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Finding a suitable name for your charcter is one of the most crucial decisions you’ll have to make during writing your story. It will have a huge impact on how the readers see the character and there’s a possibility you’ll change your perception of the charcter as well.

How to go around naming the character?

Three things can influence your character’s name. Their gender, their background and their personality. The wrong name will cause your reader discomfort that might even influence their overall opinion about your story. All you have to do is to give it some thought and put some work into choosing the right name.

Gender

Let’s face it, this limits your choices in an obvious way. You won’t name a boy Mary, nor will you call a girl Jeremy. This in mind, remember there are names that nowadays are suitable for both males and females. Names such as Sam, Chris, Jo or Terry are common among both sexes.

However, you as a writer need to remember that those names are usually shorter versions of names that in no doubt are in the charcter’s birth certificate. And so the personality can be influenced by both, the short name the character uses every day and the full name that he or she might be reffered as.

For example. Will Sam’s behaviour change when her grandmother calls her Samantha? Who calls Samuel Sam and how does that influence reader’s perception of the character?

Background

First background information you need to consider when choosing a name is your character’s ethnicity and family history. Irish names will differ from Scottish and English ones. And if you call your American hero Jose, your readers are going to assume he’s of a Spanish or Mexican decent.

Choosing the right name is especially important if your story is a historical piece. Amber or Mike might be suitable for contemporary characters, but if you use those name in your historical romance placed in 16th century England, you will be known as the writer who doesn’t care enough to do some proper research.

Personality

Some say that name doesn’t have any influence on one’s personality. That might be true, however, if you call your character Tiffani and claim she’s sensible and wise… Well, people might have a hard time believing that.

Literary Liaisons also points out that if you end a name on a hard sound like “t” or “s” your character will automatically seem stronger. Therefore Kent will be more confident than Hugh and Ella will be sweeter and softer than Brooke.

Also, with the Internet at your feet, you can surf through various sites that offer you meanings of every name and then name your character after their main trait.

Balance

It’s very important to make sure there are not too many names in your story that share the same characteristic. You can’t have too many people with unusual names. Your story can’t consist of characters with names starting only with the letter J (unless that is the point). Why? First of all your reader might have a problem with following which character is the main focus at the moment or who’s talking. And it’s not very creative :).

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