Monday, August 22, 2016

What's in a name? More than I'd like

One great thing about writing nonfiction is that the people and places come already named. Naming fictional characters and places severely taxes me. The problem isn't just finding a suitable name, but finding a suitable name that also meets these criteria:
1) I didn't already use that name in a previous book
2) It's not the name of any family member, friend, or colleague
3) It's not the name of a celebrity, noted historical figure, notorious criminal, unsavory person, etc.
4) It's not too similar to any of the names of the other characters in the same book
5) It's not an unusual name that was just used recently in a more famous book, or has been used in a lot of recent YA already
6) It's not the name of a fictional place that's already part of some other well-known world like Pokemon, Disney, Game of Thrones, Narnia, etc., etc. (I may yet fail on this one; it seems like EVERY place name I can invent has already been used by someone. Or else it is the name of a new pharmaceutical.)

Just wait until I get around to choosing a title. That is when I really get dramatic!


  1. I like naming characters. I think paying attention to the first four considerations is important. When I start to write a book, I keep track of names alphabetically and make sure that there aren't too many starting with the same letter. This is very important. I've given up on reading books that have too many similar-sounding names.

    As for #5 and 6, I don't worry about it much. I'd just avoid Harry and Hermione and Hagrid (ha! she used three H names!) J.K. Rowling had a lot of fun with her naming.

    1. It's funny, someone over on LiveJournal also mentioned Hermione; it's a perfect example in #5, at least for US readers who have probably never heard that name anywhere else. I'd suggest that one couldn't name the lead characters in a romance Bella and Edward without readers assuming it's a reference to Twilight. I'd also stay away from names like Ponyboy, Katniss, Gollum, Skywalker, and so forth ... ;-)