IWSG montly blog post
Now there’s a tough question about coming up with names for a book - and the characters in it. Which is harder? I know many an author who find both difficult. And I am one of them.
If I had to choose, probably the character names are the hardest. As I am not a native English speaker, I don’t know which names are modern and which are not. Well, most of the time. There's always the chance that a non-English speaker likes the sound of a name, and chooses one that doesn't fit the genre at all. I mean would you take seriously a female protagonist in an action story if her name was Pollyanna?
Writing fantasy is challenging too. How to think of a name that sounds like a fantasy hero instead of your middle-grade teacher (which is not to say a middle grade teachers could not be a hero). So I surf the net, looking for pages with people’s names. And it is not just the first names – family names can be a nightmare. If I decide to place the story in a certain country, family names may be connected to certain ethnical groups or areas I have no idea about.
So far I have managed to scrape together the names, but every time I need to invent one, it is just as hard. Unless they are ancient Egyptian names - I just open some of my almost 300 Egyptology books and point my finger somewhere. The fun point being that men and women could even have the same name. Of course there were fashionable names during specific eras – for example there were many Thutmoses and Amenhoteps during the 18th Dynasty (The New Kingdom era, which is also when Tutankhamun lived).
I bought once a book about names in different countries with the idea it would help me in my writing. When I looked at the Finnish names I had to admit they were not what I would have chosen to a story that happened in Finland.
Thank goodness for my English speaking friends – if all else fails, I ask them to help me coming up with names. And as as final resort I can trust my editor will stop me from using Pollyannas... LOL :D
Are you a writer? How do you come up with character names for your stories?
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