Making Up Names for Characters

Characters names should really be special in one way or another. I have a system for picking names. I save graduation programs, Christmas programs, lists of names in the newspapers. When I'm trying to come up with a new name, I go through these and find a first name I think fits the character's personality and another last name that goes with the first name.

I try not to have characters whose names start with the same letter, however I have two detectives with last names that begin with M. Detective Milligan and Marshall. This is what happens when writing a series. These characters had prominent spots in other books, not the same one, and then ended up together in the last couple.

To complicate it even more, there's also Chief McKenzie. Probably when I started writing this series I didn't even think about having rules about names starting with the same letter. (I think I favor the letter M because of having two names myself beginning with M.)

Another thing that's important is not to have names that rhyme or have the same number of syllables--though I'm sure I've broken the second rule too.

It's also helpful if you have names that people can pronounce. That's my gripe about too many of the fantasy and science fiction--if I can't pronounce a name, I'll never remember it.

But if you name all your characters simple names like Jane, Mary, Bill, Bob and Jim, the reader will have a hard time remembering those too.

The great mystery/thriller writer David Morrell says when he starts a new book, he puts all the character names on a spread sheet and checks to see that he hasn't broken any of these rules.

That's what I have to say about naming characters.

Marilyn aka F.M. Meredith


Storyheart said…
I so agree I always have issues with characters names
That's really neat how you do that, Marilyn. I don't have any type of particular system, just whatever pops into my head, lol. I wanted to follow you, too, but I can't find the follow me button.

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