25 April 2015

Variety in Character Names

**My theme for this year’s A to Z Challenge is THE NAME GAME. Everything you’d want to know about naming characters.**

Chances are your book will have more than one character, and most of those characters will need their own names. Each name should work for each individual character, but you should also think about how all of your characters’ names work together. If you have characters who are constantly interacting, then their names should probably have some variety.

There are plenty of different relationships that could happen between different characters. You could have family, friends, couples, or just acquaintances. The closer two characters are, the more often they will be likely to interact throughout the course of your story. So their names will be on the same page. A lot. And if those names are too similar, it might confuse the reader.

There are plenty of ways to mix up the names in your cast of characters. Just having a variety of names with different syllables could help. A mixture of short and long names would feel realistic. Maybe some characters go by their first name, others have a nickname or prefer their last name to be used. Have a mixture of unique and common names. If every character has a long, extravagant name that no one’s ever heard of, the reader may get annoyed with reading these names. You also probably don’t want to have every character’s name start with the same letter (unless, say, it’s a theme within a family and they are the only characters).

It sounds pretty easy, right? There are, however, plenty of naming techniques to avoid. You wouldn’t want your characters’ names to rhyme, for example. Let’s say your two main characters are Matt and Pat and they own a cat and work in a hat shop. Ok, I kind of took it to the next level there, but it sounds silly, right?

Couples can also be tricky to name. You don’t want their names to be too similar, like Adrian and Adrienne, or even Michael and Michele. Or (and this should probably go without saying), giving them the same unisex name. It may seem cute at first, but the reader could have a hard time keeping track of which character is doing what. Which would make for very interesting sex scenes, but is something that’s just too confusing to pull off.

How do you maintain variety with your characters’ names? How do you come up with names for your couples? 


  1. It does get tricky when multiple characters in the same book have similar names or names that start with the same letter. Variety is the spice of life, right? :D

  2. This is something I make a real effort for because in my first book, pretty much every character's name ended up beginning with B, including the place names! Having a mixture of name styles would be the way to go, I think.

  3. Ever since my first book, I've learned to start every character's name with a different letter. And keep the names short and simple.

  4. One of my first stories, I had Kris and Kristen for character names. Yeah, I know, the whole thing was bad and is safely locked away. LOL

  5. I had fallen in love with names for my main characters and then when I had beta readers they were confused with the names because they started with the starting letter and they were confused.

  6. That's a good point. Reminds me of The Young & the Restless, where Victor and Nikki had a son and daughter named Nicholas and Victoria. lol

  7. I refuse to write that sex scene.