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How to choose the right name for your character.

Updated: 1 day ago

The name

"No," said the cat. "People have names. That's because they don't know who they are. We, on the other hand, know who we are, so we don't need names."

Neil Gaiman

A first name is at least as important as a last name. When you create a character, don't settle for the first name that comes to mind. Consider well all the possibilities: there are names suitable for distant eras and modern names, there are common names and original names, there are hard-sounding names and names that make people fall in love.

Which name fits your character best?

In the universe of writing, creating a character is an act of pure magic. It is the moment when, out of the fog of the unpublished, a figure emerges that is destined to become real in the eyes of the reader. One of the first and most crucial steps in this creation process is the choice of the character's first and last name. A well-chosen name can give depth, context and an aura of inevitability to the character, making him or her resonate in the pages of the story and in the hearts of readers.

1. Resonance and Meaning

First, consider the intrinsic meaning of the first and last name. Many writers draw on etymology or mythology to find names rich in meaning. A name such as "Diana" might evoke the image of the goddess of the hunt, perhaps suggesting a strong, independent personality somehow connected to nature or instinct.

2. Historical and Geographical Context

Consistency with the historical and geographical context of your narrative is critical. A name like "Eduardo" might be common in a story set in Renaissance Italy, but out of place in a science fiction tale set on Mars in 2500. Research names typical of the time and place in which your story takes place.

3. Uniqueness and Memorability

A memorable name helps distinguish your character, making him or her instantly recognizable to the reader. However, choosing a name that is too outlandish or complicated can make it difficult for readers to remember or pronounce. Strike a balance between being unique and being accessible.

4. Sound and Rhythm

The sound and rhythm of the name can affect the perception of the character. Short, punchy names, such as "Max" or "Zoe," often suggest dynamism and strength. Longer, more melodic names, such as "Evangeline" or "Sebastian," may evoke a sense of elegance or complexity.

5. Symbolism and Allusion

Do not underestimate the power of symbolism. A character with the last name "Storm" might suggest internal conflict or turbulence in the plot. The use of allusion can enrich the narrative, but be careful not to weigh it down: the name should always seem natural.

6. Test the Name

Finally, test the name in the context of your story. Use it in dialogue and descriptions. If it seems out of place or clashes with the character, it's probably not the right choice. Listen to the sound of the name aloud; sometimes, this simple step can reveal a lot about its fit.

Ultimately, choosing your character's first and last name is a creative journey that deserves attention and thought. It is a balancing act between meaning, sound, context and intuition. When you find the right name, you will know it: it will resonate with a clarity that will complete the picture of your character, making him alive in your readers' minds even before his story begins to unfold.



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