Picking a name for a character deserves as much attention as your plot does. It has to be a name that fits your character, or it could throw the reader off.
There are a few rules in what names you use for your characters.
Does it fit the time frame of your novel?
If it takes place in the 1800’s the name Parker wouldn’t work as well as Thomas would.
And the problem with Parker is it could be used as a girls or boy’s name. This could confuse the reader. You will have to make the character unique so the reader will know it is a girl’s name. Give her a little back story as to why her parents gave her that name.
Another problem in naming your character is to make it sound different from other names in your book.
It’s different when you can see the character in a movie or show but in a book the reader only has what description you reveal.
For instance. Jenny could be confused with Abbey. Landon could be confused with Brayden. Sarah could be confused with Tara. Try to give them all a unique name to not only give the reader less confusion but you as a writer less confusion.
Make the name start with a different letter than the other characters.
If you have a Sue and a Sandy, the reader may also get confused and read the name wrong and the story will start not to make sense to them.
Pick a name you will like for the character as if you are naming your child. There are times through the book that I decided the name I picked for the character doesn’t work. I then go back to the drawing board and choose a different name. If you do this be sure you go back through what you have written and change the name everywhere in the novel.
If you are writing in a word document, you can make it a little easier on yourself by using the find and replace feature. But still be sure to go back and make sure it’s all changed. Especially if you are self-publishing the book.
Another key point is to make sure it’s not a name that the readers will be tripping over every time they read it.
It will take them out of the story and make it harder for them to want to continue to read your book. This is not as important for secondary characters that are not in the book much.
If you are writing a series the name game is even more important.
You will have several books with the same characters so you will have to be especially careful to have different sounding names. If you have several books in the series, you may have to have the same sounding names or names that begin with the same letter. In this case, it can’t be helped but try to make those characters share the same book.
We think as a writer you can play with names and give them any name you want, but you have to be as strategic with names as you do with anything else with the story.
If this post has helped you, please share it. Be sure to leave a comment as to how you pick your names for your books.