Monday, March 26, 2012

Choosing appropriate character names



I wrote earlier about naming your characters. You can revisit that post here:  http://helenwoodallfreelanceediting.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/naming-your-characters.html

In this post I want to go further and suggest you think about appropriate names.
If your heroine has a hair trigger temper, naming her Serena (peaceful one) is probably a bad move. Always check the meaning of names before using them. That may save you from making a nasty error.
Similarly, if using a foreign name, always make sure of its slang meaning as well as its obvious meaning.  Aja sounds like a nice easy-to-pronounce name, but it also means goat, which may annoy more than the character you’re naming.  And Agasi sounds like the perfect name for a tennis player, but it also means “mountain thrower” which may not fit your character’s temperament at all.
“Twinkle” may sound like a cute name for a star, but it is slang for urinate, which is not a good name for a character you want the reader to relate to, unless it’s used for a pet with continence issues.
And a word to the authors of historical stories. If the name has not been invented yet, or is not known in that country at that time, no, you can’t use it.
Many parents-to-be take the full nine months to decide on a name for their baby. It can be just as difficult for authors to name characters appropriately.

Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com

2 comments:

Amber Skyze said...

Great advice. I usually research the names I use.

Helen Woodall: Freelance Editing said...

Good move!
Helen