The Name Game

I hope you’re enjoying this week’s Wednesday. This week’s Wednesday only happens once, so milk it for all it’s worth. August is just a couple days away. There is only one August 2020. Make it count!

Have you ever thought, do character names matter? The answer is absolutely. How much time do you give to considering the names of your characters? It may be one important step you overlook. Here are some ideas from my course, What a Character! You can get more information on the Books and Resources page. I’ve discounted all courses. Now, let’s create your character’s name.

1. Check root meanings. Use hidden meanings in your names.

In my book, Cadeyrn’s Tale, Cadeyrn is a battle king. Guess what the name Cadeyrn means? Yep, Battle King.

In The Voice, I named the Protagonist Peter. Peter means a stone – something stable, something solid. Peter became the stabilizing force of the story. He remained solid throughout the turmoil that surrounded his life.

2. Choose names that agree with the time period and location of your story.

I might have named Cadeyrn Mason or Joe. I could have named him Abraham or Asher. I set the story in 5th-century Ireland. A 21st-century name wouldn’t work. Neither would a 4,000-year-old Jewish name. It had to be 5th-century Ireland. You might find help at

3. Speak the names out loud

Your novel might become an audiobook or an e-book with text-to-speech enabled. Consider the Name, Adam Messina. It may be fine on paper but could be confusing when spoken – Adam Essina? Adah Messina?

4. Don’t muddle the cast.

It’s a good idea to avoid using the character’s first initial with multiple characters. Also, try to vary the number of syllables in the names. Think Winch-Hunt’s Tom Winch, Mrs. Camp, Ronald Berry.

5. Use alliterative initials.

If you want a character to stand out, maybe alliteration is the answer. Think of Margie McClanahan in The Voice. Or Commander Colbo in Pinpoint Analysis. Don’t overuse it, but it can add a nice touch.

Okay. Let’s get on with our Wednesday. See you in a week!


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