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Choosing names for your characters in fiction writing

Pauline RowsonGetting the right name for characters in a novel 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 the character.

I have always had this thing that people should look like their names. When someone is introduced to me I will think yes, you are a Jacqueline or a Malcolm. Other times I will think, oh no, you're definitely a Karen or a Wayne. And so it is with the characters I am creating.

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

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

So where do I get names from?

When seeking inspiration for first names I turn to my little book of baby's names or I will look up a web site of baby's names. I also keep an ear out for any unusual or interesting names when meeting people and will jot these down.

Cemeteries also provide one with a wide choice of first names and I scan the credits on television programmes and films to find those names that might fit with the character I am creating.

As to 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. The more novels I write though the greater the danger of repeating names, it's easy to forget those I have already used.

Silent Running, an Art Marvik Crime Novel by Pauline RowsonWith my Marvik mystery series I needed a punchy name for the protagonist, a former Royal Marine Commando, Special Boat Services Officer and came up with Art Marvik, hoping it lends him a touch of mystery and ruggedness. Art is not short for Arthur, I just liked the sound of it, although I have to admit it resonates with the character played by Bruce Willis in the wonderful film, Mercury Rising. To me Art sounds edgy just like the character. Marvik because he uses his mother's name who was Finnish.

Marvik now appears in three novels, SILENT RUNNING, DANGEROUS CARGO and LOST VOYAGE

And where did my hunky and flawed detective,  Inspector Andy Horton's name come from? I have no idea. He just sprang to mind both the name and the character and long might he thrive along with Art Marvik.

Fatal Catch - A Di Andy Horton crime novel by Pauline RowsonFatal Catch is the twelfth in the DI Andy Horton crime series  published by Severn House Publishers.

Horton is called out to examine a gruesome catch by two fishermen: a human hand. Is it that of missing violent criminal Alfie Wright – or is he the killer? And where is the rest of the corpse? Soon Horton finds himself immersed in a complex case where everyone has a reason to lie and no one is who they seem.

All my crime novels are available from all good book retailers and for loan in UK, Commonwealth and USA libraries. They are published in hardback, paperback, as an ebook and some are available as unabridged audio books.

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NOVEMBER 14TH, 2017 @ 7:35:21 GMT

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