**My theme for this year’s A to Z Challenge is THE NAME GAME. Everything you’d want to know about naming characters.**
You have a lot of choices when it comes to figuring out a character’s name. You can go with a first name that’s popular or common—one that everyone has heard before. Or you can go with something that’s a little more unique.
What exactly makes a name quirky or unique? It could mean different things depending on the name. There are plenty of names out there that aren’t as common as others. A unique name could just be one that you’ve heard of maybe a few times, but isn’t quite as popular as those names you tend to hear every day. Some names may be more common in different places, but unheard of in others. And there’s always the option of creating a brand new name, which could work depending on your genre or your character’s backstory.
So why would you want your character to have a quirky name? The good thing about a unique name is that it will stand out. People will remember it. It’s a great way to have your main character stand out right from the very beginning, and it may just give your character a little something extra to their personality.
The bad thing about a unique name is pretty much the same as the good thing. It’s going to stand out, meaning that people could question it if it’s really out there. This probably won’t be a problem if it’s just a name that’s fairly uncommon. If you choose a name that no one’s ever heard of, though, you’ll probably need to address it. The reader will want to know where this name came from and how it affects your character’s life. How does he/she deal with having this name? Is it something she embraces or does she hate it? A unique name could impact how a character sees herself.
FUN TIP: If you do want a unique name for your main character, it may be a good idea to give your supporting characters more average names. Your main character’s name will be more memorable than the others’, and it will make the characters more believable. If you think of the names of all the people you know—how many of those names are unique vs. average? There could be a mix, but there are probably more common names in that group. You’ll want your group of characters to be the same.
Do you prefer quirky or common names? Have you ever made up a name?