On Naming Characters

I recently read a short story by my brother-in-law where he’d blended fact with fiction.  He’d renamed all the real life characters, including his dog.  His boxer mix known to all as Macaroni, or Roni for short, had become Noodles.   When I asked him how he’d chosen the names, he’d said he picked the first thing that came to his mind.

I tend to put more thought into my character’s names.  For my paranormal YA novel, I wanted my protagonist’s name to be generic enough that any young girl reading the story could imagine herself in Sarah’s predicament.  For my two teen boy ghosts, I want common and timeless names, not trendy labels that would give away what era they may have died.  Hence, David and Greg came into being.  In my Hawaii novel, I have a red-haired character, so I looked up the Hawaiian word for red, and Ehu was born.

How do you pick your character’s names?  Do you ever rename them as the story unfolds?  Is a plot or setting shift a trigger for the name change?

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2 Responses to On Naming Characters

  1. Susan Berman says:

    In fiction pieces, I try to pick a name which matches the character. I’ve also watched names on the pharmacy prescription board at Kaiser Permanente to get ideas for last names. I even asked Bruce, from a male prospective, for a name of a dashing guy – Dirk. He was reading a Clive Cussler book at the time.

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