Pretty much everyone has had a nickname at some point in their lives, whether it was something your friends called you in high school, or just your significant other calling you “honey.” There are so many different ways to get a nickname, whether you love it, hate it, or just put up with it. Choosing nicknames for your fictional characters can make a huge impact on your readers. You can pick something that is significant to the character and shows who he is and how he lives his life.
A nickname can hold a lot more meaning than a first name. It’s most likely chosen or created by someone close to the person or even the person himself. It can be reflective of his personality, or something that he has done or has happened to him. A character’s actual name would be chosen by his parents before he’s even born. A nickname, however, is usually something that holds meaning to who he actually is as a person. It can come from his physical characteristics (like hair color or body type), his occupation, or where he comes from. Really, the possibilities for nicknames are endless.
There are plenty of ways to use nicknames within your story. Your character could already have it before the story begins, or something could happen during the story that causes its creation. Maybe something embarrassing happens that creates a nickname that continues to haunt him. Nicknames could be good or bad. A person’s friends might give him a nicer nickname, whereas people who aren’t that close to him could call him something derogatory. A nickname can be a great source of emotion for your character. If he hates it and has to deal with it on a daily basis, then that could just be another thing he has to work through during the course of the story.
When you choose a nickname for your character, think about why he needs it, who gave it to him, and how he responds to it. All of these things will factor in to how significant the nickname turns out to be in your story.
Terms of endearment are another form of nicknames you can use. If you have a couple in your story, they most likely won’t refer to each other by their first names all of the time. They’d be more likely to use something like “baby,” “honey,” or “sweetie.” These terms are just something that will make the characters feel more realistic, because using them is something that we all tend to do. It’s also just something that hopefully the reader will find adorable when they picture these characters interacting.
WHAT I’VE DONE: Surprisingly, I haven’t thrown in too many nicknames into my fiction, but a few terms of endearment do pop up now and then. Tom repeatedly calls Jordan “gorgeous” in UL. In real life, my fiancé and I call each other “sweetie” and he calls me “princess,” as well.
Have you ever given one of your characters a nickname? What do you call your significant other?