Important Factors

Important Factors

A Lesson by Chelsea Reiter

Factors to consider in choosing a name


The most important thing is to make sure the name fits the characters personality. A lot of people search names to choose a relevant meaning, but as most people aren't familiar with the meanings of all names, it's better to appeal to the reader's connotation with each name. If your character is a rough and tumble warrior maiden with tomboyish tendencies, you might not want to name her Annabelle. Or if you have a character who comes from an average family in a suburban town, you might not want to name them Rutherford Kingsby the Third. You might not even want to name them something edgy and modern or unusual, like Finley. 

Another thing to consider is the character's background. If they come from a certain sort of family, but they as a character are very different then their family, consider giving them a short name that better reflects their full name, like Beatrice "Tris" Prior in Veronica Roth's Divergent series. One example of this I've used was a girl named Denise who goes by a more suitable nickname, Denny. Keep in mind, their nickname doesnt have to be a short name for their given name. But make sure to think on their nickname and make sure it suits the feel of the character.

One factor in choosing a name that is frequently overlooked is matching the setting (place and period) of the story. If you are writing a story set anywhere far from the place and time you live in now, do a bit of research. It doesn't have to be extensive, but a quick google search will save you from naming your regency lady Ashley, a name that was exclusively male for most of it's history. You can also look up the list of the most of popular baby names from the year your character was born, a list that was compiled consistently for the last century or so, and before that, there are plenty of lists called "medieval male names" etc. available with a bit of googling.

If you're really stuck, has forum for writers to submit descriptions of a character and people can help them with names. Feel free to ask me for help with naming a character at any time, I'm always willing to help. Please count on this over a random name generator.


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Added on February 21, 2015
Last Updated on February 21, 2015

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