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Trouble naming my characters

How do you exactly name your main characters? I want to give them names that are unique enough and pertain to their character, but I don't want it too tropy. Like naming a rebellious character Rebel.

I'm having trouble naming my two main characters, both teen boys who are best friends and they serve as foils to each other.

The first guy is a class Gary stu. Perfect, good at everything, natural talent, brave, selfless etc...

The second guy is all too human and doesn't get everything handed to him. He's more looking out for himself. Doesn't possess natural talent, troublemaker, class clown, etc...

Any ideas?

Writing | 👁 1210 | Posted 2018-02-28 | Share on Facebook | Twitter | Google+

| Modified: 2018-02-28 | Author:

11 Comments

Oberon_Swanson 2 years ago

I don't like picking names that "fit." How often do you meet someone and you're like "wow when you think about it your name really fits!!!" It is more realistic to give your characters names they would actually have. This can still tell you about a character because it tells you what their parents and home life were like. Try finding a list of popular baby names in their birth year, in their location, and picking from those. Or if they have something of a unique origin story maybe highlight that. eg. George might not be a common name for a kid these days but your character's mother was haunted by her father's early death and named him after him, hence the unusual name.

Catacageddon 2 years ago

Thanks! It's an exaggeration lol. Don't read too much into it

DoctorOddfellow 2 years ago

First, a serious question: why do you care? Trying to make your names "meaningful" -- i.e. a name that is supposed to communicate something about the grown character -- is both unrealistic (that's not how parents name their children) and such an overused literary technique that it has very little place outside of parody, satire or pastiche. This is not to say that names are meaningless to character development. A boy whose parents name him "Leslie" (which used to be a common male name) might today get picked on as he grew up, which could have all kinds of results: he might choose to go by "Les," he might become a bully as a result of being teased, he might retreat into himself, etc etc. Growing up, I knew a kid named "Howard" who would go nuts and punch other kids if they called him "Howie." So names can affect people's (and thus characters') development ... but an author creating character names for effect is clich. Second, you said: The first [main character] is a class Gary stu You realize the "Mary Sue" and "Gary Stu" designations are derogatory, right? A Mary Sue/Gary Stu character is not something to aspire to. Such a character is generally considered a reflection of authorial immaturity and wish-fulfillment and is considered something to avoid.

pyradiesel 2 years ago

If it's set in our world, find out what the popular baby names were for the year characters were born in. Unless their parents wanted their kid to have a unique name, most go with what is popular. Most parents who look for a unique name go for things that reflect themselves or their culture. If one of the parents is Chinese, the kid might have a Chinese name even if he has no Asian features. [Because genetics can be a crapshoot.] On the other hand they might have fallen in love in Nashua, New Hampshire, so the kid ends up with the name Nashua. If it's set in a fantasy world based off a real world culture, the names should sound similar to that culture's names. Look at common names for people from that area and change a few letters around to make them yours. Other than that, it's up to you. There really is no trick to names, it's a matter of smashing different names against your characters until they feel right, heh heh.

Simpson17866 2 years ago

I spend hours scouring baby-names websites for names that sound good, and when I see a name that stands out as either good or bad, I figure out what it is about it that I do or don't like, that way I can narrow down what specific kinds of names I'm looking for. If I can't find a name that screams "This is perfect" for a character, then I pick a name that I like, but don't love, and then I use it until I love it :) The Milwaukee Cannibal wasn't scary because his name was Jeffrey Dahmer, the name "Jeffrey Dahmer" became scary after being associated with the Milwaukee Cannibal. Likewise, "Walter White" and "Harry Potter" sound like extremely boring names if you don't know the stories behind them. Ian Fleming even named his 007 super-spy after the famous ornithologist James Bond specifically because Fleming wanted his readers to see 007 as an ordinary person caught up in extraordinary circumstances, and he thought the ornithologist had the most boring name in the world. That association "James Bond = boring" doesn't work anymore :) The character makes the name as much as the name makes the character. EDIT: I just learned that Ian Fleming and the ornithologist did not actually know each other at the time that Ian Fleming decided to use his name.

fearofdolls 2 years ago

Id say have a look at some old movies suited to your genre. Find some character names that aren't well known. Aka: class clown. I'd look at a movie. Google classroom movies. find 'Dead poets society' for example. Who is the class clown in that movie? Now who is that guys best movie. And usually you find a good name. It is difficult to not associate names with people you know or movies you enjoy etc. Hope that helps anyway.

liminalsoup 2 years ago

Arthur and Clive

Sisifo_eeuu 2 years ago

A lot of writers use baby name websites. I've also used saints' names websites.

gavin_park 2 years ago

not sure if this will help but for fantasy names, a friend of mine takes the last few letters of a word and combines them with the first few letters of another word. there are better examples but something like "example name" would be plenam

Catacageddon 2 years ago

Yeah, just wondering if that would help

Komnenos_Kasuki 2 years ago

I don't know if this will be a help - I just make up names (mine are fantasy). IMO don't name your characters according to their personality or role, unless that's how society does things.


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