23 April 2015

Twins, Siblings, & Families

**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 plenty of characters who could pop up in your stories. More than likely at least one of them will interact with their family members. These characters could be minor or extremely important, depending on your story. So how do you name these family members? If your main character has a twin, sibling, or other family member, you could find a way to link those names together and make it more interesting for the reader.

Twins can be particularly fun to name. Their names don’t have to necessarily be related at all, but there are ways to connect them. You could have both names start with the same letter or be the same number of syllables. There are other tricks you could use, as well. You could find names that are anagrams of each other (like Amy and May), or even names that are the reverse of each other (Aidan and Nadia). Or you could look up name meanings and find two names that mean the same.

Also think about how connected your set of twins is. Are they extremely close or do they try to separate from one another and form their own identities? Is one good and one evil, or some other version of opposites? You could find a way to reflect that in their names.

WHAT I’VE DONE: In the untitled NaNoWriMo novel that never was, one of my MC’s, Gabriel, has a twin sister named Grace. I knew I wanted their names to start with the same letter. Of course, in my search for the sister’s name, I came across Gabrielle (or Gabriella), but thought that would be super creepy.

Like twin names, sibling names can but don’t necessarily have to be connected to one another. Some parents may plan their children’s names long before they even have them. But unlike twins, when the first child is born they aren’t going to know when or if they will have more children, or what gender those children will be. So most likely they will choose names for each individual child.

There are other ways to connect sibling names, though. You can have an entire family of names starting with the same letter. My maternal grandparents’ names both started with a D so they named all of their children with D names. You could also come up with themes for your fictional families. I once had a novel idea where three sisters were named April, May, and June. You could name a group of sisters after gemstones—Ruby, Jade, Pearl. You could name your characters after flowers, or give them all historical figures’ names. There are so many different possibilities for name themes. If you want to connect your sibling characters’ names, this is one way to do so.

Names can sometimes be a tradition within families. Children can be named for their parents, grandparents, or other distant relatives. Your main character could be the second (Jr.), third, or fourth in line of family members of the same name. How does having an inherited name affect his personality? Does he hate the name or is he proud of it? Does he have a different nickname to distinguish him from the other family members? Does he plan on passing this name on to his own child?

How do you name family members in your stories? Ever written about a set of twins?


  1. I've never used twins in my books. That could be fun on all kinds of levels, not just their names!

    Annalisa, writing A-Z vignettes, at Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep

  2. I've only once included a sibling and then only briefly. Not sure why all of my characters are only kids, but they are.

  3. One of my novels (Erron) has twins; identical, which plays heavily in the story.

  4. I named identical twins once. Their names didn't rhyme or anything, but they started with the same letter and had the same meaning. :) Their names are by far two of my favorites.

  5. Never done twins! I think I might at some point...

  6. My first book has twins but their names aren't that similar. Tommy and Danny. Not sure how I arrived at the names either. I think this was an instance of they showed up in my head and told me that was their names, no arguing.

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Member of C. Lee's Muffin Commando Squad
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

  7. I've never written about twins but all the twins I know start with the same letter. I also know a lot of families with all the kids names starting with the same letter and a few Asian families that have all their girls named after flowers, in their native language so if they hadn't told me I never would have known.

  8. I haven't had twins as characters. I have seen a set of four sisters named for months in The Secret Lives of Bees. I thought that was cool. In real life, our daughters share the same number of syllables and many of the same letters. Plus their middle names are both from nature: Jade and Raine.

  9. So far, siblings and parents of my MCs have played relatively minor roles and I didn't think too deeply about connecting the names. But this post gives me a lot to think about.

  10. Loved the comment about the untitled Nano novel that never was-- I have more than a few of those :-)
    Anne at http://www.authorsupport.net

  11. Twins would be so much fun to write.
    I did all cousins as the main characters, but I didn't do similar names cause they all have the same last name.
    Good ideas though.