Naming Characters…

…..its not easy.

Trying to chose names for characters can be a daunting task.

Too many choices.

Which spelling do I use?

Is this name appropriate for the time period?

What does the name mean? And is that important?


And that is only the beginning. Names can conjour up different feelings in a reader purely because of other associations they may have for it. Some associations can’t be helped, the world is a big place after all, but naming a character Jamie Bond… well, yes you went there. Of course, a surname on its own can have the same effect, like Anderson, and you all just imagined Hugo Weaving speaking didn’t you. It all goes to make the task harder.


Then you have characters who come from different countries, where the meanings of a name go beyond how it is written in English.

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In Japan, where my stories are set, names or more importantly how you write the name gives you its meaning. Three people could have the same name, when spoken, but have vastly different meanings by the way it is written and conversly three people could have a name written the same way and yet read differently. This comes down to the Japanese having multiple readings for Kanji characters and it can make the process of choosing a name harder (or it can make it more fun.)


I decide on a character’s name not only by the way it sounds, but how it is written, as well as the meaning. So a lot of my research time can be spent fluffing around with Kanji till I find the perfect name. Thank heavens for Kanji Dictonaries (even if they are flippin’ heavy), Pleco and everything else I have in the house with Japanese names written on them (including lists of the most common names/surnames in Japan). And even then I sometimes have blank spaces left in my drafts because I still can’t work out which name suits the character best.

And then there are nicknames…


What are your favourite Character names and why?

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