Naming Characters come from Background and Setting
You have probably noticed if you’re a frequent reader, that names in a book vary according to the time the story of the book revolves around and the story’s setting. Naming the characters in the story also critically depends on their backstory, their country of origin, their religion, and specifically, their gender. As you read the infamous classics “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee or “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, based in the 1960s and early 1800s.
Role of Characters
For example, let’s examine famous novels such as “The Hundred and One Dalmatians” and its Disney adaptations. The main antagonist in the book is a character named Cruella de Vil. Cruella is a cruel and ruthless woman with the intention of harming animals. Her name is a combination of “cruel” and “devil,” emphasizing her role in the book.
Inspiration for Character Names in your Book
Wikipedia – for naming characters in a story
Online character Name generators
Here are a few:
Tips to Keep in Mind While Naming Your Character
For an ordinary story, the name should be eye-catching. However, with a complex plot and details to remember, you can also give a fairly easy name. For example, a simple name like Harry from J.K. Rowling’s famous series “Harry Potter” can engage readers as he embarks on a series of magical adventures after discovering he is a wizard.
- Stereotypical names:
Beware of names that shrink the globalization and relatability of your story by enunciating bias or ethnic barriers. Use names that are diverse and enhance the overall representation of your fictional character.
- Effectiveness of pronunciation and readability:
As tempted as you would be to use a name that your readers have never heard of, do keep in mind that difficult-to-pronounce names can hinder the readability of your book and instantly break the reader’s interest. Keep your name unique, but also easy to pronounce and readable. Ensure there is a cohesive feel between the name and your book.
Naming your fictional character in an effective way could also include names that portray the nature of the character and provide insight and hints to your readers. A symbolic name in a movie or book carries a deeper meaning and represents certain qualities, themes, or concepts within the story. Here are a few examples of characters with symbolic names, like Ophelia from Hamlet. Her name is derived from the Greek word “Ophelos,” meaning “help” or “benefit.” It symbolizes her role as a victim of circumstance and her tragic fate.
- Assonance and Alliteration:
Readers are more likely to grasp and easily remember a character’s name if it has a sonorous rhythm to it. Experiment with the first and last names to create a pleasing rhythm. Such names have a positive impact on readers and are likely to be remembered for a long time. For example, Victor Vale from V.E. Schwab’s “Vicious” has a memorable alliterative name. Similarly, Arya Stark from George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series has a name with assonance. You can also try saying the name out loud to ensure it has the right feel you’re going for.
- Nickname and Short forms: Considering nicknames and short forms is also a great measure when attempting to bring a remarkable character to life in your book. However, using too many nicknames can defeat the purpose and confuse your audience. So, keep only one consistent nickname to familiarize your audience with the main character of the book.