We are very excited to have author Kia Dennis, writing as K.D. Richards, as our guest today. Please join us in giving her a warm welcome!
What’s in a name? Well, a lot if you are looking for names for the character in your novel. Just as in real life names are important. There are several resources out there that will give you five steps, seven steps, twelve steps to finding the perfect name for your character. It may just be me, but I have yet to find any particular series of steps that works for finding the perfect character name every time. And since I prefer using fictional settings to real places in my novels, there is the added pressure of finding the perfect names not only for my characters but for the towns and cities in which they live.
I know some writers who must know their characters’ names before they can begin writing. For them it’s part of the process of getting to know the character well enough to begin writing their story. I fall on the other end of the spectrum. I get to know my characters through the process of writing their stories. That means I often don’t know their names, or what I think of as their real names, when I sit down to write. That can be a bit of a hindrance, but I do my best not to get bogged down in naming the characters or places. I like to choose a celebrity name for each character, which in addition to taking the naming pressure off the first draft, can also make for some pretty funny situations. In my current work in progress Joe Biden and Bradley Cooper are about to throw down!
At some point in the writing process, I do have to give my characters names that will stick. Some obvious considerations go into that process – vary the first letters of each name, try to make them memorable, consider nationality and cultural influences – and there are a ton of other factors to consider including make the names reflective of the characters personality. Of course, easier said than done right?
When I think of writers who did a truly magnificent job with naming characters George Lucas and Star Wars is at the top of that list. Luke Skywalker a young man seeking finding adventure, ultimately becoming a Jedi master – literally walking across the sky. Hans Solo the rogue whose first concern is self and money at least at first, very man against the world. And of course, there is Darth (dark) Vader (vater is the German word for father). Really how could we have not seen that twist coming?
I don’t necessarily shoot for a George Lucas level mastery when choosing names for my characters but like most authors I do put a fair amount of thought and time into choosing them. I named my main character in Pursuit of the Truth Nadia first because I’ve always loved the name, but it also means ‘hope’ in several languages. No one is more hopeful than Nadia which is good because she has a lot to deal with. The male main character in my upcoming novel is named Gideon which means ‘great warrior’; he’s a war hero so I found it fitting.
For me the most important thing is not to get so bogged down in finding the perfect name that it impedes writing the story. A rose by any other name, right?
What fictional character names have resonated with you? If you are a writer, do you have a process from coming up with great character names?
K.D. Richards was born and raised in the Maryland suburbs just outside of Washington, D.C. A writer since a young age, after college K.D. earned a law degree and worked as an attorney and legal instructor for fifteen years but never stopped writing fiction. She currently splits her time between Toronto and Maryland with her husband and two sons. For more information, please visit kdrichardsbooks.com.