Names are important. There is a big difference between a Tommy and a Guido, an Elizabeth and a Susie and a name can set the tone. I generally write about ordinary people with everyday problems and I want my characters to have ordinary, functional names. I have never used old fashioned names like Titus Hunfrid and Jabez Sloughfinger but I might consider them if I were to write historical fiction. At least they would be memorable.
A nameless character has no character at all. By naming your characters before you begin your novel the person immediately takes on a personality of their own. The right name connects with the reader but if you are too creative it can be a distraction.
Suppose your novel is set in Victorian era England. the first names you might think of are: George, John, Margaret, Rose, Charles, Samuel, and Edith.
Imagine if your novel is set in colonized Mars circa 2089. You might have Kel, Ambrose, Stone, Finn, or Caris. Because it’s set in a future that no one knows, you have more wiggle room to predict trends.
How to choose a modern name?
Elvis is questionable. Beyonce is pushing it. Adolf is not okay.
- borrow a name from a friend – computer – place
- think about age
- say the name out loud
- check the meaning
- know the era
- look at the number of syllables
- match name to geography
- consider using initials
- rethink the name before deciding
If the name has a pleasing roll and identifies with the character you have aced it.
“Linda has published fifteen books. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on the challenges a writer faces, including marketing and promoting your work, how to build your online platform, how to get reviews and how to self-publish.”