**My theme for this year’s A to Z Challenge is THE NAME GAME. Everything you’d want to know about naming characters.**
Most of these posts have been about first names, and yesterday I talked about giving your characters last names. Now there’s just one portion of a person’s full name that’s left: the middle name! Like the last name, the middle name isn’t always necessary to have for your fictional characters. It isn’t usually something that will pop up very often within the story. But it does help you form a stronger identity for your characters.
Middle names aren’t all that likely to show up within a story. Like real life, they’ll probably be used mostly when you’re in trouble with your parents. When you hear your full name, you know things are serious. Whatever reason you have for using a character’s middle name will vary from story to story. A character’s middle name can mean nothing, or it can be very significant, whether it’s through symbolism or just family backstory.
If you don’t end up actually using the middle name, choosing one can still be fun. Your character will feel more real to you because you know his entire name. So how do you choose one? A middle name can be something traditional within a family. The middle name Elizabeth has been passed down from my mother to my sister to my niece. I got my paternal grandmother’s middle name. Another common tradition is using the mother’s maiden name as a middle name. Or you can just choose whatever middle name you’d like. It can be as random or as significant as you’d like it to be.
You’ll want to think about how the whole name flows together—first, middle, and last. Choose something that sounds good and feels right to you for this character. There are plenty of possibilities when choosing your character’s middle name. Some people have more than one middle name. Historically, having a very long name shows a higher rank in society. Some people choose to go by their middle name rather than their first. Maybe your character hates his first name or is named after a family member he wants to forget. Middle names don’t have to be useless for a character. They can hold some significance as well.
WHAT I’VE DONE: I’ve only given four of my characters middle names, but for some reason, Jordan’s was the hardest to come up with (he couldn’t just tell me because he wanted to be a jerk, apparently. *snort* Muses…). For a while I knew I wanted it to start with an M and eventually settled on Mason, and created a whole backstory for it as well. Mason was his grandfather’s name and would have been his, too, if his grandmother had her way. Since his mother hates her parents, she never uses his middle name. I can picture her starting to yell at him, screaming, “Jordan M—” then getting thrown off and forgetting what he had done to get in trouble in the first place.
Do you give your characters middle names? Where did your middle name come from?