What’s In A Name? Naming Heroes & Heroines

“My name is Muerte.”

“Nice to meet you, Morty.” – Undercover Blues (1993)


I don’t know if other authors struggle with this as much as I do, but I have a terrible time naming my characters. It’s like naming your children. Whatever you pick is what they’ll be stuck with. That’s a lot of pressure, especially since different names have different feels to them, never mind their connotations thanks to real people you may know.

Generally speaking, you wouldn’t name a six-six, totally ripped bounty hunter or professional boxer Bob – not unless you plan to use the irony as part of your character building. Charlaine Harris calls one of her vampires Bill, but she does point out the humor in the beginning.

Science fiction offers a universe of possibilities. Writers can create their own original character names. This can be a lot of fun, or it can go horribly awry. I’ve seen names with so many apostrophes and consonants that I never could figure out how they were pronounced, not even in my head. Consequently, I struggled to keep track of who was who. That sort of thing makes it difficult, if not impossible, for readers to immerse themselves in the story.

Just like children at school, characters can be made fun of because of their names. Look at old “Notso” in MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead and Unwed. Never mind all the nicknames, cruel or cool.

Names are a label and an identity. It’s a touchy business doling them out. Will that rose really smell as sweet?

4 responses to “What’s In A Name? Naming Heroes & Heroines

  1. You do get an image from people you know with that name.

  2. Enjoyed reading this. And names come and go in popularity. If you look at names from just the 1800’s some of them would sound silly to us now.

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