Names are important. Think about it. Would you want to be named Benedict Arnold? Immediately brings to mind a traitor, right? Or what about Adolph Hitler? Super villain, hmm? Well, the same holds true for your fictional characters. Choosing names is a huge part of character development.
Charles Dickens is the best of the best when it comes to this technique. What kind of personality do the following names foreshadow when they’re first introduced?
Personally, I don’t think there’s a hero in that bunch. Here’s a grouping of names taken from my own writing. Who are the heroes?
Clive Witherskim Ethan Goodwin Nigel Thorne Alexander Moore
You got it: Ethan & Alexander. Pretty easy, eh? And all accomplished with two little names.
But sometimes it’s more complicated than cracking open a baby name book and running your finger down the page. Different genres call for different tactics. For instance, in writing historical, specifically in the regency era, I can’t have a character named Zuba Starshine and have it be believable. That would be more of a 1960’s hippie kind of name. And what if you’re writing a pirate series? How to come up with something more original than Blackbeard?
I came across some great name generating sites for help in situations such as these. Stop by and check them out even if you’re not currently looking for character ideas…they’re a ‘Heap’ of fun.
And those are just a few. Next time you need to name a character, do a little research and give it some meaning. It worked for Dickens (every one of his books is STILL in print). It can work for you.