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The 7 ways of picking your characters names


Getting the right name for characters in my crime fiction novels can be a tricky business. Sometimes they come to me completely out of the blue, as I am creating a character, other times I will struggle to find the name that best suits that particular character and until I do the personality refuses to come fully alive. Her are my top  7 tips for choosing characters names: 

1. The name has to fit.  If it's not right then the character isn't right.

2. The name also needs to fit with the age and nationality although you can have exceptions.

3. When seeking inspiration for first names I turn to my little book of baby's names or I will look them up on the internet.

4. I also keep an ear out for any unusual or interesting names when meeting people and will jot these down.

5. Cemeteries are also a great inspiration for first names and for surnames although don't pick the same first and surname of a deceased person.

6. Looking at rolling credits on films and TV programmes can also provide you with inspiration.

7.  When it comes to choosing surnames I let my finger do the choosing and tend to pick these out of an atlas or street map. Then I see if it fits with the first name and the character.


Beware: three words of caution:

The more novels I write, the more I am in danger of repeating names, (it's easy to forget what you have already used) so double check this if you can.

Readers also tell me that some novelists have too many characters’ surnames all beginning with the same letter and they find this very confusing.  Now I scrutinise my work to check that not everyone has a surname beginning with the letter ‘C’.  Not sure why I gravitate towards ‘C’ but I do. 

Over using a name.  For some reason I seem to have a penchant for the name Eric, and when I did a search through previous novels found that I’d used it before for different characters, albeit minor ones. So no more Erics.

And finally where did the name of my main character DI Andy Horton spring from?  I've no idea.  It just came to mind.  It was only recently however that I was contacted by his namesake in the Hampshire Police Force.   A polite e mail asked me whether he had inspired the name and/or the character.  I replied saying that if he was indeed tall, blonde, fit and handsome then maybe?  He replied saying he was tall, fit, dark and his wife thought him handsome. I was somewhat relieved to find the real Inspector Houghton had a sense of humour and spelt his name differently.


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POSTED BY: PAULINE ROWSON
APRIL 21ST, 2020 @ 6:00:25 UTC
 
 


Comments

RE: The 7 ways of picking your characters names


I have been curious how you came up with the Name Irene Ebury? That was my Nana`s name and I`ve never heard of anyone with the same name as her so to see it in a book was quite pleasantly surprising.

COMMENT BY BARBARA CROSBY, JANUARY 28TH, 2015 @ 19:07:38 UTC

RE: The 7 ways of picking your characters names


Hi Barbara, Thanks for leaving the comment on my blog. I took the name Ebury from a street name in Portsmouth and just added Irene. It went well together. What a coincidence that it was your grandmother`s name. best wishes, Pauline.

COMMENT BY PAULINE ROWSON, JANUARY 29TH, 2015 @ 10:23:13 UTC

RE: The 7 ways of picking your characters names


I`m a long way from being published but there are voices in my subconscious I like to think are my characters telling me who they are - alternatively I could just be nuts :)

COMMENT BY LINDSEY RUSSELL, APRIL 21ST, 2020 @ 12:39:15 UTC

RE: The 7 ways of picking your characters names


Aren`t all us writers nuts! Yes, Lindsey, let your characters speak to you, they will even answer you back. Good luck with your writing.

COMMENT BY PAULINE ROWSON, APRIL 21ST, 2020 @ 13:26:20 UTC
 

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