Creating Memorable Character Names

By on July 22, 2020

Your character names are so important, and they need to be memorable to stick in your reader's minds and help differentiate one character from the next.

Naming characters can be quite tough. It would help if you found the right balance between making them memorable, but not so outrageous or silly that it puts your readers off or seems unbelievable.

Here are some of the most famous characters from celebrated novels that are particularly memorable - we are sure you will recognize some of them!

Sherlock Holmes
Jay Gatsby
Atticus Finch
Jane Eyre
Katniss Everdeen
Harry Potter
Frodo Baggins

What is it about these particular names that make them stand out? Let's explore.

Make it unique

Ordinary, common names are easy to forget. If your book is littered with characters all called names we've heard lots of times before, it can be difficult for your readers to remember who is saying what! Of course, you can use everyday names, but if you do, perhaps try to pair them with a unique last name to help make it more memorable for your readers.

Make it easy to pronounce

Don't make your readers work too hard. If your name is difficult to pronounce, it will be difficult to read and slow your readers down every time they try. Make sure that you keep it simple and easy to understand so your readers can read it without effort.

Give it meaning

Some of the best character's names have meaning that helps reveal a little about the personality behind it. Take the famous Star Wars villain, Darth Vader meaning dark (Darth) and the Dutch word for father (Vader).

Frodo Baggins from Lord of the Rings is another classic example coming from the Old English fróda, which means "wise by experience."

Make it suitable

To pick your character's names, you need to consider the type of novel you are writing. If it's a romance, thing of softer, prettier names or ones with sex appeal or names that conjure images of a brooding, handsome stranger. If you are writing teen fiction, choose names that younger readers would think were exciting or unusual, and if you are writing a horror novel, you can choose gothic or names that sound evil or scary to help set the theme. Revealing a bit of their personality works well. Take these examples:

In The Green Mile, Stephen King names a rather pathetic character Percy Wetmore.

Genre plays a part, but so does the character themselves - ethnicity, family names, and the period that the novel is set will all influence what you choose.

Where to search for character names

If you lack inspiration, why not check out books in your genre at the library or local bookstore? You could also try baby name lists or online character name generators to help.

Make sure you take your time with the naming process. It might take a while to land the perfect character name for your story, but when you do, you'll know!

bethany cadman
Bethany Cadman - bethanycadman.co.uk

About Beth Cadman

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