Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now (#119) -- Naming Characters

Are the names of the characters in your novels important?

My name is Inigo Montoya
and you'll never forget it.
Absolutely. I spend a lot of time with my characters names. For me, their names must do several things for the story, but not always all of this as once):

1. They must "feel" right -- this is the most loosey-goosey, esoteric part of it, but they really need to "fit" the story.

2. They must be true to the nationality and time period of the characters. I'll research era-appropriate names for hours sometimes just to make sure the ring of truth is met.

3. They must convey something of the character's personality and nature. Monique San Diablo says something about The Saint Devil before you ever meet her. The same goes for Larry Moore (hint, he wants more from life).

4. They must not sound like cheesy, over-the-top soap opera characters. Sturgeon Masters may be a great name for 1950 strongman in a cheesy comic book, but not in my stories.

5. The name must resonate with readers in such a way to be memorable. You know who Inigo Montoya is, right? Well, there's a darn there's a good reason you do.