Best Naming Practices to Make Memorable Characters

Choosing the right name for a character is one of the most important and underrated aspects of story writing. A name can influence the way a reader perceives your character and can even set the tone for your entire story. Poorly chosen names can detract from the story, while well-chosen names can enhance it.

Let’s discuss some of the best practices for naming characters by taking examples of books that have already been published!

Keep it simple and easy to pronounce

The name should be easy to pronounce and remember. For example, in the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling gives her characters simple yet memorable names like Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

Consider the setting and time period

When choosing names for your characters, it is essential to consider the setting and time period of your story. For example, in To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee names her characters after people from her hometown in Alabama during the Great Depression. Characters like Atticus, Scout, and Jem reflect the time and place in which the story is set.

Avoid overused names and cliches

Using overused names and cliches can make your characters feel unoriginal and flat. For example, the name “John Smith” is a very common name that lacks any distinctiveness. Instead, try to come up with unique names that fit your characters’ personalities and traits. In Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin gives his characters unique names like Daenerys, Arya, and Tyrion.

Keep names distinct

Having characters with similar names can be confusing for readers. To avoid this, ensure each character’s name is distinct from the others. For example, in The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien gives his characters distinct names like Frodo, Samwise, and Aragorn, making them easy to differentiate.

Make sure the name fits the character's personality

The name you choose for your character should match their personality and traits. For example, in The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald names his main character Jay Gatsby, which is a name that reflects his extravagant and mysterious personality.

Use alliteration or rhyme sparingly

Alliteration and rhyme can be a useful tool for character naming, but it should be used sparingly. For example, in Batman, Bruce Wayne’s alter ego is named Batman, which uses alliteration to make the name more memorable. However, using alliteration or rhyme too much can make the names sound silly or gimmicky.

In conclusion, character naming is an essential aspect of story writing that should not be overlooked. By following these best practices, you can ensure your characters have well-thought-out, authentic names that enhance your story’s overall quality.

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