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My Name Is? 5/3/15

In Writing on February 5, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Naming characters in your stories can be tough. One of the biggest problems I have, is remembering what I’ve named peripheral characters. Of course I write them down, but whether or not I can find my notebook of names at that very moment- well -we’ve already discussed the cyclone that develops around my desk as I write. (Already been down the dry-erase route, bulletin board, etc.)

I have a few baby name books (picked up for pennies in thrift shops), and obviously there are a lot of baby name sites, many of which divide names into categories. One of the books I have is called ‘Cool Names’ and of course, practically none of them are.  Some  chapters collect celebrity baby names, musician names, literary names, rapper names ,etc. Many are ridiculous- but my point is that there are numerous sources. And sometimes you need a douchey name for a- not so great character!

Personally, I would never, ever use someone’s real name for a character based on them, for a myriad of reasons. I would feel like my hands were tied as to what attributes I could assign to them, and I would feel them metaphorically looking over my shoulder. Not good for honest writing. However, I will often use their real name temporarily, then replace it with a fictional name in the final draft. It’s just easier to write about someone using their actual name, and not having to ‘check your files’ They’ll never know.

I also check lists for the most popular names of 1985-or whatever year I’m writing about (and based on the age of the character. Someone who’s twenty in 1985- would likely be named from the popular names list of 1965- and so forth) There are lists of popular surnames as well, often alphabetical. Compared to creating a story, naming your characters is often the least difficult task- and sometimes it can be almost fun. It’s where you filed all of that ‘fun’ that can sometimes present a hurdle.

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  1. Thanks for sharing our post on naming characters! Great point about considering the character’s age and making sure to think about names from their birth year.

    Heather
    TWL Assistant Editor

    Like

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