Investigated – Character Names

Posted November 23, 2015 by Emily in Investigated / 0 Comments


Whenever I get the chance courage to ask authors a question about their book(s), I always want to know how did they come up with the names of their characters. I suck at naming things. When I was younger, I won some goldfish at a carnival. My mom wanted to know what I wanted to name them. Instead of coming up with some nice creative or pretty name, do you know what I named them? Fish 1, Fish 2, Fish 3, etc. Yeah. I was 10 too so it’s not like that was all I was capable of.

Anyways, this inability to give things a good name made me curious about how authors did it. Were they influenced by people they know in real life? Did they use one of those baby name books? Is it just some random name or does is there a certain meaning behind it?

I know some authors draw from experiences they’ve had in real life when they write some of their books. In the same way some of them get inspired for the plot, some of them also get inspired by people they know when they create a character. As a result, sometimes they will name their characters after people they know in real life. Sometimes to pay homage, sometimes just because the name was cool, and sometimes as revenge (maybe?).

I also know of authors who just sit down with one of those big baby name books and treat their characters like an unborn baby without a name. They just flip through the book until they find a name they like and think will fit the character well. They consider things like the way the name sounds, its uniqueness, its pronunciation, and also what the name means or implies. This brings me to my next point…

There’s only one other method that I know authors use when naming their characters. It’s when they really want the character’s name to be a reflection of that character. It means that the meaning of the name has to fit the character’s personality and/or characteristics or backstory. Take Percy Jackson for example. There was a specific reason (that was revealed in the books) why Percy was named Perseus. Perseus was a great greek hero and son of Zeus. Percy’s mom named him after Perseus not only in an attempt to appease Zeus but also in hopes that Percy’s future would be similar to that of Perseus’, who is one of the few geek demigods’ story did not end in a tragedy.

What do you think?
Does the story of how a character got his/her name interest you? Why?



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