Thursday, October 31, 2013

Alex on Picking Character Names

I have a system for naming my characters, and it works for me. There's a website called 20,000 Names which gives the cultural background and meaning of each name (and it cross-references, like if there are two cultures with similar names, it will say "see also:" and link to the other one so you can compare the two).

I have named almost every single one of my characters using 20,000 Names, giving them some kind of meaning that matches the character. I avoid names of people I actually know, so you'll probably never see an Alex, Chris, Beth, Cassy, Sarah... etc. in my books. I try to find names that are unique enough that they're interesting, but familiar enough that they're memorable. (I get the feeling that this is what Scott Westerfeld did with Uglies... I've never met a girl named Tally, but it SOUNDS like a real name.)

This part might be because my name is Alex, but I also like to switch gender expectations with my characters' names. My favorite female name that I've used was AJ, which I know is a lot like Alex, in that it's usually assumed to be male but is also widely accepted as female.

Tonight I'll be picking several names so I'm prepared to start writing for NaNoWriMo tomorrow morning!!! Are you ready? Have you picked out character names for your NaNoWriMo novel, or are you going to pick them as you go?

No comments:

Post a Comment