Many students get stuck on character names. They might spend more time trying to figure out a name for a character than they do in actually starting to write the story. Names are important, but there are many ways to make finding great names for your characters easier.
Impact of Character Names
First, let’s start off with the obvious. You probably don’t want to give your hero a stupid sounding name and you don’t want your villain to sound wimpy. Of course, there are always exceptions. Which one sounds better to you?
The hero glared at Draco Malfoy and prepared himself for battle.
The hero glared at Harry Bottoms and prepared himself for battle.
Yes, Harry Bottoms could work as a villain name, but it doesn’t give the same impact. Consider what you associate with each. Draco means dragon, which sounds fierce. Mal is a root word for bad. Together, they definitely give the villain an ominous sounding name.
Meanings of Character Names
When considering character names, you should think about how they sound as well as what they mean. Think about the name Maleficent. It makes the reader think of malice and magnificent. Another famous name is Voldemort. Mort is a root word meaning Death. “Vol” and “de” mean “flight from” in French. It is quite appropriate as a character name.
Coming up with such a great character name for each person in your novel would be too difficult, however. There are other concerns as well. You probably don’t want to name every bad character something so distinct and ominous sounding either.
Instead, I usually look at the meanings of baby names. You can easily go to any baby naming website and look at the meanings of popular names. For example, Mallory means “ill-fated or unfortunate.” Some of these names can also be used as last names. Doyle means “dark stranger.” You could put these together to make Mallory Doyle, making the villain an ill-fated dark stranger.
The same can be done for the good guys. For example, William comes from “will” and “helm-helmet or protection” which would make William have a desire to protect. Ethan means “strong or firm.” When put together, Ethan Williams would be a “strong protector” which would be a great name for a hero.
Context of Character Names
If I don’t feel like doing that, I can consider the actual context of a name. You can even name characters with concepts, such as Hope, Faith, Will, Joy, or Charity. You can do the same with last names, such as Swift, Archer, Woods, and Burns. For example, if I want a sturdy support character, I might give that character a last name of Wall.
Go Your Own Way With Character Names
Do you have to go with one of these ideas? No. However, I do believe it will add a new layer to your novel. That is just one idea for coming up with great character names if you are having writer’s block when naming your characters.
If you need to, make a list of positive and negative names or check out mine below. If you aren’t sure about a name and can’t make a decision, just give them one of these character names for now. You can always go back and change it later. Don’t get stuck on names. Get started on the writing.
|Boys (Positive Names)
Boys (Negative Names)
|Girls (Positive Names)
Girls (Negative Names)