Top 10 things to avoid when naming characters

When choosing a name for your characters spend a few minutes considering the following points to avoid

1. Don’t use a name that ends in the letter ‘s’

This is a simple punctuation nightmare

2. Don’t make it too weird

It will almost definitely pull your reader out of the story

3. Don’t make it too long

Two syllable names are the easiest for your reader to say and remember

4. Don’t use names that sound similar

Example: Kelly and Kerry – your reader will mix them up

5. Don’t use a modern name in older settings

Can you image a Victorian era heroine being called Dakota or Madison

6. Don’t use a name that suggests a different personality

It is wise to look up the meaning of a name before labeling your characters

7. Don’t use one word names

Unless it fits your era. “John, son of…”; Try to avoid it in fantasy novels because it is over done and worn out

8. Don’t use famous people’s names

You want your characters’ names to reflect their personality not that of the famous person

9. Don’t have all your names the same number of syllables or starting with the same letter

Your readers will be completely confused by a family of: Kelly, Karley, Kaelyn, Katelynn and Kenzie

10. Don’t use names that rhyme

Payne/Jane/Laine  or Molly/Holly/Polly – makes it harder for your readers to keep them straight

And then for a few DO ideas:

Do give your antagonist and protagonist names that are opposite in meaning and sound

Do make sure the names fit the character, the events, the story, the theme, the genre, the setting, and the era

Do check names for meaning and history

This site will help you get your era names right:

Do include a phonetic pronunciation guide if your names are not common English names




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