to choose names for characters and worlds came up.

I suppose that if anything is going to stop your novel, this would be the very first roadblock to getting that book written. I suppose, that in theory, someone could write an entire novel about someone that doesn't know their name. But at some point, the readers are really, really want to know that main character's name.

Not to mention, it can help you understand your character better when you have a name to refer to. When you meet someone in the real world, that's rather the first bit of information that you exchange, after all. As a storyteller, you need to have more than a passing knowledge of your characters. You need to know them as intimately as you would yourself or a real life lover. What makes them tick? What makes them ticked off.

How can you possibly get to that depth of knowledge without a great name?

sage wolfsong blog graphic writers workshop naming characters

Admittedly, I had way more fun naming my characters for my fantasy series than I did for my contemporary fiction. But that's just me. Most of my characters also tend to introduce themselves to me when they bring me their story, but then.. they bring along all these secondary characters that don't always have names. For those, I go use Behind the Name's generator, and plug in the appropriate cultural requirements, then crank them out en masse (not so randomly, though.. I do tend to toss a few out in the process that are just way to weird for me) after I have general profiles for each of these supporting people.

And... I go to places like the NaNoWriMo website and find pep and prep talks like this one, from Melissa L. Rose, about naming characters.


*This post originally appeared on one of my old blogs, on Oct. 19, 2016. I will be moving the blog posts over there to sagewolfsong.com gradually.*

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