When you’re writing it’s something that springs up fairly regularly. You need names for characters, their parents, their dogs, where they live, where they work, where they drink coffee, and one of the the most difficult of all – a title for your work.
Over on Query Shark I read query letters from aspiring authors and all too often their character names sound too similar to one another, it’s confusing and distracting Harlan and Harper, Crossley and Cooper, that kind of thing.
Another character name problem is when you end a name with an ‘s’, it gets confusing and looks strange when you need soemthing belongs to them.
Cass’ striking green eyes – anything, especially in the early pages, that makes a reader stop, pause, need to reread, is bad news.
The other danger is using the name of someone you know, even an acquaintance, if they ever read your story, it’s unavoidable that they’ll assume you used some of their characteristics. That’s unlikely to be the case, but nevertheless…
How do you choose a name? Personally I’ve stolen names from the credits on movies and TV shows, the first name from one person, the second from another. I’ve used obscure town names for character surnames. Here’s a news flash for you – the internet is a great resource for names. I needed a Hawaiian name and found a great name generator that suggested names for me, easy!
A short story idea I scribbled down in my ideas book the other day was inspired from this post over at the Rumpus – Names We’re Given, Names We Choose, Kathleen Alcott was writing about how another author, unintentionally, appropriated her name for her new novel. I wondered what happens if someone famous uses your somewhat unusual or uncommon name as a pseudonym. What if an already insecure teenager has the same name as a high profile criminal or something, how does that mess with their already fragile sense of identity?
Maybe it’s a short story I’ll work up and post here…