- The name should fit the character’s personality/think about root meanings – If your character is exceptionally strong, you could name them Angus or Breanna. Names like Abigail or Kevin mean beautiful or handsome. Though not all readers will catch on, some will know root meanings or names. Any baby naming book or website can help with this!
- Use period-appropriate names – Names popular in the 90’s and today probably weren’t the popular names in the 1800’s. An idea for looking for period-appropriate names is to look through old yearbooks or census reports – these can usually be found online or at a library!
- Alliterate – Some of the most memorable characters have alliteration in their names: Severus Snape, Junie B. Jones, Clark Kent, and many more!
- Avoid famous names – Character names like Elvis, Madonna, Ichiro, or Katniss, unless you’re talking about the person or character with that name, may lead to confusion for readers or will give them preconceived notions about your character.
- Avoid weird spellings – Choosing a unique character name is good, but something that can’t be pronounced easily or is spelled irregularly can also cause confusion for readers. Say names out loud and imagine if your book were to be written into an audiobook, how does it sound?
J.K. Rowling said, “He's not based on anyone I know. So don't believe anyone who crawls out of the woodwork to claim to be Harry Potter. No, Harry is entirely imaginary … and the name … I was looking for a name that was really quite mundane in a way but a name that I liked. So he became Harry. And then I-- it took me a while to find Potter. And Potter was the surname of a family I used to live near when I was growing up. And the son of that family then claimed to be Harry Potter, but he's not. Yeah, I just took the name.”
Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games whose unique “first name comes from a plant called sagittaria or arrowhead, which is a tuber plant usually found in water; another name for this plant is katniss. The root of this plant can be eaten, as Katniss does in the book. Her father once said: ‘As long as you can find yourself, you'll never starve.’ The plant also shares its name with a constellation in the Zodiac called Sagittarius, or ‘The Archer’, which may also reference Katniss's skills in archery.” As for her last name, author Suzanne Collins says the name comes from the central character in Far from the Madding Crowd, Bathsheba Everdene. Collins said that, “The two are very different, but both struggle with knowing their hearts.”
Still struggling with character names? Here’s a character name generator!