Defining a Memorable Character Part 3 - The Name

The Name – Defining a Memorable Character Part 3

March 14, 2016 | Writing

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A name in a story is exceptionally important considering when writing, we are only working with words. Defining a name for you character is a critical step to making them memorable and should be distinctive to them.

In the previous post we discussed coming up with personality and physical traits for your character. The character’s personality properties should reflect their physical ones. If the character has conflicting traits, your reader will have a difficult time buying into them.

Complimenting a Character’s Traits.

When picking a name, it should reflect the character’s personality. If a character is a rough-around-the-edges type and takes no prisoners naming him something soft (don’t take offense to this if it’s your name!) like Greggory or Kalan probably isn’t going to fit as well as something like Ace or Maddox.

Original Name or Existing Name?

That is up to you. It can be fun to come up with a completely new word for your character’s name but think about the setting of your book. Is it a drama based in modern times New York? Making a new name probably doesn’t make sense and you’re better off sticking with something like Janet or Rick. If you are writing a fantasy or a science fiction piece, coming up with an original name would fit much better, especially if it is another race.

Pronunciation

It is one thing to come up with a really cool name for a character (especially in fantasy stories) but if no one can pronounce your character’s name then they are going to have a hard time memorizing it the story or telling a friend about the book. A couple of options for tackling this is to include a dictionary on how to pronounce the names in your story. Another option is to change the name to something more simplistic. The name should naturally flow off the tongue when speaking it out loud.

Name Generators

Stuck for a suitable name? Name generators (http://www.behindthename.com/random/) are all over the web for every time of theme (fantasy, gothic, demonic, angelic, military, punk, gangster, etc.). Do a search online and you will be amazed at what you can find for name generators. Another idea is to use a baby naming book, often they include a definition for the name and pronunciation for it. You’ll have a vast pool of names to use for future stories to come.

Once again… Character sheets!

As mentioned in the first blog post and the second, a character sheet is incredibly important to keep track of your character. Now that you have clearly identified their motive and traits, you can add their name to their character sheet. Voila! Your character has been molded and ready to be brought into your story.

There are many additional topics to cover with character creation and this does go beyond just writing novels. Character creation is seen in movies, video games, comics and more. Start paying attention and make note of characters when reading or watching a movie. The more you analyze how other writers implement their characters into stories will help you do the same for yours by identifying what works and what doesn’t work in other people’s work.

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Defining a Memorable Character - Emotional Connection
Defining a Memorable Character Part 2 – Traits
Defining a Memorable Character Part 1 – The Motive