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Give Your Characters Great Names

There are zillions of articles and posts online about finding the perfect name for your fictional characters, and of course lots of advice about what not to call your hero or heroine. But is any of it relevant today? I believe it still is.

We all know as writers that we like to push the boundaries now and then and break the rules as often as we can get away with it, but there are still names we should be wary of….and use them at our peril.

Take a look at any children’s fiction section in your local bookstore and have a quick peek at the names of the main characters in  the first half dozen books you pick up, and my guess is you’ll find quite a lot of Jacks and Harrys and Hannahs…they’re popular names, they’re obvious, too obvious really. So, my advice is, steer clear.

I almost fell into the ‘too popular name’ trap recently when I named the main character in the children’s book I’m working on Oliver…I wrote it without thinking and it did have a nice ring to it with his surname (no, not Twist!), but on reflection I decided to ditch the Oliver. I’m still thinking about a better name but the one I’m working with at the moment is Ozzie. I really like it, what do you reckon? Still too popular?

I have to admit, just by changing the name I felt he was a different character altogether…odd that don’t you think? Maybe not.

I also sent off a very brief email to the chap who will do the illustrations for me and he replied that it would make a difference to the way he sketched out the character…..interesting.

My one piece of advice is ‘think it over carefully’…don’t just settle for the first name that springs to mind, and try and be original without being too bizarre….. Hannibal? Brutus? Geranium?