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Names for Story Characters

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Oh, man, that is fantastic! Finally, my name in the headlines! And look at the year: 2016. Now strip out the two digits in the middle and you get: 26. That'll be my age in 2016 when Hurricane Colin does its thing. Hot damn!

Living in California, I'm lucky they don't name earthquakes.

Colin :icon_geek:

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Character names are always important. I'm baffled by writers who use two (or even three) names that have a similar sound and the same number of syllables. For example, if you did have a character named "Colin," I wouldn't add a character named "Carly" and another character named "Charlie." It'd drive me crazy.

I usually take first names from people I've known in my life and just shove them into my story. I've never used my own real name -- at least so far. But maybe I'll break down someday and do that, at least for a minor character.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have for some of my stories, given the leading character a name that begins with D. It started as a joke with myself, but I think I am running out of D names that don't sound foreign, and Dilbert is already taken. Oh well, there's always Doofus. :omg:

Pecman and Warner Bros have cornered the market on Daffy.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Now that's an interesting development. Do we worry about a name that might have definitive associations for readers?

How can we even know if a name is going to evoke such feelings in a reader?

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Names across borders are interesting. I often get a bad-bounce as Brit when reading stories set in America... either names that we simply don't use, or ones in their wrong period. There are marketing databases that can target direct marketing by age, simply based on forenames. My bet would be that those databases vary with country... its been a while since Kermit was popular as a Roosevelt offspring... now its universally a green frog.

Merkin's aussie database is very useful by the way. It lists names across a wide range of countries and languages, so that if, following Pecman's advice, you want an Italian boy's name starting with P (because you haven't used one yet) then you go to the P page, use "Search on this page" for "italian" and bingo it highlights all the Italian boy's (well girls if you must) names beginning with P. Very useful. Thanks Merkin.

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I've just completed a story where I wanted a strong name for the protagonist. I made a list of possibilities and then chose one. Here is the list, if anyone is interested. I chose names for the list among those that I thought might highlight the character's character.

Alec Ax Beck Bart Blake Brandt Britt Cash Colt Crew Finn Garth Gray Hugh Jett Kade Kent Max Nash Nick Quint Rex Scott Stone Van York Zac(h)(k) Zane


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I seem to have a habit of always winding up with one supporting character who only goes by initials, and gets angry when anybody uses his full name. I just think it's funny. If nothing else, their name is like nobody else's in the story.

As long as you can easily distinguish between different characters, almost anything can work. But I do get a little antsy when people use cute, clever contemporary names, especially names we've never heard of before. Just having somebody named "John" or "Michael," very simple, can also work.

My last story featured a character named "Jason" and his middle name was "Zachary," both named for my best friends in elementary school. The romantic interest was named "Travis," inspired by noted Calvin Klein underwear model Travis Fimmel. (Aaaaa, what the hell.) As long as the sound of the lead characters' names is drastically different, I think almost anything can work, provided it doesn't get too cutesy or complicated. I also believe it's important not to over-think this too much.

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If you follow sports, your brain is full of obscure names. You might be surprised if you cross-referenced my work with past players on the Mississippi States football and basketball teams. :sneaky:

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  • 1 year later...
Guest RBartlett

If you follow sports, your brain is full of obscure names. You might be surprised if you cross-referenced my work with past players on the Mississippi States football and basketball teams. :sneaky:

James, I read your comment and instantly thought of this video:

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