Name Calling

My goodness. April 22 and there’s snow on the ground. I love snow in the winter, but right about now I’m ready for a robin or two, trees budding and a sunny, warm day with a gentle breeze floating off the mountains. Maybe next week. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the white stuff.

What is your process for naming your characters? Names have meaning. Names in themselves tell a story. So I ask you again. What is your process for naming your characters? Here are some things to think about.

  1. Be careful of using too many names in the same story that begin with the same letter or sound similar. Think Tom and Tim or Jim and Jon. It can be confusing to your readers and that’s exactly what you don’t want. Maybe it would better to name them Tom, Peter, Scott and Hoss. You get the idea.

    You really don’t want to have two characters with the same first name and a different last name. I confess. In my book, The Voice, there are two characters – Dr. Barton and Alex Barto. Even though separated in the story by more than 100 pages, the only difference in the last names is an “n”. Too confusing.

2. Consider the time period. Different names have been popular at different times. If you’re writing a story set in the 1800s, you probably don’t want to use names like Paisley or Nova, Masen or Marshall. On the other hand, if your setting is in the present or recent past, these may be the perfect names. Only you can decide. 1800s – try Alice or Henry.

The Social Security Administration has a helpful website. You can look up the most popular names used for a given time period. Just select the decade and click or tap Go. Here’s the link – https://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/decades

Well, it looks like we’re done for another week. Enjoy your time until we meet again next Wednesday!

WFK

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