**My theme for this year’s A to Z Challenge is THE NAME GAME. Everything you’d want to know about naming characters.**
There are so many different things that can influence how you choose a character's name. You may want to choose a name that is unique and interesting, or you may want to choose one that is more common and believable. It will all depend on who you want your character to be and the kind of story you’re writing. One thing you can take into consideration is how popular a name is.
Think about the first names that were popular when you were growing up. When I was in school, there were a lot of Ashleys, Brittanys, and Michaels, for instance. A popular name will probably come to mind first if you just try and think of a random name, because it’s probably something that you’ve heard over and over again. The more people who have a particular name, the more popular it is.
When it comes to naming your fictional characters, knowing which names are popular may help you figure it out. If your book takes place in a particular year, knowing which names were popular is important. Even if you want a unique name for your main character, you still have plenty of other characters who need names. Giving them popular or common names may make your cast of characters seem more realistic. If every single character has a unique or strange name, the reader could be thrown off. Popular names occur in real life, so they should probably occur in your story.
FUN TIP: The Social Security Administration keeps track of name trends in the US. If you want to see which names have been popular from year to year, check out their website!
So what causes trends in name popularity? Pop culture can be a HUGE influence on what people name their babies. If a TV show or movie is particularly popular, new parents often jump on the bandwagon and name their children after its characters. For instance, the name Arya was at #942 in the US in 2010. In 2013 it had risen to #277. Game of Thrones premiered in 2011. Coincidence? Not even a little bit.
Movies, television, and books are constantly influencing name trends. The name Luke started to rise in popularity after the first Star Wars movie was released, and has been popular ever since. Willow gained popularity after Buffy the Vampire Slayer first premiered. Official 2014 numbers aren’t out yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Elsa is in the top 100 after the popularity of Frozen.
You can, of course, name your characters after other characters, although this can be tricky. But just knowing what names are popular can help you figure it out, whether you want a popular name, or even if you want one that isn't...
Do you choose popular names for your characters? Come back on Monday for pretty much the exact opposite of this post...