**My theme for this year’s A to Z Challenge is THE NAME GAME. Everything you’d want to know about naming characters.**
Most names will only work for one gender. Boys have boy names and girls have girl names. But this isn’t always the case. There are also plenty of names out there that can work for a boy or a girl. These names are called unisex names, since they are not gender specific. While some may be used more often for one gender than the other, it is still possible to use them for both. So why not give your character one?
An expecting parent may choose a unisex name because they really like it and it will work no matter what gender their child is. But as a writer, you already know the gender of your character. So why choose a unisex name? The simple answer is just that you like the name and it fits the character (or the character tells you his name and you have no say in it).
FUN FACT: Unisex names are illegal in Iceland (with exactly one exception). There are preapproved male and female lists made by the Icelandic Naming Committee.
There probably aren’t going to be a lot of situations where your story will require you to pick a unisex name for your character (unless you’re writing something where you don’t want your character’s gender known). Like most other names, it should just be because you like it. The way it sounds or its meaning should just fit your character. Trying to force meaning out of the fact that your character has a unisex name may actually be risky.
The name itself really should have nothing to do with the character’s gender, sexuality, or even just how they behave. For example, giving your girl a unisex name because she’s a tomboy. It’s perfectly fine to give her that name, but probably not to point it out, or to make it seem like your character acts this way because of her name. You may get a few readers rolling their eyes.
A unisex name can be fun to use, though. Maybe you choose a name that’s usually a boy’s and give it to a girl, and maybe that just adds a bit of quirkiness to her character. Maybe two characters meet for the first time and one is surprised at the gender of the person they meet, having only heard their name. Hilarity ensues. Who knows?
WHAT I’VE DONE: Oh come on, do I even have to say it? Oh, all right, some of you may be new here…I feel like there should be fireworks or something…
*kicks muse* Weren’t you supposed to set up the pyrotechnics??
I’m pretty sure he’s faking. Anyhoo, my muse/MC has a unisex name: Jordan. I’m really fond of unisex names and I have no idea why. I’ve also used Madison, Cameron, and Jamie (I think that’s it…for now…).
Have you ever given a character a unisex name? For a full list, check out Behind the Name!